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djmurray_12-31-14 Blog

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Hello Friends!

Posted by djmurray_12-31-14 Jan 12, 2018

Haven't been here for a while and wanted to say hello.  Lots of new folks here of course, and that's what it's all about.  Life is so much better without cigarettes.  I love that I don't smoke, and while I wish I had never started, it is what it is.  I'm lucky to have a beautiful 3-year and on to forever quit.


I've posted something I read at the beginning of my quit several times now, but it seems like a good time to post it again.  My apologies to those of you who've seen it all the times I've posted it. I can't provide proper accreditation, but I did not write this.


"How do you feel about a friend who has to go everywhere with you? Not only does he tag along all the time, but since he is so offensive and vulgar, you become unwelcome when with him. He has a peculiar odor that sticks to you wherever you go. Others think both of you stink.

He controls you totally. When he says jump, you jump. Sometimes in the middle of a blizzard or storm, he wants you to come to the store and pick him up. You would give your spouse hell if he or she did that to you all the time, but you can't argue with your friend. Sometimes, when you are out at a movie or play he says he wants you to go stand in the lobby with him and miss important scenes. Since he calls all the shots in your life, you go. Your friend doesn't like your choice of clothing either. Instead of politely telling you that you have lousy taste, he burns little holes in these items so you will want to throw them out. Sometimes, he tires of the furniture and gets rid of it too. Occasionally, he gets really nasty and decides the whole house must go.

He gets pretty expensive to support. Not only is his knack of property destruction costly, but you must pay to keep him with you. In fact, he will cost you thousands of dollars over your lifetime. And you can count on one thing, he will never pay you a penny in return.

Often at picnics you watch others playing vigorous activities and having lots of fun doing them. But your friend won't let you. He doesn't believe in physical activity. In his opinion, you are too old to have that kind of fun. So he kind of sits on your chest and makes it difficult for you to breathe. Now you don't want to go off and play with other people when you can't breathe, do you?

Your friend does not believe in being healthy. He is really repulsed by the thought of you living a long and productive life. So every chance he gets he makes you sick. He helps you catch colds and flu. Not just by running out in the middle of the lousy weather to pick him up at the store. He is more creative than that. He carries thousands of poisons with him which he constantly blows in your face. When you inhale some of them, they wipe out cilia in your lungs which would have helped you prevent these diseases.

But colds and flu are just his form of child's play. He especially likes diseases that slowly cripple you - like emphysema. He considers this disease great. Once he gets you to have this, you will give up all your other friends, family, career goals, activities - everything. You will just sit home and caress him, telling him what a great friend he is while you desperately gasp for air.

But eventually your friend tires of you. He decides he no longer wishes to have your company. Instead of letting you go your separate ways, he decides to kill you. He has a wonderful arsenal of weapons behind him. In fact, he has been plotting your death since the day you met him. He picked all the top killers in society and did everything in his power to ensure you would get one of them. He overworked your heart and lungs. He clogged up the arteries to your heart, brain, and every other part of your body. In case you were too strong to succumb to this, he constantly exposed you to cancer causing agents. He knew he would get you sooner or later.

Well, this is the story of your "friend," your cigarette. No real friend would do all this to you. Cigarettes are the worst possible enemies you ever had. They are expensive, addictive, socially unacceptable, and deadly. Consider all this and NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!"

Have a great weekend, my friends, and Happy MLK day on Monday. 

Disclaimer -- this is a very long blog -- those of you who know me are excused if you don't want to read such a long rant, and those of you who don't know me, the story is long and the bottom line is I'm very deeply depressed, but I am keeping my quit.  Of course you can read on, but I'll understand if you don't.


It has been a long time since I've gotten on here and vented.  I am grateful for this group with whom I can be open and honest.  My depression is deepening by each day, and for those of you who know me I am hoping some support can be received.  I will be celebrating three years smoke-free as of New Years Eve, which will be here before we know it.  I am not threatening to lose my quit.  I have assured those who know what's happening that I will not hurt myself in any way -- Of course I will not lose my quit and taking my life would only deeply hurt the ones I hold dear, my sister, my children, my grandchildren, those who know me from EX, those with whom I've worked, the doctors I've seen and hold in dear esteem.  So with those assurances I am going to press on, because right now I have nowhere to turn for the support I need.


My sister Marsha has lung cancer.  She also has emphysema and pulmonary fibrosis.  The background picture was taken in her senior year of high school. Her lungs are hopelessly fragile and compromised.  My sister and I have always been close, we speak on the phone virtually every day.  We've laughed together over more than 60 years we've been together.  Whether we're at close proximity (as we were when we were growing up and then living as young adults) or while  Marsha spent 10 years (from her 29th year to her 39th year) in San Francisco while I stayed in Virginia.  When she called in 1989 and needed me I flew out the next day and we drove her car and worldly belongings back here on an adventurous 5-day road trip.  In about 2004 she moved to Georgia, where my oldest daughter Jen lived with her husband and little kids.  Eventually she briefly came back to Virginia, but then moved to Pittsburgh 6 years ago where she currently resides.  I've managed to see her three or four times a year.  In the beginning of the summer, because of her Pulmonary Fibrosis, her pulmonologist wanted her to have a CAT Scan done every three months.  Fortunately, the University of Pittsburgh Medical System) which has numerous systems through the greater Pittsburgh area, provides all services to Marsha free of charge. In the spring her CAT Scan showed a suspicious nodule in her lung, so she went in for a biopsy. I went up for the biopsy.  It came back in late April or early May as okay.  We felt relieved and good.  Three months later, tho, it had grown rapidly and a surgical intervention was needed.  They removed the growing nodule and the lymph glands around it.  After surgery Marsha was told she was good to go, no oncologist was needed; they got it all.  Marsha was then going to have an appointment with her pulmonologist.  It had to be postponed for a couple of weeks, though, because Marsha had to go into the hospital for five days because she was so backed up and nothing that she did at home worked.  Because of the hospitalization she had to reset her pulmonologist's appointment which deferred it for about three weeks.  While Marsha was miserable and still in considerable pain as a result of the 3-hour extreme rib-spreading they'd had to do for her surgery, she was very relieved about the surgical outcome.


