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    Posted November 7, 2013 by
    CA, California
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    The last cigarette

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    Smoked Out of Good Health


    I had to spit in a cup. My throat was sore and incapable of making even the slightest movement. I had to allow my saliva to build up in my mouth to avoid choking on it. I was 23, a smoker of 10+ years and struggled with an aggressive form of strep throat that had been going on for 6 months. I would take my prescribed 7 day antibiotic and within 5-7 days of completing them, I would feel that familiar tickle and scratch in the back of my throat as it prepared its encore of hell. Driving in my car, I would flip down the sun visor and open my mouth so wide that the sun could light up the back of my throat. I was scared to look because the white spots and lesions I had grown to know too well, were back. Aside from the physiological effects, my sanity too was being tested by this relentless infection. "I was 23, why is this happening to me? My friends can smoke no problem. This isn't fucking fair!!". I loved smoking. The social aspect of it, the taste of it, the way it made me feel...everything about it was romantic to me. That is until my throat decided to turn against me - and when it did that, the last thing on my mind was a cigarette. But like a bad hangover getting better - the first moment of wellness, I'd reward myself with a toke of old faithful because I did afterall deserve it. I remember the last time I visited the clinic because of my strep throat. The Dr. put the wooden stick on my tongue and told me to say "Ahhh". As I did, I saw his eyes widen and his voice whisper "God". The reason is, my throat had turned a blackish grey. No joke, there was something terribly wrong happening.



    After a few weeks of another bout with antibiotics, I was driving to my grandma's house to meet my family due to her falling instantly ill, when I approached her driveway, my moms husband ran up to my car yelling "Grandma died!". I was shocked because this woman was an ox who smoked 4 packs of Pall Mall cigarettes a day and worked full time as a nurse. I always felt safe that this blood line relative could smoke like a chimney and still be ok all these years later. She looked 100 but acted 60. The reality of it is that she fell ill with pneumonia and her lungs couldn't support her any longer. The most ironic thing is that she knew that day when she fell ill that she wasn't going to make it through the night. So much so that she brought her living will and testament to the door when the paramedics arrived. It was strange how she had that "sick sense". That for me was the straw that broke the camels back. Now I was pissed. I just went through months and months of agonizing pain and now this? All brought on by cigarettes and smoking. I couldn't take it anymore. It had me by my feminine balls and I wasn't going allow it to take anything else from me. It was that day that I quit smoking for good.



    I drove home with cigarette in hand and the butt of my cigarette and my lips had a bitter sweet going away party. It was liberating and although the next month was filled with frustration and tears of giving up, I never did smoke another cigarette. I had to stop going out for a long time because you never really realize how long it takes to smoke a freaking cigarette. It's an important part of our sub culture and my non smoking self was getting in the way of all things fun. I stuck out like a sore thumb and sitting at the table while 10 of my friends smoked their hearts away outside was simply not cool anymore.



    13 years later I still find myself thinking about smoking another cigarette. I've had smoking dreams that felt so intimately real that the line of reality and fantasy blurred out my memory. I know I didn't smoke but sometimes those dreams feel really good and sometimes with real regret.



    Similar to that of when I took my last drink 16 months ago, but that's another story.



    - Kara Wethington

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