In which I count the numerous days until I can put on my finest suit, comb my grey hair, go to my local shop to pick up their most expensive ivory pipe and start smoking again.

800 Days of Breathing

624 words about health — 17:00 · 2nd Dec 2014

It had now been 800 days since I took a long, long break in smoking.

Whilst one might like to say that I quit smoking I still prefer to think of it as a very long and awkward pause.

Only 16988 days to go now. Not that I’m counting ’em or anything. If I was counting, 16988 days would make it 46 years, 6 months and 5 days.

As I reach my 800th day I can safely say that the urge to punch people in their stupid faces has decreased to the point of me no longer wanting to punch them anymore.

Okay, so maybe I still want to punch them occasionally.

But a cigarette probably wouldn’t help against that.

Okay, so a cigarette probably would.

But I’m still not going to go back to smoking, because the way I see is that if I do, all of this effort will have been in vain.

The efforts do come with its benefits, which I’ve greatly enjoyed and in case you’ve forgotten, here’s a reminder of what you too could enjoy, should you ever decide to cessate smoking.

Man made from ashes crawling out of cigarette butt
The Smoke, by Lucas Zoltowski.

1 minute

Panic strikes as you realise that this incredible Stick of Death you have been inhaling for years is no longer going to be your source of comfort and calm when shit gets difficult.

20 minutes

Blood pressure and heart rate decrease.

12 hours

Carbon monoxide levels in the blood decrease to normal.

48 hours

Nerve endings and sense of smell and taste both start recovering.

48 hours and 1 minute

You are struck by the overwhelming beauty of scents that nature has to offer, such as blossoming cherry trees. Also, the smell of dog shit. Oh god, so much dog shit. Why didn’t anyone tell me about all this dog shit?!

3 months

Circulation and lung function improve.

9 months

Coughing, wheezing and breathing problems decrease.

9 months and 1 minute

Walking from the sofa to the fridge and back doesn’t require you to sit down for break in-between. Making love to your partner doesn’t make you dizzy because you’re so out of breath.

1 year

The risk of coronary heart disease is cut in half.

I’m currently at 800 days, or 26 months and 9 days.

5 years

The risk of stroke falls to the same as a non-smoker, and the risks of many cancers decrease significantly.

5 years and 1 minute

You suffer from your first stroke but as you walk towards the light you smile, knowing that at least it wasn’t because you smoked. The paramedics resuscitate you and as you come back you notice the smell of dog shit again. Damn it.

10 years

The risk of dying from lung cancer is cut in half, and the risks of larynx and pancreas cancers decrease.

15 years

The risk of coronary heart disease drops to the level of a non-smoker; lowered risk for developing COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

46 years, 6 months and 5 days

You, having made yourself an identical promise, join me in the town centre as we together frolick towards the nearest shop to pick up our new expensive pipes.

You, the special snowflake that you consider yourself to be, decide to buy a fully functional and highly detailed wooden replica pipe from Lord of the Rings. I pretend to appreciate your sense of humour but secretly judge you—super secretly—as I buy the short stubby pipe I have had my heart set on.

We stay in touch but our friendship is never the same again. But neither of us mourn it as we have our awesome pipes to smoke.

So yeah. Only 16988 days left. Not that I’m counting or anything.


You’ve just read 800 Days of Breathing .

In which, 5 years ago, I wrote 624 words about health and I covered topics, such as: smoking cessation.