Nicotine Took Away My Childhood

One Moment Changed My Family's Life, And I Will Never Forgive Nicotine For The Years I Lost

I knew a storm was coming even before that dreaded phone call.

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At 12 years old, I got a phone call that honestly changed my life.

The phone rang. It was around 7 p.m. on a Wednesday night. My mom had a board meeting that night and Dad had been taking care of us. The home phone rang repeatedly. I checked the number, I didn't know it. Dad said, "Who is it"? "Not a number I know," I replied. We let it go to voicemail.

Only a few moments later, the ring came again. "The same number called again." "Let it go to voicemail. Probably telemarketers."

See, it made sense that my mom wasn't home because her board meetings were, frankly, unpredictable. Little did we know, this would be a very unexpected phone call.

It sounds implausible, but I could tell something was wrong. It wasn't much later than I usually expected her, but it was late enough that I had been concerned for at least half an hour. I have no idea how I knew, but I knew.

Finally, they called my Dad's cell phone. That moment changed all of our lives as quick as a pencil's led snaps.

Since then, I have had a hatred of cigarettes, smoke, and nicotine.

My mom has COPD and needs a lung transplant. It's seven years later and she's still making it through, but it's not easy. It's not easy for any of us.

After that day I had to grow up at 12 years old. Even today, everyone thinks I'm 2-4 years older than I am. I'm mature because I had to grow up fast.

Sometimes I think of that as a blessing. In some ways, many of the things that resulted from that moment were. My mom stopped smoking, I really learned how to support myself and be self-sufficient, and I've gotten to travel to raise awareness about the real-life consequences of smoking.

But in so many more it has been the worst thing to happen to me. Hopefully, the worst thing that will ever happen.

In that time, and in my high school years, I got to constantly be concerned about my mom. I spent my 13th birthday visiting my mom in the hospital. During those dark times, all I really wanted was to bring red velvet cupcakes to the hospital and go to Taco Bell. I felt lucky to even get that. Every time I got a call during school I knew what was on the other side of that phone.

At 14, I was asking my parents about our money concerns. They told me to not worry, but I knew better. I knew that it was desperately hard for them to afford me, my sister, and all the hospital bills.

At 15, I was cooking, cleaning, and beginning to look at colleges. I had no idea how I would pay, but I knew I needed to for my parents. (Also, I sucked at cleaning and I only knew how to microwave.

At 16 I actually learned how to cook, and I began applying for colleges. I did it all on my own. I found scholarships, I wrote all my essays, all without help. My mom didn't need to worry about that.

Now, I've made it to college and I'm two years in, but 3.5 hours away from home and 4 hours from the hospital that my mom will inevitably someday get her lung transplant at.

One day, I got a call right before class. My mom got 'the call', and she was going to get ready to go to the hospital for that transplant. I cried for 30 minutes and almost missed class. It was the middle of the week, I had work and an exam on Monday and she would be 4 hours away. How could I go? On the other hand, though, it's possible that the transplant wouldn't go well, and this would be my last chance ever to see her. How could I not go?

That lung turned out to be non-viable, so it was a fluke, but regardless, the situation was real in the moment.

I fear constantly at college that I will get that call again. A call that could mean my mother's life will be completely turned around for the better or it could mean her life ends.

I worry every day about my mom and I have for the past seven years. I will never forgive nicotine and tobacco for taking away my childhood and making me fear for my adulthood, a part of my life that might not include my mom.

Don't let nicotine ruin your life. Don't make your children grow up too soon.

See more about my Mom's story from The CDC, "The Doctors," or Columbus news.

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15 Reasons Your Grandpa Might Be The Greatest Person In Your Life

He loves you so much.
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Grandpa. The goofy old guy who has been with you since you were born.

Maybe he lives close or maybe he lives far. Maybe he's quiet and reserved or maybe he's a complete goofball. Maybe you see him all the time or maybe he's up there watching over you. No matter the circumstance, it is important to realize that he's probably one of the best people in your life.

1. He's hilarious

Nobody can make you laugh harder than grandpa. Whether it's a hot take on a sports game or a great story, he's always there to make you crack up.

2. He's smart (and knows more than you've ever known in your lifetime)

You think you know a lot... And then you talk to grandpa. I'm telling you, this man knows everything you know times a million.

3. He raised your mom or your dad well

You may have some pretty incredible parents... Well, guess who raised them? Your grandpa is half of the reason your parent is as amazing as they are... That deserves a lot of credit and appreciation.

