Monday, 24 August 2015

Learning lessons

I know, I know, there's a very good chance that Lincoln never said that.  In addition to that one, there are plenty of other famous misattributed quotes, but regardless of its inauthenticity I must admit it sure looks good on a meme.  That's my second favourite quote meme, my favourite of course being this one:
Unfortunately the likelihood that Einstein actually said that is about as high as the probability that Lincoln said the first one.  Nevertheless I use that line with my daughter all the time whenever she forgets to learn from a mistake she's made.  "Life is a series of mistakes," I tell her, "but it's how you react to those mistakes that determine who you are."

For example, I dare say that nearly everyone who smokes cigarettes knows it is a mistake every time a new one is lit up, but nicotine is so addictive that no matter how much many smokers want to quit, their body simply won't let them.  Nicotine gum, nicotine patches, prescription medicines, hypnosis, cold-turkey . . . nothing seems to work for far too many smokers.  But I'm proud to announce a new discovery, a method that gets people to quit smoking (or not start at all).  It's not a medicine, and it's not therapy.  This amazing new technique is . . .

Well, you're reading it.

Yes indeed, SftTB is officially a Smoking Cessation Device.  That's right folks, it's Toot My Own Horn Time™ again.  After all the self-deprecation and major troll abuse I've endured recently, I think I deserve to pat myself on the back just a bit, though I run the risk of spraining my shoulder while doing so.

I'll start off with Susan (not her real name™) who emailed me some time back to tell me about her mother who had been smoking for 30 years.  She had tried several times to . . . hell, I'll just let Susan tell you:
Hey, Doc, me again! I have some news and I wasn't sure who to share it with...My mother has decided to quit smoking.  To most people it wouldn't seem like such a big deal, but to me it really is.  In the past three years she's had three people she deeply cared about die.  I've begged her to quit before. She understood why, but it terrified her.  I wanted to tell you this because, and in spite of knowing the risks and how disgusted I find the smell, a combination of peer pressure and depression almost made me try.  I made a promise to my mum when I was six that I'd never smoke.  She would understand if I did, because people follow their parents examples, but she wanted better for me. 
12 years later your blog helped me stand by my promise even when I was tempted.  I finally feel like I can breathe again, figuratively and literally.  I can also proudly declare that the only thing this girl has ever lit a lighter or a match for was to start a candle, see in the dark, and boredom. 
I've never, nor will I ever, stick one of those things in my face.
Just like Susan, I've never had a lit cigarette in my mouth either, and I'm sure my lungs (and Susan's and her mother's) are eternally thankful.  I only hope Susan continues to keep that promise.

Next up is Lisa (also not her real name™) who had emailed me a question about Jahi McMath back in February.  In her follow-up to my response, she sent the following:
Thank you Doc for answering my question.  As a side note, I read your article on smoking last week.  I have been smoking since I was 16 or so...I have not had a cig since Saturday....(hard as hell).  The last time I quit is when I ran track for 2 years in high school.  So my thanks on a very hard eye-opening article...more people should read your blog. 
4 days clean so far phew!!!!
Husband says if I stay off of them for a year I can plan that trip to Rome...but if I don't I can't go, so I have an incentive as well...thanks again...keep us the good work...and write a damn book would ya? (sorry did I just raise my voice to you?)  :)
I followed up with her 4 months later to see how she was doing, and she somewhat abashedly admitted to having one cigarette (though not enjoying it) after her mother passed away.  The best part was that she had been smoking for 34 years before successfully quitting.  All it took was reading a past article I had written to get her to quit smoking for good.

It may seem entirely trite and ridiculous to say, but if I can help just a few people with this blog to stop smoking, put on their seatbelts, get off drugs, or not drink and drive, then I will consider myself a success.

And you can quote me on that.

36 comments:

  1. I have friends that quit because of all the money it saves them. They used the money to buy video games which really motivated them. Now they have an energy drink and video game addiction. C'est la vie.

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  2. I've always enjoyed this one:

    "Cigarettes are like squirrels. They're perfectly harmless until you put one in your mouth and light it on fire." ~ unknown meme author.

