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My boring dentist

Posted by TomW5.15.17 Oct 17, 2017

Last week, I finally had my first visit with a health provider since I quit.  It was my regular dental checkup and I was so looking forward to it.  I assumed that my dentist (who I’ve known for 30 years) would give me all kinds of praise; that they’d close the office to have a big party in my honor; and that they would give me free checkups for life.  Well, OK, maybe not those last two things.  But all I got was a “If that’s the case, we may be able to save those 2 teeth I’ve been telling you are goners”.  He just said it so matter-of-factly, with no hint of praise or congratulations.  Hmmmf!  I’ve been stewing about it for a week.  I should have figured.  My wife and I refer to our dentist as Mr. Cantwell (for those of you too young to remember, he was Kevin Arnold’s science teacher on “The Wonder Years”)  So, the deal is, I’m being fitted for a “Night Guard” that will keep me from grinding my teeth in my sleep.  No guarantee, but he’s fairly confident my teeth can be saved that way.  I asked why we hadn’t tried this before, and he told me the smoking would have made it a waste of time.


So today I had my fitting.  My dentist came in and asked how the “no smoking” was going.  I assured him I was still quit and planned to stay that way.  His assistant (who was new, and the one who does the real work of the fitting) broke into a huge smile, told me she quit 3 years ago, and congratulated me over and over.  We began excitedly trading stories of our quits and were having a grand ole time, when my Dentist finally interrupted us and asked, “Am I needed here?”  We told him no, and continued to have a great conversation throughout my fitting.  She walked me out to the reception to set up next appointment, and told all the staff out there about my quit, and the congrats began all over again.  Still no free visits offered, but paying this morning sure wasn’t as painful as it usually is


Old habits

Posted by TomW5.15.17 Oct 16, 2017

I picked up a home window that I had repaired, put it in my back seat, and started to drive away on more errands.  Then I thought, "Darn, I can't smoke with that window in my car.  It will get smoke film on it.  I should have had one in the parking lot before I drove away". 


Then I remembered I haven't had a cigarette in 154 days.  Then I realized I wasn't even craving one, nor had I in weeks.  Geesh!


First smokemare

Posted by TomW5.15.17 Oct 10, 2017

I was feeling bad about not being on the site as much lately, and decided to get on yesterday and post something.  I saw the Slip or Relapse?  post by rollercoaster831  and thought that would be a good one to weigh in on.  Except nothing ever came to me.  I started to reply several times throughout the day, but finally gave up realizing I just didn’t have any strong feelings about it one way or another.  I could see both sides of the issue.  I tried one more time before bed.  I started to wonder how many puffs it would take to feel like you were addicted again.  Just one?  Several?  Maybe an entire cigarette or two?


I fell asleep thinking about this.  Soon after, my smokemare began.  I was pondering this question of when the addiction kicks back in.  I thought, if we knew the answer to that, then we would know whether it is appropriate to re-set our Quit Date or not.  And then I decided I just had to find out for sure.  So I walked out to my car to get my cigarettes and start smoking.  Because this was a dream, it didn’t even occur to me that I had not been in possession of any cigarettes in 5 months.  And sure enough, there was a pack in my car.  So I lit up and had one.  After each puff, I waited to see if I could somehow sense that I was now addicted again.  I didn’t feel like it, so I had another puff.  I finally finished, didn’t feel anything, and wondered if I should light up another.  Then I realized, I won’t know if I’m hooked again unless I start craving a cigarette.  And I don’t usually crave a cigarette until an hour or two after my last one.  And this whole experiment is flawed!  What if I am addicted again?!  What have I done?!  I started screaming and running into the house… and woke up.  It was so real, it took me several minutes to decide if I had really done that, and had just come in to bed and fallen asleep.  I literally held my hand up to my mouth and breathed out to see if I could smell cigarette smoke.


And just like that…

Posted by TomW5.15.17 Oct 7, 2017

That’s a favorite saying in my household about how fleeting life is, and things in our lives can be.  I was looking at some of my old blogs, and realized I was blogging nearly daily for the first 4 months of my quit.  I desperately needed to do that to protect my quit.  Then I saw that it has been 12 days since I blogged.  Not so coincidentally, that is how long it’s been since I’ve had regular cravings.


