Today is April 5, 2011 and its the day I quit smoking. I have been a smoker since the summer of 1970, the summer between 6th and 7th grades. I started smoking when my friend Eddie offered me one and we tried them out. We also tried those left handed cigarettes too that day, but that’s an entirely different post for another day. Today’s post concentrates on those damned cancer sticks.
As I said, with the exception of a 14 month period in the early 90’s, I’ve been a smoker since 1970. I had never really thought about it, but dammit man, that’s almost 41 years now. I wish I could sit here and tell you that smoking hasn’t been a pleasurable diversion in my life, but that would be an absolute lie. In a lot of the family pictures I’m in, I either have a lit cigarette in my hand or you can see the pack in my left shirt pocket. It has become a source of embarrassment to me on a very personal level. My desk looks empty and barren without my trusty ashtray sitting on it too. Changes are a coming and this shall be a rough and tough challenge for me. I guess in many ways, smoking has become an extension of who I am. The trick for me now is changing HAS and AM, to HAD and WAS.
As creatures of habit and routine, I figure that to change a habit, one must logically change the routine. It sounds simple enough, but unless you’re really ready to change, there’s really no reason to attempt to do so. You doom yourself to failure if you’re not. I know this from experience, having failed miserably on many occasions. Today though, I’ve finally had enough. I’ve endured decades of cajoling, nagging and harping from friends and family, imploring me to stop for this reason or that, but you can’t stop for other peoples sake, you have to want to do it for yourself and your own personal reasons. The financial gain from quitting is only part of my reasoning this day, as I found out from our session last night that as a two pack a day smoker, I can save $4,000 a year. That will sure make vehicle maintenance and home remodeling a much more realistic goal, but the benefits to my health are my chief concern here. I’ve recently noticed the debilitating effects on my health that smoking has caused and I’m concerned. I’ve always noticed the problems with ashes everywhere and that yellowish slime that covers every single surface in my home and truck. It makes me sick to think about it and I surely won’t miss it one bit.
As I went around the house this morning, collecting all the ashtrays for disposal with the garbage today, I was appalled and disgusted at what I discovered. What I found was 18 ashtrays throughout the house, 3 more on the patio, 1 in my truck and 3 more in my workshop. Are you kidding me? 25 freakin’ ashtrays on the premises? It was enough to turn my stomach. The sad part of that is that I live by myself. There’s nobody else here with the sole exception being friends stopping by. All my smoker friends have also been supportive of my quit smoking campaign by telling me that from this point on, they’ll do like we’ve always done at other non-smoker friends homes and that’s going outside to have a cigarette when they need one here. To a man, they all said this before I even had a chance to ask. I have some really good friends and family around me, so I will have plenty of support when I need it.
Before this morning, my routine was to get up, take a leak, pour a cup of coffee, sit at my computer, light a smoke and check my email and friends and family on facebook. After an hour or so, I’d take my shower, dress and get ready for work. My new routine will be, get up, take that leak then the shower, place a Nicorette patch on my arm, pour that cup of coffee, get online and enjoy an Australian Chewing Stick. Using something akin to the Hubble Telescope to read the microscopic print on the back of the package, the packaging says:
Each chewing stick is infused with Tea Tree Oil, peppermint, spearmint, cinnamon, fennel and menthol. Freshens breath and helps relieve the stress associated with giving up smoking.
They’ve helped me so far with smoking less while at work and they give my hands and mouth something to do besides smoking cigarettes. The smoking cessation program that I’m in is a free six week program offered in part by my employer, the Orange County Health Dept and I have numerous supporters there too. Fortunately, the patches and lozenges are provided at no cost to me and they seem to work. Like drug addicts, I’m having some withdrawal symptoms such as the shakes, but I know that these will pass with time and that I can and will break this nasty habit.
With that, I’ll close this post, (I had no idea it had gotten this long), and I’ll wish everyone a safe and productive Tuesday. I’m sure that I will have several posts dedicated to my progress with my smoking cessation plan and I’ll keep everyone updated on my progress.
P.S. This is not the only change I’m making in my life and lifestyle at this time, as I’m also cutting back on the amounts of food I intake as well as eating healthier foods and getting back into working out now that my back is getting better.