It was June of 1980, and I was tubing down the Guadalupe River with a buddy. As Sam and I drifted along downstream, he produced a zip lock bag from the hip pocket of his cut-offs. I craned my neck to see what he was doing. He pulled a soggy pouch of Red Man out of the bag and proceeded to cram a big slab of the stuff inside his cheek. Then he tossed the bag over to me and said, “Give it a try”.
Sam knew I liked tobacco. We had both dabbled at smoking during our college years, but my lungs couldn’t take smoking and apparently neither could his. So I took a small wad of the stuff, stuck it in my cheek and sat back in my tube as the trip down the river got even better. I bummed a couple more chews that weekend and then forgot about it.
The next weekend, I was trailering a tractor out to some land I had just bought so I could do some brush cutting. The thought crossed my mind that maybe I should stop off at the C-store and get me some of that Red Man and give it another try. Nobody would be around where I was going and my wife would never know. So I bought my first pouch that day, and from then on I cut brush every time I got a chance. By the end of the summer, that was the cleanest piece of property you’ve ever laid eyes on. Nearly wore the damn brush hog out.
As time went on, my love for Red Man increased to a point where I needed to chew more often. At home, I started spending more time in the yard – mowing, pulling weeds or whatever. Only problem was when a neighbor would walk up and want to visit. Sometimes they’d catch me by surprise and I’d have a pint of slime in my mouth. When that happened, it was either spit the whole load of the crap right in front of them or swallow it. Spitting tobacco juice in public is not acceptable even in Texas, but for a dentist……have I mentioned that I’m a dentist? Anyway, it was either gurgle a few words with my head leaned to the side or swallow. I always chose the latter. After a few minutes of polite conversation, I’d turn half-green and excuse myself. What a dumbass!
Despite the daily risk of humiliation, I had no intention of quitting. In fact, I found myself chewing more as time went on. I couldn’t wait to leave the office at lunch or the end of the day. Before I drove out of the parking lot, I had a fist full of tobacco packed into my cheek. I worried a little about my patients seeing me drive down the street with a golf ball sized load, but that didn’t slow me down. I kept hearing that you could dip snuff without salivating so much, and you could also hide it easier, so I gave up Red Man and switched to Skoal. Before my addiction ran its course, I was dipping snuff at every possible opportunity, because I didn’t need to spit at all.
After 26 years, the destructive side of this habit began to present itself. During a colonoscopy, 5 polyps were found, one of them pre-cancerous. Who can say that the tobacco caused them…….but again, who can say that it did not? I had run a load of carcinogens through my gullet over the years with all that juice. I constantly worried about what all that poison was doing to my insides.
Then I found out that I had coronary artery blockage – more than the average man of my age. Since I had always exercised like a fiend, kept my cholesterol low and taken medication, my doctor blamed it on one thing…..nicotine.
I had always kept a close eye on my gum tissue, watching closely for any signs of a lesion that might mean oral cancer. Although it probably should have happened, it never did. On the other hand, I did wear out a perfectly good set of teeth. Tobacco leaves have grains of silica impregnated in them as they grow on the plant. When you chew or dip, you unconsciously grind this grit between your teeth, causing extreme wear. Over the years, you will eventually lose your teeth or need to have them all capped. I have seen it happen dozens of times in my practice. If you like having your own teeth, please get that destructive crap out of your mouth now!
This is probably getting way too long, but I have to say just a couple more things. Without this website, I would definitely be still dipping snuff in spite of what it was doing to my body. I have tried to quit countless times in the past without even getting to 1st base.
To be able to quit, you must have the desire and you need other people to help you through the process.
Up until 100 days ago, I had the desire, but I never had anybody to help me through the process. The night I googled “quit dipping” was my lucky night. It led me here.
That night I read an article by Bluesman (The Secret of Our Success) on the original QS site. That got me pumped because he was a lot like me and yet he was able to quit! Then I hit the link to Outdoor Texan’s website (outdoortexan.com) and looked at pictures of his oral cancer surgery. That was the golden moment. I have seen my share of surgery, but when I saw what ODT had to go through for the pleasure of dipping snuff, that’s when I unloaded my last dip and flushed it. It just ain’t worth the risk friend!
During the next few days of the quit, things got kind of hellish, but people here explained what I was going through, what to do to make the process more tolerable and what to expect in future days of the quit. I was encouraged, entertained, chided and inspired daily during the past 3+ months. What a great bunch of people hang out here every day. Some of them consider helping people like you and me as their mission in life, and for that I am most grateful. Guys who took a special interest in keeping me quit were Chewie, 7iron, Al, Franpro and Sbtzc. If I listed the names of people who kept me entertained, you’d never get to the end of this thing. Thanks to everybody, especially my St.Nic-O-Free quit brothers!
If you are reading this with a load in your mouth, don’t feel bad. I was exactly where you are 100 days ago. You want to quit or you wouldn’t be here, so just consider one more thing. Before I began the quitting process I was afraid – afraid of failing. If you feel that way right now, realize that you have nothing to lose and so much to gain – your health, your self-respect, your smile…maybe even your life. Come on in and good luck to you!
December 21, 2006