Friday, August 09, 2013

An Ending. I Think.

It is to be fervently hoped that the cigarette I just finished was my last. We shall see. I am hoping that there is some value in admitting this in public, to my very limited public. Value to me; I don't give a fuck about its value to you (and therein may lie some of the problem, I suppose).

I have been smoking regularly for something like 38 years, though my first was longer ago than that, probably at summer camp when I was 14. I honestly don't remember, but it seems by far the most likely beginning. It was a beginning to my life as a pointlessly punkass contrarian, a thrill-seeker, a counter to sensibility and propriety. I had been, until that moment, a violent anti-smoker, and I was intellectually well aware of the health risks. I recall freaking out when I was 7 and my parents--both essentially non-smokers who could, back in the 60s, smoke an occasional cigarette socially--lit up after a dinner in a restaurant. My change became complete when I started swiping Larks from my father's parents--both of whom smoked until they were in their 70s (my grandfather, the Original Recipe John the Daftist, smoked until about a year before his death from COPD).

For a long time I smoked two packs a day, Winstons by choice, Marlboros sometimes and then always when I succumbed to the peer-pressured notion that Winstons were pretty freakin' gay. Then the world stopped letting people smoke at their desks, and rightly so, and I cut it to a pack of Camel Lights a day because the Marlboros (along with a steady stream of marijuana smoking) were making me noticeably unhealthier.

I quit for nearly a month almost 10 years ago. I had a heart attack, and was mildly impressed by that, and stopped, aided by a common smoking-cessation antidepressant I won't name. It made me itch. It made me insane. The drug, I mean. I had the heart attack the weekend before Thanksgiving, and I don't think I stopped right away--I think I waited until just after the holiday. I spent Christmas Eve with my brother and his family; my mother was visiting them. I bought a pack of smokes on the way home.

My bout of pneumonia, accompanied by the worst cough ever, chest pain that is at best musculoskeletal (and we are now fairly certain that it is), some potentially rather dire potential diagnoses from various test results, and the prospect of prematurely and irrevocably leaving Ilse, Bam, and I suppose Databoy, the lights of my life, has thoroughly frightened me, for reals, my genuinely risk-humping nature laid open, the frontier of risk aversion now discovered (in my personal life--professionally, it's more calculated, by many more orders of magnitude). Boy, do I feel like a pussy. Seriously. 38 years of the Devil may care, and now this, simpering about the game clock, veering away from the head-on. The only thing I can think of that would be more shameful would be acquiring formal religion (and in a way, my frenzied dash to perceived safety is a rejection of my previously established semi-formal secret religion). I'll get over it.

I hasten to add that while the dire stuff is not ruled out, it now seems far less likely, based on a visit to my newest doctor, a pulmonologist. Part of how we rule it out is for me to stop smoking, and we have created a cunning plan that includes nicotine replacement, a therapy I had not previously considered. I hasten slightly less hastily to add that it's not like I actually hate Databoy. He's just a thought-provoking series of questions, is all. I am a 53-year-old long-time smoker with cardiopulmonary issues. I don't have the fucking energy for thought-provoking series of questions.

So there it is, on the Web, my hope, my innards. I accept your good wishes for this enterprise whether or not you express them, and honestly, I'd probably prefer that you didn't, with one exception, because my contempt for you does not extend to actually wanting to disappoint you in some meaningful way. I am genuinely sorry to tell you that the exception is almost certainly not you; she is a visitor of delicate and extreme rarity, and there are very, very good reasons that she is the exception, in that she is the one human being on this planet from whom I will tolerate, unconditionally, any wee dram of optimism. And three of you just figured out that math.

And don't ask. I'll fess up if need be, or maybe, if need be, one of the local denizens who knows me in real life will attempt shame as a tool. Ask the She-Nurse of the SS how that works out. A tubercular cigar brothel/butcherteria in Tegucigalpa, to make an educated guess. In fact, the one person out there in the world who absolutely does not get that it's not okay to ask--the farthest thing from okay, in fact--is the She-Nurse.

The header quote stays. Only years will tell if it's applicable, and chances are it is, whether or not I stay quit. You really don't smoke for 38 years without shortening your life in some measure, even if you luck out and that measure is small. There's some magical thinking that only compounds the shame, hmm?

Goodbye, smoky treats. I will do my very best to never speak of this again.


Planet said...

Yay!!! Good luck, and if worst comes to worst you could always do this:


Landru said...

Language failing as it does, and me failing language as I do, Planet is more than totally forgiven for believing that the exception might have been her. I may have to reexamine the way I put that "one human being" thing, because as I think about it this morning, it was a lie.

Landru said...

Oh...also, thank you, Planet, and I look forward to seeing you in a few days. And your moms. I'll tolerate your pops.

Colin's Daddy said...

May you live long enough to find that being scolded by a mythical being from an historical fiction novel is right up your alley.

mistah charley, ph.d. said...

