Do You Mind If I Don’t smoke?

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After being a smoker for 24 years of my life I have tried to quit many times in the past. Unfortunately I could not make it more than a week or two without a cigarette. I tried the nicotine patch, nicotine gum, lozenge’s, and the nicotine inhaler all being Nicotine Replacement Therapies also known as NRT’s.  I found that while I was on the NRT’s that I craved a cigarette more often and I was quite irritable. Personally I think it is because I was still having the nicotine pumped into my veins and when I felt the urge to smoke I still had it in my blood stream. After speaking with other non smokers they noticed the same thing but some did successfully quit on these but eventually would need to quit them too after the 12 weeks. I also had tried Zyban a couple years ago and found that after about 3 weeks of being on it that I was feeling depressed and worse than when I did smoke. So, I stopped taking those and picked up a pack of cigarettes because I could smoke until I found a better way to help me cope. It would be 3-4 years before my most recent quit attempt.

During my 3 years in college I had done 2-3 different projects on smoking and its effects on people and their health. Knowing the health risks and the financial problems smoking causes I still continued to smoke. I want to be clear that I no longer chose to smoke; it had become a serious addiction. It consumed me on a day to day basis. A trip to the mall, library or grocery store would have me lighting up upon exiting the doors. On a good day I would only smoke a pack of king size smokes. However, on a really bad day or stressful day I would smoke upwards to 3 packs of cigarettes!! Where I live in Southern Ontario Canada a pack of cigarettes at that time cost $10.67/per pack!!I could not afford to smoke yet if I didn’t smoke I was the biggest bitch on earth to everyone including my children, so smoking seemed to be easier than trying not to.  The worst part is that all of my friends who are smokers and the non smokers had absolutely no faith in my capability to quit as they had seen me fail previously and thought that this time would be the same. This made it very difficult as I had next to no support.

This past summer I had visited with a friend who used to be a heavy smoker and is also a nurse. In her field it is frowned upon to be a smoker but she simply could not shake the filthy habit. She let me know that June had been 3 years since she quit, cold turkey. I was so proud of her and envious as well. It was hard for her but she watched her mother die of lung cancer 3 years prior and decided that was it for her, she was not going to leave her kids in the same boat.  I was in awe how she was able to have such control and quit cold turkey!! We talked about it, then after my visit in early September it was all I could think about.

 So, I went to my doctor a week or two after my visit to my BFF. I was wheezing really badly and you could hear gurgling in my chest. So, I asked my doctor what I can do to quit as I knew that was going to come up. So he prescribed me Champix, this drug is not an NRT.  This medication blocks the nicotine receptor in the brain. You smoke for the first 10-14 days just like Zyban. The first immediate difference that I found was that after about 5 days of taking it I could no longer taste my smokes. I mean nothing, it was like I was smoking air and if I chain smoked to get the “rush” smokers get, it made me feel sick. So, after 5 days I quit smoking. I still got withdrawal symptoms they just were not as severe as when you go cold turkey. 

Also, the day I started on the medication I found a great website to assist in my quit www.livestrong.com. Not only would the site help but they have an app for the iPhone called my Quit Coach for people who are quitting, thinking of quitting and those who have quit a while ago. What an amazing community!!! This was defiantly the component I had missed in past attempts of quitting. Total strangers were encouraging me on my quit and helping me make it through my toughest days and weeks and months!! We would later on decide to unite on Google Plus as well and I speak to them daily. I still go to the app everyday to post my budget of 0 smokes and 0 smoked.  The app also has a cut down feature as well with a budgeted amount of smokes and then you enter when you are having a craving and when you smoked.  This I found helped me dramatically, as there were people who had smoked as long as I had and were not condescending towards me and my goals. I found that I could talk to these people about anything and everything. You can go online at any time and because the app is worldwide, there was always someone there to help you make it through the craving. I learned a lot of people fail their first few quits (but not always) and regardless we were still there to help those who had slipped off the wagon get back on. It helps you feel normal as well with the feelings and emotions you are going through. To hear you are NOT CRAZY this is just part of the recovery process is music to any addicts ears!!

As of today I am 126 days free of cigarettes and I love my new life!! See, I started when I was young (10 years old) and I never had a healthy life. I was either overweight or a heavy smoker. I never exercised except a short walk here and there and still then I needed to smoke to whole time.  I learned that when you quit smoking you must be prepared for a lifestyle change. This is something that I had not done in past quit attempts and I strongly believe that it had a huge impact. As well, I had to eat now when I was hungry. I could not just have a smoke and it would temporarily go away. So, I started eating properly and working out. Now, 4 months later I can not only jog but also run outdoors and on a treadmill. I have more energy than ever and I feel amazing!!