She finally met with her pulmonologist in late October.  That's when everything fell apart.  It turns out someone (I'm not sure who) decided to send the biopsy to a pulmonary fibrosis & oncologist specialist, who determined that the malignancy had spread to the lining of her lung and she had to undergo chemotherapy immediately.   She saw her pulmonologist on Wednesday, she got into see the oncologist on Friday of that week and immediately on Monday Marsha had her first chemotherapy.  She was (and so was I) angry at her pulmonologist for waiting to tell her what had changed and what she needed to do.  Three weeks went by with Marsha thinking all is well while the malignancy in the lining of her lung was being unchecked.


I am still working (more about that later in this lengthy tome) so while I wasn't able to get to Pittsburgh to take her to her first chemo, I got there a few days later and tried to do what I could for her.  Her first chemo was 10/30, and her dearest friend in her building took her to it, although they were late because Betty Lou (her friend) is just about 75 and is leery of driving in the city.  The Hillman Cancer Center is in one of the urban areas of Pittsburgh (Squirrel Hill, Oakland or Shadyside, I'm not sure which) Her chemotherapy takes all day because they hydrate her first for over an hour, they infuse her with anti-nausea medication intravenously, then they take about 2-3 hours for the first drug, another hour of saline, then another 2-3 hours of the second medication, and finally another hour of saline hydration.  While I was up there I did grocery shopping after we brainstormed what she could consider eating and loaded up on all of it.  I put money in her checking account and agreed to pay her car payment each month.  Marsha has been on disability for the six years she's been in Pgh. and her rent keeps going up while her disability payment has made only a minuscule increase.  I don't want her to worry over finances, so I'm doing my best to keep that on an even financial keel. 


So in the very beginning of November I was with her for about four days.  Her next chemo was scheduled for November 20, and I planned to drive up on Sunday so I could take her to her chemo, but then the weather report predicted snow in the mountains on the very day I was going to drive up.  She and I had made an agreement that neither of us would drive in the snow.  So I couldn't go up on Sunday.  Instead, I went on Monday, and arrived at her place before she even got home. When I used the restroom, there was a cigarette butt in the toilet.  My heart sank.


Marsha was in reasonably decent spirits when they got home, but she was at her wit's end.  My normally funny and positive sister couldn't even talk about the treatment or the trip to and from the chemo.  She knew the next few days were going to get worse and worse.  Oh, by the way, the other thing I missed on Sunday was her getting her head shaved.  Her hair was coming out in clumps, so it was time.  I felt really bad that I couldn't be there for it. I had even volunteered to shave my head, but Marsha insisted that I don't do it.


She didn't want to eat anything and I saw that most of the items I'd gotten for her on my last trip were uneaten.  She had a little soup, though.  On Tuesday morning she was doing okay, and we needed to go back to the Hillman Center because she had left her notebook there which contained all of her cancer information and a prescription.  So we made that the first thing we did on Tuesday.  She was still somewhat unsure about how to get there, but we got there.  Both of our nerves were pretty much shot.  I was lugging around my useless oxygen (more about this later, as well), and she was trying to find something to wear on her head so it would stay warm and look halfway nice.  She was very prickly as I and the sales woman tried to help her, and suffice it to say she got pricklier and pricklier from there.  She wanted to go to lunch at a Chinese restaurant we frequented as we grew up in Pgh.  But getting from the Hillman Center to downtown Pgh. was a challenge, and then we wandered around a bit, my nerves were shattering, as were hers.  We found the restaurant; there was no place to park at all, and a couple of blocks away we found a lot that was $20 for up to 15 minutes!  Marsha ended up screaming and cussing at the very rude lot attendant, and I thought my head was going to burst.  It wasn't that I thought he was right; he wasn't.  But Marsha's top blew off.  We gave it up, drove back to the suburbs where her apartment is, and stopped at a hamburger restaurant chain, thank god.


I had to work remotely from there per my manager, and I was very late signing on because of the very long trip I hadn't anticipated. Marsha took a nap as I worked for a few hours.  When she got back up she was in an even worse mood.  Anything I said aggravated her.  I tried to modify my voice to keep it mellow, but she kept telling me to keep it down.  I gave her space with her cat and stayed in the dining room and worked.  In the meantime, she got up and went into the bathroom a couple of times and was in there for quite a while.  I noticed she had stuffed a towel at the bottom of the door.  She was smoking.


This breaks my heart and frankly makes me angry.  They are putting poison in her system to kill the cancer; every puff she takes on a cigarette counters that poison and is its own form of poison.  But I can't keep her quit (if she ever had one) and when I mentioned it she became very defensive and angry.  I will not say anything further, but I do have to deal with my own feelings.  As the days have gone by Marsha has felt worse and worse and has become pricklier.  She's angry at the world.  I told her I would come up and take her for her next chemo session on December 11, and that I wanted to be there on Christmas, which didn't have to be anything special -- I just wanted to be with her.  I've learned through my daughter that Marsha thinks I've put too much pressure on her, so I've explained to her that I will respect whatever she wants.  I had also suggested that I would come to Pgh and pick her up, we could come back to Virginia and spend the night at my place, and then on Christmas day take her to Fredricksburg to see her niece Katy and grandson Riley for an hour or so, and then take her down to Richmond to see her other niece Jenny and my grandchildren Jason & Kennedy.  I told her she could let me know the day before if it was something she wanted to do.  But my simply having mentioned it as a gentle suggestion upset her and made her feel stressed.  I've tried to explain to her that she is not hurting my feelings, and that I will do whatever she wants.  On the phone tonight she pretty much told me she wasn't sure she wouldn't want me to come up for her chemo in December or for Christmas.  I will accept that as well.  But my heart is broken because of it.


