Most of you know me as a writer. Many of you also know I have a degree in photography. My little know secret in life is I once had a 1-2 pack of cigarettes per day habit that lasted from the time I was 27 years old until November 3, 2009. The day I found Furby on the way home from my ex’s funeral is the day I put down my cigarettes.
THE LAST MONTH I SMOKED
I’d spent much of the past month sitting with my ex, both at his home and later at Rainey Hospice House. He was in the end stages of lung cancer, which had moved to his brain. I’d like to say finding Furby is the sole reason I gave up the habit. That wouldn’t be totally true. I also gave it up because I spent 24/7 with a man who despite having an extremely high threshold to pain cried like a baby once the cancer spread to his brain. It’s the first and only thing that scared me in the thirty years I spent smoking.
I was a strange smoker because I didn’t inhale. I was hospitalized in December of 2006 for a TAH (in female language that means total abdominal hysterectomy). During my three day hospital stay I never craved a cigarette and didn’t need a nicotine patch to get me through. I was employed in security at the same hospital during that time period. The hospital was a smoke-free environment. Many employees would leave the property to go smoke. During my three years of employment there I never did. I’d wait until the twenty minute ride home in the morning and smoke the whole way there. It took me three cigarettes to get home. I might also add it took me three cigarettes to get to work each day. Plus two to go to bed on and two to wake up. On a really bad day spent with my ex, I could easily go through more than two packs!
AND THEN CAME FURBY
Then came Furby, who entered my life and changed the way I looked at smoking. I had a pack and a half of cigarettes with me. I didn’t throw them away. I smoked all of them that evening and I never looked back.
I didn’t go through a lot of withdrawal symptoms. I smoked mostly out of habit rather than a nicotine addiction. In the beginning, I curbed the craving for my mouth to be doing something by eating hard sugar-free candy. The trouble is, this type of candy has an ingredient that has a laxative effect. So I soon had to switch to chewing gum.
Three and a half years have gone by now. I still get the urge to do something with my mouth during times of stress. I laugh as I sometimes have an uncontrollable desire for a piece of candy or a stick of gum. As far as cigarettes and nicotine go, I never purchased another pack. I’m realistic in the belief if I purchase even one pack, I’ll be addicted once more. On really horrible days when nothing else can calm me down, I play a computer game or take a long walk. Any of these options is better than the alternative I used to turn to when having a bad day.
IF AT FIRST YOU DON’T SUCCEED
I’d tried unsuccessfully to quit on three occasions in the past and always relapsed. I tried the pills-didn’t work. I tried the nicotine lozenges and gum with no success. I’d hope to remain smoke-free after my TAH and caved to my desire by smoking the entire ride home. I’m sure my neighbor didn’t appreciate this as she’s a non-smoker.
I feel I’ve given not only my pets, but also myself a little extra time on this earth by quitting this filthy habit. When I smell cigarette smoke these days I find myself very nauseous. I imagine the pets of smokers may feel the same. They just can’t communicate that to their smoking caregiver’s.
FELINE LYMPHOMA AND SECONDHAND SMOKE
I did an article for PoC that can be found at http://pictures-of-cats.org/feline-lymphoma-and-secondhand-cigarette-smoke.html that told the statistics for cats becoming ill should the cat live with a smoker. Chances for feline lymphoma may be 65% greater. A cat exposed to cigarette smoke for five years may be three times more likely to develop the disease. Renal failure in cats has also been linked to secondhand cigarette smoke.
Think about what it’s like for a cat to live in a home where people smoke on a daily basis. Go wipe a small section of your wall or ceiling if you can. The same black smoke that comes off on a piece of cloth is the same smoke your cat will ingest while grooming itself. Your walls nor your cat may “look” dirty, but chances are both have the filth on them.
I won’t give any of you a great speech about how I feel much better since I quit smoking because I don’t feel any better at all. I will tell you I’m saving a lot of money by not having a nicotine addiction to support anymore. I’ve felt some better since incorporating daily walks into my routine, but the same thing happened when I was speed-walking and still smoked.
It’s better for our pets if we don’t pollute the air they’re forced to breathe. I used the word forced, because unlike us, they can’t leave home to get away from the contaminants contained in cigarette smoke. Nor can they tell us just how much they hate the smell.
CAN ANYONE OFFER QUIT SMOKING TIPS
I’m sorry I can’t offer any one successful method to quit smoking. I consider myself lucky to have walked away “cold turkey.” Many people try and try and try and still can’t break the habit. Have any of the readers here quit smoking for their pets? Any tips you can give those who wish to quit but can’t? The only thing I can say is you have to be mentally prepared to quit, as well as physically. Until your mind is made up to ditch the cigarettes, no product on the market is likely to help.