Just Until It's Gone, Part 1

(by karriejj@hotmail.com, 01 August 2001)

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Just Until It's Gone
by karriejj@hotmail.com

Part 1

Before I start telling the story I have come to tell, I guess I feel like I
need to give a little background about myself. I'm a 25 year old ER Nurse. I
love taking care of people, and I love the adrenaline rush that Trauma
nursing provides. Each case is different and I always have to be on my toes,
ready for anything.

Despite my work in the healthcare industry, I am a smoker. Along with the
adrenaline rush, there is also an enormous amount of stress that goes along
with it. Peoples lives are in your hands and that alone is hard to deal with.
And being a nurse in this day and age has its disadvantages. Pay is shit, the
hours are shit, and the politics and red tape are shit. So, unless you're
dedicated 100% and have some outlets, this job can really bring you down.

I don't even remember ever wanting to start smoking, it just kind of
happened. I was on my last year of nursing school and was doing a training
rotation at a local hospital during the summer. I was totally stressed and
burned out that night. I had to start an IV on a patient with very low blood
pressure. His veins weren't cooperating and they kept "dipping and rolling".
After three pokes and several hateful comments from the patient, I had
finally gotten the IV in. 

Then a very obese woman came in and I had to insert a catheter into her
urethra. This is usually a pretty easy thing to do, but this womans fat rolls
never ended. I had to ask for assistance from another student to hold back
her rolls while I tried to find her urethra. To top it off, this woman was
very 'unclean' to say the least. The smell eminating from her was nauseating.
I had to hold back several gags until I finally found the right hole. I had
finally reached my limit and requested a 15 minute break from my supervisor.

I walked out the ER entrance and sat on a bench in the designated smoking
area. It was late in the evening or even early in the morning so the area was
vacant. I just put my head in my hands and sobbed softly to myself. I heard
the automatic doors open and one of the other students came out to join me.
She sat next to me and put an arm around me and started rubbing my back. It
felt good to know that someone else cared and could relate to how I was

About that time she reached into her pockets and pulled out a pack of
cigarettes. I watched as she tapped a single cigarette out of a pack and
placed it in her lips. She then lit the tip with a small bic lighter. She
drew hard and her cheeks hollowed. She drew the smoke into her and then
repeated another deep drag. Smoke began to stream out her nose and then she
removed the cigarette and inhaled the smoke into her lungs. She held it for
what seemed like forever and then with a smile on her face, she softly and
slowly exhaled the smoke.

The slight summer breeze carried the exhale directly to my face. Normally, I
would have moved and been disgusted by the smell, but tonight was different.
The smoke smelled somewhat minty and refreshing. I found myself leaning
forward trying to smell more of it before it went away.

My friend laughed slightly. "Here," she said handing the cigarette to me. It
was propped between her index and middle finger.

I was embarrassed as hell. "But I don't smoke," I protested.

"It'll help, really. Just have a small puff. One won't kill you. Do it like
this," she instructed. I watched as she put the cigarette back in her lips
and drew on the filter. The tip glowed red and her fingers widened. As she
finished drawing, her fingers narrowed again and removed the cigarette. She
opened her mouth wide to reveal a swirling pool of smoke. She then inhaled
the smoke, held it for a few seconds, and then exhaled in my general

Handing the cigarette back to me again, she said again, "Now you try it. Come
on... it'll help. You'll be amazed."

My heart was racing and I felt giddy like I was about to do something very
bad. I quickly looked around to make sure no one else was coming or watching.
I reached for the cigarette and spread my two fingers and took the cigarette.
I knew if I hesitated, I probably wouldn't do it, so I just went for it.

I placed the filter in my lips and did as she had shown me. I drew the smoke
into my mouth and then inhaled it down into my lungs. I felt my throat catch
slightly but I held back the urge to cough. I held the smoke for just a few
seconds and then exhaled, but it seemed as if an eternity of changes were
happening in my body; my mouth was suddenly alive and flowing with saliva, my
headache seemed to go away immediately, and tingles raced through body
seeming to heal everywhere it ached.