I don't know if it's the stress or the depression, but my breathing has gotten horrible.  I can barely walk a block without panting.  I moved up my own pulmonologist appointment to next Monday because I'm either in an exacerbation of my COPD  or my COPD has worsened.  I need to get my oxygen supplier changed to the one that has the small, portable condenser.  Right now I've been dragging around heavy canisters that are worth 4 hours or 2 hours, but when they're empty they have to be returned to the company.  Traveling to Pgh. means I have to drag those awful canisters, and connect a gauge (which they only gave me one, so I have to set up each canister).  At any rate, I won't go on and on any more about this, but I need to deal with this breathing problem which isn't helped much by my Spriva, Advair and rescue inhaler.  And the second hand smoke at Marsha's doesn't help either.


On top of everything else, I've been cut back to 20 hours per week at work and I've lost all my benefits.  I was making mistakes and forgetting things, and my manager (who I really love and respect) thought if I didn't have to handle proposals (with short turnaround deadlines) it would relieve the stress and I could just manage contracts and act as a mentor to new and more junior contracts administrators.  Having to be available every day for four hours is difficult in my current state however.  I'm getting rid of all my work clothes and donating them.  I don't feel like getting dressed up anymore.  I don't even feel like going to work at all.  My depression is debilitating at this point.  I intended to go to work today, but couldn't.  I did have an appointment with my primary physician at 2:30 today and I mentioned during my weepy discussion with her that when I was most tempted to smoke during the early days of my quit, the last bastion was knowing I would have to be honest with my EX friends, and couldn't bear the idea of admitting I lost my quit.  I hasten to tell you all that I am not going to hurt myself -- I wouldn't do that to my children, my grandchildren, my sister, the people I work with, you all, and my doctors.  My dear doctor listened to me today and said "Work toward the day when you will not hurt yourself for yourself, since you are a good person and you deserve to live."  So, my dear EX friends, please do not call 911.  I'll make it through.  I am going to contact the American Cancer Society to see what support they can provide and I'm adding an antidepressant to my medications.  Oh, and that's the other thing that's driving me down -- Medicare -- I'm paying a penalty for my income in 2016, so instead of having $134 deducted from my Social Security it will be a total of $267 per month.  My supplemental policy is $152 per month.  I won't have prescription coverage until 1/1/18, so the prescription I got today was supposed to be $148 but they found a coupon that got it down to $54.  I had to buy it, because I can barely manage going to work, cleaning my house, going grocery shopping, etc.  So I need a boost and I need it now.  Oh, by the way -- when I do get my prescription coverage the best we could find was a policy that will cost me $34 plus an additional $13 because of my previous income (total $47) so just my monthly premiums will be $466.  When I was working full time, my premium was $120 per month.  One of my necessary prescriptions I have to take if I'm working will cost me $113 every month.  My other med copays will total another $150.  I have no dental or vision coverage.  So my new healthcare outlay will be $729 per month.  It's insane, and depresses me deeply.


So I am sad about my sister (I'm the oldest and unless I'm run over by a bus I'll be the last.  We lost our brother 14 years ago at the age of 50). Unsettled by being taken back to part-time, the maze of Medicare enrollment, the penalty for having made a good living which I'm NOT making now.  I just don't feel like I belong anywhere.  I know politics has no place in our group, but the last year and the never ending drama of it has further dragged me down.  I've put on more weight and all I want to do is eat ice cream.  Blah, blah, blah.  Sorry this has gone on so long.  I just realized it's almost 1 a.m. and I do have to go to work tomorrow.  So, for those of you who have soldiered on to the end of this lengthy boo hoo, I appreciate you, and wish I had something better to write.

OMG -- I have looked forward to this day (milestone) for such a long time.  I was so happy when I hit 100 days, and I'm simply delighted to have gotten to ten times that amount.  I love my quit.  I'm so thrilled that I'm no longer in the clutches of that addiction.  And -- okay, this is embarrassing - it feels like getting an A in quitting smoking!!  I so hope you are all doing well, and I so appreciate that you put me on the train while I was at work today and brought my work home, and just put all the work away.  And there I WAS, happily riding the train and gathering kudos.  (I still have to hit the train and read it down the track!)

To newbies -- some of you have raised children and they're young adults now and you think WOW that time went by fast.  Each day didn't necessarily feel like it was whipping by, but in hindsight, you remember so well when you sent them off to school that first day, and now they're graduating from college or getting a promotion in their career field, or making a family of their own.  That's when it really hits you.  And my point is that being a quitter feels the same way.  Sure, I can remember early in my quit when I thought "is it really tacky to go to bed at 7 p.m. so I can stop wanting to light a cigarette??"  Those early days were not whizzing by, any more than the days when you were potty training your toddler whizzed by.  But now that you've done a splendid job of raising those kids, you are proud and hopefully happy.  That's how I'm starting to feel about my quit.  One Thousand Days.  WOW. 

