Three years ago today I stopped smoking. What prompted it was some news that had been delivered to me the week before.
Some months before, while sitting at work in the awful insurance office I worked in, I noticed the vision in my left eye suddenly did something really strange. It turned all white. That was all I could see out of that eye. It faded away just like an old movie or cartoon toward the center and eventually, over the course of maybe one minute, all I could see was white. Needless to say it was alarming but I didn't say anything to anyone. I simply got up from my desk and went into the ladies room. My vision came back about the same way it left, from the middle of the eye to the outside. It was a very strange feeling. After I could once again see I returned to my desk and decided to keep this tidbit of information to myself. After all, it was probably just a fluke, it would never happen again. How wrong I was.
About 2 months later I was in Walmart with Stephanie and the vision left again, but this time I could still see somewhat. I immediately decided it was time to do something about this. When I got home I told Joe what had happened both times. I made an appointment with my PCP for later on that week. My doctor had me go to a retina specialist. Nothing was found there, my eyes looked perfectly normal. He then set me up for a CAT scan. Again, it was normal.
He then had me set up for a carotid artery ultrasound. I went to the afternoon appointment full of confidence that this test would also prove to be normal, the episodes would be quickly forgotten about and all would be well in the world of Lisa. How wrong I was.
The technician completed the test on my right side but when she ventured over to the left side of my neck she really took her time. After a few minutes she politely excused herself. I didn't think anything of it, just thought perhaps she had a pain and had to sit in the ladies room for a minute or two. Nothing would have prepared me for what she said when she came back into the examination room. She told me that she had just spoken with my doctor's office (which, at the time, was right across the hall from where the testing was taking place) to tell them that she saw blockage in my left carotid artery. EEEEEK! She was talking but it all seemed like it was in slow motion. She told me to not get alarmed (yea right lady, you just told me that my main blood supply to my brain is blocked on one side) but to go home and take an aspirin and to see my doctor in the morning. I managed to get myself together enough to get out of the office and to my car. I sat in my car for a few minutes trying to take it all in. What does this mean? Will I need surgery? Surely there is a way to take care of this without surgery. After all, this kind of thing happens to other people, not me.
The next morning I went to see my doctor and he confirmed everything. He referred me to a local vascular surgeon for an appointment. Let me tell you something. Sitting in the surgeon's waiting room with a lot of people well into their 70's and 80's is not a good feeling. Especially at 47 years old. The doctor explained everything to me and Joe about what he felt was the best course of treatment..........surgery.
I had been thinking of quitting smoking for a couple of years. I mean seriously thinking about it, not just the "I'll quit one of these days" bit. This was my chance. I always suspected it would take something medically wrong with me directly related to smoking that would get my attention and it did. The surgery was scheduled for Sept. 11, 2005. I had my last cigarette the night before at just before midnight. I threw the 3 cigarettes left away and went to bed.
I have never even been tempted to pick the habit up again. You see I was blessed yet again. Even through being so scared about the surgery, the pain of the surgery and the realization that I am in fact getting older and it's time to start taking better care of myself, I was given the gift to quit smoking. The human brain is an amazing organ. Very very powerful. I used that will power to quit.
If I ever am tempted to pick up that nasty habit again all I have to do is remember the 'gift' that was given to me and all temptation is gone. I truly believe it was a gift from God.