Saturday, July 18, 2009

Quitting


I first started smoking when I was 14 years old, and I quit about 20 years later. Cold turkey. Of course, back then, there weren't many other options for quitting.

My motivation at that time? My kids were young and I had the opportunity to take a few years off work to stay home with them and be a "mom," but we wouldn't have been able to afford it if I smoked and had to buy cigarettes. So I quit. It seemed a fairly easy decision to make, although quitting itself is never easy. As DebiJeanM commented on yesterday's post, there are studies that suggest tobacco is more addictive than heroin, so quitting isn't easy at all. But for motivation, being able to stay at home with my kids if I could quit was the best!

I always enjoyed smoking. Even after I quit, I wanted to smoke, although I thought about it less and less as time went by. Eventually, my time at home with the kids came to an end, and I went back to work full time. In my "free" time (ha!), I returned to school, taking a college course or two each semester. Life went on.

One spring Secretary's Day, my office organized a lunch for all of us at a restaurant on the river, and a bit of drinking ensued. The attorney I worked for was a smoker as was another attorney, and I thought it would be excellent fun to smoke with them--and it was! A week or two later, several of us went for drinks after work, and again we smoked. On each occasion, I drank, I smoked, I went home, and I didn't smoke again--until the next time. But there weren't any cravings in between.

A few weeks after that, I got word my dad was going into the hospital for a quadruple heart bypass procedure. He--and the hospital--were about an hour and a half drive away. On the day of the surgery, I got in my car to drive to the hospital. I was worried and I was alone. I stopped and bought a pack of cigarettes--I thought smoking would help with the worry, and it did calm me down. That day and the several days after, when I made the same drive back and forth, I would stop along the way and have a cigarette. (And yes, I did recognize the contradiction between my dad's heart problems and my smoking.) Very quickly I found I was dependent on cigarettes again. I had been a non-smoker for eight years until that point, but my years as a non-smoker were over.

For some time, smoking was my secret. I didn't want to admit to my friends and family that I had failed. I was spending a lot of time away from home, working full time and going to school, so smoking in secret was easy. I often spent part of my weekends at a local coffee shop, studying and doing homework where it was quieter than it was at home--and, of course, I could smoke there. And, aside from all that, there was a certain allure to doing something secret and forbidden--I understand why married people can get caught up in affairs just for the thrill of doing something they aren't supposed to do!

Eventually, though, my secret was found out, and I was smoking openly again. And, of course, smoking's not a popular thing these days. On the scale of degenerate things to do, it often seems like smoking ranks right up there with picking one's nose in public. So that was one reason to quit. And another reason? No one I know smokes any more! Maybe the most compelling reason for me, though, was the fact that each year my allergies seem to get worse, and I thought that if I quit smoking, it would help with the whole allergy/congestion/icky stuff.

So, I thought it through and set a date. July 3rd. July 3rd was an office holiday, then I'd have the weekend, and I also arranged to take Monday and Tuesday, July 6th and 7th, off work as vacation days. Five days of Hell; five days with few outside demands and pressures; five days to get through the worst of it. Cold turkey. My office manager and my two bosses knew; Hubby knew; and one or two friends I talk to daily knew. I didn't want to have to explain to anyone else if I failed.

Why cold turkey when there are smoking cessation aids available now? I worked with a woman whose doctor told her she'd develop emphysema if she didn't quit, so she quit with the help of patches and gum. A year and a half later, she was still using patches and gum. I was afraid that would be me--or worse. I thought if I did patches and/or gum, I might be lured more easily back into smoking. I'd quit cold turkey before, and I knew I could do it again; and, maybe more importantly, I knew what to expect.

As the date approached, Hubby was prepared to leave town if need be. Hubby told me he was thinking of taking Spike with him, because he didn't want to come home and find her nailed to the wall. Wise man. But it didn't turn out to be that bad for those around me, and other than several hours on the 4th of July when he went to visit his brother, Hubby--and Spike--hung around the house.