"Good job, didn't even cough," she said to me reaching for the cigarette. I
reluctantly but quickly handed it back to her.

Just then, another nurse poked her head out the doors and told my friend that
she had a phone call. My friend nodded back and took another drag and stood. 

"Here, you can finish this, I have to get inside," she said with smoke
flowing out with the words she spoke. She again handed the cigarette to me
and this time I didn't hesitate.

"Thanks," I called to her. "I'll be in in a minute."

I took a second to study the cigarette. It was half smoked and the end of the
cork filter was getting brown in color. Just above the filter was the word
"Newport" in green lettering. I tapped the cigarette and the ashes fell
silently to the ground. I placed the filter in my lips again and drew a bit
longer this time. Again, my mouth watered. I inhaled the smoke into my lungs
again and held it, allowing the nicotine to attach to the walls of my lungs
and be carried throughout my body by my red blood cells.

As I exhaled this time, I could feel myself getting slightly aroused and wet.
My senses seemed hightened and I enjoyed the feelings that were happening
down there. I took one final drag and then crushed the cigarette into an
ashtray that sat next to the bench. I stood as I exhaled and for the first
time felt dizzy from the smoke. My body obviously wasn't used to these new
sensations. I also felt some slight nausea coming on.

I purchased a Sprite from the vending machine that stood outside the ER
entrance and drank half of it. My nausea seemed to disipate quickly. I walked
back into the hospital to the nurses station. My friend was still on the
phone. I mouthed a quick "Thank You" to her and tried to show that I was
somewhat relieved. She winked at me and mouthed back, "My Pleasure".

After my shift that night, I went to the Medical Library in our hospital. I
spent three hours researching the effects of smoking on a persons body. I saw
picture after picture of lungs burnt to a crisp from years of smoking. I read
article after article about cancer. I thought how ironic it was that
something that felt so good can do so much damage to your body. I left the
library that morning vowing to myself that I would never smoke again.

We'll that lasted all of about 12 hours. The next night on the same shift, I
bummed another cigarette off the same girl and smoked the whole thing in one
sitting. The pleasure was again there, but the unpleasant feelings were much
less noticeable. I told myself that one a night wasn't going to do anything
bad to me. This continued for a few weeks. I always took breaks with her and
I didn't even have to ask anymore, she always just handed me her pack. I even
took an extra one from time to time to have when I got home.

Towards the end of the summer, I went 'out' one night with this friend and a
bunch of other nursing students. As the drinks started flowing, I found
myself craving a cigarette. Previously I had associated smoking with work and
had rarely had cravings when I wasn't working. All the other girls were
smoking and the alcohol was making my cravings worse. So I bummed one from my
friend and came out to the group.

At the end of the night, I bummed one more as I was leaving the bar.

As she handed me the cigarette, she said "Ya know, you should really start
buying your own packs."

I placed the filter in my lips and dipped forward to accept her light. I
double pumped the cigarette and then spoke as I exhaled. "I know, thanks for
bumming to me for so long. I owe you." And with that, I left the bar trailing
a cloud of exhaled smoke behind me.

That night on the way home, I stopped at a convenience store and bought my
first pack and a lighter. The store didn't have any of the 'Newports' that I
was used to, so I gladly accepted a pack Marlboro Menthol Light 100's as a
substitute. I found these to be a little milder than the Newports, and have
stuck with them ever since.

At the end of that summer, I had come out to everyone as a smoker. My friends
and family were surprised and shocked. I didn't care however. I was keeping
my smoking down to about 10 cigarettes or less a day, a level that I could
live with. I also repaid my friend by buying her a carton of Newports which
she gladly accpeted.

I still smoke about half a pack a day, maybe a little more on days when I'm
not working, but I don't count anymore. But the main story I've come to tell
is a whole other adventure, and you'll have to read on to learn more about

End Part 1

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