Hey guys…..Not gonna be an overwhelminly popular subject tonight.I am destined to hit a few dozen nerves and trigger points…..so I’ll apologize to those of you right off…..Glo, kids,My cardiologists around the globe(not really, the WHOLE globe!!).

I quit smoking February 25th, or let me be more accurate(and I learned this from my Big Brother….Im not taking the entire hit for this)   I had my last cigarette on February 25th, 2014. 9 months.  I had to be amongst the top ten candidates in Long island for people “least likely to never be seen without a cigarette in his hand) I was the “Newport Light Man! Not as rugged as “The Marlboro man”, granted…..but way better than the “Merit man” and leaps and bounds better than the “Virginia Slims” Man.

You guys who know me, you know the deal……I sucked my thumb till the ridiculous age of 11…..and not long after quitting switched to cigarettes. (Im exaggerating by 3 or 4 years….not much). I know its only To-Bac-co…but I liked it! I was a natural smoker……I looked good, Girls suddenly thought I was fascinating……I was just totally much much cooler, …..than when i was sucking my thumb.

I grew up in a house where my older sister smoked, my older brother smoked, my mom smoked and my dad smoked. I might be imagining this but I think my dog and one of our two parakeets smoked!!  and then….my friends started smoking, my teachers were smoking….Damnit Don Draper was smoking and everyone in his office!!!!!  How was i expected to not start smoking?

So thinks were just cruising along swimmingly for 25 years ….Pretty much….there was that whole thing about my mom, getting cancer of the “:everything” and dying when I was 17…..but that was just a horrid fluke. i was sure of that!   I was Spartacus!!!   Until November 17th , 1997……I was 40 years and 6 months old, married 12 years to my lovely wife, Gloria, father of 7 year old Justin and 11 year old Bryan.   I woke up on that Wednesday Morning….and as luck would have it….I was off from work…..i woke up at about 7am…..and something was weirdly not right, I had to go to the bathroom, or maybe i was nauseous, or maybe ……I dont know….something was happening to me, that was unlike anything I had ever experienced….i told Gloria…..I told her it was a little scary…..She told me I was probably coming down with something(why would she think anything else, I was a bit of a hypochondriac, to be honest) She rubbed my back and led me back to bed….she said…go back to sleep….Youll feel better after you sleep a while longer, but my head was telling me something different( I NEVER thought heart attack)….i just thought it was really weird and it hurt in places that I couldnt really describe….but with Gloria talking comforting things to me, and rubbing my head and my back and my shoulders…..I managed to fall back asleep…..for about an hour….maybe slightly longer….i woke up and the pain was still there, this “tightness” was still there….in my arm and across my shoulder s and in my stomach?…….this was going on about 4 hours now….and I started to really believe I should go to the Emergency room…..My gut told me something wasnt right….the hospital was 3 minutes away…gloria had to deal with the kids….i drove myself…..By the time i got to the emergency room, the pain had increased alot……I walked into the sign in desk and she took one look at me and she called for a stretcher….and the next thing I knew….i was on a stretcher, they were hooking an IV up to me, they were shoving oxygen up my nose…..alot of doctors and nurses surrounding me, yelling out names of drugs, hooking me up to all kinds of machines, asking me what level my pain was at, 1-10….it was like a 9 i think…..it was bad at this point….they gave me morphine, they gave me blood thinners….after a couple of hours they had me stabilized enough to have a doctor consolingly come up to me….and say ….these words “Mr Koch, You’ve had a heart attack”Thru all of this, I swear….i dont think that ever really crossed my mind, i just turned 40….i was a young guy, with young kids……having fun, playing in a band, coaching soccer……..I said “No I didnt”   he insisted with a great deal of authority that indeed i did, and they were gonna have to do an invasive procedure called an angioplasty…where they take a needle and tube with a camera on the end of it and slip it into my groin….and guide it thru my veins and arteries up until it reached my heart so they could see what was going on up there……..all i could think about was somebody call my wife, please somebody call my wife!!…and they did…and she was there in like 12 seconds….she was crying, I was crying….It wasnt one of my better moments.

