When I ran into my next-door-neighbor a few days ago outside my apartment, I mentioned that I hadn’t seen him or his wife for a while. “That’s because we quit smoking,” he said. They would always smoke outside and I admired their discipline in doing that. How did you quit? I asked. “She used Chantix and I got electroshock therapy in Bismarck at a chiropractic office for $44,” my neighbor said, watching for my reaction.
I don’t think he was disappointed — I was completely “shocked” to hear that news, since I had always associated shock therapy with something highly unpleasant, like from the movie “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” So I had many questions — did it work? did you have any side effects? how did you hear about it?
He told me he hadn’t smoked for two months now and that he had had no side effects — he planned the treatment for a weekend just in case he did have any, but it turned out he didn’t have to worry about that. Originally, he had heard about from some of the guys he worked with that had it done, and he decided to give it a try.
Later that evening, I dug through one of my “junk” drawers and pulled my two boxes of nicotine lozenges. If I was going to quit, I would try the lozenges first definitely before (horrors) shock therapy. I am one of those who would be too frightened to get Lasik surgery, thinking that I would be part of the 1 percent who would go blind from it. So shock therapy? Are you kidding me now?
Well, just because I was curious, nothing more, I called the chiropractic office in Bismarck where the shock treatment is performed. The receptionist acted very casual about my questions: Yes, it’s only $44 and no, she’s never heard of any side effects. She mentioned they’ve been doing the shock therapy treatment to help people quit smoking since, believe it or not, 1989.
I doubt I would ever try to quit smoking the way my neighbor did, unless I was completely desperate. Nonetheless, I looked online for side effects of shock therapy, and one of them was short-term memory loss, say, the last two to three months of your life. Well, that would be the exact length of time I’ve been back in North Dakota after a long absence. I doubt my boss would be thrilled if I suddenly didn’t know her name and had forgotten all my training. So for now, I’ll keep glancing over at my box of nicotine lozenges.
Meanwhile, my neighbor keeps lining up new shock therapy recruits, sometimes driving them himself to Bismarck to get the treatments. And here I was thinking this was a story for the National Enquirer, but it ended up being one of my blog posts.