Typhoid For A Cigarette?

Typhoid For a Cigarette, How I stopped smoking in an unconventional but effective way, Biljana Hutchinson #smoking #QuitSmoking #HealthyLife

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Today is the little anniversary that I love to mark for more than one reason. Seven years ago to this day, I stopped smoking, and I haven’t had one cigarette since then. How is that such a big deal? To me and to anyone who knows me, it is a humongous deal!

I was one of these passionate smokers who never left the house without a new pack of cigarettes. The content of my purse was always keys, phone, money and cigarettes and lighter. My morning coffee with cigarettes was almost an hour-long ritual that was not to be interrupted unless there was a matter of immediate death. Even then, only if I really cared about the dying person. Like, really cared.

A cigarette after a meal, another favourite of mine. Or after hard physical work. With a glass of wine at the end of a long day. Not after sex, though. It spoiled the moment for me. Going out, drinking with friends and end up waking up with nicotine hangover worse than the alcohol one? Bring it on! Terrible morning feeling, but always a great night before.

To all the usual ‘smoking is bad for you, it shortens your life, it is horrible, stinky, filthy habit’ I always responded with ‘I love to smoke, I enjoy it and please leave me alone!’ I was devotedly smoking for eighteen years. Then, December 2009 came, I was working in Afghanistan and, after nearly a week of feeling badly ill and realising that it is more than just a case of severe food poisoning, so frequent in that part of the world, I went to the doctor and found out that I contracted parasites and typhoid. That week I lost 7, and in the next two weeks another 5 kilogrammes. I was weak, exhausted, couldn’t concentrate and all I wanted to do is sleep. Not useful when you are working on your project portfolio for the next year that needs to be submitted in the first week of January.

The treatment of my undesired guests consisted of three different courses of antibiotics that altogether lasted for 28 days and amounted to about a million milligrams in total. Daily, I was taking between 3,500 and 5,000 milligrams of antibiotics depending on the course. That killed not only parasites, Salmonella Typhi bacteria but also all the other, so-called, good bacteria that sit quietly in the corners of your intestines and play with pets or read books at the party.

Anyway, to recover from all that and rebuild my physical strength, I had to start an intensive workout and proper, balanced diet packed with protein and fibre. Also, I was not to drink any alcohol for about six months, but I was to consume plenty of yoghurts.

It was this diet that made cigarettes unpalatable, disgusting. I never tried to stop smoking before. As a matter of fact, I never wanted to. All of a sudden, I reduced from smoking, at least, one pack of 20 cigarettes a day, to maybe 4 or 5 and even they tasted and felt foul. That was also the moment when a friend of mine gave me Allen Carr’s Easy Way To Stop Smoking book and said it worked for him to help him stop smoking. I was sceptical, yet decided to give it a go. It was evening, sometime after dinner and I was reading the book and smoking. The author actually instructs the reader to smoke while reading his book. It is quite impressive, indeed.

What I think happened was that the book managed to tip me over to the other side, the non-smoker side. But I wasn’t enjoying smoking anymore. It was really a pure habit, and I was smoking because that was what I usually had been doing for 18 years. I was thinking what am I going to do when I go out, how am I going to have a drink without a cigarette. Or coffee? How the hell am I going to enjoy my morning coffee without my cigarettes?! The truth was, I was ready to stop. All I needed was a little nudge, and that is precisely what I got. The timing for that little bookish wrap up was perfect.

Now, maybe this method is a tiny bit unconventional, and I can’t say that I’d recommend it. How do I stop smoking? Well, first things first: parasites and typhoid. If you want to hit it hard, go straight for typhoid. One month of heavy-duty antibiotics, physical weakness and rapid loss of weight and you’re done. Congratulations, you are a non-smoker! Somehow, I don’t see it catching on. On the other hand, it is a highly effective method, no doubt about that.

So, finally, why do I celebrate this anniversary? Because I can take a deep breath without feeling dizzy again. Because I don’t cough anymore, and I can actually smell and taste food again. I celebrate it because it is one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life and it makes me feel amazing!

Photo by Andrew Pons/Unsplash
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 Pink Mist at Bristol Old Vic

 

alt= biljana pink mist

 

If there is one theatre play you want to watch this year, make it this one.

