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TomW5.15.17's Blog

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Nicotine Abuse

Posted by TomW5.15.17 Jun 10, 2019

Why don’t we call smokers “Nicotine Abusers”?  Why do we reserve the term “Abuser” for only those addicted to drugs or alcohol?  I was definitely a nicotine abuser.  If you look at my profile, you will see that I smoked 15 cigarettes a day.  That doesn’t tell the whole story though.  I kept trying to quit over and over again, and started using nicotine lozenges in greater and greater quantities.  By the time I finally quit, I was smoking 15 cigarettes a day and taking 15-18 lozenges a day.  When I look back, my stupidity never ceases to amaze me.


Anyway, even though I was a nearly pack a day smoker, I didn’t get many craves for a cigarette after I quit.  What I really wanted was to suck and chew on a couple lozenges when the craves came.  They finally subsided, and I rarely get an urge anymore.  I can be with smoking friends and have no desire to bum one.  I can go to my old convenience store to buy something and those racks of cigarettes have no effect on me.  But one thing continues to get to me.


OK, fair warning, a little TMI coming up.  I have IBS with really bad hemorrhoids.  Not complaining.  I’ve had it for 35 years, and it is just my normal now.  So, again, apologies for TMI but I go through boxes of Tucks Medicated Pads every month.  There is a Target store down the street from my house that sells them cheaper than anywhere else, so I always go there when I’m running low.  When you are in the aisle that has the Tucks, just to the right of them are creams like Preparation H, then there are the Fleet enemas, then antacids and gas relief.  I’m not in marketing, but all of that seems to make sense for product placement.  However, just to the left of the Tucks are all the nicotine lozenges and gum.  I literally brush up against them reaching for a box of Tucks.  I’m never tempted anymore to have “just one cigarette”.  But every da*n time I buy my Tucks, my mind says, “Why don’t you buy a box of lozenges?  Surely one wouldn’t hurt”.


I may have to start going to CVS and just pay more for my "butt" relief .


Low Dose CT Scan

Posted by TomW5.15.17 May 23, 2019

I'm having my 3rd one in a year this evening.  They found a nodule the first time and had me come back in 3 months.  That scan was inconclusive as to whether the nodule changed any, so they scheduled this one 6 months later.  Some positive vibes aimed towards central Ohio at 6:30pm would be appreciated .


2 Years

Posted by TomW5.15.17 May 15, 2019

2 years ago this very minute my wife went to run errands, so I took the opportunity to go out to the garage to smoke.  I was about 4 days into a pretty bad cold, and as hard as I might try, I could not inhale even the smallest drag off my cigarette without going into a major coughing fit.  But by God, I kept trying.  I went through 4 cigarettes because they would burn down before I could take another drag.  After 44 years, I finally realized how pathetic I had become.  I crumbled the rest of my pack, dowsed them with water, and haven't looked back since.


Day 709

Posted by TomW5.15.17 Apr 24, 2019

I had to look up that 709 number.  I haven't thought about how many days of freedom I have since maybe last April.  I can't remember the last crave or urge to smoke I had.  That was probably a year ago as well.  And yet...


I've been super busy at work doing several projects at once.  It's finally winding down, and I just completed several of the last tasks to do.  I get up to use the restroom, and as I'm walking out I think, "I'm halfway outside anyway, might as well go have a smoke to celebrate my accomplishments".  I started patting my pockets for my pack and lighter, and then immediately starting laughing out loud.  Luckily, no one was around.


Not looking for advice.  I don't have any urge to smoke.  I liken it more to a brain f*rt.  Like walking out without my car keys, or walking into a room and forgetting why I came in.  Just an old habitual thought that got muddled in with all the others in my over-worked brain today.  Happy Wednesday everyone!


Great news!

