11/05/00 - Afternoon
So here I am, 5 days past a month as an ex-smoker. As hard as it may be for any of you to believe, it's much, much harder for me. I am the poster boy for unhealthy lifestyle choices. Maybe I should start thinking of that as was the poster boy...
Current #s? Not a single puff for one month, four days, 12 hours & 45 minutes. I have not smoked 1243 cigarettes, saving $249.01, which I get to spend on old Scotch. (Aha! A bad habit I still possess. If I can avoid getting too serious about it, perhaps I can retain my poster boy status?) Actuarially speaking, I'll have an additional 4 days, 7 hours & 35 minutes of trying to remember where I live.
There are a million ways to quit smoking, some more successful than others. I got a lot of advice on what to do and how to do it. Some of it I actually took to heart. Here's the short story on exactly what I did and didn't do to quit smoking:
1. I did not cut down whatsoever in preparing to quit. I smoked like a freight train right up until my quit date. I did, however, use a technique called fading. For each of the four weeks before I quit, I switched (weekly) to a brand of cigarettes (or type within a brand) that was approximately one-half of the nicotine level of the previous week's brand. I attempted, with fair success, not to increase the number of cigarettes I was smoking to make up for the decreased nicotine intake. The cigarette companies blatantly lie about the nicotine content of their products (BIG shock there, huh?), so the true info on nicotine content is harder to come by than you might think. If you want to use this technique (and, god help you, are reading this site for actual advice or truth), email me and I'll help you figure out how to do a month long fade. You can email me here.
2. I use(d) Zyban. Since, so far, my first attempted quit has been successful, it's hard for me to say if it helps or not. I know it's pretty much exactly as expensive as smoking a pack a day (About $90.00 for a month's supply at Costco), and I know that the side effects suck. But here I am, taking Zyban and not smoking. The common wisdom is that it helps with withdrawal.
3. I spent a lot of time during the month before I quit thinking about quitting and planning on how to deal with various situations which I knew would occur after I'd quit. This may have been the most valuable of all the things I did to get ready to quit. You have to know what you're going to do when you drive by the 7-11 and start to head in to buy cigarettes. You have to know how you're going to react the first time an evil asshole (who is usually disguised as a "friend") smilingly offers you a smoke when they know you're quitting. You can't predict everything that's going to make you want to smoke, but you can certainly consider in advance the vast majority of them. And in considering them, you can mentally practice dealing with each of them.
4. QuitNet.org. Yes, I've been harping all along about how great this place is...that's because it's what has kept me from smoking at least a dozen times since I quit. Instead of smoking I'd log on and read. I revel in and celebrate the milestones of others. I look forward to and celebrate my own milestones. I'd watch with sorrow as people tried to quit and failed over and over and over again. I'd swear that wouldn't be me. Once in awhile, I'd see one of the elder members or heroes of QuitNet stumble and lose their quit...reminding me to never let my guard down - ever. Every morning, to date, I log on and take a pledge, with 50 to 75 other people, to not smoke that day.
5. I've eaten a truckload of sugarless mints. I have not gone crazy on chocolate...although if I need to in the future, I surely will rather than smoke again.
6. I've cut up a hundred drinking straws to use as an oral substitute. These help. A lot.
7. I've wandered around my house pulling out what little hair I have left. Talking to myself. I sing. I dance. I'm lucky I live alone, because I'm sure it looks for all the world like I'm insane.
8. Most of all, in order to quit smoking and to continue to remain an ex-smoker, I just plain don't smoke. It's simple. And very complicated. It's easy. And very hard.
That's it. If I can do it, anyone can do it.
The desire for success lubricates secret prostitutions in the soul. --Norman Mailer
11/30/2000 - Early Evening
Here I am, 60 days quit. Amazing. Never would have thought I could do it.
Do I feel better? Yes. Lots better.
Am I proud of myself? Yes. If I can keep my quit through this ludicrous presidential election mess, coupled with the daunting and disturbing prospect that we may actually have 4 years of Dubya pretending to be the POTUS, then I can do anything!
Is it still hard? Hell, yes.
Is it easier than it was? Yep.
Current #'s? Not a single cigarette or puff for one month, four weeks, one day, 18 hours and 34 minutes. 2127 cigarettes not smoked, saving $425.71. Life saved: 1 week, 9 hours, 15 minutes.
Success and failure are both difficult to endure. Along with success come drugs, divorce, fornication, bullying, travel, medication, depression, neurosis and suicide. With failure comes failure. --Joseph Heller
Leap to Month Three