(Image from: http://literatureislife4ever.wordpress.com/2013/03/29/smoke-charisma-of-evil-within-us-ms-shwetha-joyce-rasquinha-mangalore/)
Excerpt from The Dog Story:
I am a closet smoker. I hide it from my wife, my work and my family. Not that I care if they know I smoke, I just don’t want to have to hear the constant nagging about quitting. I get it. Smoking is bad for you but I’ve been hiding it for as long as I can remember. When I was a teenager, I used to try to hide it from my parents. It was almost like a game. I carried a kit of cologne and gum with me at all times. I think they still knew, but my Mom never said or did anything about it other than leaving the occasional article about the dangers of smoking under my door. Dad just wanted to avoid the confrontation. Now, here I am an adult and I’m recreating those childhood mind games in my marriage…
…I fire up another smoke as I pull past Wollaston Station. Stopping here will only set me back three bucks. All I would need to pay for is parking, not an additional token. But three bucks is three bucks. And I can’t exactly ask Jocelyn for three extra bucks for smokes. Maybe if people would stop educating me on obvious health concerns. Maybe if people could accept me as a smoker instead of passing judgment. Maybe if the stars were aligned in a certain way…. Maybe I’m just a guy with a million excuses. Maybe one of these days I’ll be completely honest with myself and admit that I’m a smoker. Maybe.
This was me back in 2005 when I was first being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I was a closet smoker, who would smoke in between human interactions because of the social stigma that was cast upon smokers. I started smoking when I was in High School. It seemed all my friends smoked and everyone always had cigarettes. Ten years after high school, I was still sneaking smokes and hiding them from my wife, friends and co-workers. Even though I didn’t want to be though of as a smoker, I was helplessly addicted and had no intentions of ever quitting.
Then came my diagnosis with Multiple Sclerosis in 2005. When I was first diagnosed, I was still smoking heavily. Only then, I didn’t have the energy to hide my habit from those around me. My worst fears were then realized. Everyone around me reminded me that I had Multiple Sclerosis and that smoking was about the worst thing I could do. Despite the desperate pleas of those around me, I was committed to smoking. Multiple Sclerosis is not a disease of the lungs. I mean, I had smoked for ten years and there was probably no correlation to MS and smoking. Or is there?
I started doing the research. A government study concluded that people who smoke are more likely to develop MS. The study also showed that people living with Multiple Sclerosis who smoke are more likely to have an exacerbation or progress from a relapsing form of the disease to a progressive form of MS. The National MS Society also noted that there is a correlation between smoking and impaired neurological function.
Even with all these published studies and the pressure from my wife, family and friends to quit smoking, I did not want to quit smoking. I had tried several times before using gum, patches or Wellbutrin. Each time I tried one of those methods it would work for a short period time, but inevitably I would fall off the wagon and succumb to my cigarette cravings.
It wasn’t until my son was born that I made the decision to quit. I made the decision because I needed to be around for him. I was already having a tough time fighting Multiple Sclerosis and smoking was contributing to the progression of the disease. I decided at that point that it would be selfish to continue smoking and not be there for my family.
Once I made the decision to quit, the question became how am I going to do it? I didn’t want to take nicotine supplements and didn’t want to go Cold Turkey either. Living in Boston, I became aware of the Mad Russian, Yefim Shubentsov. The Mad Russian had helped celebrities, Billy Joel and Courtney Cox, quit smoking with his hypnotic “bioenergetics, a healing life force that circulates within all living things.” I walked into my group appointment with the Mad Russian a smoker and left a non-smoker.
Today, I have been smoke-free since April of 2007. I have also not had a Multiple Sclerosis exacerbation since that time. 2007 was also the year I started taking Tysabri as my MS treatment, so the link between my relapses and smoking is not conclusive. However, I would like to think that making better decisions like quitting smoking has contributed to the remission of my MS.
While I have not had an MS relapses since 2007, I have had occasional cigarette relapses. During these relapses, I have developed a natural way to quit smoking. This strategy was so successful that I tried it with one of my coaching clients. Sean K. wrote, “Matt was able to help me successfully quit smoking without the aid of any quit smoking products.”
If you are like Sean and want to quit smoking, email me for a free copy of the program how Sean and I quit smoking. I will email you the steps you need to successfully quit smoking without any nicotine supplements.