    Unfortunately, I still smoke half a pack a day.

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  3. My dad quit when he developed oral cancer. Too bad he also had to quit eating and drinking. Feeding tube now and ever after. Quit smoking dammit!

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  4. I had the good fortune to grow up in a non smoking family. I heartily recommend it for every kid out there.

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    1. My kids are growing up in a non smoking family. If one of them ever gets the idea of putting one of them stinky sticks in their face I might just smack them hard enough that the coffin nail goes flying from their mouth. Because if there is one thing a kid could ever do to deserve a slap then it is killing themselves.

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    2. it totally baffles me when I see a kid - and by kid I mean younger than 30 - puffing away. I guess it is a testament to the pervasiveness of the advertising machine, because life has gotten to the point that even smokers will tell kids that taking up smoking as a stupid thing to do.

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    3. Unfortunately, kids follow example, and the adults in their life growing up are saying "Do as I say, not as I do".

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    4. Ken, so have you been avoided smokers and smoke situations ever since?

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    5. (correction - have you avoided)

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    6. I try. it's a stinky nasty thing to a non smoker, but unfortunately, it is also still pretty pervasive.

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    7. I find that it's less pervasive and more easily avoided than it once was. Even the people I know who still smoke have caught on and wouldn't think of automatically smoking in someone else's house. Some won't even smoke in their own homes due to the smell buildup and smokestain damage

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    8. I see a lot of people switching over to the "vaping" devices. I am waiting for someone in an official capacity to announce that., GEE. if you are using one to deliver nicotine, you are still dosing yourself with nicotine.

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    9. On the other hand, I do know people who successfully used vaping to quit both smoking anf vaping. Vaping made the odor and mess of smoking repulsive to them. They also found that it was easier to quit vaping than it had been, pre-vape,, to quit cigs.

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    10. yes. I distinguish between people that use stop smoking aids, and people who simply switch delivery systems.

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  5. When I was 16 I tried a cigarette just see what it was like never meaning to be a smoker. I smoked for the next three years. It was that addicting.

    I told this story to my kids and ask them to please never try that first cigarette.
    They are not smokers now and as far as I know they never did try that first cigarette.

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  7. I grew up in a heavily smoking family, yet I dont smoke. I remember when I was five a woman came to my school holding a cute candle as she described what smoking did to my lungs. She lit the candle and tilted the glass jar it was in so the flame turned the glass black. "Thats what happens to your lungs" she said. Put me off smoking. I kept trying the next ten ears to get my dad to quit. He still hasnt and I worry every day, but at least I have stuck by my six year old selfs decision not to smoke.

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    1. good for you. you've beaten very stiff odds. a lot of kids from smoking families grow up with enough nicotine contact that they are addicted before they ever start smoking.

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  8. The one thing that put me off smoking was seeing a forty-something, (ex)smoker with lung cancer in a hospital bed spraying Lysol on a lesion on his knee. He said it was the only thing that took the pain away.

    Yet, sadly, I think you could write something on alcohol abuse equally as frightening. Their stories scared me more than the smokers. Especially the pancreatitis and making soap inside one's own body (which I hope this is actually a myth).

    Anyway, keep up the good work!

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  9. Back in the 60s little cigarette four-packs were distributed at women's events (think school-sponsored fashion shows). One time my Mom brought one home. I remember thinking this was odd, as her brothers smoked, but she didn't. She took all seven of us kids out in the back yard and lit one up and made each of us take a deep drag (I was about 11 at the time). We all spent the next half hour puking. Never had the slightest desire to touch one again. Only one sister smoked for a while in her 20s, but quit 30 years ago. Negative reinforcement for the win.

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    1. My husband had the same experience with his mom -- and that's why he never touched a cigarette again. I didn't have much experience with smokers except for a high school boyfriend, and later a college roommate. I still remember her being really sick with a cold, barely able to breathe and with a godawful cough, yet she still needed her cigarettes. I used to have to wash my hair after college parties because all the smoke made my hair stink, and despite the alcohol I drank I couldn't sleep because I was wired from the nicotine in the second-hand smoke. Really turned me off the habit. I work at an elite university in California, and you rarely would see students smoke, but now I see lots of students smoking. These are kids smart enough to get into one of the country's top schools, but addiction is stronger than brains.

