I have multiple sclerosis and I smoke cigarettes – well that is I did, up until 21 days ago (and counting!) I have had MS for 11 years. I had my first cigarette when I was 12 years old and became a “regular” smoker by the age of 16. Because I have chosen to share WAY too much about my life living with a chronic illness and using cannabis as my medication on my blog, the whole world knows that I have MS. Until last week when I posted THIS LETTER to my cigarettes, 99% of people who know me had no idea that I smoke cigarettes.
I have ALWAYS hidden my smoking – from just about EVERYONE. Of the few people that did know my secret, most thought I was just an occasional smoker – you know, the people that “only smoke when they drink.” But nope, I was a full fledge smoker for years and years. I have occasionally quit – but only when confronted with a damn good reason – being pregnant with all three of my kids were the three times I gave it up. One would think that being diagnosed with MS would be another damn good reason – especially given all the research that says smoking is “especially bad” for those living with MS. But my nicotine addicted mind took it as an opportunity to smoke MORE – after all – STRESS is bad for those living with this chronic illness and my warped smoke afflicted logic was that smoking RELAXED me.
That may have been the case some time in the distance past but for the past few years it has done nothing but disgusted and embarrassed me. I KNOW that smoking is bad for my health. I KNOW that it kills people and I KNOW that it can make my MS symptoms worse and yet time and time again I would find myself swinging into the local Arco to pick up a pack of smokes. I would constantly calculate when I would have my next cigarette and I would obsess over figuring out how many I had left and planning when I could make my next visit to the gas station.
That is until 15 days ago, when I decided to out myself as a smoker and announce that I was going to quit. For your average person that might mean that the 176 people on FB and 245 Twitterers would know that I have this disgusting habit BUT I have over 15K people following me and my stories of living with MS. Beyond MSers and other spoonies from all over the world, my family, friends and KIDS all follow what I post on my blog. So to put it out there, so publically was my insurance that I wasn’t going to flake out on this, that I was going to take a day or two off and then head right back to the Arco for my fix.
For the past year, as I have used cannabis as my medicine, and I have found relief from the pain and have experienced great improvements to the quality of my life, SMOKING has been the ONE thing that was still there – taunting me that I would never actually be TRULY healthy, because I couldn’t imagine my life without cigarettes. They have always been a part of my life – and because of the pains I took to hide it, it took up a lot of my time and energy. I was always thinking about smoking, not only the act of smoking a cigarette, but about how much I HATED that I smoke. As the year clicked by, I began to realize that the only thoughts I was having were negative ones. I didn’t LIKE that I smoked, I didn’t LIKE how it tasted. I didn’t LIKE how it smelled – I hated EVERYTHING about smoking – and yet I kept doing it.
Until now. When I took my last puff and flicked the butt into the firepit in our backyard, I honestly didn’t know that it was going to be my LAST cigarette. I had written the letter – and it sat unpublished for over a week, because I had to build up the courage to share my secret. I knew that once I outed myself, that I was going to use every ounce of determination to break my addiction. I may falter, but that won’t stop me from succeeding.
I posted my piece about being a smoker, cut up and soaked the remaining cigarettes I had in the pack in my purse, and began the battle. It’s been over two weeks and truthfully, I don’t feel as if I have made it to a notable milestone, yet. I still get cravings. I am still spending WAY too much time thinking about cigarettes and not smoking. The little voice in my head is still trying to convince me that this is only temporary, it wants me to believe that if I only stay strong and resist the urge to smoke, that my reward will be to have a cigarette. Kinda fucked up I know, but that’s what addiction does to you.
I am determined to win this battle and I look forward to the day that I can honestly say I am NOT a smoker. I KNOW that I can do this because thanks to MS, I KNOW I am strong, I KNOW that I can do this. I’ve put up with MS and all it’s glorious bullshit for the past decade, and every time it tries to knock me down, I get back up, stronger and more determined than ever and that is exactly how I am going about this “quitting smoking thing.” Cigarettes and smoking are the enemy and just like with my battles with MS – failure is NOT an option!
Have you ever smoked and quit?
Meg was an active 37 year old with three young kids when she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Ten years have passed, her kids are no longer little and she continues to find the reasons to laugh and smile at all this disease doles out. She believes that her kids are better people for seeing her embrace all that comes with the disease with a positive attitude. In her blog she talks about the good, the bad and the downright funny shit that happens when living with a chronic illness. She has begun to use cannabis to help with the chronic pain and is now also sharing her “MMJ Adventures” with her readers.
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