Posted by TomW5.15.17 Mar 19, 2019

Seems like so much sorrow going around lately, I’m hesitant to bring up good news.  I definitely have a savior complex (a strong 9 on the Enneagram) and just want to make it better for everyone.  But this is the best news I’ve had in 4 years, I just have to share.  The lab tests from my last 4 annual physicals showed “trace blood” amounts in my urine.  So for 3 years, I was referred to a urologist for an exam called a cystoscopy.  A rather innocent sounding name for a test, that I didn’t bother researching the details of before going to my first appointment.  I won’t go into the details here, but let me assure you that it is the most unbearable pain I have ever endured, in a part of the male anatomy that males really hate having pain in, and lasting 2-3 days.  This year my urinalysis results came back negative for any blood!  No cystoscopy for me!  If doctors would give young men who smoke this test, and tell them they would have one every year until they quit smoking, we could wipe out cigarette addiction from half the population in a week .



Posted by TomW5.15.17 Dec 26, 2018

Wow.  What's with all the games on the Recent Activity part of my computer screen?  I posted a question for discussion, and within seconds, it was so far down the list of activity, no one will ever see it.  And yes, I know, this should not be a Blog post, but rather a Discussion post.  But no one will see it if I do that .


Happy National Cat Day!

Posted by TomW5.15.17 Oct 29, 2018

I can't believe I used to dump her off my lap so I could go out to the garage and smoke.  Now she can stay as long as she likes

Image may contain: cat and indoor


Speaking of spouses...

Posted by TomW5.15.17 Oct 27, 2018

Mine had her annual physical yesterday.  Our Doc asked her if I was still an ex-smoker.  My wife said yes, and our Doc told her to pass along how proud she was!  I’m way past the point of needing frequent encouragement, but I have to say it felt nice.  I haven’t seen her since my physical last January.  In fact, with the exception of a mild cold a few weeks ago, I have not been sick since I quit in May 2017!  I’m feeling a little “Ex”tra grateful to be an “Ex”er today !

I’ve only had a handful of smokemares since I quit a year and a half ago.  But until last night, they all had similarities:

  1. I was aware that I had relapsed, but thought I could hide it.
  2. I felt terribly guilty for relapsing.
  3. I woke up in a panic, feeling extreme shame for what I had done.
  4. Even though I could tell I was in my bed, and I had only been dreaming, I still immediately smelled my fingers just to be sure.

Last night’s was different:

  1. I didn’t consider my smoking a relapse, because I was only bumming menthol cigarettes from a friend. And since I never smoked menthol before, and would never go buy a pack of menthol in the future, somehow, this didn’t count.
  2. Then, another friend pointed out the flaw in my logic, and I woke up just as I realized he was right.
  3. This time when I woke up, I immediately knew it was a dream and laughed instead of panicking and smelling my fingers. Why? Because I really never would smoke a menthol no matter how bad a withdrawal urge I was having.  Ick!  No offense, but I don’t know how you previous menthol smokers did it. I would (and did) drive more than a mile to buy a pack of regular cigarettes before bumming a menthol.

I Have A Cold

Posted by TomW5.15.17 Sep 12, 2018

I know, not a very significant thing to blog about.  Except that this cold is different.  For 20-30 years, I never went more than a few months between a cold and/or the flu.  The cold I came down with today is exactly 485 days after my last cold.  Which also happens to be the exact number of days since my last cigarette.   My wife, who has never smoked, says this is normal.  I figured that I would get sick less often, and less severely, but I still assumed everyone got at least one winter cold/flu per year.  She said she hasn’t had a cold in 2 years, and can’t remember her last flu.


Side note:  Those of you who get flu shots know that you are not supposed to get one if you currently have a cold (or any illness).  My wife tells me this cold is entirely my fault.  Yesterday at breakfast, she asked me if I had gone to get my flu shot yet.  I said I had to put it off until Friday because of work commitments.  Then I added, “Hopefully I don’t catch a cold in the next 3 days”.  Me and my big mouth


Feeling grateful

Posted by TomW5.15.17 Sep 8, 2018

I'm in the super busy part of my work year, and rarely have time to post here much.  Just wanted to share a little gratitude I'm feeling this morning.  It's pouring down rain here, and my commute to the office took 3 times longer than usual.  And that was before I got stopped for 10 minutes at the railroad crossing 2 blocks from my office.  A year ago (yes, even 4 months into my quit) I would have been reaching for a cigarette several times (a real one prior to 5/15/17, a phantom one after). The thought of smoking never entered my mind until I pulled up to my office and saw 2 people standing in the pouring rain smoking and looking miserable.