Just a quick catchup for all my peeps who care what's going on.  Starting next week I will be working 1/2 time and while I'm happy that it will be less stressful, at 20 hrs. a week, I'm going to have to change my lifestyle based on 1/2 the income.  It's a semi-retirement in which I get to keep doing what I like doing.  Also, I'm going on to Medicare, which for some ridiculous reason, scares me.  I have lots of medications, and the one I really, really need is crazy expensive, and I've been told that the supplemental coverage would require me to pay $96 per month for that medication (that's the co-pay), and it's only one of many meds.  But I've gotten the papers they need, and I will be sending in the application to start on November 1.  I'll have to get a supplement.  It's not that the employer provided insurance I've had is so fantastic, but from what I've gleaned, I'll be paying about what I was for coverage but I will have much more out of pocket.  But there's nothing for it but to do it.  They're paying me half of my salary, which is way more than I could expect if I just went out and got a part-time job.  And I like what I do, so that's a good thing, too.  And I really like the people I work with (not the commute, though).

My sister is going through another cancer scare, having a surgical oncologist remove what he believes to be a malignant tumor in her lung, but the tests they've done indicate there's been no spread.  Her surgery is on Thursday and I'll drive up to Pittsburgh Thursday afternoon and spend through the weekend.  If it goes well  she should get out of the hospital on Saturday (Could be Friday, but given her compromised lungs, they think they'll need to hold her longer.  I really should drive back Sunday night, but if she needs me I'll stay over to Monday. 

So it's late and I need to get to bed, but I love my EX Peeps and thank you for putting up with me for A THOUSAND DAYS!!!!

As those of you who know me already know, I simply cannot write short blogs.  This one won't be short.  But perhaps I can catch your attention by saying I seriously considered smoking (for a short time) and I even gave myself permission, but I didn't want it and I never will. 


I've had a very upsetting week -- work troubles again, forgetting things, not being able to drag myself in (it's an hour-and-a-half commute each way) and ended up working from home a lot, etc.  For several months I was having awful migraines, and missed work for those and in April my manager had me in a session with Human Resources, and I said I would do better.  I actually got help with the migraines -- I also have something called essential tremor, which is like garden variety arthritis -- it just happens to some people with aging, and unless it gets really bad, you don't even treat it.  Well, it started getting really bad, and I had a Friday when I couldn't type or hold a glass.  So my neurologist put me on Inderal, and it helped the tremors and I've only had 2 and a half migraines in the last three months.  That's huge.  But I digress.  I worked at home last Thursday, and when I got to work on Friday my manager told me we were going back to HR.  They offered me two options -- I could go on a Performance Improvement Plan, which, if I didn't measure up I would lose my job, or cut back to 20 hours a week and a less stressful schedule but I would lose all my benefits.  I have to give them my answer by tomorrow.  I was supposed to figure out the finances and all aspects over last weekend, and I simply couldn't do it.  I got insanely depressed, and by Monday I was a total wreck.  Monday was the day that I thought "F--- it."  I'm a total loser and why not just smoke?  I really felt like it wouldn't matter because I was useless.  But even in the depths of a depression I haven't experienced in many, many years, I did NOT want to smoke.


And actually, realizing that I didn't want to smoke helped me crawl back into feeling a little better each day.  I'm going to take the cutting back to 20 hours a week and consider it semi-retirement.  I'm going to take money out of my IRA from my 401k from my last job to pay off debt, and I'll learn to live on half my salary.  I may not be able to live the lifestyle I've established, but maybe being less stressed will turn out to be a blessing.  I'm going to work from 8 to noon 5 days a week.  I might get a dog.  I might volunteer a couple of days a week.  I've been isolating terribly for the last few months, and I need to make sure this part time job doesn't allow me to become a lazy waster of time. 


So to those of you who know me, thanks for letting me tell my tale of woe.  To those of you who are newer and don't know me, it's a little embarrassing to reveal this much to total strangers, but please take from this that the cigarette you're craving is nothing.  It will not solve any of your problems, and will not make up for anything you're missing in your life.  I've kind of been known as the Happy Quitter, and I'm happy to say I still am. 


How About That

Posted by djmurray_12-31-14 Jun 29, 2017

   I got a big surprise today -- the first actual crave I've had in at least a couple of years!  Of course I didn't give in to it, but it was quite a few moments.  I've been working crazy hours (already have close to 50 in from Monday through Thursday) and on Monday I started Nutrisystem.  I'm in the Turbo week 1, so not eating a whole lot.  The good news is this is totally doable -- the food is actually pretty good, it's measured into portions, it gives me the nutrients I need, and I don't have to think too much about it.  However, this morning I was working at my computer and feeling hungry and stressed with all the deadline pressure, and I suddenly realized I was having a major smoking crave!  It was more than a memory and less than a compulsion, but I realized that if I didn't have all the education I've gotten and the support I know is always there, I might have succumbed.  It wasn't even a thing where I needed to get on here with a HELP message -- I knew I wouldn't smoke.  But the lesson here is every other time I've been stressed and the kind of hungry I was this morning, I smoked and it felt like it was filling me up.  So just like Young at Heart blogged after Virginia Beach when she was standing at the window of her room and realizing the thought of smoking popped up, I had yet another experience that hadn't yet played out with the new and improved me.  How about that!

   Life has been full of stresses for the last month or so -- I thought I would be able to get bariatric surgery to deal with my burgeoning weight, and checked with my insurance company before I went to the information session and was told I was covered for it.  I made an appointment with the actual bariatric surgeon, and the morning of my appointment they called to say that although United Health Care does cover bariatric surgery, my plan has a specific exclusion.  So of course I went out and bought a cake. And other stuff to eat.  But knowing I can't let this get any more out of control than it is, I signed up for Nutrisystem.  I have high hopes.  I'm also participating in a group support thing that is offered through my health insurance, so I'm doing my best to get on the road to losing 100 pounds.

