New Year's resolution

I am not a good maker of New Year's resolutions. That is because I've never been a good keeper of New Year's resolutions.

When I was smoking I resolved to quit every New Year's Eve. That usually lasted until my first cup of coffee on Jan. 1. I REALLY needed the cigarette that went with it. I would then postpone quitting until Jan. 2. But by evening of the first I conveniently forgot that I was quitting anything.

This happened 37 times . . . yes youngsters, smoking is so addictive that you may one day find yourself admitting to the entire readership of a small town newspaper that you tried — and failed — 37 times to quit smoking cigarettes.

Thirty-seven times! How stupid is that? And that doesn't even count the other times I tried for one reason or another. Like when my kids were little and they begged me to quit and I tried. Or when I got tired of spending money on cigarettes. Or the Great American Smoke-Out held every November — I was pretty successful quitting for a day. It was a point of honor for me. Yup, I could do that and I did. But then I set my alarm for midnight so I could wake up and have a cigarette.

Have you figured out an equation yet for STUPID? I don't mind holding myself up as a perfect example of smoking = stupid = stupid = stupid. I was.

After my third (yes, third) heart attack, the cardiologist decided he and a couple of medical pals would have to try something a tad more drastic in order to save my life and they hoisted me off to the operating room for a double by-pass. That was three years ago.

For me, the good news is it was successful and I survived it. The bad news is it still hurts. They open your chest from the top of your sternum to somewhere above your belly button . . . wherever they feel like pulling out the scalpel. "Opening your chest," means using a saw once they have split the skin that covers it. Isn't that appealing? You have no idea what pain is until you wake up from this procedure.

An additional bonus comes from the scar you will carry forever. If you are female and proud of your cleavage, this line of scar tissue will not add a thing. If you are a male? It doesn't look any better. And did you know that scar tissue doesn't tan? It stays white. And I might warn you that not every surgeon is able to carve a straight line.

I got lucky in the spare vein category. (They don't just take those out of a box, you know. They borrow them from other parts of your body.) They took mine from my chest, which was already open. Many people have them taken from their legs and have additional scarring from knee to ankle.

So you are thinking here ". . .uh, but I'll be 70 and old and I won't care then anyway, right?"

Well, sure. Unless you have a crummy family medical history and are 28 when the first heart attack hits you. Remember what I said — they split your chest.

So, where WAS I? Oh yeah, I was telling you about how hard it is to keep a New Year's resolution to quit smoking. But then I got diverted by how much harder it is to deal with by-pass surgery caused by smoking cigarettes for the greater portion of your stupid = stupid = stupid adult life.

If you don't smoke, don't start! If you do smoke, quit. If I can quit, anyone can . . . honest, I swear. After 37 years I thought I couldn't, but I did. Do I miss it? Sometimes. Do I still want to smoke? No, not anymore. But I DO dream about it . . . and in my dream, I am sneaking a cigarette . . . what does that tell you?

Yes, it is hard, but it is not nearly as painful as a heart attack. All of mine were "mild" and I thought they were awful. They say my pain from by-pass surgery was not as bad as some have had it. I thought I would not live to see the next day.

And remember this part too: You stink! Your clothes, your hair, your house, and your car stinks. Your breath is disgusting.

But, you know what? If you don't pick up that first cigarette, you won't have to deal with any of this. Make a resolution never to start. Or make a resolution to quit and keep it. Don't do "stupid" for years like I did.