I have laryngitis, a sore throat, headache and I'm exhausted, just got up from a long nap. Last night, I couldn't sleep, I was up every hour on the hour, I had a little too much energy; I'd had a cup of coffee in the afternoon and although I used to drink cups of coffee while I puffed like an idiot, that caffeine hit me harder than it used to. I'm still expectorating guck, but not so much. If I'm not fighting a sore throat bug, which is what it feels like, I'm definitely going through a total respiratory system cleanse. Now if one of the cats climbs on me to wake me up at 4:00 AM because he can see the bottom of his dry food bowl and is convinced starvation is imminent, the tender/sore points I attributed to my chronic pain condition aren't nearly as reactive as they used to be. I still have arthritis and a list of spinal issues I can't even pronounce, but quitting smoking has made a huge positive difference in both my mental coping skills and my body's response to pain treatment. Gone from my life is that nagging con artist lying to me that I "needed" to fill my body with toxins to get me through the day. I still have pain, but mobility-wise I'm getting around a lot better than I used to.
So how did I get to this place? A bit of backstory, my Dad was a two-pack a day guy, my grandparents smoked, I was born into and grew up around second-hand-smoke until my Dad quit, and props to him this was long before NRTs, he used a sheet of paper taped to each pack and a pencil to track every cigarette and slowly wean himself down to none. Despite then becoming a smoke-free household where smoking was frowned upon, I started as a "chipper" in senior high school. In the beginning I could take it or leave it, but when I went out into the working world, I became a full-on addict. I quit in the mid-90's using then-new NRT gum and stayed quit for 10 years until my mom passed away. In my period of grief I wasn't thinking too clearly anyway, but after a few drinks one night I stupidly asked a smoker for "just one" and I ended up buying myself a whole pack and was hooked again for a couple years until I quit for pregnancy and breastfeeding. Then I stupidly started sneaking one here and there out on the deck-"stress" was always my excuse- and I was back to square one logging more smoking years. The missing piece was I would quit for reasons of guilt and necessity, but I never dealt with the addiction. Each time I quit and started up again, it was harder to quit again, and when I found EX a few months ago, I kept delaying my quit date, making the usual ridiculously illogical excuses. I even sometimes convinced myself I liked it, but I never really did. I would take great pains to eliminate nicotine stains and smells and as a parent I was loathe to be seen smoking by anyone. Finally I set a date and kept to it. In prep, I did a lot of reading and followed the quit plan guide here. Thanks to EX and NRT lozenges I'm just about through "hell week." Other past quit attempts, I tried patches, gum, I have a stockpile of both unused in a box somewhere, and I never made it through a day before the addict in me ripped off the patch and lit up again. You just have to resolve to do it. Also, throw away the judgement of the well-meaning but never-smoked people. They haven't walked in your shoes; you're not a "weak" person, a "weak" person wouldn't be here reading this blog. It's the addiction! I realize now I had to recognize the addiction to quit the cigarettes. Knowledge, especially self-knowledge, is power. For me the community of EX has proven so valuable especially because when we were smoking, we were social outcasts except among fellow smokers, but the problem with hanging out with only fellow smokers is that you all trade the same excuses and denial. Here we are all or hope-to-be EX-smokers finding our truth and there's no judgement, this is a community of amazing people, all sharing experience, knowledge and support, it's so wonderfully empowering.
And now for some silly jokes from my support coach:
What lies at the bottom of the sea and shakes?
A Nervous Wreck.
What do you call a penguin in the desert?
It's OK, I LOL'd and loved them too. Don't ever lose your sense of humour: laughter is good medicine!