   I also realize that I can't continue to work this hard for a whole lot longer.  I think I've confessed before on EX that I never planned well for retirement, so here I am at 68 with a few assets and way too much credit card debt and trying to figure out a way to really lower that debt before I do retire.  I get offers in the mail ALL the time, and I have very good credit, so I finally contacted a company about a refi with cash out.  Long story short, I've been given the run-around for a month and last night I couldn't sleep so I sent them an email (they're in California and everything is done electronically) saying I did not want to proceed and to do nothing further on it.  So, in this respect as well, I just have to look at the problem differently.  My sister says I need to meet with a financial planner, but I'm not sure how to find one who doesn't want to look at my "portfolio."  I don't HAVE a portfolio.  But I sure could use someone to crunch the numbers and talk about options. 

   Don't get me wrong; I'm blessed that I have a good job and a lovely place to live, and everything I could possibly want (and way too many pairs of shoes, to tell the truth).  I'm grateful for the people I love and who love me, and for everything I've earned or been given.  I'm happy I don't smoke.  I'm lucky I don't drink.


So the moral of this story, for all the newbies is this:  Don't be discouraged that an elder tells you she had an actual crave -- be encouraged that when you're working your forever quit you will hit surprising challenges -- different for all of us -- and experience the power of knowing that no feeling can make you do anything you don't want to do, and every time you get through it, it's so much easier the next time.  But I have said all along, you can't do something every day, many times a day for years, decades, in my case half-centuries and not expect to find it in you at the oddest times.  No, you're not going to smoke, but you can acknowledge your superior education and understanding that allows you to accept the feeling calmly and let it go.  And it does go.  Until maybe the next time.  We're addicts for life, but only smokers until we choose not to be. 

Happy 4th to all my lovely EX friends.

Five Old LadiesAs some of you know, 5 of us drove from PA/MD/VA together to EX 5.  We had 2 in the front and 3 in the back.  And, of course, all the baggage (the literal kind, not the virtual) for all of us for 5 days as well as everything Nancy (YoungatHeart) needed for her broken leg (wheelchair, etc).  I was on FB a few minutes ago and saw this joke, and couldn't resist --


Sitting on the highway waiting to catch speeders, a state police officer saw a car puttering along at 22 M.P.H.

He thinks to himself, that car is just as dangerous as a speeder. So, he turns his lights on and pulls the car over.

Approaching the car, he notices there are 5 old ladies, two at the front and 3 at the back, wide eyed and looking like ghosts.


The driver obviously confused said, "Officer, I don't understand, I wasn't doing over the speed limit!, What seems to be the problem?"

"Ma'am," the officer said, "you should know that driving slower than the speed limit can also be dangerous".

"Slower than the speed limit? NO SIR! I was doing exactly 22 miles an hour", the old woman said proudly.

The officer containing a chuckle explains that 22 was the route number, not the speed limit.

A bit embarrassed, the woman grinned, thanking the officer for pointing out her error.

"Before I go Ma'am, I have to ask, is everyone OK? These women seem badly shaken and haven't uttered a word all this time"

"Oh! they will be alright in a minute, Officer, we just got off Route 142."


Day 799

Posted by djmurray_12-31-14 Mar 9, 2017

Well, this is a start!!  I tiptoed back here about a half hour ago, ashamed that I had been too intimidated by the new format when I first encountered it.  It really did seem like a very unwelcoming mish mash and I ran away not actually screaming, but feeling very sorry (for myself) that it wasn't like the old one.  Of course I've had to deal with technology as a continuously working person, and I am no fonder of change than most of us.  But I think I needed some time to come to terms with fact that the site that was a great part of my salvation from smoking was no longer around.  I couldn't just hop on and read my messages and write a quick blog and see how everyone was doing and who was riding the train.  So I've had my time, and here I am.  Selfishly, I suppose, because I have a great milestone coming tomorrow, and wanted to celebrate it with those I dearly love on this site and also with the newbies who I haven't been around to meet.


I now see that we can do all kinds of fancy things with our blogs (fonts, emoji's and banner images).  That's fun.  And I don't think they had the tiles when I was here last to direct us to our blogs.  I still haven't figured out where my old blogs are, but I suppose someone will let me know.  Thomas, you did me a great favor by replying as soon as you did and making me want to come back and face the music, so to speak.  (Hmm -- is there a way we can add music to these blogs, too?)


Life has been good over the last few months -- only a couple of migraines (although I was down with one this week) and comfortable weather.  The job is going well and I love the work and the people I work with.  I believe I talked about my new car back on the old EX and I still love it.  My family is doing pretty well, and I'm really proud of my granddaughter Kennedy who tried out for and made the High School JV Softball team.  She's only been in softball for three years, but she's worked really hard and gone from a girl who cringed every time the ball came close to a great catcher and a great pitcher as well!!  That's so much to be proud of, and I will be happy to celebrate her 14th birthday on March 29.  My grandson Jason is doing well and happily with his first girlfriend, and my youngest grandson, Riley is going to be 8 in May and is growing like a weed.  I'm a lucky woman to have such a great family.  And on March 31 I leave to spend a few days in Pittsburgh with my sister Marsha. 


Life is so good without smoking.  I don't miss it a bit, and every now and then when I do think about it it's just a memory, not a crave.  Now I'm working on my weight again, and doing it through Weight Watchers.  I've been in it for six weeks and have lost about 8 pounds.  I've learned a lot and the biggest thing I've learned is that this is not a diet; I'm changing the way I eat and relate to food.  If I were on a diet I would never eat a bite of birthday cake.  But a diet ends.  When I change my way of eating I know that I can have that piece of birthday cake when the occasion arises -- I can have a small piece and don't have to eat half the cake!! Or go back for thirds.  I had an experience that brought this into great focus for me.  A guy at work said, "I have some chocolate fudge -- would you like some?"  It was really quite funny, because I went from "I love fudge" to "oh, but I can't have any" to "wait, I can have a little bit."  He put a normal square of fudge on a paper napkin and I took a plastic knife and cut off about one-sixth of the piece.  It was enough to put in my mouth and swoon and savor.  That was enough.  Big lesson learned.


