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Friday, September 30, 2011

Quit Smoking

There are instances in your life where you experience an epiphany.  Sometimes the experience is filled with full knowledge and colored with gold.  Other times it is a glimpse of something just out of the corner of your eye until one day you can see the flower (idea) in full bloom.  You have missed it growing but felt it needling.  More often than not, my epiphanies occur after I have thought, dreamed, pondered, looked at from all sides, and then for some mysterious reason, I have a whole body eureka moment. 

Roughly a month ago, I made a list.  I had pondered this list, added to it as recollection allowed.  I had dreamed of the people on my list and they all tried to teach me the same lesson; quit smoking.

I hear my sister sing to me….no, just like me she couldn’t carry a tune if it was in a pocket that was buttoned…but, I hear her sing to me.  Mostly, she sings about where she is buried.  I know that sounds a little morbid, but that’s how she gets my attention.  Roses.  She sings a song with the wrong lyrics, inserting roses in lieu of the correct words.  My ADD has a problem with that. 

So, I made a list and have looked at all the people who touched my life and have fallen victim of this horrible disease. 

Blanche Mahan                  Maternal Grandmother               Ovarian
Sandra Isles (Sam)             Sister                                         Lung
Linda Hollenbeck               Sister-in-law                              Ovarian
Vicki Paulus                       Sister-in-law                               Breast
Cheryl Lull                         Sister Friend                               Breast
Nancy Hentchell                 Sister Friend                               Lung
Tim Viehl                            Friend                                        Colon
Hugo Madsen                     Friend                                        Prostate
Jim Brown                          School Chum                              Prostate
Marty Sause                       Ex-Husband                                Lung
Sue Young                          Sister Friend                               Precancerous melanoma
Todd Mesack                      Friend                                        Lung
Barb Nelson                        Neighbor                                    Lung
Robin Blake                        Sister Friend                               Colon
Karen Morgan                    Sister Friend                               Lung
Me                                                                                        Melanoma

About seven years ago, my doctor instructed me to take vitamin D3.  I thought, ok, one more I will take but not know what I am doing.  Then at a yard sale I bought an old book called “Vitamins and You” This particular book was written by a female doctor about 40 years ago.  It was fairly old, but my thought was that at least it wouldn’t be caught up with the vitamin fad of the day and I would have an opportunity to see whether or not our latest fashion vitamin was even thought of back then. 

Wow, was I surprised.  Yes, the vitamins you are urged to take today were known about back then.  That long ago and the need for vitamin D was for more than just rickets.  Rickets was the least of the problems….cancer was the real danger of not getting enough vitamin D.  Go figure. No wonder they added it to milk.  Even back then…all those years ago, they touted beets and especially eating beet greens in salads as a huge boon to the reduction of any cancerous cell growth. 

I have added beets to my diet.  I even found a few recipes that I really do like!  Aunt Nellies sweet and sour beets are probably my favorite.  I have been taking my vitamin D3, religiously since told to by my doctor all those years ago.  Back then I thought I was taking that vitamin for my “lady parts”….maybe. 
In this book, the author admonishes people to observe their skin.  The darker your skin the more you can stay outside to absorb your vitamin D from the sun…however, as people we no longer are outside.  Therefore, the darker your skin the more vitamin D you need to ingest.  As a blonde Caucasian, I need to take a minimum of 1000mg per day. 

I quit smoking a couple of weeks ago. 
Smoking cessation timeline – the health benefits over time
§  In 20 minutes, your blood pressure and pulse rate decrease, and the body temperature of your hands and feet increase.  Great like I wasn’t warm enough with Hot Flashes
§  Carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke reduces the blood’s ability to carry oxygen. At 8 hours, the carbon monoxide level in your blood decreases to normal. With the decrease in carbon monoxide, your blood oxygen level increases to normal. No wonder my head has felt woozie!
§  At 24 hours, your risk of having a heart attack decreases. That’s good, ‘cause sitting here listening to my butt get bigger has made my heart palpitate.
§  At 48 hours, nerve endings start to regrow and the ability to smell and taste is enhanced. That litter box!  Ohhh…to think I didn’t used to like chocolate!
§  Between 2 weeks and 3 months, your circulation improves, walking becomes easier and you don’t cough or wheeze as often. Phlegm production decreases. Within several months, you have significant improvement in lung function. Please don’t tell my family this….they already think I should wait on them hand and foot…to think I can walk easier, they will want me to do more!
§  In 1 to 9 months, coughs, sinus congestion, fatigue and shortness of breath decrease as you continue to see significant improvement in lung function. Cilia, tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs, regain normal function. Like the hair in my nose doesn’t already grow fast enough….
I joke, but the truth is…it has been a few weeks and I can still taste ashes.  I can taste the charcoal of the cigarette. I can feel the heat in my mouth and lungs.  I walk and ride a stationary bike for exercise.  I try very hard to make my lungs labor.  I want that taste gone.  I want to worry about what to wear to my granddaughter’s wedding, not who will be my next friend to succumb to this horrendous disease.  
Watching my sister die was scary.  Listening to her, dreaming about her, maybe she will let me get some rest now that I have admonished all those who take the time to read this.  I plan to live to be 92 and would like to make sure there are people around who “get” my jokes!!



  1. I am really proud of you Leigh. I plan to live to be at least 92 and I want you to be there with me. I love you.

  2. My husband and I both quit 2 years, 8 months ago. Him because of 4 bypasses. After his surgery, the cardio doc came to the waiting room to talk to me. Mixed in with the usual after surgery family talk, his dr said one thing that pierced my heart. He said my husband can NEVER smoke again. At that moment, there was a screaming voice in my brain that said "I WILL NOT BE HIS STUMBLING BLOCK!!!" And I quit too. When the motivation is strong enough, you can do anything!

    Good job!

  3. Great post--I wish more smokers would read this. I was never a smoker--but came from a family of very heavy smokers. Most have quit by now--but cancer has scared them into quitting. I'd love to be listening to your jokes when you are 92!! I'm over here cheering for you!! Cheers, Jenn.