Tuesday, Mar. 11, 2014
My Smoking Career - Part 1.Posted Thursday, September 8, 2011, at 3:35 PM
Today, September 5, 2011, I celebrate my twenty ninth year of being nicotine free. It is one of the few things I'm really proud of accomplishing because it was such a life changing event. After I kicked the habit, I promised myself that during my anniversary month, I would talk about my smoking habit and the battle I fought to be free of nicotine. Hopefully, if you are a smoker and read this confession, you will quit. If you don't smoke then maybe you will pass it on to a friend who smokes.
In the Beginning -- Part 1.
I began my career as a cigarette smoker in the fall of 1960. I was fifteen. My boyfriend was a smoker and so I sort of fell into it. But, there I go rationalizing. I can't blame my habit on an old flame. Here's the real "down and dirty".
Oh, how sophisticated I felt in my sophomore year at high school. I really thought smokers - especially women - looked so cool and glamorous. And why not have that attitude? All the Hollywood stars smoked and they were certainly the coolest and most glamorous people on earth. I started smoking and kept with it, because I was convinced it made me look older and set me apart as being daring.
My parents, on the other hand, didn't smoke and neither did their friends. My parents hated smoking of any kind but especially cigarettes. They were in their late fifties when I was in high school. In my opinion, my parents were definitely too old to be cool or glamorous.
At first, I'd smoke a few cigs a week, when I was away from home. But, by the time I was a senior in high school, I was smoking a half pack a day.
I graduated from high school in June of 1962 and the following fall, I began my freshman year at the University of Minnesota. I attended the "U" for a year and then dropped out after a long bout with mononucleosis.
In the fall of 1964, after I recovered from "mono", I went job hunting and was hired by a large manufacturing company. I worked in their office as a clerk. It was a glorified bookkeeper's job and I was paid $52.00 per week.
That same fall, I auditioned for a musical comedy at a local community theater and was cast as an alto in the chorus. I met my husband, Carl, who was cast as a tenor in the same production. We began dating the first of the New Year. We were mutually attracted with many shared interests and we appreciated each other's sense of humor. We were falling in love.
In March we were married. It was 1965; I was twenty one and had entered my sixth year of smoking. I was also pregnant.
In May, I was required to quit my job due to my company's policy concerning pregnancy in the work place. I guess they thought being "PG" was communicable. I was now a "stay at home mom in waiting" and smoked out of boredom and loneliness while waiting for Carl to arrive home daily from teaching school. But, if the truth be told, I was really worried about the prospect of motherhood. Would I be able to handle the responsibility of caring for an infant? However, smokers just like any other chemically dependant people, can always justify their abuse. Being bored, lonely and worried were my excuses.
That fall, when Eve was born, she was premature by three weeks. Eve was supposed to be a Halloween baby. She was only 6 lbs. 10 oz. and she seemed to cry constantly. She slept only six hours a day. Eve was a breech baby which required a Caesarean section. That meant that I was recovering from a major operation, as well as, trying to cope with a fussy baby. I was a physical and emotional wreck.
Throughout Eve's baby and toddler years, she was hyperactive and rarely took naps. What a perfect excuse for me to smoke more. I was now smoking a pack a day.
Eve was two and one half years old, when I knew that there had to be something wrong with her.
I felt it was more than immaturity. She just had no desire to learn. I tried to read to her, but she pushed the books away and ran around the apartment. She couldn't sit quietly more than a few minutes.
By this time, I had devoted nine years to smoking cigarettes and was blowing away a pack and a half a day.
Finally, when Eve turned four, it was recommended by her preschool that we take her to a screening center for child behavior. Eve was tested and we were informed that she was damaged in three areas of learning. She was diagnosed as learning disabled. The center said dyslexia was her primary disability, then audio-memory lapse and finally hand/eye coordination. Hyperactivity was a main concern, as well.
Certainly there had been other childhood traumas that may have caused Eve's brain damage, such as being premature, or an overdose of anesthetic during an eye operation, or a high fever from Roseola and an accompanied convulsion, but smoking while I was pregnant with Eve and the second hand smoke she ingested, could have also caused her disabilities. However, I couldn't admit that possibility to myself till several years later, when I gave up smoking for the last time.
Next week: Part 2. The Monkey Called Nicotine.
In a Twist
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I'm Enid. No, not the town in Oklahoma, but a transplant to Eureka Springs from Minneapolis fourteen years ago. I'm a writer, journalist and sometime artist. My real love is expressing my opinions on almost any subject, as you have seen in my many letters to the Editor of The Lovely County Citizen over the years. Now, I'm happy to say that I will be writing a blog titled In a Twist for your amusement, amazement or commiseration. Thanks for giving me a read.