No Smoking

One man's journey through the haze of butting out.

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Name: Dana Lee

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Three Weeks

It's about 1 in the morning on Tuesday morning, so I can say I've quit for three weeks.

But, jeezuz...I'd love a smoke right now. Drinking a few glasses of white wine as I clean up my email inbox, and just generally fart around on the computer. Wouldn't a smoke go good now? Ooooo, the lighting up, the sweet aroma of the second hand smoke...and the retching cough I'd have in the morning if I did. Shit.

There are seven (count 'em, seven!) packs of smokes in the freezer right now, all KK's. What would it take to sneak down and grab a pack and just have one, just one ciggie? I mean really...just one? What would it hurt, really?

I wrote that to demonstrate the insidiousness of smoking. Oh, before you think I've been having a laugh with all of you, truth is, yeah, I'd love to have a drag on a smoke right now, really. I mean, why not? I couldn't get hooked back on them really after three weeks...could I?

And this is how it goes. Even with Carr's methods of non-willpower, when you're drinking, it's bloody difficult to stay away from the things.

This is a serious pain in the ass, and Carr's method notwithstanding (which, by the way, is excellent and I do recommend getting his book) I have to admit that this isn't 100% easy. I'd love to write here that, hey, this is a walk in the park, no problem. But fact is, once in a very long while, it's a real challenge.

Maybe if I was a meek, subservient kind of a guy this would be easier. But the fact is, I don't have much guilt or that sort of thing in me - fer cryin' out loud, I'm a witch, and we're not big on the guilt thing. It's just not our style.

You know the biggest inhibitor to grabbing a smoke from the freezer right now? And this is so lame, really it is. The fact that I'd get shit from KK, who, despite being a smoker, is incredibly supportive of my wanting to quit. She'd be ragging me about bumming a smoke from her. And you want to know something?

She'd be right!

L8tr...

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Silkquit

Just downloaded a freeware program recommended to me by a friend at work - it's called the Silkquit meter. It's really cool, you click on it and it tells you things like this (here's my stats as of this morning):

"Two weeks, one day, 9 hours, 43 minutes and 9 seconds.
184 cigarettes not smoked,
saving $51.76.
Life saved: 15 hours, 20 minutes."


Okay, most of the stats aren't too impressive - yet. I mean $50, no big. A whole 15 hours of my life saved, providing I don't get hit by a bus.

But...184 cigarettes not smoked??! Ew, I had no idea I smoked that much, and I was only a half a pack a day guy. That statistic really got me.

Cool program!

Two Weeks +

No Smoking Calendar

Made it past the first two weeks!

This should be cause for celebration, and believe me, it is. But really, it's been not much of an effort at all. I've finished Allen Carr's book, Easy Way To Stop Smoking, and it really does change your whole attitude to smoking. You can quit with pretty much zero withdrawl. Really phenomenal. There are seminars worldwide using this system, and in Canada it costs $400 for a five-hour session. They say this is the most effective method of understanding the philosophy behind the EasyWay, but honestly, all of us can afford $20 for the book (Hello? that's only 3 packs of cigarettes, maybe not even, if you're buying premium brands.)

Even if you're a non-smoker, or even if, for whatever reason, you don't want to quit, you should check out Allen Carr's Easy Way To Stop Smoking website. There's a great clip there of an Ellen Degeneres monologue (and of course, how she used Allen Carr's method to quit.)

Mark Jordan's book recommended that you make a little calendar thingmie and colour in each quarter day that you don't smoke - as sort of a motivation tool. Being a PDA kinda guy, I loaded a simple graphic into a paint program, and carried it with me so I could colour in little squares on the subway or wherever. You will see that I never finished the task (click on the picture for a bigger view) because I just didn't need the motivation that way. That's how good Allen Carr's system is.

L8tr...

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Some Context

Maybe I should give you a bit of background about this whole smoking thing for me.

I never smoked as a teenager, never really got into it. (Thin reefer maryjane was another situation, but I promise, I never inhaled. Anyway.) Nope, never touched tobacco, always thought it was a stupid concept.

Until I turned...39.

Yeah, no kidding. I can hear you now "You dumb f*ck, why did you start then? You were doing so well?!" I was going through a not too great separation (I won't say "nasty separation" that's so cliche, and besides, it wasn't nasty, just the usual animosity.) And for some damn reason I went from bumming smokes at the Friar and Firkin (pub next to Citytv) from friends, to actually buying the damn things. I have journal entries from that period (middle 1990s) that read "Wow, bad night, I'm on my fourth cigarette" which shows you my smoking level - a pack every week or less. But the smokers in the crowd will know that's how it all starts...isn't it?

Well, of course I was hooked. Let's not mince words here, I was addicted to nicotine. And it's been going on ever since. But, interestingly, I've never really smoked more than half a pack a day, even when I was travelling in Europe (which, in 2000, people there were still smoking like fiends, especially the young men and women in the hostels I was staying at.)

