Well, believe it or not, I was once a VERY dedicated smoker. A 20 a day in regular time and a 30 a day when socializing, and yes I stank like old stompies, had that aweful smokers breath and battled to walk uphill or up stairs. I was into healthy eating and addicted to nicotine for more years than I would like to mention. My kids wouldn’t kiss me because they said I stank – nice one! They hid my cigarettes away and had to give them back as I threatened them with ….. The addiction was so strong that I continued to offer them secondhand smoke after breakfast lunch and supper, and inbetween meals too. Everytime my Mother’s sister phoned (long-distance) she asked whether I was still smoking and begged my Mother to ask me to quit. She had been a hot breakfast person for years – a cigarette and a cup of black coffee, but now struggled for breath while she slowly died from emphysema. I heard and heard all the stories and like so many, figured that it wouldn’t happen to me. Well a number of events and the deeper knowledge that this was ultimately to my detriment spurred me to make a date to give up.
The first key event was a man who I met up with after many years. I remembered him as always having a cigarette hanging out of his mouth and his fingers being yellow from the nicotine stains. I was amazed that he had given up smoking as he seemed seriously dedicated to his cigarettes. Anyway, he then proceeded to tell me that he had emphysema. I wasn’t surprised, but then the bombshell hit me! He had just been diagnosed with the dreaded disease BUT, wait for it, 13 years after he gave up smoking. OMG, I had obviously been misinformed. I figured you gave up and you were safe. Apparently not.
Then, my Father at 72, who had been smoking for about 30 years suddenly dropped the packet and never picked it up again. I was astounded. I never thought of him as the type of person who could do that. And then it happened. I figured if he could do it then I could do it. Mmmm easier said than done.
Well I set this all up as a serious plan. Michael and I were to be married on 24th December in the Drakensberg mountains. We left Johannesburg on 16th December – the public holiday. I had arranged to have mustard seeds plastered to my ear in specific acupuncture points for me to press on when I felt the nicotine devil enticing me. In addition I had some homeopathic drops to calm me. All set, I planned to have just a few cigarettes for before we left. I remember standing in the carpark at Sloane Square while the family went to buy last minute provisions. I sucked on that cigarette in terror knowing it was my last. We hopped into the car and as we pulled onto the highway I took the last drag and flicked the stompie out of the window. My last environmental pollution of stompies flicked any and everywhere, last smoke into the air, last personal pollution. That was the easy part, the tough times were still to come.