4. He lets you eat the good stuff

As a kid and now. As a kid, you'd get all the candy or snacks you wanted and we just kept it between us. Even now, half a quart of ice cream for each of us is a quality snack at grandpa's house.

5. He has shown you what true, beautiful love is

Whether your grandma and his partner in crime is still here or is watching over you, the love they've had for longer than your parents have even been alive is an inspiration. Since you were a child, you've had some pretty amazing role models to look up to.

6. He has however many grandkids and still keeps up with you

Whether you're the only grandkid or 1 of 30, somehow he always stays up to date about what's going on in your life.

7. He's genuinely interested in your life

You never have to feel like you're talking grandpa's ear off about your new job, your school or your relationship. He's all ears because he truly cares about you.

8. And swears to hunt down any person who hurts you

If you haven't got the "I'll kill anyone who hurts you" spiel from your grandpa, I think he's grandpa-ing wrong. You can cross me. You probably can't cross dad, but if you happen to slip through the cracks, you will not cross grandpa.

9. He's been there for all of your milestones

Whether it was your elementary talent show or your high school graduation, he's been there to watch you.

10. His job is just to love you

Grandparents' job as a whole is to love and spoil their grandkids. It makes sense why it is considered the best job in the world... And your grandpa is probably really good at it.

11. And he might be your biggest fan

No one cheers louder or high fives you harder than your grandpa, no matter if you're playing a sport or playing the piano. He is your number one fan and it is important everyone knows it.

12. He's known you your whole life

He's watched you go from a tiny baby to the incredible person you are now. And hopefully, he knows that a lot of who you are now is because of him.

13. He'd do anything for you

Name it and he'll do it. That's what people who love you like a grandpa loves their grandkid do.

14. He always has a smile for you

Sometimes your parents get mad at you and they're not happy to see you. No one is 100 percent excited to see you every time they see you... Except grandpa.

15. He loves you so incredibly much

The biggest and best reason he is so amazing is that he loves you. Unconditionally, always. You don't get a lot of those people in your life, so it is important to cherish them and love them back as strong as you can.

Cover Image Credit: Sara Petty

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Stop Demonizing CBD Just Because You Associate It With THC

CBD doesn't get you high, do your research.

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I'm sure you've heard about CBD already, but if not, then let me break it down for you. Cannabidiol, CBD, is one of the hundreds of cannabinoids identified in the cannabis plant, but unlike the THC in the marijuana plant, it doesn't have any psychoactive properties.

CBD doesn't get you high.

When extracted from the plant, CBD has proven to be effective in the medical field. It has shown to be effective in the treatment of epilepsy, in the management of pain, in reducing depression and anxiety, and relieving cancer symptoms, among a host of other uses. New research from Mount Sinai Hospital in New York has revealed that CBD may be beneficial for society as a whole, too.

Researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital conducted the study to understand how we can fight the opioid epidemic through the discovery of alternative treatment options by assessing the potential effects of CBD on craving and anxiety in heroin users.

42 drug abstinent men and women between the ages of 21 and 65, who had recently stopped using heroin, were recruited for the study. Two groups were formed out of the participants: a control group that received a placebo and a test group that received CBD doses ranging from 400 mg to 800 mg per day. After administration, participants were exposed to neutral environmental cues and cues that would be considered drug-use inducing over three sessions. The cues in the environment were tested because an addict's environment and the cues it gives are the strongest triggers for relapse and continued drug use.

The results of the research hold great promise for the future of CBD.

Participants who were in the test group and given CBD had significantly reduced cravings for heroin, and noted feeling less anxiety when exposed to drug-use inducing cues. Moreover, the CBD had a lasting effect on this group as it continued to reduce cravings and relieve anxiety for seven days after the last dose was administered. In essence, this is the most important takeaway from the research: CBD had lasting effects well after it was present in the body. Numerous vital signs like heart rate, skin temperature, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation were taken to ensure only objective results were obtained since cravings and anxiety are subjective feelings. Another finding was a reduction in participants' heart rate and salivary cortisol levels, which would have both increased in the presence of anxiety-provoking images.

I think the evidence points to a logical conclusion: CBD is safe, it is effective in treating opioid addictions, and it is beneficial for those who experience a host of issues from pain, to anxiety, to epilepsy or to illnesses. Now is the time to keep pushing for legalization to continue larger scale studies and introduce CBD as a valid treatment option.

"A successful non-opioid medication would add significantly to the existing addiction medication toolbox to help reduce the growing death toll and enormous health care costs." - Yasmin Hurd, director of the Addiction Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.

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