When I first joined EX, I was following several people like gregp136  and dwwms  who were a couple months ahead of me, and I identified with them.  Then they got more comfortable with their quits, and blogged less and less.  I understood, but still felt a little letdown.  I vowed I would continue to blog daily no matter how my quit was going.   And then…. just like that….  the craves stopped, and so did my need to be on this site daily.


It is soooo nice not having to fight/ignore/deal with those cravings on a daily basis anymore.  I thought I would be so happy when this time finally came, but somehow, I’m feeling melancholy about it.  As awful as those first few months were, at least I had a purpose in life and something to be proud of.  Now I'm just not sure what to do with myself.


Weird huh?  Feeling wistful about those “good old days” of misery

It has been many weeks since I have had any crave that was triggered by something.  All my usual triggers like driving, after meals, coffee, etc. disappeared after the first month.  The next month my cravings actually got worse, and they came out of nowhere, untriggered.  Next came the mental cravings with my physical cravings becoming a rarity.


Now the physical cravings have come back strong.  I didn’t realize it, but I have been practically stress free since I quit.  Then work got super stressful last week, and I remembered what a trigger that was for smoking.  As much as I don’t like anything about quitting, I do find things about it fascinating.  I was sort of getting used to being an ex-smoker, who rarely thought about cigarettes any more.  Overnight I was transformed into someone with a smoker’s mindset.  I’ve got a zillion things I’m working on, and I’m wanting a cigarette really bad, so  I promise myself I can have one as soon as I get these 2 or 3 things done.  Then I finish those and reach for my cigarettes, and think, “Oh crap, I forgot I don’t do that anymore!”  And I will do this multiple times a day.  How do you forget you quit smoking 117 days ago?!  The mind is such a fascinating thing.


The good thing is, I think these cravings are easier to deal with.  I had to go back to some of my old tricks I haven’t used since the beginning like chewing gum and cut straws (thanks for the suggestion Dani_2017 ), but they work just like they did then. 


$13 a pack!

Posted by TomW5.15.17 Aug 29, 2017

First the bad news.  I'm having some fairly significant cravings.  Nothing like the early days, but nothing I can just brush aside either.  Unfortunately, I will have to interrupt my day briefly to take care of it by taking a walk, and maybe some light exercise.  I am confident that will work because.... the good news..... I just realized that is what worked 6 days ago when last I had a crave!  That's a record breaking 6 days!  Previous consecutive streak was 3 days.


I know, I'm a little behind a lot of you guys with around 100 days.  But I'm catching up fast!


100 Days!

Posted by TomW5.15.17 Aug 23, 2017

I joined EX four weeks into my quit.  It was at a moment of crisis when I was about to go buy a pack of cigarettes if someone couldn’t talk me down. Ellen ( elvan)  and a few others quite literally saved me that day.  All the elders gave me links to tons a reading material, and I eagerly consumed it all, over the next week or so.


I loved most of it because it made so much sense to me, and really clicked.  But one thing that bothered me was all the acronyms (NOPE, SINAO, NEF, etc.).  I had failed in many previous quit attempts, and in my mind, I was pretty sure it was because I had been relying on gimmicks (like prescriptions and NRTs) to do the quit for me.  This time I was serious.  I was quitting Cold Turkey, and needed serious advice, not cutesy, gimmicky acronyms to get me thru the day.


Then I had a period with multiple waves of craving.  I’d used all the tools in my toolbox, and nothing was working like it used to.  You know that saying, “There are no atheists in a fox hole?”  Well, I started chanting every acronym on this site over and over again like I was a friggin Gregorian Monk!  I had two favorites.  One was SINAO, although I changed it slightly to, “Since Smoking Is Not An Option, What Else?”  That got me thru many craves.  The other I made up myself.  Everyone here kept praising me for teeny milestones.  At first I thought it was kind of hokey, but it sure made me feel good nonetheless.  So, every night as I was falling asleep, almost in disbelief that I survived another day, I rewarded myself by saying, “Yay me! (YM)”  It’s silly, but many times when I was tempted to ‘quit my quit’, the thought of me not being able to say “Yay me” later, stopped me.  Last night, I said it at the end of my 100th day.



100 DOF

(Yay me!)


Kinda sad

Posted by TomW5.15.17 Aug 21, 2017

Last night I got back from a weekend that I thought would be one long trigger that would induce major nicotine craves for 2 ½ days.  It didn't quite happen that way.