I slept a lot during those five days. I drank a lot of water and iced tea. I read a little, I quilted a little, I embroidered a little--mostly I didn't feel like doing anything for very long at all. On the sixth day, I went back to work and had two of the most stressful days I've had in a long time--and that's completely and totally aside from the whole quitting smoking thing. I should have taken the entire week off, but who knew?

If I hadn't quit before and knew what to expect, I probably would have given up this time around the third day into it. Someone asked how I did it, and all I can say is that I just kept going, knowing that eventually--and before TOO long--it would get better. And it did. And it will get even better, I know.

I can't say I'll never smoke again. I'm sure I said it several times during the eight years I was last a non-smoker, and I'm sure I meant it wholeheartedly. But now I know better than to be so cocky and self-assured. Things happen; willpower falters. All I can do is try, day by day, to not smoke. Eventually it will get a little better. But eventually I may let my guard down.

What do I hate most right now? I'm still kind of grumpy and depressed. I don't feel like settling down to anything for long. I'm not sleeping very well, and that means I'm tired much of the time. My appetite is weird--I'm hungry, but after I take the first few bites, I don't want any more; then I'm hungry again in a couple hours.

I don't remember this happening when I quit before, but if it's not related to quitting, then it's a remarkable coincidence! I think it would help if I could get out and take walks or something, but it's been 110 degrees out, and if I had a death wish, I would have just kept smoking, so walks aren't the solution for now. I plan to relax this weekend, take some good multivitamins, drink plenty of fluids, and get some sleep, with the help of Tylenol PM. I have things I need to get done, but I don't want to stress myself out where I don't have to, so I may not post to my blog if I don't feel inspired--and inspiration isn't thick on the ground right now. So if you stop by and I'm not here, you'll know why.

Thank you all for the encouraging comments. It's funny how many of us are former smokers! And for any of you reading this who have been thinking about quitting but haven't so far, I bet you can do it! Feel free to email me privately if you have questions I can help you with. "See" you again soon!

35 comments:

Andrea said...

I gave up 7 years ago and now I really hate the smell. Occasionally I remember I was a smoker but it seems a long while back. The year after I gave up alongside my husband my mum was diagnosed with lung cancer and the rest of the family ( my dad, brother and sister ) all vowed to give up but they never did. My mum is in remission now and doing great and I'm so glad I kicked the habit when I did. You can do it xxx

Eileen said...

You go girl. I'm so glad to be your friend.

Nancy said...

You should feel very proud, Kim, of where you are right now and what you've done. I'm proud of you. Extremely proud.

Anonymous said...

KIm So glad you took that first step, and know that you will keep it up and get there. WE are all here for you at the Hollow you know where you can find us if you need to vent. Love you and proud of you and your accomplishments Sharon Mac

Orcsmom said...

Hey Kim,
We are all there for ya! Let me know if I can do anything to help ya. I am only a phone call away!

Hugs!
Pam

wendysquilting said...

Good for you!! I also started smoking at 14 and I really liked it too I remember hearing that they thought smoking MIGHT cause cancer so my 14yr old brain would way it also might not right. Then 10 yrs later as a young mom it really bothered me that smoking wasn't a very good role model so on November 11 1989 I smoked my last cigarette I also quit cold turkey. the further I got away from it the less I wanted it. Hopefully I'll never ever fall into its trap again.

Melisa @ Sweet Home said...

April 19, 1992 - I quit cold turkey after 20 years of a two-pack-a-day habit. Now 17 years later, there isn't a day that goes by that I don't crave a cigarette! I don't mind the smell, except on someone's clothes, carpet, furniture, etc. Fresh cigarette smoke, though, ahhhh! Hang in there, you'll be successful this time, just like you were the first time!

Judy said...

After I quit, I took up knitting so I couldn't just slip outside for a quick one. I taught myself to knit socks. I was obsessed and couldn't put it down! I love my socks. :) Sending good thoughts.......

debijeanm said...

