So, I opened up this new blog post with the intent of whining. It's not a good health week. I feel terrible. It makes it so hard to stay QUIT. Etc.
But it feels wrong. We have so many EX community people with serious health issues. We all just plod along as best we can, learn to live with what can't be cured, hope to at least get it managed well, and move on.
I need to get better at that.
I've often thought about how one of the dangers of a chronic illness is that it can make you far too focused on the self: the body, the way it feels, what that new pain is, what it means, whether the treatment is causing it, when will I have to have surgery, and on and on. That's the real problem with unmanaged symptoms: they are tyrants. They take away the luxury--the freedom--of thinking about what's happening OUTSIDE of the body.
Addiction is really no different, in my mind. It's a tyrant, too. I didn't realize how much until this week. So, instead of whining about how miserable I am physically at the moment, I'm going to tell you what I did this week that I would NOT have done if had still been smoking.
I took my mother-in-law, whom I adore, to breakfast before work one morning. I would have wanted to do that before I quit, but I wouldn't have sacrificed the chance to take every precious moment before work to get as much nicotine into my system as possible. Smoking made me selfish in that way. Except that, in a sense, I was robbing myself of time with her more than I was robbing her of anything. She's 85; I won't have her forever.
I had lunch with my best friend from college. We hadn't done that in 5 years! I probably still would have done it before my quit, but I would have rushed the lunch. I'd have wanted, again, to have enough time left to cram nicotine into my system before going back to work. Because I DO NOT SMOKE, I lingered over that lunch and was truly THERE, and IN, every moment (instead of thinking about when I could smoke again).
I volunteered for a political candidate's campaign after work one night. Left work, drove straight to campaign headquarters, and made phone calls for 2 hours. Would NEVER have sacrificed that much smoking time before the quit. (Remember that I was a closet smoker, so I only smoked alone and only before work, at lunch, and after work.)
Then, yesterday, my hospice was helping a patient move into her own apartment. She had never lived alone, so she had nothing--just a small bag of clothes. Her family couldn't care for her, so they wouldn't allow her to return to their home after her hospital stay. We made a list of what she needed, then sent it to our staff and volunteers. I was able to use the money I saved from not smoking the past two weeks to help take care of several items on that list. I was especially happy about buying everything she needs to take care of her cat. For a time, she thought she would have to go into a nursing home, so she gave her cat to a local no-kill shelter. When we found her the apartment, she was able to reclaim her cat and move him into the apartment with her. (My hospice also talked the landlord into allowing the cat. Our staff is amazing!)
All things that the tyranny of addiction would have kept me from just a month ago. And I enjoyed each of them so much. All week, I felt engaged, involved, and active. Liberated.
And I'm not going back.