I went to a summer camp in the Hocking Hills of Ohio from 3rd grade to 12th grade as a camper, was a counselor for the next 5 years, and have gone on retreats and rented cabins with family and friends there every year since.  I started smoking there when I was quite young.  Two of my failed quits, failed while I was there.  When I’m there, I can’t indulge my workaholicism, so I have way more time to smoke, and I usually do.  I have strong memories of smoking while watching sunrises and sunsets over the lake, sneaking behind the dining hall to smoke after meals, etc.  If ever there was a place I associated with smoking, this was it.  I was very nervous last week the closer it got time to leave for this weekend.  Since I knew that access to my EX lifeline would be limited (cell/internet reception is terrible there), I stocked up on gum and candies that I haven’t needed to use in weeks, and I copied several motivational sayings on my iPhone Notes.  And then….  I didn’t need any of that.  Went thru the entire weekend without an urge.  I even saw a couple of old smoking friends who were still smoking, and nothing.  The weekend was so much fun, and was capped off by my being ecstatic when I went to bed Sunday realizing I was crave free!


And then…  I woke up this morning in a deep depression, and have had pretty bad cravings since.  Kind of ironic.  I had assumed the weekend would be really hard, followed by a Monday morning that was back to my new (almost) normal crave free day.  I thought being at camp would make me want to smoke, when now, it is being away from camp that has me depressed and wanting a cigarette.


Back in 2011, some old camp counselor friends and I decided to bring back an old tradition that had died off at camp back in the late 1980’s.  We would always end the summer camp in August with a music festival on a hillside with music performed by the current and recent camp staff.  When we brought it back 6 years ago, we invited old staff from every decade since the 1960’s.  It has become the highlight of my year since then.  It is the number one thing I look forward to from September to August each year.  Unfortunately, attendance has dropped every year to the point where we decided to skip next year for sure, and maybe the year after.  We heard a lot of comments about how hard it is to attend every year for people.  So while I agree with the decision, it makes me very sad.  Normally, I would be waking up this morning with great anticipation of next year’s event.  Now I feel like I have nothing to look forward to


A different kind of crave

Posted by TomW5.15.17 Aug 11, 2017

I went 84 days in a row craving nicotine.  Some days the cravings were really strong, and others not that bad, but still there.  I never understood when people here talked about physical withdrawal vs mental.  That the physical supposedly ends after 3 days and then becomes mental.  My cravings have all been very physical for 84 days.  The best I can describe them, is like a vacuum in my upper chest that aches to be filled.  It is a very physical sensation, not mental.


However, from the very first day, I have never wanted a cigarette.  My need for nicotine was so strong, what I really wanted was a couple pieces of nicotine gum to chew fast.  That is the fastest way to get the nicotine into your system.  I didn’t want to wait for the slow delivering cigarette.  (By the way, I quit Cold Turkey.  I haven’t had a piece of nicotine gum in probably 6-7 years.  But I remember the sensation well.)


Then, on Day 85, everything changed.  My craves completely disappeared.  I felt normal for the first time in months.  The next 2 days were the same.  I knew it wouldn’t last, and sure enough, today my crave came back.  But very different this time.  And kind of scary.  My physical crave sensation is back, but at a much duller level.  For the first time, I have what I would call a mental craving.  I’m practically obsessing about how good a cigarette would be.  I feel like I’m missing everything about it.  From pulling one out of the pack, rolling it in my fingers, lighting it up, taking that first long draw….  You get the idea.  I’m romanticizing it in my head.  My wife asked me to run to the store for a couple things we needed for dinner.  I told her I didn’t trust myself to go alone, so she came with me.


I’ve been on this site long enough that none of this is surprising to me.  And, not to worry, my quittitude and resolve are strong.  Even though I asked my wife to come with me, I don’t think I’d have the guts to buy a pack.  I would feel like the world was watching me (my guilty conscience ).  Just felt the need to write this down.  And I feel better already. 


Hope everyone has a good evening!


Tom (88 DOF)


It Finally Happened!

