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Letter to Cilia

April 5, 2008

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April 2008 NaBloPoMo

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Dear Cilia,

You have probably noticed by now that I quit smoking and you are gaining back some of your ability to move the mucus out of my lungs. You are doing a great job healing yourself. We’ve been smoke-free for four weeks! That must be why my lungs find it necessary to cough violently and expel mucus so often. I don’t hold it against you. I try to imagine what you are going through. You were all sticky and tangled and stunted and abused for so long; fourteen years of exposure to cigarette smoke has been hard on you. You must really enjoy when I make plans to have a baby. The planning and detoxing stage, the pregnancy, and the first few months of breastfeeding are a hiatus for you, Cilia, even if your health is secondary in my mind to that of a baby.

Even though I don’t experience physical symptoms of withdrawal like shaking or nervousness, the evidence that you are beginning to function again is my physical reminder that I am not smoking. When I am smoking, you are quiet and I don’t notice you. It’s hard to quit and be rewarded by coughing fits, but I think I understand.

I am emotionally addicted to nicotine. I hope you will forgive me for the decisions I have made in the past which have harmed you. I have a birthday coming soon, and it would be great to say that, from age 29 on, I didn’t smoke. “I smoked when I was younger,” I plan on saying. Wouldn’t you like that? We could use this plan for a future baby and this coming birthday as catalysts to quit, and then you wouldn’t ever have to worry about smoke damage again!

You have a tough time being inside my lungs where I can’t see you. I haven’t felt responsible for your health. Even when I saw some other smoker’s lungs in a biology textbook or on the Oprah show, I didn’t care. I rationalized. You know, I only smoked one or two cigarettes a day so I haven’t had the yellow teeth or yellow fingers and nails that other smokers might have. I could wash and brush the smell away fairly easily, so I wasn’t self-conscious about that. I would just smoke on my balcony, enjoying the short break from whatever I was doing. I wasn’t too public about it, but then again I wasn’t ashamed. I just thought I deserved to smoke those cigarettes. But you didn’t deserve them. I’m sorry I was selfish.


The one who makes the decisions that determine your health

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  1. April 5, 2008 12:49 pm

    Congrats on quitting! I quit back in September (again) after smoking for a year prior. All the stress of my life back then led me in picking the habit up again after quitting for nearly 6yrs. You know what they say, never quit quitting.

    I can now proudly say that most days, I never even think about smoking. At first, you get those pangs of longing whenever you see someone else light up or smell their after smoke smell. But most days now, I’m ok.

    My hubby quit back in Sept too but then I discovered he had started up again in Feb… oops. When he returns, he’ll be quitting again (or he’ll quit living here LOL).

    Be proud of yourself! It’s so hard to quit but it’s well worth it. Your lungs and body thank you and your pocket book as well. Isn’t it great to not have your hair reek?

  2. April 5, 2008 8:51 pm

    Yes, it is nice. I’ve smoked since I was 14 and I’ve quit a few times, but after a year or so I convince myself that I like smoking and that I should start again. 😦 My husband is a smoker too, especially when he’s at work. It’s part of their construction/installation job culture.

  3. pppj permalink
    April 5, 2008 9:29 pm


    Congrat’s for quitting, and especially when your husband smokes! That must be so hard. I grew up with my mom as a smoker, and when I’d call from grade school with forgotten permission slips, etc… I can STILL hear her intake of that puff of cig and the exhale of her breath as she weighed the idea of coming to save my lazy child self by bringing me the item I needed.

    To this day, that intake of breath..the pause…and the breath out always made me so nervous.

    Congrat’s again!

  4. April 5, 2008 9:48 pm

    PPPJ, that’s so true of me as a smoker, weighing the requests of others. Sometimes it takes over your thought process and can make you unnecessarily unkind. Thanks for your support!

  5. April 6, 2008 12:36 am

    That would be excellent to be able to quit smoking! My husband smoked when we were first married, but i was allergic and always sneezing, and then he’d accuse me of nagging him–so finally he quit. 🙂

  6. April 6, 2008 11:12 am

    Julia, it is hard to quit when you don’t have anyone nagging you. Nagging is good. 🙂 I hope my husband will quit soon too, but he usually doesn’t do it at home anyway, just at work.

    My cough is awful. I hope it is just part of recovery and not bronchitis or pneumonia. Last night I couldn’t stop and I coughed so much that I threw up. 😥

  7. pppj permalink
    April 6, 2008 12:24 pm

    Oh, I hate that! I have that happen to me when I cough really hard. I never had a problem before I became pregnant for the first time, but now if I have a coughing fit I immediately worry that I will throw up.

  8. April 11, 2008 3:15 pm

    What a wonderful gift you are giving so many, your lungs, your heart, your nose, your mouth, your taste buds, your pocketbook, your daughter, your son, your husband, your parents, your friends, your mind, your spirit, and your cilia. You Go Girlfriend!

    A baby???????? ***grinning a mile wide***

  9. April 12, 2008 4:53 pm

    PPPJ, it’s unfortunately one of the consequences. But this week I feel so much better and I’m not coughing nearly as much.

    CG, thank you for writing out all of those reasons for me. I appreciate it!!! Yes, we are considering having another baby. We already have two to replace our own selves and now it’s time to have one “for the government.” 😀 I don’t know how soon, but if I think about my addiction to smoking it helps to think about detoxing for the sake of the hypothetical baby.

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