Life went on, I quit when I got back to Canada because I was in a relationship with someone who had smoked for many years and had quit. Her great quote when I asked her how she quit: "I ate a lot of popcorn..." and her point was well taken - this ain't easy, I figured.

Well, life continued, and I met this wonderful woman (actually got together with, we knew each other already) in the fall of 2002, who of course became my wife, KK. Now, KK smokes about a pack a day, which was okay by me, because hey, I was a smoker anyway.

But it always bugged me that I was feeling so crappy from smoking. Jeezuz, I gotta quit someday, I thought. I tried in March, for a month, but it fell on its ass within that month. I didn't realise the monster that I was dealing with, I must confess. Shit, this is harder than I thought, I felt. Then I read those books in my first entry in this blog, and that's helped a lot.

So, I'm giving it another go. KK's been great, she's smoking outside these days and I have to be honest, we both agree the house smells a hell of a lot better now.

If you're thinking of quitting - do it. But you have to remain committed and keep clear of the ciggies.

Anyway, that's the thumbnail sketch as to how this thing came about..and how I'm trying - no so deperately, actually - to quit the killer weed.

L8tr...

Coming up...two weeks

It almost seems unbelieveable that two weeks has gone by so quickly. But as of Tuesday morning, 'struth.

You really just have to get into the idea that there are no real advantages to smoking, and it's worth giving up. Problem is, there aren't a lot of advantages to a lot of things: drinking, staying up late, smoking, overwork, etc. Does this mean that, by extrapolation, I should be giving up all vices, because, really, they don't have any positive virtues in them? Goddess, I'd become such a boring person! Or a very virtuous, healthy, really-piss-everybody-off-at-the-pub kind of person.

Oh, gawd. I'm really wrestling with this one.

Do you give up your social life (especially if it involves people who mostly smoke, drink, are A-type driven people, etc.) or is there some way of making a cut-off so they don't depise you, and you don't become a recluse?

COMMENTS INVITED, CLICK ON THE COMMENTS LINK BELOW AND LET US ALL KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS...

Smoking may, in fact, be only the tip of a rather large iceberg...

L8tr...

Thursday, September 15, 2005

A Wrinkle...

Allen Carr's book is all about realising (English spelling, he's a Brit) that there are actually no advantages to smoking, you're poisoning yourself, and there are an immense number of advantages to quitting. I'm with him on this one, I really truly believe he's right. But there's one thing that neither he nor Mark Jordan have considered.

What if you want to get poisoned?

This is not as strange as it seems. You've been out all night drinking, and you just want to have a fag (cigarette, that is) because you are getting into the idea of being poisoned by alcohol, and so what's the difference if you have a ciggy, too? Now, I haven't finished Mr. Carr's book, but I don't think he addresses this, and I know Mark Jordan doesn't.

It's a sticky wicket, really. The assumption in both books is that you don't want to abuse your body. All well and good, especially when you're sober, but what if you're three sheets to the wind and you just want to tie one on? Wouldn't cigarette smoking tie (pardon the pun) into that as well?

Just curious...
L8tr...

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Day Eight!

Yes! I've been smoke-free for an entire week. All things considered (and given the week I've had, or perhaps, because of it) it's been a relatively easy road. The first few days really were the worst, because you're trying to break, indeed stop cold, a multiple-times-a-day habit. The same thing would happen to anybody who tries to stop, say, drinking coffee (I know, because I had to do that for a month once, medical reasons) or anything similar.

Body health continues to improve. My lungs feel astoundingly clear (I can't believe how bad they were), and general energy and clarity of thought is so much better than before. Quite honestly, I feel ten years younger!

Second-hand cigarette smoke doesn't seem to bother me much, although cigars and cigarillos almost make me gag (but then again, I often felt that way even when I was a smoker.)

What's most interesting to me, though, is my attitude change. I really can see all around me (because I am so often, socially, surrounded by smokers) what smoking does to a person - makes them edgy, and really the cigs control the smoker, not the other 'way around. I know, they say there's nothing worse than a reformed smoker, and I'm beginning to sound like one. But seriously, all I had to do was cross the line back again to where I was before I started smoking, and I can see what I used to see, ten years ago - and now I don't want to go back there again.

Will this last? I certainly hope so, because if this attitude prevails, staying clean will be a cinch.

Heard an interesting tidbit about Alan Carr on the weekend (the guy who wrote one of the books I mention in this blog) - he started smoking again after he wrote the book! Smoking is truly insidious.

L8tr...

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Yoga

Ask any yoga practioner what it's about, and they'll tell you it's more than just a series of somewhat contorted positions. (Actually, anybody who does yoga will tell you that they're not contortions at all, but really great stretching poses. But I digress...)