Now, you may be saying "what does this have to do with quitting smoking?"  I have an answer.  It's all about mindset.  It's all about not feeling deprived.  I smoked pretty heavily for 53 years and had quit and started again a few times during that period.  I started again because the whole time I wasn't smoking I thought I was missing something.  I knew pretty early in this quit that I wouldn't be likely to start again because I did not and do not feel deprived.  I read Allen Carr's book and it spoke to me.  I will say I read it again two weeks into my quit and I read something else of Carr's a couple of weeks later.  But the point is I finally grasped that I was missing nothing when I didn't smoke.  Did I have tough moments? Of course I did, and those who were around at the time probably remember a couple of my bad days.  But when you change your mindset it's amazing what you can do.  A day at a time. 


I definitely do not claim wisdom, because it took me more than two years to figure out that losing weight isn't about being perfect and never cheating and hardly eating anything (and therefore feeling deprived -- there's a theme here, I think).  No, it's about changing your mindset.  There is no perfection, but learning moderation around eating feels like I'm finally growing up.


So what hasn't changed in all this time is that simply cannot write a short blog.  But I am so happy to be back, and I'll be riding that train tomorrow whooping and hollering (and if I had a cowboy hat I'd be waving it in the air!).  Love you all and I'll see you tomorrow.



I have now turned 67 but I remained true to the commitment I made 508 days ago when I wrote the paragraph below, when I was still in that How Can I Possibly Do This mindset.  But I did it.  Maybe my signal accomplishment in life after my two beautiful daughters.

I will turn 66 in two weeks and for the first time in a very long time I will celebrate as a nonsmoker. Quit on 1/1/15 and not looking back.  I saw my lung xray about a month ago and it changed everything. I now think of my lung as "my girls". And I never want to hurt them again. I tried quitting 3times in 2014. 2015 is when I give up smoking for good!

Brief Description

still working full time


No website in profile.


virginia suburbs of dc


reading, playing scrabble, checking with ex and my ex friends


quitting smoking


Middle of January

Posted by djmurray_12-31-14 Jan 11, 2017

Here we are in the middle of the first month of 2017.  17 has always been my lucky number - born on the 17th, married twice on the 17th and the very first number I ever bingoed on was 17.  Unfortunately -- and here's a caveat, dear readers.  I am not happy about our new president and I will say what I need to say as courteously as possible and will not dwell on it because this is a quit smoking site, not a political site, and I know that.  Many may disagree with me.  If you are motivated to report me please let me know beforehand.  End of Caveat and stop here if you aren't interested.

I fail to see how 2017 can be a good year given the inauguration a week from Friday and the inexperienced billionaires and generals who will populate the cabinet.  Our new President tweets when he feels attacked, and has repeatedly questioned why we don't use our nuclear assets.  He specifically states that he wants to be unpredictable.  I won't even get into Russia.

But this frightens me to my core.  I've been dealing with an ever increasing depression about all of this and need to find a way to negotiate the next 4 years without having to be institutionalized. I haven't voted for many Republicans (I have voted for a few back in the days when they were just the courteous opposition) but no Republic POTUS ever caused this deep fear and anxiety.  I never questioned a POTUS's patriotism until now.  I have given up watching tv, I have given up internet news sites, but I have never stuck my head in the sand in all my life.  I have always been engaged in what's going on in this country politically.  I can't do it now.  This is a time when, in the old days, I would be smoking like a chimney.  And I will admit that I'm having that "oh, what the hell does it matter" feeling after two years and two weeks of not smoking, but now I know it matters: Do I want my COPD to get worse?  Do I want to start coughing and hacking again and running out in a snowstorm to by cigaretts after the butts in the ashtray are smoked down. NO.  NO I DON'T.  So I can' say "what the hell does it matter," and I will not smoke.

This is the lousiest blog I think I've ever written, and I don't blame you all if you ask me to delete it I(and please do that before you report me.)  I'm very depressed and have to find a way to get back to good old positive and happy Donna.


2 Years!!

Posted by djmurray_12-31-14 Jan 1, 2017

Thanks to everyone for their well wishes on my lovely 2nd anniversary of quitting.  I've spent my New Years Eve day (and night) watching a Downton Abbey Marathon (and putting up with those grating people asking for money every 45 minutes or so, which makes me very grateful for the mute button on my tv).  Unfortunately, I turned out the light a couple of hours ago but couldn't fall asleep so it is now 2:49 a.m. and I am writing a blog while my tv is on mute! 

I know I haven't been here recently and I apologize.  Life is busy and blah, blah, blah.  I've said that many times.  It's not so much that I don't love you all; it's more, I think, that not smoking is so much a part of me now that it doesn't occur to me.  Sorry to admit that, but I think it's true.  However, as an elder (is it really the 2% club, Thomas?) I do have a responsibility that I lovingly assume to be here at least on a somewhat regular basis to share what I've learned about quitting from my own experience.  Was it easy.  No.  Was it completely doable?  Yes.  Was I sorry I didn't start my forever quit sooner?  Yes.  Is it ever too late to quit?  No.

When we're smoking and desperate to quit, those old determined addicted brains go into overdrive.  We fear quitting; we fear losing our "friend"; we fear that we won't make it; we fear it will "hurt" too much; we fear it's just too hard; we fear life without cigarettes.  And it's true -- I've said it before and I'll say it again -- even if you've only smoked for a few years or if you smoked for more than half a century like I did -- every single thing we do as smokers is involved with cigarettes.  When all of your happy, sad, bored, scared, angry, social, driving, after eating, talkiing on the phone, and after sex (you know it's true) moments is taken up with smoking, and when the other moments are taken up with desiring a cigarette, getting cigarettes, scraping up the money for cigarettes, there isn't much else really going on.  We get so tangled up with smoking that EVERYTHING  reminds us of smoking.  And when we stop smoking that addicted brain in overdrive does what it can, all that it can, to make sure we keep smoking.