It is verse-drama that deals with the timeless human cost of war, with young people’s desire to belong and with love, acceptance, guilt… Tremendously important and beautiful in performance.

For me it was as emotional and personal as inspirational.

Sleeping Sharks

Morning
via Photo Challenge: Morning

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Sharks on Saturday morning in SeaQuarium in Weston-super-Mare, England.

We had a family day out last Saturday and we decided to go to the beach. My mom arrived from Serbia and her idea of ‘a day on the beach’ entails sunny, dry, breezy and 35+ Celsius on the Adriatic or Aegean sea with no sharks. That day, she was introduced to a completely different day-on-the-beach idea: we arrived to a windy, cloudy, 22 Celsius weather. After coffee on the beach and a tour around the Sand Sculpture Festival where we had brunch too, we walked over to what seemed like a tiny seaquarium. Talking about the wrong impressions… That’s where we tossed a few sharks into the event too :).

Is this the usual Saturday morning for these sharks and do they like to sleep in, I am not sure. We nearly missed them as they were stretched motionless on the glass top of the small walk-in gallery. I looked up and that is when I spotted them. Kids were thrilled as it was the first time for us to see the sharks sleeping. It almost makes them appear less dangerous. Almost.

It may be the usual Saturday morning for the sharks, but it certainly was not the usual for our kids or their grandma. As for my husband and me, we had our share of unusual mornings, but that would go under a different challenge, or a series of challenges even…

 

 

On Flashback and Fear

On Flashback And Fear, How I went through one of my worst flashback and who got my back, Biljana Hutchinson #flashback #trauma #healing #recovery

The reflection that you are about to read, I wrote in November 2015 on the night of the Paris attack. That was the night of my last rather bad flashback. My kids fell asleep and I turned the TV on so unprepared for what I was about to hear. I saw the news report and the space around me narrowed in an instant. It felt like a vacuum that is pulling me to a place that I am desperately trying to avoid. But I couldn’t do it. There was no avoidance and no way out. That night I relived the worst six hours of my life when the house I lived and worked in was stormed by six suicide bombers ready to execute their plan while I was convinced that my colleagues and I were living through the last hours of our lives…

After the flashback on the night of the Paris attack, I went to my bedroom where my daughter was sleeping and lied down next to her gently, so I don’t wake her up. I was crying so much, I made the pillow wet. I put my arm around her as if she was my little raft for me to hold on to and not sink further down. Then, I heard my son getting off his bed and his tiny feet tapping across the hallway into my bedroom. He climbed up on the bed, squeezing himself in between his sister and me, oblivious to the inner drama that I was going through and put his little arm around my neck, falling asleep. As always, their mere existence managed to calm me down, steady my breathing and my heart rate, like the two little lifejackets that keep me on the surface of the ocean of terror.

I took a deep breath, placed my computer on my lap and started writing…

‘I cannot begin to explain how I feel after hearing the news about the attacks in Paris tonight. Am I pissed off? Outraged? Terribly sad? Or desperate to learn that somehow, somewhere I am not surprised and I feared that this would happen. Paris? Is it a surprise? Only a few hours after the attacks, while the hostage situation still lasted, some analysis came out indicating that as shocking as they are these attacks should not come as a surprise, neither should location.

I cried. I cried when I heard the news, and I felt physically weak. My hands started to shake, my heart was pounding, I couldn’t breathe, and I couldn’t sit still. So I walked in circles in our living room while I was searching for the news on BBC or ITV or Channel 4 or any news channel so I could get some live updates about the situation in Paris. There were none, I couldn’t find any update on TV, and I started to panic. My palms were sweating, and I opened my Facebook account on my laptop, Apple news on my iPad and Twitter on my phone and got pissed off at the speed of the live updates! I wanted all the numbers, the actions, the statements, the reports and I wanted them all now. And the whole time, I cried.

I am crying now while I’m typing this because I remember and I understand the noise, the fear and the terror of the victims, the hopelessness and powerlessness, the feeling of seeing your end and being convinced that you will not come out of there alive. Those who do survive, they will not believe it and will be wondering how did they survive.