I'm grateful that I never had even the slightest urge to reach for a smoke during the drive.


I'm grateful that I didn't have to choose between rolling my window down a little bit in the pouring rain, or filling my car up with smoke. 


I'm grateful that I wasn't envious of those 2 smoking outside today.


For many months into my quit, I could never imagine writing this post.  I was beginning to think I would be miserable forever.  So glad I was wrong (cause, you know, being of the male species, I rarely am ).  And for the newbies, No, it didn't take me 16 months to feel this way.  Maybe 6 or so for me?  But it does finally happen, and this morning I'm feeling grateful for it.

This morning I had my second health insurance screening exam since I quit smoking.  I mentioned last year that they started testing for nicotine in your blood instead of a CO2 breathalyzer like previous years.  So not smoking, but using an NRT wouldn’t count.  To get the discount, you have to qualify in 3 areas:  a BMI under 25, an A1C under 6, and not be using any product with nicotine.  Today, for the first time in over 20 years, the only “test” was measurement of weight and height.  The rest was face-to-face questions (Do you use nicotine? Have you been told your A1C is 6 or over?)  Of course, we all assumed they would do the usual blood testing, so we all fasted since last night.  GRRR!


I wonder how many smokers decided to lie about their addiction once they found out they wouldn’t be tested?  So glad I don’t have to worry about that anymore!  Hope everyone is enjoying this beautiful smoke-free day!

We’ve seen a lot of relapses lately, which I suppose are to be expected with so many New Year’s quitters in No Man’s Land now.  All of them have sad stories of tragedy, or bad health, or anger or something negative associated with them.  It makes me feel so sorry for that person, and frankly a bit guilty.  My life has been going great for several months now.  In fact, I can’t remember a happier time.  And yet, for some odd reason, I’ve been craving cigarettes pretty badly the last 2 days.  I can’t think of any triggers I’ve had.  Maybe the change of season, although that has never bothered me before.  This is my slowest time of year for my business.  And my wife and I just became empty-nesters (YAY!).  So I do have a lot more free time than usual.  Maybe that’s it.


Anyway, another reminder for me to never get too over-confident.  And that craves don’t always come for bad reasons, or when you expect them.  I’ve come to realize they come for any reason our addicted brains can imagine.  And if that reason doesn’t work, our addiction will try just the opposite reason.

  • Stressed out?  - A cigarette will make me feel better.
  • Know that a situation is coming up that will make you feel stressed? -  Better have several cigarettes to prepare for those bad feelings.
  • Completed a task?  - Nothing says “celebrate” like a good smoke.
  • Have so many tasks, you’re not sure where to begin?  - Have a smoke and plan it out.
  • Meeting cancelled? Unexpected free time? – This would be a great opportunity to smoke.  After all, you’re not sure when your next chance will be.
  • Have so many tasks, you don’t have time to complete them all?  - Better take a break anyway, or your overworked mind will make mistakes on the tasks you do work on.  And, of course, smoke on that break.
  • Season changing? – Ah, remember last year at this time?  Yeah, you were smoking then.  Why not have just one for old time’s sake?
  • Smack dab in the middle of a season? – Ugh.  I’m sick of this rain/snow/heat/cold.  Think I’ll go have a cigarette.
  • Personal/family/friendship tragedy? -  Life sucks so bad now, a cigarette can’t make it any worse.  And it might make me feel better.
  • Angry at your significant other, boss, friend? – I’ll show them!  I’m gonna go smoke!
  • Happy, and everything going your way? – Since everything else is so good, one little cigarette certainly won’t hurt.

I haven’t visited the Daily Pledge for months.  Think I’ll go now and grab someone’s hand.  Anyone want to take mine?


Tom 386 DOF


Phantom Candy?

Posted by TomW5.15.17 May 17, 2018

For months into my quit I would reach for that phantom pack of cigarettes and then remember, "Oh yeah, I quit".  Today, as I was driving by the CVS store where I always bought my bags of hard candy and Atomic Fireballs, I reached for my glove box to check how my supply was doing.  But, I haven't bought any candy since I began my diet last January.  Jeesh!  The mind is a funny thing!