So what are we to do if we want to break that horrible cycle?  White knuckling it isn't the answer.  Education is a big part of it.  When you can define that nagging, anxious "feel like jumping out of your skin" feeling as a normal and not life-threatening thing, that will diminish and diminish more quickly when you aren't afraid of it or fighting it.  Support is another big part of it.  That you get here at EX.  When, despite all your education you have that moment when you feel you MUST get in the car and get those smokes you will instead get on EX and put HELP in the subject line and within moments there will be people supporting you in just the way you need support.  And the next thing you know that feeling of "jumping out of your skin" isn't there anymore.

There's no magic to it.  And those of us who have been quit for a while had it no easier than you're having it.  But that education and support will work if you want it to.  And we all know you can do it!!

Love to all and I can't wait until Virginia Beach!!



Posted by djmurray_12-31-14 Dec 3, 2016

Don't worry, I'm not in danger of smoking, but I may be in danger of getting kicked out of the community.  I've tried four times and dilgently follwed the instructions.  The said if the circle goes round and round log out and then log bac in and your change should be effective.  Not Mine.  Does anyone know what I can do about this? 

I do have a good reason, though.  In February of 2014 I was driving to work in my 7 year old Toyota Avalon and as I entered the exit ramp I blacked out and totalled my car.  (Fortunately, I was fine).  But I was stuck without a car and I panicked.  Long story short, I ended up leasing a Honda Accord for three years, and it was a dumb decision, because after three years of payments, I'm really not ahead of the game.  My company has a Perks at Work program that is like the Costco Buying Program or other discount programs.  I was feeling really bummed about the whole political thing last night --even moreso than usual-- so I started looking for cars online.  My lease is up in February and I wanted to make a decision sooner rather than at the last minute.  As much as I loved my Avalon, and even though I was looking at used cars, I thought it would have to be a Camry rather than an Avalon because I wouldn't be able to afford one.  Long story short, I sent an inquiry about a Camry online with a local Toyota dealership and this morning I had a phone call with him.  I mentioned I had loved my Avalon but thought a Camry would be more prudent.  He sent me pictures of the Avalon and I was in love.  I planned to meet him at the dealership after work.

This care was built for me.  Seriously.  It's a 2013 with only 37k miles on it; it has all the bells and whistles and comforts and a suspension that feels like you're driving on air.  it's a Toyota Certified vehicle, and we worked it out at a very good price and a very reasonable interest rate.  Tomorrow I take my Accord back to Honda.  The purchase of this car was very low stress, friently, win-win, and the sales guy programmed my phone for my new car, and was just awesome.  So I forgot about how depressed and anxious I've been about where our country is headed and even forgot about my 700 days.  But Damn, I just bought on GORGEOUS car.

I just wish I had saved all the money I didn't smoke up over the last 700 days and I could have made an awesome downpayment on the car, but all is well.    And to our courageous newbies, you CAN do this.  The people here who knew me when I started can attest that I was scared and unsure I could do it.  We all start out that way.  But with the desire you have to quit which brought you to this website, and the tools you receive from reading others' blogs, doing the reading, blogging yourself daily about how you feel and getting input from our caring newbies, in-betweens and elders enhances your likelihood of creating a forever quit.  We've all been there and we all seriously care that you can end up where we are.  The consideration, caring and kindness on this site is spectacular.  There's also some elders who specialize in tough love.  You take take what you like and leave the rest, but do know this community supports all of us in being our best selves, without nicotine. 

Love to all of you.  And I jujst realized it's 1:45 a.m, and I have to be up at 5 a.m., so gotta turn in!

Well, we're well on our way to the full blown holidays, and hopefully everyone's nice and full of turkey and trimmings, and didn't get crazed in Black Friday (I never leave the house on Black Friday -- it's a tradition!).  The next month will be full of preparations and more eating, and get togethers and all the connections of the holidays.  This will be my second smoke-free Christmas and for this and every Christmas this will be the greatest gift I've ever given myself.  I'm saving just under $3,000 a year in not buying cigarettes, and so there's even a monetary benefit.  I'm not sucking up poison into my lungs, which is a massive health benefit.  But the greatest gift I've given myself is not hiding behind the smokescreen.  I've been able to face life with a much clearer view.  It hasn't always been easy, but life never promised easy, did it?  (I'm watching a movie and I swear, the mother just said to the daughter "Well, if it was easy, everyone would do it.  Being hard keeps out the riff raff!") 

So to the elders, the newbies, and all the in-betweens, I wish you the very happiest of holidays, the merriest of Christmases, the most joyful Hannukahs, and every other celebration we enoy during this special time of year.  In addition to being thankful that I've quit, I'm also so thankful that I found this incredible community and feel welcome no matter when I stop in.  Love to you all.

Actually, it isn't Thanksgiving anymore -- it's early on Friday morning.  I started this blog on Thursday, though,  so it still kind of counts as my Thanksgiving blog.

This has been a very different and interesting Thanksgiving.  I think, for the first time in my life, I have spent Thanksgiving alone.  I had planned to drive to Pittsburgh to see my sister, driving up very early on Thursday morning and returning here on Saturday.  But as the week went on and I worked my long hours and started feeling crummy with a deep and annoying cough, and not sleeping on Sunday and Monday night, I talked to my sister yesterday and declined coming up there.  She completely understood and thought I had made the right choice.

