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:
I was aware that I had relapsed, but thought I could hide it.
I felt terribly guilty for relapsing.
I woke up in a panic, feeling extreme shame for what I had done.
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:
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.
Then, another friend pointed out the flaw in my logic, and I woke up just as I realized he was right.
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 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
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?
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!
At 7pm tonight, I will be one year cigarette and nicotine free. That’s easy to believe. I realize this sounds cocky, but when I crumpled up that last pack 365 days ago, I somehow just knew this was my forever quit. What’s hard to believe is how normal I feel now. I really struggled for months after my quit began. Despite the Elders advice to me, I kept fighting my addiction and just making it worse for myself. I never doubted that I wouldn’t stick to my quit. I just assumed I would be a non-smoker who was miserable for the rest of my life. And even after the nicotine craves mostly went away, the new craves for sweets did not. I gained 26 pounds and 3 inches. Then I finally committed to losing weight, but felt miserable that it was taking so long. I couldn’t go out to eat. I couldn’t drink alcohol because of calories and potential bad judgement ensuing. I became depressed and angry. It seemed like I would never feel normal again.
Then all of a sudden, the weight started falling fast and I am back to my pre-quit weight and waist size. I got into a regular, more regimented workout routine, and began feeling like I had way more energy. I can even have an occasional snack, dessert or cocktail. I now enjoy trying out new coffees and teas even more than I used to like discovering new wines and beers. I got my normal back. I suppose it is a new normal, but it is mine, and I like it. It took me a little longer to get here than some, but it is sooooo worth it! Thanks to all of you, newbies, elders and in-betweeners who had my back these past 365 days. I couldn’t have asked for a better support team.
I do have to admit to some sadness as well. There were so many others who quit around the same time as me, who I expected to be celebrating with. A few admitted to relapsing and announced their departure from EX. Others just disappeared without a word. I so hope they find their way back. As many of you have said before me, if I can do it, anyone can.
I know, 336 doesn’t sound like a milestone. Especially with 365 being only 29 days away. But 336 is also 11 months and 1 day. And that also happens to be 1 day longer than I have every gone without a cigarette before!
I was really kind of nervous for the last few days, up until I went to bed last night. I actually had some cravings for the first time in months. So I’m glad to have this milestone over with! In retrospect, it was pretty silly to obsess about it like I did. I am far more educated than I was for my last quit. And I didn’t have the unbelievable support of this group back then. It shouldn’t have even been a day on my radar.
As Dale says, “Onward and upward!” And as Larry says, ” One step, and then another, will get you to where you want to be”.
I’ve been dealing with an extremely painful condition called myositis for the last 8 days. I won’t go into the details other than to say it is caused by elevated secretions of an enzyme called CPK from your muscles that cause severe pain and potential kidney damage. A high level is 300. Mine got over 13,000 at one point. I had my 6th blood test in 8 days this morning, and a follow up consult with doc that I just got home from. The good news is that my levels finally started coming down, and should start feeling better in a week or so!
The Bad News:
The day before I became afflicted with myositis, I went in for a Doppler and several other vascular tests on my right leg and foot because my right foot kept getting numb. My doc just got those results and called me. As soon as I am recovered from the myositis, she wants me to go see a vascular surgeon. I have pretty severe cartilage blockage in my right femoral artery from where they inserted an angio scope several years ago, and damaged the artery with this new “port” they were using back then. I will need surgery to clean out the blockage.
The Good News:
I was pretty upset when I got this news. My first thought was to go pig out on something sugary. But I’m doing Weight Watchers with my wife, and don’t want to slip and disappoint her. Then I thought, I’ll go have a scotch even though it’s only 3:30pm. But then I remembered the nurses last words to me as I left my myositis consult were to stay off alcohol until this clears up. Then I thought I will splurge by purchasing a new computer monitor I’ve wanted for awhile. Then I remembered all these medical bills need to be covered by our very large deductible. I finally decided I’m not going back to work this afternoon, and I’m gonna drink a really strong cup of coffee instead of the weak half-caff I usually have! And that’s exactly what I’m doing. The really good news , I just realized, is that the thought of smoking to ease the “woe is me” I was feeling never entered my mind!
This is the busiest time of year in my business, getting year-end entries done and finalizing budgets. I also joined Weight Watchers and have spent what little spare time I had there rather than here at EX. I remember a few people here suggested waiting a year (or more) into my quit before even thinking about losing weight. Probably good advice, but I really haven’t been tempted to smoke for 4 months now, and I think my busyness helps me to not think about the food I’m missing
I have been underweight my entire life, and have never tried to lose weight. So I have nothing to compare Weight Watchers with. But it seems to be working pretty well for me. I’ve been on for 2 weeks and have lost 7lbs.
Have missed all of you! Hopefully I can be more regular in a couple more weeks.
My wife works at a hospital. Whenever one of our cars is in the shop (or my daughter from New York City unexpectedly pops in, then borrows my car) I take my wife to work and pick her up. Today she was working in a new area, and I went to a different place to pick her up. I had to drive by the smoking area to get there.
I can't believe that hospitals have smoking areas (although, this one might not have been sanctioned, it was just near the main entrance)
I can't believe that staff would allow patients to walk out of the building with their IV still attached, wheeling a pole.
I can't believe how utterly pathetic someone looks in a hospital gown with bare legs showing, a winter coat over that, an IV pole in one hand and a cigarette in the other hand standing outside when it is 5 degrees (wind chill of -9).
Unfortunately, I can believe that would have been me when I was a patient, had I only known it was allowed.
A farmer once came to see the Buddha, to seek advice, to get help with his problems. The farmer had many problems and he told the Buddha, in great detail, all about how they made his life very difficult.
The weather never cooperated the way that he wanted. It was either too wet or too dry, so his crops often failed. His wife, although a good woman, was far too critical of him. Lately his children showed little respect for anything that he did. His neighbors were nosy, always interfering in his affairs by spreading gossip. This farmer's list continued long into the afternoon. And, after each complaint, the Buddha replied simply: "I cannot help you get rid of that problem."
The man, now exasperated, asked the Buddha: "What kind of teacher are you? And if you are so enlightened, what can you help me get rid of?"
The Buddha replied: "I can help you get rid of your 84th problem."
"And what is my 84th problem?"
"Your 84th problem is that you assume your life will be better if you get rid of your other 83 problems."
Take your pick; problem, conundrum, setback or hindrance. They can darken our days, consume our mental energy and feed us the narrative that real life is still pending."