Monday, June 15, 2009

Can I bum a smoke?

I should be working right now. I was - and then I stopped. With all the bizarre situations I have been in, this might take the cake. As my hands shake, shoulders ache and I taste nicotine in my mouth, I have to wonder…. Could this be right?

As many of my close friends and family know, I have been in an ongoing battle with a condition called ulcerative colitis since I was pregnant with Logan. I was blessed to go into remission after her birth and my symptoms didn’t resurface until October of 2007 – what a reprieve! Following the advice of my doctor, I discontinued one of my meds in December of 2006 and that likely led to my problems nearly a year later. Now, almost twenty-one months since then, I am up to sixteen pills a day combined with a few other not-so-pleasant drugs and my symptoms, although better, still persist. I’ve managed to enlist the services of the inflammatory bowel disease guru at the University of Chicago, who helped me get back to normal years ago and plan to keep him as my primary GI doctor now. Let me just say that the university environment has thrown me into a world of the unexpected – which is where I am at this very moment.

Since I started back at U of C, the specialists there have been suggesting that I start smoking, just five cigarettes a day. Apparently, it is very rare for a smoker to have the disease and when you compare cancer rates of the general public, light smokers and ulcerative colitis patients; colon cancer from UC wins, hands down. The Mayo Clinic has done extensive studies on this and they concur that it is successful for an overwhelming number of ulcerative colitis patients. I just can’t deal with actually smoking and I’ve been trying other things since March, but as of my visit last week, I agreed to give the nicotine patch a go.

Now consider this: most, well, all people who use the patch are quitting smoking. They already have loads of nicotine swimming around in their veins. I don’t, so I went from zero to sixty in minutes. I smoked a bit in my partying days, but not since the nineties. So here I sit, at my desk, with my babysitter and three kids swirling around me. I have shaky hands and a huge nicotine buzz. I feel revved up and relaxed at the same time and I taste and smell cigarettes. My leg, where I affixed the patch, aches. I feel like I should be sitting out on my porch with some good old Florida friends and could really go for a beer.

Seriously, what kind of alternate universe am I living in? I hope this damn thing works.

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