Both my parents smoked when I was a kid. Living in a blue haze was just our unquestioned reality. When I turned 18, I started smoking too. A stupid decision, I know, but there you go. I smoked for 15 years, a pack-and-a-half a day. Once I read an article which said that your degree of addiction could be determined by how long a time period elapsed before you had your first cigarette after getting out of bed in the morning. Getting out of bed? When my alarm went off, I would roll over, grab my smokes off the bedside table and light up. *aaaaaahhhhh* After that, I might think about starting my day.
Occasionally I contemplated quitting but I never tried it. Everyone said quitting smoking was too hard. Nearly impossible, in fact. "Harder to kick than heroin," they all said.
Twenty years ago today -- June 25, 1990 -- I had some day surgery performed in hospital under general anesthetic. Waking up in the recovery room, I rather groggily saw a man standing by my bed. He introduced himself as Dr. So-and-So, my anesthetist. "Gee," I thought to myself, "what a nice guy to take the time to be here when I wake up." Then he leaned over me and yelled in my face, "YOU'RE GOING TO DIE IF YOU DON'T QUIT SMOKING!" Apparently, my breathing was seriously compromised while I was out and they had to shove a bunch more tubes down my throat to keep my airways clear.
I quit smoking right then and there, cold turkey. I was told not to smoke for 3 days anyway because my throat was like raw meat from inserting the tubes. So I just kept on extending that period indefinitely. And I didn't use the patch, nicotine gum, hypnotism, acupuncture or anything like that. I just kept on resisting one cigarette -- the next one.
Was it tough? Sure. Was it the toughest thing I've ever done in my life? Absolutely not. Actually, I'm kind of pissed off at all those people who said it was impossible to quit smoking. Believing them held me back. If I'd known it was so doable, I'd have quit years earlier.