Posted by TomW5.15.17 Aug 9, 2017

Oh. My. Gosh!  It finally happened!  Dale jonescarp.aka.dale.Jan_2007 asked us several weeks ago to record the first day “we didn’t think of smoking” The First Day You Didn't Think Of Smoking 


I don’t know if there will ever be a day I don’t even think about it (I like coming on this site 2-3 times a day), but yesterday was the first day I had no craving at all.  I never even reached for a phantom cigarette, or reach for my trusty coffee stir straw to chew on.  I’ve had some days (even string of days) that were relatively pleasant.  And I was very grateful for them.  But they were only comparatively pleasant if you know what I mean.


This NML has been very hard for me.  I love all the support I’m getting, but I’ve been bothered all along that I’m not doing as well as others I see, and wondering if something is wrong with me.  When jbliesmer  posted about her breakthrough at day 60 something, I was so happy for her and hopeful for me since I quit a week after her.  But then I entered the 70’s and then the 80’s and no relief was in sight.  Since I quit 86 days ago, I have not had one crave-free day.  The first week I had the typical physical withdrawal symptoms everyone gets.  At the time, they were awful and I hated them.  But looking back, they seem quaint compared to the over-whelming waves of craving I’ve had in NML.  And even when I didn’t have one of those all-day, or several hour craves, I would still wake up every morning with a very strong physical crave that lasted at least an hour or two.  Which is very strange because I never smoked for an hour after I got up, so waking up shouldn’t be a trigger.  It has gotten so that I dread going to bed at night, because I’m afraid of waking up in the morning.  I was now convinced that this was my new normal.  There must be something different about me, and I am just resigned to being a sort of miserable ex-smoker the rest of my life. 


Then yesterday happened!  I noticed right away when I woke up that I had no crave.  I couldn’t believe it.  I even tried to make one come on by mentally imagining myself smoking, and nothing.  I made a mental note to myself to be prepared, because it was certainly coming, and it would probably be a real doozy since I was getting this break.  But then my day happened.  Work, family, and friends happened.  Just plain normal stuff happened.  I did check in on the site a few times, but the actual thought of smoking (or wanting to) never occurred.  When I went to bed last night, I still couldn’t believe it!  And like the morning, I tried to see if I could make a crave come.  Didn’t happen.  Still going strong today!


So Dale, for the record, it was Day 85 for me!


Tom (86 DOF)


I can't stop dancing

Posted by TomW5.15.17 Jul 31, 2017

No, seriously.  I can’t stop.  When craves hit, I’ve tried all the suggested distractions (head in the freezer, biting on a lemon, focusing on blue things in the room, etc.) and they all work most of the time.  But the one thing that consistently works best for me is moving.  Usually, I will just get up and walk around.  Sometimes that just isn’t feasible.  I’ve noticed in the last couple of weeks, whenever I’m at my desk for more than a few minutes, my leg starts bouncing up and down like a nervous tic.  Invariably, my mind will notice a pattern or beat to the bounce, which then turns into a song to match that beat, which in turn starts me swaying, bopping my head, and basically dancing in my seat.  I’m sure I look absolutely ridiculous, especially because I never learned to dance and have no moves  But it does keep the craves at bay.

Interesting.  Not sure how I feel about this, so I'll just leave this here with no comment for now:

PUBLISHED: 07/28/17 07:12 PM EDT.
UPDATED: 07/28/17 07:13 PM EDT.

NEW YORK – For the first time, the federal government is proposing cutting the nicotine level in cigarettes so they aren't so addictive.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration chief Scott Gottlieb on Friday directed the agency's staff to develop new regulations on nicotine. The FDA has had the power since 2009 to regulate nicotine levels but hasn't done so. Stocks of cigarette makers plunged after the announcement.

As part of the new strategy, the FDA is giving e-cigarette makers four more years to comply with a review of products already on the market, Gottlieb said. The agency intends to write rules that balance safety with e-cigarettes' role in helping smokers quit, he said.

"A renewed focus on nicotine can help us to achieve a world where cigarettes no longer addict future generations of our kids," Gottlieb said in a speech to staff in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Tar and other substances inhaled through smoking make cigarettes deadly, but the nicotine in tobacco is what makes them addictive.

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable heart disease, cancer and death in the United States, causing more than 480,000 deaths annually. Smoking rates, though, have been falling for decades and are at about 15 percent.

Gottlieb said he has asked the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products to explore whether lowering nicotine could create a black market for higher nicotine products and what role e-cigarettes and other products play in reducing harm from smoking. Battery-powered e-cigarettes turn liquid nicotine into an inhalable vapor. He also wants new rules to address flavored tobacco products and kids.