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    2. My mother had a customer at her business who would have her kid go get her inhaler, so she could develop enough suction to get her cigarette lit.

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  10. I smoke and keep regular 2-4 week smoke-free intervals once in a while to check, whether I can endure it or not. I've been smoking for 3 years soon and the breaks are definitely no problem. I'm smoking of my own volition, I enjoy the taste, smell and the atmosphere. I don't smoke in excess and I exercise. Drinking and drugs are also not categorically bad, if it's done in moderation, although a moderate life is a boring one. I'm also fairly certain I will die before cancer takes me or any other substance induced disease.

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    1. My granny smoked 3 packs a day for 63 years. She died when she was 80 after quitting for one year due to COPD and an enlarged heart. During that year, she dreamed of smoking, watched people smoking on their breaks and said that she loved every single cigarette she put in her mouth. I am not necessarily agreeing or disagreeing with your point of view, I'm just saying that my granny felt the same way you do about loving the taste and smell. But I will say that if she hadn't smoked all those years, maybe she would have lived a few more years. I miss her terribly and would have loved more time with her.

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    2. give it a few years and you will decide you don't need those breaks any more. but you can quit any time you want to - you just don't want to.

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    3. I'd rather do something I enjoy, even though it might shorten my life, than live a few extra years without it (there are many risky hobbies, smoking is not the worst, although at the top). I think I'm pretty flexible, that's why I have those breaks. I guess I'll have my next break sooner than I thought :)

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    4. exactly, you THINK you are pretty flexible. really, you are just parroting the line of self-justification thousands of people have parroted before you.
      the other other popular one: "smoking relaxes me" - no, it doesn't, it simply quiets the withdrawal symptoms.

      nicotine and caffeine are the two most common addictions in our society.

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    5. Well, it would be 'parroting' the line, if I had no clear evidence that I am flexible. Having those breaks is my empiric proof of that. It's not definite, but it shows that I can go up to weeks without even craving a cigarette, no shakes or manic episodes either. Nothing during that time changes -- only that I don't smoke. Most people I know say that as well, but in their case there's no breaks. I don't claim it relaxes me, I've got many other things that do much better for that. Also, coffee is great with a cigarette!

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    6. then make your break 8 weeks and see what happens when you go outside your normal routine.

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    7. Breaking that routine is actually a good idea.

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    8. and just to keep in the back of your mind. my father in law died of lung cancer before he was 50.

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    9. I used to live next door to a household of smokers. Both parents and their daughter all died from smoking related illnesses. Interestingly enough, the daughter preceded her parents in death when she was in her thirties. No doubt her lifelong exposure to second hand smoke, and later her own smoking, hastened her demise. Second hand smoke is supposedly more toxic and her situation would tend to support that. The father had emphysema and was the last to go. The width of their driveway separated his bedroom window from ours. In the warmer months my husband and had the misfortune of having to listen to his constant hacking, gasping and gagging on his own phlegm night after night. It wasn't a pleasant way to die, to say the least.

      My sister was a lifelong smoker and died from metastatic lung cancer at 55. At the time of her death she weighed 67 pounds and was basically a skeleton covered in skin. She spent the last 2 months of her life in a nursing home where she would drag herself into a wheelchair and roll herself either outside to smoke or into the one designated smoking area inside which is where she was found the night she died. She was a single parent and left behind a 17 and 14 year old.

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    10. my father is law was luckier. his was a particularly aggressive variety, and it killed him within a year.

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  12. Hey Doc...
    You forgot to put your picture on your stop smoking meme. ;)

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  13. I remember reading something, somewhere, years ago that if someone hasn't started smoking by the age of 18, they're unlikely to start. I don't know if that's true or not but I hope so because neither of my kids have acquired that habit and I hope they never do.

    Neither my husband nor I smoke, so hopefully the kids won't either.

    Wednesday

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