Anyway, it's not just poses, but also an incredible amount of controlled breathing exercises with those movements, too. As a smoker, I could never quite seem to control my breath as much as I'd liked to during my Friday evening sessions. Tonight, it was different - I could breathe to the counting 1-2-3, and be comfortable with that. For months, I'd been in yoga, and felt deep breathing and clarity at the end of the session. Then I'd go to the pub and smoke almost half a pack, negating any benefit I'd just received from my mellow and wonderful yoga session. Tonight of course was different. I still haven't felt like I've upset my breathing balance several hours later. No surprise there.

Just another benefit of butting out...

L8tr...

Friday, September 09, 2005

Day Four - The Cough

It's started. That little cough that they say you get when you quit. It's not a wretching, puke out the phlegm choke. More of a little tickle "keff, keff" kind of a thing. It's been said that this is your lungs working to clean themselves out. Bleah. Hopefully, it won't last that long.

Another side effect is that I swear I have increased energy levels to do things. This is a good thing, given that we've spent the last couple of days preparing for Stevi's funeral arrangements - you need all the energy you can get.

Other than that, the quitting part is still relatively easy. Interestingly, the more days go by, the less I want one. I just think about all those years of being in discomfort from smoking, and I really don't want to light up.

L8tr...into the weekend...

Thursday, September 08, 2005

What Comes Back First?

They say that the benefits of quitting start 12 hours after you quit. I think that's a little premature (otherwise, given the way I smoked, mostly evenings, I'd be getting benefits every day). But there are definitely things that start happening in the first couple of days.

You begin to breathe better. I never really had a smoker's cough, but the ol' lungs just seem to be able to take in more air.

When smoking, I had a nagging back pain in the middle back and that's disappeared, too.

The tongue's still feeling a little rough, but not even close to how awful it felt in the mornings when I'd wake up from a night of smoking. It used to feel like I'd dragged a cactus over it - raw and tingly.

Of course, I no longer have to worry about whether I have enough smokes for the evening, or whether I've put the pack and a lighter in my backpack. There's a certain freedom in that.

More to come, I'm sure...

Day Two and Three

This is actually day three, but day two was a challenge.

Our friend, Stevi, passed away around 8:30 in the morning on Wednesday. Yesterday was taken up with making funeral arrangements and so forth. All around me were friends...smoking. But, somehow, I wasn't even in the mood, let alone tempted. Stevi had cancer. You do the math.

Smokers make up all kinds of excuses to not quit. "I'm too busy at work." "I'll quit starting next month." "Life is just too stressful right now." "I'll quit when a pack of smokes goes to $10" (remember when smokers said they'd quit when a pack went to $5?)

Fact is, there is never a "good" time to quit smoking. There will always be stresses, problems, situations. I picked Tuesday, September 6th. Why the day after Labour Day, in the middle of a week? Because, it was the first day of classes at Ryerson University, where I teach, and I figured it was as good a bookmark as any. And what happened on day two? The death of a friend. Many recent quitters would use that as the perfect excuse to light up again. I think I'm being tested here.

Anyway...how's it going so far? Daytime, absolutely no sweat (I almost never smoked during the day, anyway.) Evenings are another matter. If I'm drinking, I definitely get the urge to light up. This urge, they say, passes in about 3-5 minutes. And they're right. You just have to wait it out. Those in the process of quitting say this "waiting out" is agony. That's rubbish. Having your body poked with red hot irons is agony. Waiting a couple of minutes for the urge to pass to have a cig is nothing. Cutting down on drinking helps this problem, too. So, the health advantages just keep on increasing with all of this.

L8tr...

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

No Smoking?

No smoking ... how to quit smoking ... quitting smoking ... results guaranteed ... stop smoking ... and all that.

I've been searching on the Internet for weeks. I mean, it can't be so difficult, right? Potions, notions, pills, patches, gums, sprays, hypnotism, laser therapy, magic...it's all out there. But, in the end, two things:

1. You have to want to quit. There's nothing that will make you quit, unless you are ready.

2. It's all in your head.

I've read some fascinating bits and pieces. If you, too, feel it's time to drop ciggies from your life, do read this free e-book "Stop Smoking: Break The Chains" by Mark Jordan. He has it available as a Word doc and, wonderfully, as a document for Palm PDAs. I read it on the subway over a few days - it's not that long. If you prefer a paper book, go out and buy "Allen Carr's Easy Way To Stop Smoking" it's around $20 in any major bookstore. Both of these guys are Brits and both talk common sense. Their philosophies are very similar (although I haven't finished Mr. Carr's book yet.)

So...why start a blog on non-smoking? Two reasons: one, I quit on Tuesday, September 6th and this will be a bit of a journal as to how it's going. Two, if I find something that might be helpful to the legions of smokers out there who want to quit, hopefully they'll google to this blog. Why do you think I stuck all those classic keywords at the top of this entry? :-)

Oh yeah, another reason. If I blog about this, I'll have to be way more committed since I'm blabbing to everybody how I've quit.

So...let the games begin!