To quit smoking – my journey
My last cigarette was November 19, 2013 at 4:30pm. Every smoker knows the date, the hour and the minute of their last cigarette, where they were when they smoked it and a multitude of details leading up to that moment.
I am quitting at age fifty-five, so much later in life than most of my friends. I remember that first week, I wanted to speak to friends who had quit recently. WHEN was it going to feel better? When was I going to feel happy about quitting? WHEN would this pain be worth the gain? I wanted to know that it was all going to be okay!
I expected the withdrawal – that’s the easy part almost. You expect (and logically understand) that your body is going to be pissed about the absence of nicotine and is therefore going to communicate its displeasure to you. I always felt like the withdrawal was almost the best part of quitting because it was so real. You could feel and smell the toxins leaving your body. So, while not a physically comfortable experience, it was mentally stimulating for me. I have a sign hanging by my computer that says, “Embrace the withdrawal – it means I’m winning.” It was measurable evidence of a change.
There is no easy way to make it through the first three days. You will be physically uncomfortable and irritable. You may also feel depressed or be unable to sleep well – so don’t plan to do this the day of your first daughter’s wedding. Pick a day that your schedule is fairly flexible and will be for a few subsequent days.
Plan to be around non-smokers if possible – at least in the beginning. I literally avoided seeing my girlfriend at Thanksgiving. Even though I know she would not have smoked around me, I would have known that they were in her purse. I could have had one if I wanted. It wasn’t her I didn’t trust – it was ME I didn’t trust. Thankfully my husband doesn’t smoke, and it’s just the two of us in our home.
When the urge to smoke hits, take very deep breaths, drink a lot of water and take a few stretches. Please don’t try to ignore the “jolts” of the withdrawal, but rather, turn that uncomfortable moment into a positive moment with a deep and relaxing breath and a break in the monotony of your work. Because I am glued to my home computer and home office all day, I can’t tell you how many times I reached for a cigarette the first week. At first, my mental reaction was, “damnit, they’re not there anymore,” and finally, my response was, “oh, that’s right – I don’t smoke anymore.”
To quit smoking – my journey
Today is day 49 for me – 7 weeks today. I truly wished I had started this little journal earlier in an effort to be of help to someone during the most difficult period. Hopefully my memories are still fresh enough to describe them well.
I didn’t announce to my family or the world that I was quitting until I had made it thirty days, by the way. This is not my first time to quit, and I wanted to make sure that I was committed to myself before I committed to others. And if you have quit smoking before, you know you will ONLY be successful once you have made the commitment to yourself.
It’s a very individual and personal decision whether or not you need assistance to be successful with smoking cessation. I am using the nicotine patch. I started with the 21 mg and am now on the 14 mg; will begin the final step of the 7 mg next week. Cold turkey was not an option for me when I knew the patches would ease the pain and transition. I did reluctantly use the program 800-QUIT-NOW – it didn’t feel right for me, BUT you can’t argue their success rate, so I decided to try. I’m not sure that it helped, but it certainly didn’t hurt.
If I found out today that cigarettes were NOT bad for our health, I would drive to a convenience store IMMEDIATELY and purchase a pack of Virginia Slims regular. I still want a cigarette and would gladly pay $7 for a pack.
So, no, I’m not to the perky part yet and I haven’t lost my desire for a cigarette. It’s just that it comes to mind 4-5 times per day instead of 4-5 times per hour. And although it’s too cold to go for a walk or jog today, I know that’s going to be so much easier in a month or two when the weather improves. I’m still at the stage where I have to remind myself of the reasons I’m quitting smoking, but the bottom line is, I haven’t had a cigarette in 49 days, and I’m not going to have one today or tomorrow.
If you know me personally, you will understand this. When people ask me if my food is beginning to taste better or if things smell better, I practically tell them to go to hell. No, food doesn’t taste better, and even if it did, would THAT be such a big deal? So, I’m not ready to be around perky non-smokers either.
If you are on this journey or considering this journey, I wish you strength, stubbornness and success. Remember that it’s your journey and you know how best to travel it. Ask for and take any and all help available, whether that’s sleeping pills from your doctor or a friend on the other end of the phone or a punching bag hung in your garage.
If I can be of any help, please do call. Namaste. 918-852-5036
Content written and published by Lori Cain.