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Hiya! Eclectablog here. I'm going to post a series of 4 "Chris the Science Geek" essays I wrote for the most-awesome years ago where I (a) quit smoking and (b) met my wife of 6 years. Forgive any faux pas with regard to GUS Etiquette - I'm a newbie here!

GUS (Gave Up Smoking) is a community support diary for Kossacks in the midst of quitting smoking. Any supportive comments, suggestions or positive distractions are appreciated. We avoid discussion of political issues. If you are quitting or even thinking about quitting, please -- join us! GUS Library at dKosopedia is organically evolving, and stocked with free-range information: quit-smoking links, helpful GUS diary writing tips, and the GUS Buddy List.

One of the things that really helped me during my quit was to understand the scientific/physiological reasons my body was doing certain things. One of those things in particular is CRS Syndrome (Can't Remember Shit Syndrome). Once I understood it, I felt compelled to share it with the other Quitsters on Quitnet and thus began the four-part Chris the Science Geek series. This series has been reposted on Quitnet and other sites repeatedly since then. Its popularity made me think the Gussack community might enjoy them as well. So, here is the first installment of four that I will post over the next month. Enjoy. And KEEP THE QUIT!!!

Chris the Science Geek answers your questions about CRS
This is for any newbies (or even oldbies) that wonder, "why is it I feel so light-headed, dopey and stoned now that I have quit smoking?"

Well, pull up a chair and Chris the Science Geek (aka Eclectablog) will tell you why.

When you burn the leaves of tobacco and inhale the combustion products, you inevitably inhale a whole bunch of a certain chemical called carbon monoxide. You may be familiar with this chemical; it's the same one that spews out of the, uh... "backside" of your car. So, yup, it's kinda like doing tailpipe hits. The carbon monoxide, aka "CO", takes up space in your bloodstream that would normally be occupied by another certain chemical that goes by the name of oxygen, aka O2. Funny thing is, your body uses the O2 but cannot use the CO. In fact, in large enough doses, CO will suffocate/poison you. This is why doctors do not recommend that you get into your car in a closed garage, run a hose from the tailpipe into the window and start the engine. Take it from me, this is a Bad Idea.

Anyway, your body, being the unbelievably wondrous machine that it is, responds to this mini-suffocation that you are inflicting on it by increasing something called your "packed red cell count". Why does your body do this, you ask? I'll tell you why: in your blood are cells (they're red, go figure) that carry O2 from your lungs to other parts of your body. Because the CO uses up some of their ability to carry O2, you need more to carry the amount of O2 you need to live. So, your body produces about 10-20% more red blood cells. When your doctor is looking at your blood they will often separate out the red blood cells by spinning your blood in a centrifuge. The red blood cells all go to the bottom of the test tube, nicely compacted. The doctor measures the volume of these packed cells and that number is called (wait for it) the packed red cell volume. Neat, huh?!

Because humans have a pretty consistent level of red cells, doctors can actually tell if you are a smoker by looking at your level.

So, now your body is happily chugging along, coughing and hacking a lot but at least getting enough O2 to keep you alive. Then you quit smoking. Very rapidly the reduction in CO that you are breathing causes a precipitous drop in the amount of CO in your blood. But here YOU are, still walking around with 10-20% higher O2 carrying ability. So, you get a little, well, giddy. Kinda dopey. Hell, you're stoned, let's call it what it is. You are actually walking around in a state of constant, low-level hyperventilation.

Eventually your body realizes the big favor you have done it and stops producing red blood cells for awhile so that you can get back down to your normal level. When that happens, the dizziness will go away.

What can you do about it? Well, my advice is to breathe deeply and enjoy this free buzz. Ever hear of oxygen bars over in Tokyo? Well, they have them. You go in and belly up to the bar, lay down your coin and huff pure oxygen for awhile. But YOU get to do it for free!!! Take advantage of your inebriated state and blame absolutely every little mistake, faux pas and error on it. You won't often get this opportunity so DON'T BLOW IT!!!

One more word of advice: you may want to avoid making major decisions, operating heavy equipment or performing death-defying stunts for awhile. You just never know...

This has been a public service announcement by Chris the Science Geek. No warranty, expressed or implied, is given - use at your own risk. Offer void where prohibited, please allow 10-12 weeks for delivery. Your mileage may vary.

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Originally posted to Eclectablog - eclectic blogging for a better tomorrow on Wed Jun 23, 2010 at 05:36 AM PDT.

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