4 days later, i had found out a bunch of stuff, I had 2 stents put into two different arteries to keep them propped open, they were 70% blocked with plaque which was what caused the heart attack….i had done a minimal amount of damage to the bottom part of my heart…..thankfully not one of the major zip codes in my heart…….my cholesterol was over 400(i was a really really really really bad eater, at the time) i wasnt obese, but i was carrying a few extra pounds……The plaque was almost certainly formed by the cholesterol in my blood which was 5 times what it should be…..no mention of cigarettes being the cause tho I was advised it was probably a smart idea to quit smoking right now….i was lucky they said

July 2001

september 15th 2001(4 days after 9/11)

2004

2007

2010

and 2014(february

the other times i had chest pains, wound up in the emergency room, sometimes it was a heart attack, sometimes not….but every time except the last, i had more stents , put in more arteries.

the last time…..they had 2 arteries that were too small for them to put stents in, so they were just gonna leave it alone…I also got diagnosed with diabetes at that one….but thats another day

so thru all of these years, and episodes…my wife and kids and some friends and some family would encourage me to quit smoking…all to varying degrees of “meaning it”……and i had so many rationalizations about why i wasnt stopping….im not even gonna list them, because now they just seem so stupid

But in February of 2014…….some switch flicked on in my head…..I WAS DONE….No kidding, No Doubts, No trying, just doing….I WAS DONE……I finally saw the light, i finally saw what I was doing to my boys, to my wife…..to myself….and i KNEW IN MY DAMAGED HEART THAT i HAD SMOKED MY LAST CIGARETTE.

and so i came home….lucky for the 7th….8th time? that i wasnt dead yet……and i just didnt smoke……it wasnt easy, it wasnt hard…It just was…..there was no alternatives anymore, Id run out of rationalizations

Heres what I want to say….heres where i might get a few people pissed off……..Theres barely a day goes by, where for at least 2 or 3 minutes, i wanna jump in the car and go get a pack of cigarettes!   Thats right 9 months later……My brother stopped 9 years ago(or so) and he tells me ….same thing for him…wants a cigarette all the time…..amazing right?   they tell you a couple weeks….couple months tops…youre over it….youll feel great, you are cured….Not True……It never goes away……BUT…you handle it…..NOW…you can handle it….you just distract yourself for a minute or two….and its over……at least until the next day….or maybe you get lucky and its 2 or 3 days……but it will come back….the want, the desire

Do i know that i will never have a cigarette for the rest of my natural born life?   I know this…..If Im on my dying bed…..If ive got a week or two left…….Im gonna ask for a cigarette…And ill probaly enjoy the fuck out of it. thats what i think anyway…i could be wrong….maybe I wont want one….id be surprised tho

Im gonna make this last point quickly, but I want to talk about this alot more one day soon…..I see some wretched commercials, aimed at getting young peopel to stop smoking, or never start smoking……..theyre over the top, theyre creepy, theyre disturbing…..but trust me….when I smoked…I laughed at them……cause thats your mindset……now that im not smoking, think theyre sick…..theyre not stopping anyone from smoking, theyre just making people change the channel or hit the mute button……I dont know the answer, Im not that smart….we could start by doing what CVS did….stop selling them…..stop selling them everywhere…..make it ridiculous and expensive and criminal to be able to even get your hands on cigarettes……give out free ecigarettes ….the ones with absolutely no nicotine or chemicals at all….those helped me….they really did….now i chew on a pen….probaly looks stupid, but it works for me….I thought once i couldnt enjoy a cup of coffee, a concert, a movie, eating dinner out…..anything unless at the end I was getting rewarded with a cigarette…..i was SO SO SO SO wrong!!!    I am so so so so sos os so so sorry…..that it took me so long to figure it out….but dont get mad at me for this anyone!!!!   Nobodys gonna stop cause you want them to…….theyre gonna stop when the switch gets flicked….it will take something different for everyone……SIGH…Its a bIg sigh…I know…..But If i could stop smoking, I swear to you…..ANYBODY!!!!!! ANYBODY!!!!! can quit smoking…..

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