February 25, 2013

Points East: My biggest regret

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — If you had your life to live over, what would you do differently?  

Frankly, with one exception, the few things that I would change are too personal to talk about in a public forum and they’re really nobody else’s business anyway.   

And if I went back and made major changes, say in the type of education or where I attended college, for example, they might have resulted in an entirely different life than the one I’ve lived.

The bottom line is that I’m pretty happy with the way things have turned out.  I love my family and my circle of friends and I love living in Paint Lick, Ky.  I love what I do and I’m fairly content with what I’ve accomplished over the last 64 years.

I’m proud of my kids and grandkids and I can’t imagine having a life-sharing  partner more wonderful than Loretta. I would not go back and make a single change that would ultimately make the family and friends aspects of my life turn out differently.  

But, by far, the biggest regret that I’m willing to talk about is smoking.  I wish, with all my heart, that I’d never seen or touched a cigarette or briar pipe. I would be lying, big time, if I told you I have not taken great pleasure from smoking, especially my pipes, over the decades.

Even though I haven’t smoked a pipe in nearly three years,  I still consider myself a connoisseur of blended pipe tobacco from around the world and few things, made of wood, have more appeal to my eyes and hands than a hand carved and perfectly engineered Mediterranean Briar pipe.   Nothing smells better to me than the aroma of fine pipe tobacco.

But if I had it to do over, I would have never touched a pipe and never lit that first cigarette.  I’m reasonably convinced I would not have suffered the stroke that has left me somewhat crippled for nearly a year now.  I’m sure I would have far more stamina and I would feel better.  I don’t even want to think about all the money I would have had I stuck it into a savings account instead of blowing it on tobacco and its related products over the years.

People who do not have ultra-addictive personalities do not understand those of us who do.  I know at least a hundred people who have quit smoking over the years and some of them had mighty struggles with the process.  Many, if not most, of them are of the opinion that if they can do it, anyone can.  

But even after my stroke, I cheated and on those days when I didn’t smoke, I wanted a cigarette so badly I could hardly think of anything else.

Over the last 25 years I have tried numerous patches, pills and gum.  I’ve completed two of those highly-touted 16 week cessation programs.  I’ve tried hypnosis several times and I’ve fallen for several television and Internet promoted scams.  I’ve had a stroke, for crying out loud, and I still wanted a cigarette.

Last fall, someone suggested I try an e-cigarette.  It’s a battery operated device that delivers a vapor instead of smoke.  It feels and tastes a lot like a regular cigarette but without all the smoke and tars and thousands of chemical impurities you get from real smoke.  In other words, it’s a much cleaner and less aggravating way of getting a nicotine fix than real tobacco.   And unless somebody is sitting right beside you, they never smell a thing.

This writing makes 90 days since I’ve touched a match or lighter to a cigarette.  I promise you, faithfully, that I haven’t even wanted one, but I have panicked a time or two when I couldn’t find my White Cloud Fling.  

I have no idea if it’s safer, because I’m still getting nicotine.  But I can tell you I feel and breathe better than I have in decades and I can’t imagine going back to real smoke.  

I tried 11 different brands and styles before settling on White Cloud disposables, which I find to be the most reliable, realistic and economical e-cigarettes on the market and, by far, the most truthfully advertised.  Simply do an Internet search for

However, if you’ve quit smoking, do not do this or use it as an excuse to start back.  If you’ve never smoked a cigarette, this is not a healthy alternative.  

Read everything you can find on the pros and cons of electronic cigarettes before you even try one, and then make up your mind.  There’s a ton of mostly conflicting, information on the Internet, and even health professionals hold widely varying opinions.

It may turn out that I’m still killing myself just as rapidly as I would be with the real thing, or maybe even faster.  But at least Loretta is not yelling at me for stinking up the atmosphere.

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