It's late in the evening of a chilly Sunday. I'm still in the office. This time, I'm really busy with authentic work. Blogging and Limewire were effectively kept to the minimum. My head is throbbing. Coffee does not seem to work anymore. There's so much to do. I have to organize myself so Dexter can start with a clean slate. I know what I need. Hmmm, I need a cigarette.
I can still remember my last stick. Marlboro Lights. June 15, 2008, at 3AM, Valle Verde, during the despidida party of a very good friend leaving for Australia. I got so drunk, and I was sad she was leaving. Alcohol is never complete without cigarettes. So I drank and I smoked until my lungs gave out. I was never a tobacco addict. But I didn't plan on quitting the occasional stick either.
Later during that day, I had the good fortune of stumbling into my favorite and most stubborn patient. I was convincing him to start taking his medications for his chronic hypertension since he was already showing signs of end-organ damage. After a long discussion, peppered with intelligent arguments, he just said, "But you smoke. How can you convince me to take my medications?" And he laughed an evil laugh. I was dumb and red all over.
I never touched a cigarette since then.
Hmmm, six months and counting. My lungs have not tasted a single whiff of smoke. I survived a month in Leyte, a handful of ER rounds with my old yosi-buddies taunting me with their Marlboros, really stressful months of chief residency, even the department teambuilding where I usually head the yosi group for bonding purposes (hehehe). I even survived my first intro dive (compressed air dries up the gullet so much that I was panting for tobacco after that dive)without smoking a single puff!
And boy, I feel good.
Tonight, I was again so tempted. I need that smoke. I have every reason to break my abstinence. I am stressed out. My things-to-do list is two pages long. I'm ending chief residency in a week and I deserve a yosi break. I'm down to my last three paychecks and it's Christmas and I still have my Batanes trip to spend for. It's my interview for CVS tomorrow and I'm still undecided if I should take it. And besides, I've lost that patient so he will never know anyway.
I went outside PGH to get some fresh air. I headed straight to that cellcard stand across Taft where I used to get my occasional stick before I head home. I looked at the Marlboro lights. There they were, so tempting, offering a promise of heaven within my reach. I'm getting a smoke. To hell with those 6 months, to hell with what I've been through trying to avoid it, to hell with my profession. To hell with that patient. I'm getting that stick of Marlboro lights!
I reached into my pocket for my wallet. But there was no wallet. My ailing hippocampus deliberately left it behind at the office.
For the nth time in my life, I was saved. I went back to the office relieved. I had to write this story down before I start working again. So I did.
And up to this very minute, I am proud and happy to say that I am still smoke-free.