The FDA announcement is great news, said Eric Donny, a University of Pittsburgh researcher who has studied what happens when smokers puff on cigarettes with lower levels of nicotine. Donny and other researchers found that reducing nicotine substantially — by around 90 percent — leads to smokers being less dependent on cigarettes and smoking fewer of them.

There have been concerns that smokers might react to lower nicotine levels by smoking more. But the research shows that's not what happens — not if enough nicotine is taken out, Donny said.

"Most of the harm associated with smoking is related not to the nicotine but everything else in the smoke. Reducing nicotine doesn't make a cigarette safe, it just makes it less addictive," said Donny, director of Pitt's Center for the Evaluation of Nicotine in Cigarettes.

There's additional research underway to see how often people who smoke lower-nicotine cigarettes switch to e-cigarettes or other, less harmful tobacco products, he said.

Kenneth Warner, a retired University of Michigan public health professor who is a leading authority on smoking and health, said he was pleasantly surprised to learn of the FDA announcement.

"If you can separate the nicotine people are craving from the smoke that's killing them, then you may be doing something very important," Warner said.

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids president Matthew Myers praised the overall approach as "a bold and comprehensive vision" but called the e-cigarettes delay "a serious error."

"This long delay will allow egregious, kid-friendly e-cigarettes and cigars, in flavors like gummy bear, cherry crush and banana smash, to stay on the market with little public health oversight," Myers said in a statement.

Altria Group, which sells Marlboro, other brands and e-cigarettes in the U.S., said it would be "fully engaged" in FDA's rule-making process.

"It's important to understand that any proposed rule such as a nicotine product standard must be based on science and evidence, must not lead to unintended consequences and must be technically achievable," the company said in a statement.

Gottlieb touched on premium cigars in his announcement, saying the agency wants to hear from the industry about their patterns of use and public health impacts. He said the FDA will "seriously consider" new data relevant to how premium cigars should be regulated.

©2017 by The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Smoking Opportunities

Posted by TomW5.15.17 Jul 27, 2017

Many, many years ago, I smoked a pack and a half per day.  Because I could.  There were no restrictions anywhere.  I remember visiting people in the hospital and having cigarettes with them in their room (even if it was shared by a non-smoker).  Then, thankfully, we passed laws that outlawed smoking indoors.  I never smoked in my own home, because I couldn't stand the smell in my curtains, carpets and furniture fabric.  (I know, pretty sick, huh?  I'll ruin my employer's place or a public hospital or restaurant, but keep it away from my home!)


So practically overnight, I had 8 or more hours per day that I was unable to light up.  I went from 30 a day to 10-15 a day.  I went from smoking anytime/anywhere, to carefully planning out when I could have my next smoke.  I remember that awful feeling inside me when a planned cigarette break couldn't happen for some reason.  And I remember the absolute glee I felt when an opportunity to smoke happened when I wasn't expecting it.  That became the new norm for the last 30 years.


After 10 weeks, I've lost the habit of planning out my day of smoke breaks.  But every time one of those unexpected opportunities arise, I still find myself looking for my pack.  That old habit just won't die.  Luckily, I'm able to laugh it off and move on.


Weight Gain

Posted by TomW5.15.17 Jul 24, 2017

Yikes!  I’m up 12 lbs now.  I know, it’s better than smoking, but 12 lbs is a lot for me.  I began my quit at 128 lbs.  That’s a bit underweight for my 5’6” frame, but not by a big margin.  And I’ve gained nearly 2 inches in my waist.  I gained 6 lbs pretty quickly and went out and bought 2 pairs of “fat” pants thinking I’d lose the weight fairly quickly like in past quits.  Now those pants are tight.  


For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been wondering why this quit feels so much harder than previous ones.  And when I got on the scales this morning, and saw I’d gained twice as much weight as previous quits, I couldn’t understand that.  Then, as Jackie would say, I had an AHA moment.  In all my previous quits, I never gave up the NRT.  I’m embarrassed to say that on one quit, I went 2 years and was still popping 5-8 lozenges a day.  This time is cold turkey.


I’m not looking for sympathy or advice.  I know what I need to do, and that’s eat less.  Although I may try to stall on that until I get through No Man’s Land