How Do I Feel When You Light Up a Cigarette?

F*cking angry.

It wasn’t until college that I realized how widespread smoking was (still is). The thing that was probably more shocking than the people who did it every day on the walk to class or in their daily routine, was the people who thought it was a cool social activity.

It’s not cool and it never will be.

Smoking is disgusting on every single level, and unless you’re living under a rock, you know the very clear danger associated with it.

This is what happens to your lungs when you choose to smoke (per the CDC):

Every cigarette you smoke damages your breathing…They attack the inner tissue on the way to your lungs…Over time, smoking damages and destroys [the cilia in your lungs]…The poisons in tobacco smoke inflame the delicate lining of your lungs. Years of smoking can damage your lungs so much that they no longer stretch and exchange air.

That basically goes on forever, but we’ll stop there because I think it’s pretty easy to pick up what the CDC is putting down.

The fact of the matter is that people willingly (and children unwilling exposed to smoke) do this to their bodies. So for someone like me, what is it like to see it happen?

Total Recall image

Total Recall (1990)

It’s infuriating. Whenever I walk around New York City I feel like I’m straight out of the Arnold Schwarzenegger classic, Total Recall, where half the population of Mars has their air taken away – might be a bit of a stretch, but Arnold is kind of a hero of mine and Total Recall is a undoubtedly on the Mount Rushmore of action movies.

Air is at a premium in my life. I can’t get enough of it. It’s everywhere, yet I still cannot draw enough into my body to make me feel good.

Not a day goes by where I don’t see someone smoking a cigarette. Everyday people willingly give up their lung function and get closer and closer to a date with the Grimm Reaper, while people like me with cystic fibrosis, spend hours of every single day trying to clear our lungs. It wasn’t our choice to live that life, yet it is the smoker’s choice

In due time, people smoking today, will have to learn to live like me.

The constant crave for oxygen, the heavy breathing, the wheezes, the painful coughs, the suffocating feeling of lung damage – all of these things are internal problems that life long smokers will have to manage like I do. There’s one difference, though. I have learned to live, cope and deal with these issues from a young age. Try teaching an old dog a new trick and see what happens.

After 25 years of experience with respiratory illness, I can tell you that life is often exhausting, frustrating, stressful and painful. Each day, my powerful cough, the occasional streaks of blood in my mucus and the feeling of a knot being tied tightly around my lungs remind me of what’s brewing in my chest (as if I need to be reminded).

Respiratory decline is slow and it doesn’t discriminate.

Our lungs burn when they crave oxygen; they burn when blood curdles out and air fails to seep in.

I wouldn’t wish cystic fibrosis or lung disease on my worst enemy, yet people choose to take baby steps towards inevitability each time they buy a pack at a local 7–Eleven.

I’ve seen the power of smoking. I’ve had several family members pass away from smoking-related illness and it’s heartbreaking.

Life is precious and we only get one chance at it. Don’t blow it all away.

Learn to love your lungs because I promise you, if you want to know what it’s like to live like me, smoking a cigarette is the fastest way to figure it out.

Use me as your reason to quit, don’t join me in this lifestyle.

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