smokin’ neurons!

after reading so much lately about the negative connections between smoking and ms – even that smoking in early life can make one more likely to “catch,” ms, and that smoking has been proven to advance the progression of the disease, i read in “mydepressionconnection” on health central, that people exposed to second hand smoke are more likely to suffer from depression and other psychological distresses.

don’t get me wrong – i was a committed habitual smoker from high school to parenthood, let’s say 25 years. it could be that there is a connection between my history of smoking and my ms diagnosis, and my depression as well – who knows. and i know this is going to upset some people to one degree or another, but when i see people smoking now all i can think of is russian roulette. with each puff, there hangs in the cloud of smoke the question, will i get emphysema or not? maybe breast cancer? skin, or lip or throat cancer? or maybe just prematurely aged skin at the very least? living with a progressive, incurable disease, albeit not one that is likely to kill me, i don’t understand how people (and, remember, i was one myself) can choose to engage in a behavior that is toxic in so many unquestionable ways, and quite often leads to one or more progressive, incurable diseases that WILL kill you. why would anyone want to play that game? if i’d known then what i know now, i’d probably never have picked the stinky things up, or at least would have given them up long before i did.

but, hey, if i was told i only had two weeks to live, one of the first things i think i’d do is go out and buy a carton of smokes. i smoked one or two here and there for years, after quitting the habit almost 25 years ago, even after my ms diagnosis. the last one i smoked, about 9 months ago, i could feel it almost instantly all through my body, and was practically paralyzed. and yet, i miss it every day. but being now a on-smoker, i realize what i probably used to smell like, without realizing it, thinking a stick of gum or a breath mint would cover it up.

i don’t mean to tell anyone they shouldn’t smoke. you’d have to have been living under a rock not to know how bad those things are for you (again, just as i knew it when i smoked them) so you don’t need me to moralize. that’s one of the great things about being a grown up – we get to make those choices.  but i have a different perspective now, and those choices look very different to me.


Author: stephen

stephen harris is a writer, painter and a photographer who lives with his family in maine.

2 thoughts on “smokin’ neurons!”

  1. I quit 18 years, 4 months and 9 days ago. I am ever so glad that I did. Although I am very tolerant of people who smoke, I do wonder about all the trouble it causes almost everyone who does it. My blood pressure was always high, I always had a cough, and yes, after I quit I realized how downright pervasive the stink of it is. If I were to be told that I only had 2 weeks to live, I’d clean out my bank account and go find a steam train to ride. I think I would get more pleasure out of smoking a train than a cigarette:-)

  2. I had a professor in college, Dr. Weisbord, who was about 80 and may have had a better career as a stand up comedian (this is not to say he wasn’t a brilliant teacher, and one of my favorites), who once caught one of my classmates smoking outside before class and asked if we were aware just how stupid one had to be to start smoking. “when i was a kid, everybody did it,” he explained. “there wasn’t the research there is, now. your entire life you’ve known what those things do to you, why in the WORLD would you still start that habit?”

    that said, i’ve never started. one of a handful of few and far between wise pieces of advice my father gave me was “if you never start, you never have to quit.” it just always made sense to me.

    and THAT said, kind of unfortunately, most of my happiest childhood memories come rushing back whenever i’m around somebody who lights a cigarette…since so many happy moments occurred around polly or susu…

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