Since the new year I’ve watched 9 different friends make the decision to try to quit smoking. They’ve had varying degrees of success, but I’m proud of all of them. Let me pause to make one thing clear – I’m in no position to be telling people shit when it comes to vices like smoking, drinking, and drugs. I’ve done my share of all of those, and I still actively partake in pretty much all of them.
No, I’m not a chain smoker. No, I’m not doing a bump of coke just to get my day started. I am, however, almost certainly a textbook functional alcoholic. But that’s not the point right now! The point is – I get it. I get how hard it is to walk away from something that is not only a useful outlet or release, but to walk away from something that has the grip on you that addiction can. I get it. I’ve been there. But I also get why you want to quit. And even though I’m kind of a poster child for “sometimes life just fucks you over” cases of cancer, I’m ALL for people reducing risk factors in any way. And here’s why: this is what a pretty typical day in my life looks like:
7:30 AM – First Alarm: This is what I’ve started to refer to as my Zombie Alarm. I simultaneously sit up and cringe as I wake up enough to become very aware of the stabbing pains and absurd tension my body has acquired overnight. I grab the six pills I sat next to my bed the previous night and take them. I lay back down and try to go back to sleep while they do their thing to dull the stabbing pains to a much more manageable throbbing ache.
8:30 AM – Second Alarm: Time to vomit! Yes, every day. Because while the pain medications do a great job of making my body less sore, they’re hell on my digestive system and don’t play well with my stomach. So the first thing I really do every day is vomit. The quick trot or frantic sprint to the bathroom (depending how long I put this part of my day off) is the first test of how rough of a day it’s going to be, because some days – well, some days my body just doesn’t let me move as fast as I’d like.
9:30 AM – By this point I’m usually done vomiting (although not always), and I’ve usually also managed to brush my teeth at least once by this point. It’s getting close to the time that I need to take my next round of pills, and I need to eat with this particular set. I spend the next 30 minutes scowling into my pantry as I exhaust all the options of things that seem like they might be edible and easily digestible (read: not quite so terrible to throw up later), before settling on Teddy Grahams. (At least they’re cute, right?)
10:00 AM – More pill popping! Oh, and if it’s a Wednesday, I get to give myself a shot, too! Double Fun!
10:30 AM – More vomiting, usually. If not, it’s back to bed because it takes all those meds a while to get their shit together and it’s just best to sleep off the worst of the beginning of side effects.
12:30 PM – Time to get up and go to work. If I’m lucky, the side effects are now manageable. If I’m not, I chug Pepto, take four advil, chug a glass of water, and hope the room stops spinning before I need to leave the house.
2:00 PM – Leave for work. And, yes, it takes me an hour and a half to shower, change, and put on make-up. The process that normally would take me 20 minutes, 30 minutes tops, is drastically slowed by 1) the three times I have to get out of the shower to throw up, 2) the constant battle against the ever present cotton mouth side effect, 3) the almost arthritic feeling of pain spread across my body at any given time.
3:30 PM – Work. I rally and show up at my job. I give myself a mental pep talk before standing behind a register for six and a half hours. I regularly tag in a co-worker to cover my register while heading to the bathroom to cringe in pain, take more pain killers, and/or vomit. During my break(s) I sit before I collapse. It’s always a very real struggle to get back up and going again. (And not in the “oh, I don’t wanna go back to work” kind of way. More in the “jesus fucking christ who replaced my legs with concrete and when did six kitchen knives get stuck in my back?” kind of way.)
10:30 PM – Home or Social Time. If I go home I collapse in bed immediately and become agitated with myself for not remembering to refill my water bottle when I wake up two hours later with the worst case of cotton mouth I’ve had all day. If I decide to be social to get all those “I haven’t seen you in ages” texts off my back or to escape my own depressing reality for a while, I slap on a game face first. I know no matter who I run into someone’s bound to do the “*sigh* so… how ARE you? *head-tilt*” thing. I fortify myself against the feelings of defeat and terror that seeing that response from friends will instill in me, and try to remember they’re only expressing concern out of a place of love.
1:30 AM – If I’ve been social, I’m home. And I’m collapsing. Sometimes literally. (Okay, only three times literally.) I start filling the bath tub to soak in epsom salts, because maybe, just maybe, that will help dull some of the ever present throbbing pains and aches that I’ve become too accustom to.
2:00 AM – In bed. Trying to sleep, but probably just trying not to cry or scream.
4:30 AM – Wake up to vomit. Realize on the way back that my body’s getting sore.
7:30 AM – Repeat
So, there it is. That’s my day in a nutshell. It’s not glamorous. It’s not fun. It’s not something I would ever wish on my worst enemy. And I sure as fuck wouldn’t want to watch any of my friends go through this.
I can’t and won’t tell you what to do with your life. But, if you’re looking for motivation to keep making healthy decisions for yourself, look no further. You DON’T want this to be your life. Trust me. And keep on fighting the good fight! I believe in you!