You're so awesome! Hang in there, take care of you and know that you have friends rooting for you out here.

cockermom said...

Good for you! I regret to say I am a smoker. I was a "light" smoker until a year ago. Last may my DH was diagnosed with renal failure, then a week later he was taken to ER from dialysis with a kind of dementia. For 4 days he didn't know my name! Yikes! I became a chain smoker. Turns out he had meningioencephelitis, which he likely got from his previous hospitalization.
Anyway, I have cut back a bit but I still puff away more than I did before so I suppose it is stress related. I think about quitting once in a while.....

Della said...

I still enjoy the fresh cigarette smoke, after six years. But often wonder how people tolerated being around me or in my house with the yucky stale cigarette smell that lingers. My doctor prescribed Wellbutrin to help me quit. I really don't think I would of been successful without it. You can do this Kim. Besides there isn't anywhere left to smoke except at home, so the time is right. Smoke free hugs.

dianne said...

you rock!

Lady of the Cloth said...

Good for you, I know it must be hard, even though I have never smoked. Everyone in my family smoked and my Mom died from the results. I always say, If I can't lose weight, and I know how hard that it....how much harder must it be to quit smoking. So I admire your fortitude, keep at it. And I'm glad the kitty is ok!

Darlene said...

Kim, I've never been a smoker however I've lived with smokers so I understand the addiction. My DH quit cold turkey 11 years ago after he failed a stress test and knew he was a candidate for by-pass surgery. I'm very proud of the fact that he has never and will never smoke again.

You need to be kind to yourself during this journey. It's a roller coaster ride that will eventually end and you'll be glad you did it. (Hugs)

materialjunkie said...

Good for you to go cold turkey. I couldn't do it with the patch..with the gum...with willpower..even though no one in my family lived past the age of 64. Denial? I'd say!! So my daughter said "let's do the Champix thing and see if it works..together...we did and it has been 3 1/2 weeks. I am so glad I did the champix (chantix in the states I think)It seems too easy to be true..or I was just ready this time around. I don't think I have many side effects...it's hard to tell if they come from Champix or from lack of nicotine. But I have not been irratable... yet...and that has helped BIG TIME. I work 2 jobs so I am always stressed, but without being edgy from lack of nicotine was a huge bonus. Like you I have not told many people other then who I work with...I am waiting until the end of the treatment plan is done..which is 12weeks total. I am confident..but as you know...Never say Never to a smoker..No matter how much we don't want to smoke! Hope you keep us updated.
Jocey

Anonymous said...

I congratulate you!!!As an RN I know that Nicotine is harder to ditch than Heroin so you are embarking on a huge journey. However here are the Positives and Negatives

Positives
Money in your pocket or rather available to be spent at your local quilt Store
Your fabric will smell better
Your house and clothes will smell better
Your thinking process will be clearer
You will have more energy
Your sense of smell will be better
You will live longer

Negatives
NONE
Congrats again. Marilynmckinnon@hotmail.com

Mary on Lake Pulaski said...

Keep it up! It's worth it.

Bonnie said...

Your doing great Kim. Be strong. Relax and only do what you feel like. Bonnie in the Poconos

Colleen formerly of South Africa said...

Congrats on quitting... I never have...but have lived through hubby quitting and my daughter. Both did it the way you did..cold turkey. You have my deepest sympathy and respect.

Heckety said...

More power to you and well done! West bishes for the next few days!

Phyllis said...

Kim, I've never smoked but have lots of friends who do...or did. I've heard how hard it is to do and sympathize. Remember that no matter how hard it is to quit, you are doing the best thing for yourself by doing it. Take one hour, one day at a time and you'll do it!

Nancy said...

Not ever being a smoker, I have no idea what you are going through. I wish you success....

quiltdolls said...

i quilt 13 years ago & now I can not stand smoke & it makes my allergics go crazy. The only think is I have gained weight.

good luck Kim

Julia said...

