Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sixty Six Hours

by John Haywood

   I decided to quit smoking… about eight years ago. I’ve tried quitting cold turkey, cutting back, swapping to lights, and exercising whenever I had cravings. Nothing has worked. Every time I saw someone else with a cigarette it just drove me crazy. I had to have one. I managed at one point to go two months without a cigarette, found myself playing hackey sack in a smoking area, and finished a friend’s cigarette. And there I was, back to smoking.

Last month I went camping with a group of friends and a one of our group had these electronic cigarettes, Blu Cigs he called them because, well, the tip glowed blue. He let me try one and it wasn’t bad. Not as strong as a regular (or as the e-cig community calls them, analog) cigarette, but better tasting. He informed us that he hasn’t smoked an analog cigarette in months and didn’t even miss them. Well that offended the cigarette gods that I sacrifice to multiple times a day and I pulled a smoke out to tempt him. I sat right next to him and puffed away. He did the same, but when he puffed there was no coughing, no throat clearing, no squinting to keep the smoke out of his eyes. He said he could breathe again for the first time in years. I was astounded.

See these e-cigarettes don’t burn, they vaporize. Inside is a liquid that is basically just water and nicotine. No smoke, no tar, no crazy chemicals. My wife and I decided right then that we had to get this and try it out. Imagine being able to breathe. That’s what I’ve had to do for years now, imagine.

As soon as I got home I researched this Blu Cig, and found out that even though it cuts the price of your habit in half, it is expensive to start off. But so are all the quit smoking aids and in my experience they don’t work that well. A month later, despite the initial cost for my already poor family, we ordered our Blu Cigs. We smoked the last of our analogs and delved into our new packs.

That first evening we were fine, still giddy on our new product and feeling very proud of our prudence. The next couple of days, however, were a different story. We started our withdrawals. We were shaky, irritable, headachy and just plain hostile toward one another and the children. BUT we did not have to pick up a cigarette. My wife started coughing up some strange science experiments and our chests were tight as our bodies decided to begin expelling years’ worth of accumulated death in waiting. We pondered over this as we puffed on our vapor, watching all the smokers at her work coughing, spitting, and otherwise enjoying the habit of smoking.

We are on our third full day without, and we woke up feeling much better. We are still irritable, but we are able to deflect our anger into acerbic humor. My wife keeps smelling her fingertips and saying, “They don’t stink.”  I no longer have a bees’ hive in my head and I’m not gazing as longingly at the empty packs on the floorboard of my car. Pretty soon I may be fit for polite society again and able to play with my dog without being winded.

There are other benefits as well. While the neighbor kids steal their parents’ cigarettes and start the cycle again, my kids will no longer have that option. They will no longer think “If it’s okay for you, then it’s okay for me,” because it is NOT okay for any of us. No more burns on clothing or in the car. My asthmatic younger daughter hasn’t complained of difficulty breathing all week (that alone makes it worth it). I can tell my doctor that I will make it to my children’s graduations, and hopefully their children’s as well.

But what it really boils down to is this: Thank you Phillip, you may very well have saved my life, and the lives of every member of my family. You are awesome.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Welcome Home - A Tribute to a Hero

1000 meters (1 Klick)  outside Con Thien in Vietnam, Carl C was greivously wounded on May 27, 1969. His weeks long homecoming parade from Vietnam consisted of a few days in hospitals from Dong Ha and DaNang, Vietnam, to Guam, Japan, and onward to Washington DC. There he was transported from an airport to a military hospital in a bus with chained link fencing over the windows to keep protestors from bashing them. A few days later he was on board an intensive care hospital flight to the Charleston, SC naval hospital and months later made it to Georgia's Dekalb VA Hospital. Along the way, he underwent over 25 operations and  spent months in a body cast. He was
put on the Marine Corps' permanently disabled  retired list with a VA disability of 100%  plus loss of use of a hand and a foot . 

Since 9-11 and America's recent wars, being a Vietnam veteran has finally become honorable. Before then, veterans from Vietnam weren't welcomed  home by their fellow  Americans, not even by some veterans of previous wars. Our country was disenchanted with that war and blamed the warriors instead of the politicans. After all the Vietnam vets  became the symbols of  an epidemic of drugs, violence, homelessness and other symptoms of dysfunction. 

Nine years ago, my husband, Carl C, joined the Marine Corps League. Slowly my long haired, bearded recluse of a husband transformed into a rehabilitated Marine. He found his long lost tribe. These men were several generations of Marines and they understood and supported each other. Carl C greeted all combat veterans from then on with, "Welcome Home and Thank You."

A fellow Marine came home from Afganistan last week with both legs amputated  and many other injuries. His hometown welcomed him with a parade, declared the day, "Tony Mullis Day" and politicians galore escorted him to a ceremony in his honor where they took the opportunity to talk.

Through MCL Detachment 970, Carl C was able to participate in this 2.7 mile Georgia hot summer day parade. As an annoymous veteran, he rolled in his wheelchair  behind the Marine Corps League Color Guard and a lone Highway Patrol bagpiper. At 62, my husband was the youngest man of the lead contingent who were the only ones in the parade who walked (rolled) the entire way.  Heroes each one.