A few weeks into my quit I purchased an electronic cigarette. Now I have seen these online for $75.00-120.00!! I purchased mine for $30.00(now they can be purchased for only $15.00 at my local mall). There is no nicotine in it just a water vapour that resembles smoke. You can inhale it just like a smoke but it tastes far worse than real cigarettes in my opinion.  So, I used it a few times when I had to drive in the car but soon realised that I had no use for it. I am glad because it really does not stop the habit and in the end that is what you are trying to do when you quit. Now, I am not going to say that it was easy but I was ready this time. I was better prepared; I knew my triggers from past experiences where I had failed to quit. I had documented them and came up with things I could do to combat them should they arise. I also had to quit anything that I had associated with smoking. For me that meant no more coffee, alcohol, bars, etc for at least the first few weeks or so.  I still do not drink coffee because it now makes me very jittery after just a cup. As for the alcohol I have no use for it but if I should one day I am sure I will do just fine. I know that I am not out of the woods yet but I have never made it this far ever and I never want to turn back.

My clothes, skin, hair, house, car smell nice and pretty and the smell of smoke makes me nauseous and stings my nose. Could have something to do with the fact I am allergic but, I am not sure. I just want the world to know that if you really truly want to quit smoking you can!!I was one of those smokers who would find any reason to spark back up again but this time was so different. I have made friends with people all around the world and will continue these friendships hopefully forever.  Speaking of friends the one supporter I did have was my BFF and even though she lives 2 hours away we text one another. She has been there for me since the first day I quit (which ironically was my 34th birthday!).  She says she knew I could do it, just needed that little extra push. She beams with pride every time we talk or text and I tell her she was my inspiration to quit, and I wanted to be like her. Now I am, both of us are non smokers.

I also wanted to mention that my fiancé quit at the same time as me and that really helped me. I think that if he continued to smoke I probably would have never quit or would have slipped up. However, it was him who kept pressuring me to quit as we could not afford my habit nor his (he was a social smoker of about a pack a week in comparison to me). I am grateful that he did nag me to quit and that I finally did! We both celebrate monthly our progress but as for the money we saved, there is none. See, we could not afford it therefore money was being used from elsewhere.  As for changing his excersing etc.. now that is not going to happen as he was active and healthy before I was not. So, this is all new to me. Also found a great site to set up goals and motivate you as well www.nikeplus.com  it is a great site. I play tag with my other non smoking friends that I have met through my app and Livestrong. I am so glad I did this! I have another app called since I quit and it measures the time since you quit, money not spent on smoking and the smokes not smoked. My stats show that I have not spent $1785.00 and not smoked over 3569 cigarettes. Up until this point all the apps mentioned are free.  I paid .99 for the My Last Cigarette app. This app shows lots of cool stats including the levels of carbon monoxide, nicotine, circulation, and cravings. There is also a menu where you can see the daily picture which is normally something or part of body affected by smoking (they are not pretty but they do work) It also shows how much time you have added to your life since you quit. Not to mention the amount of smoking related deaths since you quit! So, I have added 14 days and 6 hours to my life this far. Over 1,215,125 people have died due to smoking related deaths globally in 126 days that I have quit.  Overall this app has made me realise that there were many ailments to my unhealthy smoker life that I had no idea of. I am hoping that the government will start paying for programs to help people quit because as a smoker I had no clue! I just smoked to deal with stress but in the end I found out from an amazing book called The Easy Way To Stop Smoking by Allan Carr that it is psychological B.S. that we are fed and brainwashed. This book also helped me to quit this time even though I had read it before. It seemed to make more sense this time.  By going to my Quit Coach app even now I try to help others by giving them support in their quit. I know how important that was to me and want to pay it forward to others who are in the same boat.

Now, if you are a smoker and need some encouragement or reason(s) on why to quit then I have found a website for you!!! It helped me to see that I needed to quit and what would happen if I didn’t. It is not for the faint of heart but it is the truth and it works. www.whyquit.com it is also a great recourse. Now, there are many different sites online and depending where you live there are lots of resources.  I have wanted to blog about this for quite some time but I wanted to make sure I was far enough into my quit that I would not post it then smoke and it would all mean nothing in my head. I am glad I waited to post this blog and with us being only a month into 2012 and with resolutions maybe I can help someone this way too.  I am also planning to do a 10km jog/run at the end of April 2012 and I hope that I can get people involved and running themselves.

I found that it was getting harder to smoke in public and with our new laws here in Canada it was getting harder. Seems society understands smoking is bad and does not want smoke in their restaurants, bars, donught shops etc, to the point where the government banned smoking in those places 7-8 years ago. A few years back they ruled that you can no longer smoke in the car with a child under the age of 16years or else big fine and demerit points as well would be deducted. The government had to explain that 3rd hand smoke is just as bad if not worse than 2nd hand smoke is to children and non-smokers. The warnings on the cigarette packs have gotten bigger too. Prices have gone up and will continue to rise but the worse of it is the government is still raking in the money and profiting from people dying. In Canada in our hospitals, most of them are crowded with smokers and ex-smokers with illnesses and diseases yet the government keeps making them and profiting. This is a main reason why I believe they should also pay for smokers to get smoking cessation aids to help them quit as they are fuelling the fire. Not to mention that my cessation, Champix was $72.00 every two weeks. I have drug coverage but the problem is all cessations are NOT covered.

 In a society where there are so many risks of dying I decided I no longer wanted to risk my life for my children and mostly for myself. I will keep you updated but I plan on adding some new pages on healthy living and eating and new technology gadgets and gizmos.

 This year is going to be amazing!!Stay strong and remember that you are your biggest critic, be easy on yourself, you only live once.

Ciao for now!

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