Congratulations. As a person who only smoked for 2 weeks while I was part of a pool game thing at a bar I frequented, I can't even imagine how hard it must be. When my mom quit ever so long ago, we went out and bought her a carton of cigarettes and never said another word! Ever!

My dad was a secret smoker. I found out while we were visiting my sister when she was in college and he chose to smoke outside her bathroom window! I had to tell my sister (we have very few secrets). Neither of us ever told him we knew.

Julia

Aunt Jacques said...

I started smoking in high school, quit off and on till I married at 25 years old, had our second child and we decided, first hubby and I to quit , our oldest had bad asthma. I quit for 10 years, but as my stress level greww with 5 children, living in a area I hated, getting robbed twice in a few months, I started back up, and my 1st hubby did to. It was another 10 years later,my colestrol count was over 300, my dr. wanted me to quit , so stress is a contrituting factor for bad #s and smoking, so got a divorce, quit this time with the help of patches, could't get past 5 cigarrettes a day. have been clean for 12 years now, I comend you on your ability to quit cold turkey. My asthma , allergies, colestrol are all better, well my colestrol count is below 270 now. good luck to you in your fight to quit, it is a daily struggle, exercising helps, walking anthing to counter the oral urges we get to fill the cigarrette, food is the most common replacement, therefore we gain the weight.

Linda said...

Good for you!
I've been smober now for 5 years, 4 months, 1 week and 3 days.
Like you I also liked to smoke. I smoked my first cig when I was about 13 and put out my last one when I was 60. (all those years!!)
Now I know how horrible I always smelled. Yuck!
I'm glad you're back on track.
I'm glad I've read about your experience because it just confirms to me that I can't have just one.
Keep hanging in. You know you can do it!

Anonymous said...

Stick with it....it's not worth the risk! DH just had surgery to remove a cancerous bladder which they told him is a byproduct of smoking...and we all know that isn't the only risk!

Mad about Craft said...

Keep going!! - girlfriend!

Greenmare said...

I never smoked, well, there was one pack during my entire high school career, when it was "cool" to smoke. Just keep reminding yourself how expensive those damn things are!!!! my goodness, back in the day when I bought my ONE pack they cost all of sixty cents!!!! hang in there, you can do it, and if you want to walk, Wisconsin has excellent walking weather! It may get up to 70 today.

Gran said...

How's the cat today? Has been my code for how are you my friend...

Dancing happy feet here cause I get to see you tonight. And a wish of happy dancing feet all over your lungs.

Hey, do what you want to do. You have so many talents that you could visit each of them, play around a little and then move on to the next one and that would take you into next month. And don't forget to throw a little embroidery yoga in there :0)

Evelyn aka Starfishy said...

Hang in there! My sister quit smoking when her kids were little too because she said it was either a pack of cigs. or a gallon of milk - both the same price. She did cold turkey. My brother used to smoke almost 3 packs of unfiltered Camels a day and he quit years ago - also cold turkey. He is a fisherman and threw his cartons overboard on an off-shore trip - wouldn't want to be on that boat then! I had to laugh at Judy's plan - start knitting. I don't smoke, but bite my nails - if I knit, I don't bite them! AND, my sister calls my sewing machine my cigerette - she always says that me without my sewing machine is like a smoker without a cigerette - if I go anywhere that involves packing a toothbrush... well - isn't a sewing machine a toiletry?!

PunkiePie said...

I know what you're feeling. I quit back in March using Chantix and I was fine. Even celebated being 100 days smoke free. then I got into a HUGE fight with my husband and MIL... and I went out a bought a pack. And smoked it. Then we went on vacation last week.... and I bought another pack... and smoked that one too. Now that we've been home for a few days, I could use the cigarette but I'm fighting the urge to buy a pack.

You can do it! We're all here for you.

Teresa said...

Congratulations!

Anonymous said...

You hang in there,nicotine is a tough one to break, I do know...
Sounds like you have it in hand...I think its normal after giving up nicotine to find the pull appealing, even after years, especially when your stressed...good for you making the decision to do this healthy thing for yourself!!

David said...
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