Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Quitting the Habit

I've had a few people email, call, and text asking me how I quit smoking.

I quit?

Well, I haven't lit a cigarette in 20 days and put it to my lips. Hold on a second while I daydream about inhaling, would you?

I think I'm going to be like an alcoholic. I will have to wake up every day telling myself I will not smoke that day. I don't look ahead a week, month, or year. I want to succeed each day.

I didn't wake up one morning and say NO MORE. I am the type person that I have to come around to my way of thinking. I have to contemplate it for a while. I have to get bronchitis and do breathing treatments to breathe. I have to cough all night from the bronchitis to the point I gag.

My biggest fear in life is that I will die before my children are grown. See, no one can raise them better than I can. No one can love them like I can. I pray every day to God that He PLEASE let me live to raise my children. After that? Anything I get will be gravy and a lottery won.

I really wasn't helping the Big Guy any with the smoking. I wasn't a heavy pack or two a day smoker...but what does that matter when you have asthma. Asthma didn't bother me when I was young because I was invincible and all that rot. Since we moved to the Bermuda Triangle of Allergies here in Georgia, I have fought that cursed asthma like a fiend. It got to where I knew every time I lit up, I was doing some major damage up in the lungs. How could I ask God to let me live and raise my children when I was steady killing myself every time I lit a cigarette?

The last time I went to the doctor for bronchitis and/or sinus infection (a little over a month ago), Dr. Rude gave me a run for my money. He immediately referred me out for the Smoking Cessation program we have on base. What? I didn't know such a thing existed! I got the letter in the mail and nurse called. I wasn't rude, but I wasn't as nice as a Southern gal should be. I made an appointment to go in and "just listen" to what she said.

I showed up for my appointment. While the nurse assisted a person ahead of me, I started reading the posters on the wall. You know the ones...where you see graphic pictures of bad lungs and sad faced children. Ugh. Until this point, I had started weaning down the number of cigarettes I was smoking a day, but I just wasn't ready to quit. Not quite yet. This was on a Tuesday.

I was surprised to learn that I didn't smoke enough to qualify for the heavy duty starter nicotine patch. The nurse told me to start the second step patch, along with some nicotine gum and see how it went. I am the type person who will talk a subject to death when I got it on the mind. She was so patient and answered or argued every point I made. She said she would see me in a week. Right.

I headed out the door with no set game plan but armed. I knew I had a new pack at home and that box of patches beside me.

I decided to finish the new pack and be done with it. I smoked all Tuesday afternoon and evening. I smoked all day Wednesday and into the evening. I savored each cigarette and I thought about what I was getting ready to undertake.

Thursday morning I woke up and slapped a patch on.

I know me. I know I could not break the mental and physical addiction both at one time. For those of you who quit cold turkey? God Bless You! You are amazing and I am humbled by your strength.

I had to break the habit first. As the day wore on, I got antsy. I NEEDED that cigarette in my hand. I made myself stop. Literally get still. I asked myself was I having withdrawals from the nicotine or was I missing the cigarette. Mental check. Nope, I was cool with the nicotine part. I wanted the cigarette.

I got busy. I've scrubbed counters. I've done laundry. I've cooked.

All I know is I am tired of fighting myself!

It has gotten easier. I know that I will always fight the urge to light one up. Every day that I don't will be the ultimate success for me.

Today I went to visit the nurse. I was given the final step down patch. I am going to make a tentative goal to be nicotine free within three weeks. I'm right excited about that, to be honest.

I have been warned that food will taste so much better. Lord, that was never broken to begin with and I surely don't want it fixed to be better!

I've always hated the smell of cigarettes. I look forward to hating it ten times more. How could I smoke if I hated the smell so bad? What can I say...the habit was stronger than my sense of smell.

My blood pressure has gone down around 14 points on the bottom. I was borderline hypertensive and was starting to concern the doctor. I am working on my cholesterol now. Healthy is my goal.

I have so many thoughts left to share, but I'll leave it for now. If you want to quit, you can. Is it hard? OH MY GOODNESS YES. I have been blessed to have amazing support with family and friends and there is nothing I'd rather do than pass that on to someone else. You need support? I'm your gal.


andria said...

I am proud of you just for trying.

And I'll help you all I can. We can play bejeweled and word twist and any other game on that old FB that'll keep your fingers busy and away from the cigs.

Jenn and Eric said...

Way to go Hope. One trick that helped me with the physical need to have that cigarette was holding a pencil in my hand. Sounds odd, but it really helped. When the urge to get a cigarette got unbearable, I would twirl a pencil in my hand for 30 seconds, then put it down. It was a step down program like the patches are. I started using the pencil less and less as time went on.

Quitting smoking is the hardest thing I have ever done. Even now, 3 years later, I still get the urges and cravings. Good luck on your journey.

Krys72599 said...

I've been lucky enough to never have suffered from this habit, but I commend you, Miss Hope, for taking this GIANT step toward health and a longer life!
YAY for you!

The Pauline Goat Ranchers said...

Way to go! I wish you the best!
Sam and I both stopped with the cessation classes! Freshstart rules!

Belle (from Life of a...) said...

Just found your blog...always happy to find another lowcountry blogger.

Lishak said...

Congrats, Hope! I'm so proud of the progress you've made. I cannot imagine how difficult it can be. Sorry I'm just now commenting...I just can't seem to catch up on my blogs! lol Too much traveling, I think.
I will be praying that you reach your goal!