The noise is constant. Those short moments when there is no noise, the fear is louder and tangible. Eerie silence. Then the noise starts again, and death appears, and people lose their lives. Just like that. I can’t stand the noise now. Once one life is taken, the death stays there, it lingers on. You think about your end, you see it coming, and you think about your worst fears, and you hope they don’t come true in your final moments. You hope that you will not go in pain, that you will not suffer too much as if the fact that you think about all this and the fact that you found yourself in this situation is not suffering enough. You think how powerless you are and how there is nothing you can do to change the situation you’re in. But you don’t say it out loud. When it comes to speaking out loud, you say ‘we will get out of here’, ‘we will be ok’. And you don’t believe it. You know it is not true.

The fear doesn’t go away. It stays with you, you just learn to live with it. You and fear adjust to each other. You get better, you process the trauma, you deal with it in different ways, you overcome it to a certain extent, and the fear adjusts to it. It changes size, it changes shape, and it changes you.

You will never be the same person again. I am not the same person.’

I analysed my emotions so many times before that night, and I knew my fears and my triggers, but this time, I dwelled on it long enough to wrap it up in words stamp it with ‘outgoing’ and ship it out of me. No, it is not as easy as writing a couple of paragraphs, I am most certainly not saying that. But I lived the fear every single day for over five years, and that was the night I distanced myself from it successfully. My stress level goes up, naturally, when I hear the news of yet another terrorist attack, but I don’t dwell on my fear for as long anymore. I transform it.

Since the Paris attack, there were many terrorist attacks, unfortunately, Ankara, Istanbul, Beirut, Bamako, Brussels to name only a few. Whole countries are experiencing them on a daily basis, and every time I hear about them, I grab my two little rafts to get me through the day because that is what I learnt: to take things a day at a time. Day by day…

The Inside Perspective…

In the light of the two attacks in Brussels but not forgetting the ones that happened since the Paris attack in November 2015 and, there were many of them, unfortunately, Ankara, Istanbul, Beirut, Bamako… – I am posting my short reflection from November last year…

The Inside Perspective, reflection on flashback after my trauma, Biljana Hutchinson, #trauma #healing #selfdevelopment #selfcare #selflove
My first visit to Cardiff. Tunnel in Cardiff Castle

‘I cannot begin to explain how I feel after hearing the news about the attacks in Paris tonight. Am I pissed off? Outraged? Terribly sad? Or desperate to learn that somehow, somewhere I am not surprised and I feared that this would happen. Paris? Is it a surprise? Only a few hours after the attacks, while the hostage situation still lasted, some analysis came out indicating that as shocking as they are these attacks should not come as a surprise, neither should location.

I cried. I cried when I heard the news, and I felt physically weak. My hands started to shake, and my heart was pounding. I couldn’t breathe, and I couldn’t sit still, so I walked in circles in our living room while I was searching for the news on BBC, ITV or Channel 4 or any news channel to get some live updates about the situation in Paris. There were none, I couldn’t find any update on TV and I started to panic. My palms began to sweat, and I opened my Facebook account on my laptop, my Apple news on my iPad and my Twitter on my phone and I was not happy with the speed of the live updates! I wanted all the numbers, the actions, the statements, the reports and I wanted them all now. And the whole time, I cried. I am crying now while I’m typing this, because I remember and I understand the noise, the fear and the terror of the victims, the hopelessness and powerlessness, the feeling of seeing your end and being convinced that you will not come out of there alive. Those who do survive, they will not believe it and will be wondering how did they survive.

The noise is constant. Those short moments when there is no noise, the fear is louder and tangible. Eerie silence. Then the noise starts again, and death appears, and people lose their lives. Just like that. I can’t stand the loud sounds now. Once one life is taken, the death stays there, it lingers on. You think about your end, you see it coming, and you think about your worst fears, and you hope they don’t come true in your final moments. You hope that you will not go in pain, that you will not suffer too much as if the fact that you think about all this and the fact that you found yourself in this situation is not suffering enough. You recognise how powerless you are and how there is nothing you can do to change the situation you’re in. But you don’t say it out loud. When it comes to saying out loud, you say ‘we will get out of here’, ‘we will be ok’. And you don’t believe them. You know they are not true.

The fear doesn’t go away. It stays with you, you just learn to live with it. You and fear adjust to each other. You get better, you process the trauma, you deal with it in different ways, you overcome it to a certain extent, and the fear adjusts to it. It changes size, it changes shape, and it changes you.

You will never be the same person again. I am not the same person.’