I wrote this story/paper for my English class a couple of semesters ago. I never thought I would publish it here as I didn’t think that it was “worthy” of publication. I am posting it now so that I can share it with Michael Symon the Iron Chef. He is attempting to quit smoking. I quit four years ago. It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. To this day I have cravings, not bad ones but cravings all the same.
Michael if you read this, thank you. For those of you that are trying to quit. I hope this helps.
My Masters Bidding
I awoke as I always had to the incessant nagging of my master. I tried to ignore him as I have so many times before, but as usual, he won. I got out of bed to see to my master’s needs. 15 minutes later and I have quieted his hunger for at least an hour. This was not new to me. I have been a slave for more than 30 years. My whole life revolves around pleasing my master. I get up because he tells me to. I take breaks during the day because he requires attention. I can’t sit through an entire movie without seeing to his needs. I eat quicker than my wife at the restaurant so that I have time to attend to him. I stop at intervals on a long trip because my master bids me to. The stench of my slavery clings to my skin and clothes heralding to everyone that I meet that I am a slave.
I’ve tried to win my freedom many times. I would leave my master for days; sometimes weeks at a time. The reason for my return was simple. My master was good to me. I enjoyed his company. I loved him. He made me feel comfortable like an old pair of shoes. When I was with him my mind was sharp, my senses alert. He took away my anxiety and allowed me to relax. When I was in his embrace I didn’t have a care in the world. He wasn’t a cruel master. He was, however, deadly. Every time I was with him he would put something in my body that was slowly killing me. I knew I was committing slow suicide, but I didn’t care. I was addicted to him. I knew that I couldn’t live without him in my life.
Nicotine addiction is common. According to the American Heart Association 24.8 million men smoke and 21.1 million women smoke, this is 19.8% of the population. As high as that seems the percentage of Americans smoking has actually decreased said the Center for Disease Control. Between 2006 and 2007 the percentage of Americans smoking dropped almost a full percentage point from 20.9%. This is the lowest percentage since the CDC started keeping track in 1965 when the percentage of smokers was 42.4%. Unfortunately the number of deaths contributed to smoking is on the rise. Lung Cancer, the leading cause of cancer death among men and women, kills about 157,000 Americans a year. A greater number of people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined. (WebMD)
“According to the Oxford Reference web site nicotine is a simple alkaloid produced by the tobacco plant. All the acute effects of the tobacco habit are dependent on nicotine, which has complex actions, both on the central nervous system and in the rest of the body. Nicotine acts on certain cell membrane receptors, which were therefore given the name nicotinic receptors. Nicotine was found to mimic the actions of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine at these sites: at the neuromuscular junctions in skeletal (voluntary) muscle; at the synapses in the relay stations (the ganglia) of the autonomic nervous system; and in various parts of the brain and spinal cord. In many situations nicotine first activates the nicotinic receptors and then by its continued presence desensitizes them. Normally, at these nicotinic synapses, the transmitter (acetylcholine) is rapidly destroyed by the enzyme cholinesterase, so its action is evanescent; this is not the case with nicotine.”
Research has demonstrated that the vast majority of harm associated with cigarettes is attributable to the byproducts of smoking rather than to the effects of nicotine (Slade 1999). In addition to nicotine, unprocessed tobacco smoke includes more than 2,500 compounds, and when manufactured additives and other compounds are taken into account, about 4,000 compounds are present (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 1988). The nicotine withdrawal syndrome develops after abrupt cessation of or a reduction in the use of nicotine products and is accompanied by four of the following signs and symptoms: depressed mood; insomnia; irritability, frustration, or anger; anxiety; difficulty concentrating; restlessness or impatience; decreased heart rate; and increased appetite or weight gain (web NIH)
I finally broke free of my masters chains. I had been admitted to the hospital for an unrelated condition. They would not let my master see me. Even though I had been without him before I decided that this was the time to be free. Nicotine would no longer make me a slave. I knew that it would be hard. I knew that I may fail. I decided to give it my best shot. I used the patch (again) but this time I was extremely motivated. I had used visualization in the past, you know; see your lungs getting better. This time though each time I thought about having a cigarette I would visualize myself putting a gun up to my head and pulling the trigger, instead of the bullet traveling fast and killing me quickly it would inch down the barrel, I had to wait till it got to my head. It was my visual metaphor for the slow way I was committing suicide. I had to ask myself if this excuse was good enough for me to kill myself over.
I have been without my master for four years now. I look back on that time of slavery with wonder bordering on amusement. How could I have been so foolish to stay with him? I get semi-ill when I stand next to a heavy smoker, I wonder if I smelled like that. My wife assures me that I did. She admits now that it was difficult being around me at times
There are times, though, when I am stressed, upset, frustrated or angry I hear my masters voice in the back of my head saying… “Come Back, Come Back, Come back… I can take away your pain.” He will always be there, but I know that I am the stronger one now.