One was routine, one is because at my doctor’s appointment, I had an enlarged thyroid and the last is because I was a tool for 26 years.
I smoked my first cigarette when I was 9.
I smoked for many many years. I would have to say regularly from the age of 16 or so.
My doctor is super prepared and believes in a baseline for everything. I do adore him for this fact. I’d rather face my past. I’m lying. I am full of crap. No I wouldn’t. Not at all. I would like to pretend that I wasn’t a stupid ass. I would like to pretend that I had it all together and made excellent choices all of my life. The truth is, I was a moron, enslaved to a thankless cause.
The way I started writing (publicly) was in a journal on a quit smoking website. That was my debut. And mystically, people related to it; which dumbfounded me. I was always told that I was nuts so there was no possible way that anyone else thought the way I did. Well, I guess I was wrong. That was probably nine years ago. Guess what? It took me seven more years to get my act together.
So I’m in the gown with the back open and on the table and up until this point, the attendants have put me at ease and I feel good. I feel good about me. I’m awesome. I’ve got the world by the butt and wait…..yes ma’am, I smoked since I was 16. I quit at 43. Let me take off my shoes to do the big math, but that’s a truckload of time that I willingly put carcinogens in my body every day, twenty times a day at least because once upon a time I thought it made me look badass. Or I was rebelling against my mother. Or I was trying to emulate a former neighbor. Any way you slice it, it was my life, for better or worse for 27 years. I’d quit here and there but obviously spent the better part of almost 3 decades as a legalized junkie. With every passing word I felt the weight of my past addiction as my own confessional conversation sat squarely on my shoulders.
So the scan……back to that. I don’t know how people do this knowing that something is wrong. It’s terrifying.
You are swept down a bed on a conveyor belt into a machine. There are red lights and green lights. A disembodied voice tells you when you can breathe normally or to hold your breath. And as you’re in there you have a moment to reflect. That’s all it takes is a moment to remember. Why am I here? What if something is there? I was asked how long I smoked. I lied – a vague dismissive wimp lie. Twenty mumble mumble years. Twentyish. How about that? I announced that I had quit smoking two years ago proudly and got the obligatory response that I made a good choice. Kind of like what I tell my husband when he does the dishes. “Ooooo yay for you! You want a cookie?” It didn’t make me feel any better and I wish instead of saying two years I could have said five, ten, twenty. I’ve got two. It’s better than nothing. I had to face some funky stuff when I quit smoking. It was the ultimate lesson for me. I learned that I am worth fighting for; my husband taught me that. He loved me more than I loved myself. I learned that somehow in writing in the honest and forthright manner (the only way I know how) that I have something worth saying. I learned that I am worth loving. I believe that there is an element of self loathing in every addiction. It robs us of our belief in ourselves; and only once you’re out do you see it for what it really is.
I know I’m not alone and I certainly have ZERO room to bitch and moan when there are people dealing with real disease and this afternoon was more than likely a baseline scan. I pray.
But it just made me think about the choices we make and the inevitable results that follow. We all have them. Some people overeat, some get into drugs, some drink to heavily, some smoke; and we all have to answer for it at one point or another. My first blog entry was a semi-joke about my husband’s health choice. Now it’s mine, even though I already made it years ago. Life is a series of choices. I had to face being….a supposed rebel. American badass? And idiot? Or a self misguided kid who threw away the map to life because she thought she knew more than her parents. It only took 27 years to realize she didn’t know jack.
I’m still learning. God willing, I’ll continue to do so until the day I die.
On a sidenote? Apparently I have a beautiful thyroid. Small victories. Also, I’m still a rebel, but a smartass rebel.