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I smoked until May 2009, when something changed me.
I would always wake up in the mornings without being able to breathe satisfactorily; my nose would always be blocked and I didn’t have a sense of smell. My mother has beautiful roses in her garden that smell really amazing, but I couldn’t smell them, nor could I smell the jasmine that was on our front porch. Because smoking had stifled my sense of smell, I was also unable to smell food and the different flavors in it.
When I was a student in Greece—and later in life—I would get the flu very easily and very often; I would get sick at least five to six times in a year. Now, if it only took a couple of days to get well from the flu and colds, that would be no issue worth mentioning, but unfortunately, it would always take about seven to ten days to fully recover.
While I was ill, my nose was blocked, my chest always felt like a fat man had sat on it, and I also suffered psychologically—I was so sick that I couldn’t enjoy smoking, which subconsciously informed me that I can live without it, since when I was sick, I could go for seven to ten days without smoking, and I didn’t have any cravings or urges (which I always found weird).
During that time, my body would clean out some of the ugly stuff. All together, I was basically sick for around four to six weeks each year! This was due to the destructive effects that smoking had on my immune system, as well as other systems.
The reason why smokers get sick more frequently and more severely is because the cigarette smoke prevents the cilia (the “brooms” of the lungs) from cleaning the lungs.
Also, the lungs and the airways have more mucus, which clogs them and makes you cough; this extra mucus that cannot be removed can easily result in an infection.
Smoking destroys the lung tissue, reducing the air capacity, which means less oxygen is carried to the body, and overall, you are less protected from infection because the natural defenses that your lungs have against infection don’t work as well.
I also noticed that I gained a lot of weight; I was 84 kgs (185 lbs) and I am 1.74 m (5 feet and 9 Inches) tall. I was overweight and I knew that when you smoke you don’t gain as much because its curbs one’s appetite, but there I was, a smoker who was overweight—not a very safe and healthy combination; I was a heart attack or stroke waiting to happen, and I was only 35 years old!
I was tired all of the time (my three jobs were sedentary ones, and I never had the time or motivation to exercise). I also started getting nasty acne on my chest and shoulders.
One of my three jobs was as a computer technician. One day, I got a call from a customer asking me if I had finished fixing his PC. I had, and he said because he was in a hurry, he would drive over and I should meet him on the road and deliver his PC there.
From my place to the road is a small hill. Because I had other things on my mind, I completely forgot that I had to meet the guy, so he gave me a call while he was at the street to remind me. I answered, I apologized, and then I grabbed the PC and ran uphill to go to the road. I couldn’t believe that I almost didn’t make it; I was aching everywhere, my lungs were screaming for oxygen, and I couldn’t catch my breath. I almost dropped the computer, and the guy thought I was having a heart attack.
That’s when I really woke up. All of my previous knowledge about smoking, all of my previous failed attempts at stopping, and all of the experiences around smoking somehow came together like a jigsaw puzzle and woke me up, breaking that fog that had prevented my mind from seeing the road.
The next day, I had an appointment with my dermatologist about the acne on my chest. One the things he said I should do was stop smoking: I think it was the first time I actually heard someone telling me that, and I actually agreed with him without getting angry.
Coming home with my father driving, we were smoking together and I told him that I wanted to stop smoking. To my surprise, my father agreed with me and said, “Yes, let’s stop smoking.” I think we smoked our last cigarette together in the car, or maybe we finished the last pack that we had on us the next day, but what matters is that we are both smoke-free even now, almost six years later.
This is an excerpt from my first book Thirsty for Health, if you liked it you can buy it from Amazon. Kindle and Paperback options are available.
Have a nice day.