Valentine's Day is next week.
As a chronically and preferably single player, I don't see the holiday as being for "lovers." I think of Valentine's Day and I think of chocolate. I think of vino. I think of pancakes for breakfast and raw cheese for lunch.
I think - indulgence.
So for the next two weeks - I give you a series on IBS and indulgences.
The first? Smoking.
Why smoking? Because I smoke. I started up again a few months ago. And I've got something to say about it.
The first time I smoked a cigarette I was fourteen. In our rollerblades, my best friend and I clomped to the shed behind my parents' house. Safely absconded, she pulled out a pack of Merit Ultra Lights that she’d stolen from her father.
I kept it up for ten years. During that time, I can honestly say – I never was addicted. I know this, because I quit easily. I just stopped. Pushing 140 pounds and suffering from constant colds, I needed to start running and getting healthy. Sure, in the beginning, in social situations – at the bar, the diner, the coffeeshop, I bummed one or two off friends. But they were few and far between. In between? There was no need, no aggin’, no missing. Quitting smoking was EASY.
So why did I start again? Oh, there are a million reasons why. One is the most logical and simple. Half of a pack ended up in my possession. There’s the rub. POSSESSION. That half a pack was MINE. I carried around that perfect little box in my bag – and every time I looked at it, I remembered what it feels like to not give a fuck.
Forgive me, but after years of being a health Nazi - it's a nice change.
Smoking lists the top of the trigger list in every IBS book. Is it really as horrible for IBS as the books say?
Yes. And no.
Smoking is comforting. It begins when I pull out the box, feel it between my fingers, and open it up. The cigarettes are all lined up inside perfectly white and foamy. A smoke goes between my fingers and with a free thumb and forefinger, I extract the lighter. There is the familiar sound of flicking, a match catching, paper sizzling up.
The drag, the headrush – you can keep that. I never liked getting stoned. That swirly sicky feeling sucks.
Smoking feels like a friend. Nights on my porch, I drink Redbridge and stare out at the barn, digging into my brain. My daddy, a lifelong runner, always tells me to go for a run to figure shit out. I'm sorry - but no amount of running has done for me like sitting, smoking, and thinking.
Smoking makes time stop. When I’m out on the porch with my cigarette, the smoke swirls around me and I’m locked in that moment. I look out at the barn or up at the tree limbs over my head or the stars up in the sky. There are plans being sketched in my head – whether it be to get over a lost love or what I’m going to write about next. Either way, my eyes sink into the darkness of the night and my mind wanders through the darkness of my mind. I have time to search for an answer. I have time.
Finally? Smoking makes me go. I'm talking about #2. Nearly every time I smoke a cigarette, I run to the bathroom immediately afterwards.
When I first noticed this, I was ecstatic. Anytime I have an episode, I thought, I can smoke a cigarette and flush myself out! Yeah, if only it was that simple.
Within a few short weeks, my regularity went irregular. No more did I have the morning #2. No more did I have the post-afternoon tea #2. The only time was in the evening, after the first or second cigarette. At the bar...
The photographer ran to the bathroom, immediately after snapping this great shot of Dainty Bones
So - what have I learned? Even colons get addicted to smoking!
Right now - I'm in the middle of one of the worst PMS-IBS attacks in months. Nothing - not even my failsafe intestinal soothers - are being digested. Because I'm not digesting anything, I'm not getting any nutrients. Yesterday, I nearly passed out twice.
I can't help but wonder if it's because of smoking. This is why IBS books claim smoking is so bad for IBS. Like coffee, nicotine causes the guts to go all spazzy and out of whack. Foods hit the belly and are not digested in the guts. The guts bounce the food around like a trampoline. What happens next? Farts.
Does this mean that I will quit? No. Not anytime soon. Not even after looking at the picture above. Not even when my Nurse Brother tells me that it's the one cause of every horrible disease known to man. There's a sense of disconnect that I'm completely aware of. Right now, it's helping me more than it's hurting me.
I will stop. But not yet. At the moment, I feel like I need a little more time. To just... think.
What's your favorite indulgence?
What do you do that's "bad" for you?