0) i do not intend these comments as an expression of expectation, or prediction of success - just as potentially relevant info

1)i knew two women, sisters, one nearly fifty, one nearly sixty, when they stopped smoking approximately simultaneously in the latter part of the 20th century - both were successful

a)one didn't smoke for the next eighteen months, until she died of the lung cancer which had been the stimulus for her smoking cessation

b)one still doesn't smoke, and is alive today, nearly thirty years later - this is my aunt, my mother's younger sister

2) as long as you're following rainer maria rilke's advice to change your life
you might

a)take up meditation

and/or even

b)eat plants

Jim H. said...

In the Tobacco Road of my youth, we had designated smoking areas at my High School—tho' I started before then. It was simply the done thing there. My smoking lasted close to 3 decades. Quit numerous times. Last time for good about 12 years ago.

Let me just say this: once you get it out of your system, you can't believe how good your c-p system feels and how bad, you then realize, smoking made it feel.

Live long and prosper.

Sasha said...

I refuse to believe that marijuana smoking contributes(ed) to your erstwhile ill health. Just saying.

Quit: 7/4/2001
Started feeling better in three days but still occasionally would kill for a cig.

I believe the only thing that got me through was the absolute belief that I couldn't smoke one cigarette ever. All or nothing kind of person that I am.

Also. It sucks. But eventually it gets better. Then it gets a lot better. All the best to you my friend.

Lisa McMann said...

I don't know what the hell you're talking about half the time in these posts, which is why I rarely comment, but I think I understand at least half of this one. So all I'm going to say is that if you call me instead of buying smokes, I'll actually answer my phone. Day or night. That's how much I love you.

The Wheezus.

Lisa McMann said...


Landru said...

Steven: Mythical my ass. You've fucking met her.

Dr. mistah charley: I will allow others to articulate your (well-intentioned) folly, if they choose. And if I get a terminal lung cancer diagnosis, I'm lighting up again in a hot second.

Sasha: The smoke from the weed and anything sprayed on it, not the THC. The fundamental concept here is that inhaling smoke of any sort is not good for your lungs, period. I believe this to be uncontroversial.

New York Motherfucking Times Bestselling Author Lisa FUCKING McMann: how delicate and rare. Nuffin but love to you and your'n. Especially you know who.

Sasha: I suspect you get an assist there.

Steven: Seriously, dood. You've FUCKING MET her. I do believe that it was at a party, 13 years ago, organized by the one of her spiritual daughters that I actually fucking married.

General update: 33 hours, 15 minutes. Cranky, twitchy, and neurotic, thanks. Eating too much. Slept only 3 hours. I think it was because I left the patch on. Will perform basic scientific research with no government or capitalist funding.

No, I mean more than usual, and I'm looking at you, Ilse.

Sasha said...

Moi? An assist?

And I agree about the smoke. I can't even stand hanging out by a campfire.

Eat. Sleep. Go to movies. Pace. Snap at your friends. It's all good.

Gothmog said...

Pneumonia, cigaretts, weed, She-Nurse yadda yadda yadda, brak brak brak. Get to the germane point here. Psyche wants to know if NOW you are indeed ready to accept Jesus as your own personal Savior...


mistah charley, ph.d. said...

i see, on reading your self-provided list of interests in your blogger profile, that 'saturated fats' is number 2 - so probably plant-eating as a health promotion measure doesn't particularly appeal

i kind of guessed that, and sort of threw that in to make my prior suggestion of a way to change your life - 'meditate' - seem half-way reasonable by comparison

it's been getting some good press recently - google's 'jolly good fellow' meng likes it, e.g.

may the creative forces of the universe be with us all

Sasha said...

mistah charley, ph.d.


Landru said...

Sasha: An assist on making it rain wheezies, but I now think it was a genuine coincidence.

Dr. mistah charley: I eat lots of plants. I do, however, fry some of them in animal fat.

G: By "Jesus," she means R.J. Reynolds, right? Oddly enough, the moment when I'd have accepted just about anything came when I was about 500 miles closer to her (and you) than I am now. Don't think I don't track these things.

Oh, and please tell Psyche that when I made that suggestion for a conference call, I was forgetting that I was going to be a complete dick by the time the weekend rolled around. But as soon as I don't hate the very processes that define life, we'll do that. No, that's not my ground state.

Fending off how I'd abuse me if my were my friends; it's what keeps me healthy.

Lisa McMann said...

Dude, you should watch The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. You'll bawl your eyes out and all the carbon monoxide will flow out of your tears.

Whispers said...

Good luck on this endeavor. If there's anyway I can help, let me know. I would let you borrow the anti-smoking indoctrination I received as a child, including the coal miner, 3 packs per day smoking grandfather who died when I was young. I don' think that's metaphysically possible. I don't have a pensieve.

Blogger said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.