I was 12 years old when I had my first taste of tobacco; it was Skoal. Back in 1981, it was basically just Skoal, Happy Days, and Copenhagen as far as snuff goes. Throughout the years, I tried these and several other brands and types of tobacco: Gold River, Silver Creek, Kodiak, Beech Nut, Levi Garrett, Red Man, Renegades, Wolf Pouches. Heck, I even made my own snuff ‘pouches’ out of small squares of notebook paper before pouches were available. I also tried the various plugs, and there were plenty of new ones to try out in West Virginia during my summer stays with my grandparents.
When I was 16 years old, I had a white patch cut from my cheek; it was about the size of a dime. Fortunately, it hadn’t morphed into cancer but that same day I had my picture taken for my first driver’s license while my face was still numb from the surgery. I did not quit. Instead, I convinced myself that Kodiak was too rough so I switched to a smoother snuff, Copenhagen. I continued exclusively rubbing Cope until I was 18; then I decided I would try smoking. I switched back and forth between smoking cigarettes and rubbing snuff until I finally gave up smoking for good when I was 29. Four years earlier, I made the decision with my mom to remove my dad from life support after he suffered cardiac arrest. He was only 54, but had smoked 3 packs of Camel non-filters for at least 26 years. He passed away before his only grand kids were born.
I had tried to quit the nicotine habit several times, but found it to be extremely difficult. It would usually end with me convincing myself that the odds are in my favor and that nothing has happened to me yet. My wife and I had a few heated arguments about my habit; specifically that I would lie to her about quitting. I didn’t want to tell her that I wasn’t strong enough. She usually found out without me telling her and it would make her furious, almost to the point of leaving me. Flash forward to May 2011. My father-in-law’s health had been declining and he eventually passed away. He was a smoker. Our son, age 11 and daughter, age 8, his only grand kids, were able to see him in the hospital a few days before he passed, but were not allowed in again. To ensure they were there in spirit, my wife pinned their baseball and softball picture buttons to a little stuffed bear my mother-in-law bought to comfort him. I couldn’t believe I was going to have to say goodbye to another father figure long before his time should have been up. It broke my heart to see my kids’ pictures with him in that hospital bed, knowing that they would never see their Grampy at another one of their games, or sit in his lap, or just talk to him. But did I quit? No. I can’t explain why, even to those closest to me. I couldn’t explain why I chose to continue to poison my body and do these things to my wife and children.
June 19 of this year marked our 20th wedding anniversary. I decided I was going to try to quit for my family. It lasted all of 18 hours. Of course, I didn’t tell anyone; I was just going to fail anyway, right? A few days later, my wife and I were discussing my habit again. I told her that I had tried to quit for our anniversary but it didn’t last long. When I told her how long, she laughed; it should have made me mad, but it made me chuckle as well. I had a two week vacation coming up coinciding with the 4th of July. I told my wife that I would try again to quit when my vacation started. If I could make it 2 weeks at home, it would only make it that much easier when I went back to work.
On Friday June 28, 2013 I spit out my last Wolf pouch. For whatever reason, I decided to truly quit this time. If I said there has been a lot of fanfare and confetti since I quit I would be lying. If I said that every day someone asks me how my quit is going, I would be lying. To those around me nothing has changed. For me, however, I didn’t just quit on June 28th, but I have chosen to quit each and every day since then. Just a few days ago, I told my wife that it would soon be 100 days since I first quit. She asked me if I still have cravings and I answered her honestly with ‘Sometimes.’ She couldn’t understand and I don’t really expect her to; this is my battle.
In closing, I would like to say that I’m glad I found KTC and I’m proud of not only my quit but everyone else’s. If you’re reading this, chances are you have made the decision to quit. Keep up the good fight and renew your quit every day. If you need some reminders as to why you’re putting yourself through this, read the stories here on KTC about those who were less fortunate; it sets me straight every time and I pray for them and their families.