But then I thought -- Uh oh, I need some turkey and stuffing for tomorrow -- so after I got home last night I made a mad dash to the store, bought what I thought was a tiny turky, stuffing, etc.  Got home and realized it was a roasting CHICKEN.  Now, I'm sorry -- I know they're both in the poultry family, but I was not craving a Thanksgiving chicken!  So I called around, trying to find a place with a fresh turkey or a cooked turkey I could pick up.  Spent an hour or so on line and finally talked to someone at Food Lion who said he had fresh turkey.  It was 10:30 at night, but (just like in the old days when I couldn't let myself run out of smokes) I got out of my pajamas and flew to the store because they closed at 11.  It turns out their fresh turkies  had been the cooler case for too long and they were not guaranteed to thaw by morning.  But they had a turkey breast, and I figure that would be the smart thing to do anyway.  I had also been on a fruitless trek for oysters, because I love oyster stuffing.  So I went to a store that stayed open until midnight and yes, they had oysters. 

Now, understand, I have never cooked a Thanksgiving dinner, ever.  When I was married my husband cooked the turkey, Then I always went to a friend's house for the dinner.  Then my partner Janine cooked the turkey and since Janine and I split up, I've gone to one or the other of my kid's houses for Thanksgiving.  Jenny, my oldest, always has a bunch of people over and the older I've gotten the more I'm not into raucus parties with lots of drinking, so I wasn't motivated to travel to Richmond.  My youngest daughter is the assistant GM at a restaurant in Fredericksburg and she had to work today.  So I had hatched the idea of going to Pittsburgh.

This long background is to tell you how I ended up contentedly deciding to spend the day alone.  I used to feel like being alone for a day at any time of the year was a form of punishment, but I now understand why that was true.  With a very problematic childhood and very screwed up parents, I was a people please par excellence, but only really "assumed" the identity the people I was with wanted. If no one was around I felt deflated, because I had no one to bounce off of.  It took many years to work through that.  I hope that isn't TMI for this blog, but it's relevant to my point.  I have gradually begun to appreciate alone time, especially since I moved into my condo (it will be 4 years in March!)  But I've made a huge step here, I think.  I made the choice to stay home and take care of myself, and I took care of myself by actually cooking my own Thanksgiving dinner.  The turkey was delicious, the stuffing was divine, the mashed potatoes were just right and the turkey gravy I whipped up with a mix was pretty darn good.  But the green bean cassarole was quite a disaster.  Don't know what I did wrong, but it never came together and I cooked it even a couple minutes longer than the directions because it was in the oven with the stuffing.  So that dish was ditched and not part of the lovely leftovers I thrill to have for the next couple of days.

For me to choose to be alone on the family-est, friend-est day of the year is pretty monumental, and now at the end of the day I feel content.  I wouldn't want to spend every Thanksgiving alone (I'm definitely not the recluse type) but this was an important mileston in my maturity.  And it was a pretty darn good dinner, too.

I hope my wonderful EX friends had a fully (pardon the pun) satisfying Thanksgiving and that you all have as many things to be thankful for as I do!

Love to all

No one ever accused me of being under-enthusiastic about most things.  And I have become someone who listens to all requests for volunteers and thinks "well, someone has to do it, why not me."  Now remember, I work a 45-50 hour week and I spend approximately another 2.5 to 3 hours a day commuting.  Last week my volunteer activity about did me in.  Tuesday was the election, which I referred to in my last blog; Wednesday I went to my daughter's to essentially write a paper for her because she's been so sick and has been pursuing an online degree, and had a paper due.  Then I worked 10 hour days on Thursday and Friday, and on Saturday I did a 7-hour volunteer stint working bingo - on my feet for virtualy the entire time, being treated like I wasn't fast enough so getting pushed aside and barked at to do something else (I'm WAY not used to being treated that way, but things were going sideways with the volunteers and I didn't take it too personally.  The real issue was the screaming pain I was in half way through the night.  I actually left there crying I was in so much pain.  Sunday I stayed in bed all day.  Monday was my day to work at home, and to tell the truth I was so fatigued and actually sleepy that I didn't really get much done.  Yesterday I woke up with a migraine so was down all day, and today, finally, I'm starting to feel like myself again. I worked a solid 9 hours today, so I'm somewhat redeemed.  Heading in early in the morning (I leave my house at 6 a.m. to be at work by 7:15 to 7:30.  If there's an accident or any kind fo issue on the road, I might not get there until after 8.  (when the're no traffic it's a 40 minute trip.)

So this probably doesn't have the slightest thing to do with smoking, but maybe the overarching smoking element is that aside from the fleeting moment of wanting a smoke I did not consider smoking to make this week any easier.  And while at this particular time I feel like my old body is falling apart, if I were still smoking it would be way worse.  I have NOT smoked  something like over 5,000 cigarettes  So the point is your quit is part of everything you do, because every day you aren't smoking you're doing something radically different than what you did (in some cases a LOT) for many many years before.  And as far as I'm concerned all that time smoking, planning for smoking, counting the moments until I could get away for a smoke, etc., etc.  was, sadly, a big fat waste of time.  I'd like a nicket for every time I said
I'll do it when I finish this cigarette."  Then I should get another nickel for every cigarette I smoked AFTER I said just the one more.  Add that to the cost of the cigarettes and I could actually be retired now.  So essentially I smoked up my retirement!!  Aww - that's sad.  But I am still your happy quitter.  A tired, overworked happy quitter.

Love to you all.

I need to remember a couple of things.  I am just about 68 years old; I have COPD and arthritis, bad knees and a bad back.  I work a very demanding job.  So I think I need to dial this volunteer stuff back a little until at least I'm not spending 12 hours of each workday fighting traffic and working non-stop from the time I arrive at work until I leave.  Don't get me wrong -- I really love my job so that's not a problem.  I also feel a responsibility to give back, but I think I need to strike a better balance -- oh, and I've volunteered to manage two activities for our December Charity Auction at work.