|Image from (no joke) Church Times|
I picked January 3 as my first smokeless day, since it was the first day back to work in the new year. I bought my last pack of smokes (Marlboro Menthol 100s, Silver Pack) on January 1, and rationed them out over my last weekend. This was sort of a dry run for the actual quitting, rationing out the pack, even letting The Other Half (who still hasn't #$@?! quit!) have some, and leaving him two or three in the pack at the end of my last day. I really didn't enjoy my last two days, which is probably a good thing.
The first day really wasn't so bad. I've been able to set rules for myself before, and have gone many hours or even a couple of days without smokes before, depending on circumstances. The biggest challenge was fighting the urge to go outside. I liken the smoke breaks to commercials during a TV show: I was segmenting my evenings into sections, and after this message from Marlboro, I'd be right back. So having continuous, unbroken evenings took--and is still taking--a little getting used to. Day two was much like the first, no biggie, a few genuine cravings, but mostly pointless urges to go outside.
Day three was different. By now, my body and brain couldn't be fooled into thinking this was merely a "break." There was really no cigarette coming. This inspired many more cravings than the first two days. To make matters worse, The Other Half was out of town, and on those days, I traditionally smoked a bit more. But I held fast, and didn't buy more. I ain't gonna lie though, it was tough. On day six, I had to cut up a big branch to throw away. After twenty minutes with a hacksaw and some big clippers, I realized. . .I'm not winded! I'm not tired! That my friends, was amazing.
Each day since then has gotten a little easier, with some days being almost completely without an urge to smoke. The urges returned at predictable times, those old times when I'd have usually lit up. I just shook them off, ranted a few times on Facebook, got some support, and moved along. Day 14 had a strong desire, once. Then it passed. I've always liked cold turkey. . .
Best things about being smoke free:
- Morning coughing (and afternoon, and evening) has reduced to that of a normal person. Phlegm production way down. NO hacking to the point of nausea. This is new!
- Nighttime wheezing tendency gone. I often had an annoying whistle I'd have to clear, and could always churn up something, given a try. Not any more.
- Hypochondria easing. Yes, I can convince myself that I've got a terrible disease. . .wait, did my heartbeat just skip? That nuttiness will likely always be with me, but it's eased a lot.
- I've saved at least $50 already, just in the cost of cigarettes. That doesn't count the time it took to get them, and the planning involved to make sure I was always stocked up.
- My clothes don't stink. My hands don't stink.
- My gums--plagued by periodontitis--already feel better. Maybe that's reverse hypochondria, but I swear it's true.
- I feel a sense of accomplishment, and no longer have a feeling of vague shame.
Hardest things about quitting:
- Getting started. Just set a date and try it.
- Gritting your teeth and having will power for five to ten minutes until the urge to smoke passes. Really, that is about what it takes, a few times per day. Trust me, you can do it.
- Resisting the urge to have "just one." I've already gone through that bargaining process with myself: "If I have just one, I can still say 'I've only had one since I quit.'" But I quit for me, not for somebody else. What point is there in cheating, when I'm the one who matters?
- Realizing there really isn't a substitute for the activity. There's nothing else where you stop what you're doing for three-five minutes while you go outside and sit/pace around, and then come back and resume what you were doing. This should be no big deal, but it is so hard to get used to.
- Resisting the urge to become an anti-smoking Nazi. I want to slap butts out of people's hands. I want to tell them they stink, that I don't want to smell their smoke. I have to only flash back a couple of weeks to the other side of that argument to stop me. But I do feel sorry for those currently smoking.
More as I move through this.