Smoking.

Cigarettes have been the longest love affair of my life but are also quite intent on killing me.

I smoked for 8 years, 30-40 a day. I was much like a young Dot Cotton; smoking was a part of me. Then when I was 23, I decided I was actually quite fearful of cancer and even more so of death. So I quit. My husband was also a smoker and I made him quit too because I am bossy like that.

When we were splitting up we both started again, mainly at his insistence but I didn ‘t really put up much of a fight. Then, I got a weird little bump on the roof of my mouth; it got bigger and wouldn’t go away. I went to hospital – paying exorbitant amounts of money because I was in America where there is no national health service and health insurance tends to only cover part of the procedure. It was two weeks after I had moved out of our home together; I asked for local anesthesia because I was still in my probationary period at work and had no sick time. I woke up at 4am, smoked my last cigarette, left the house at 5 to be at the hospital for 6 to fill out forms as instructed, the procedure was booked for 8.

I had thought that it would be in a little post-op room and wouldn t be a big deal. They put me in a hospital gown (you know, the kind where you have to hold the back closed because you are not allowed to wear knickers.) Eventually I was taken through to theatre where I was given a drip, filled with an unknown drug which was meant to calm me. I had a blood pressure monitor attached to my arm and both arms strapped down to the table. The calming drug made me cry throughout the operation. I had six injections of Novocain into the roof of my mouth, and then had the spot removed. I could feel the 10 stitches slide past my lips as they were sewn in. The blood pressure monitor was so tight it left a bruise.

Whenever they weren ‘t in my mouth they had it stuffed with cotton wool and once they realised that the crying wasn’t going to stop they taped gauze over my eyes.

The surgeon and the anesthetist bitched about golf and how expensive some driving range was. They took me to a post-op waiting room where I was not allowed to have to the drip removed until I had been to the toilet. They made me sit and drink juice for 45 minutes. The drip hurt my hand and I couldn t stop crying.

Finally, they let me leave. I called worked and cried into the phone as I was in no fit state to go in. I then waited in the pharmacy for an hour as they filled my prescriptions and cried. I caught a taxi home.

My ex knew that I was having the operation but didn’t call me. In the end I called him and cried into the phone.

When I got home, some woman who opened the door for me started yelling because she hadn’t heard me say thank you. I walked up the five flights of stairs to my apartment crying hysterically whilst she chased after me telling me to calm down, life ‘s not that bad. I still had the plastic tag on my wrist from the hospital and when I looked in the mirror I was yellow.

After this I vowed never to smoke again, but did anyway when my Dad passed away.

Despite all this I still think smoking is lovely. I am an idiot.

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