Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Lesson of Tobacco is Addictive!!

Life's Lessons: A to Z Blogging Challenge




Way back in 1999 I decided that I was going to quit smoking. Actually, if I am telling the honest truth here, I didn't want to quit smoking. But Richard and I were going on a 32-day vacation with other people and I was the only one in the crowd who still smoked. I didn't want to be the only one leaving to go out in  the open-air to smoke! So, along with my best friend, we decided to quit.

First I chose my "quit" date. November 1, 1999. That is the day that we decided we would no longer smoke. Then I made a plan. I followed the plan no matter how hard it was. And it was hard!!

We had just bought a brand new car in July 1999 so the first step in my plan was not to smoke in this car. And I didn't allow anyone else to smoke in it!

The second step in my plan was to quit buying my cigarettes by the carton. Well, actually it was to get Richard to quit buying me my cigarettes by the carton. He had quit smoking
15 years prior to me but he still was the one who stopped at the Smoke Shack, on his way home from work, to buy my cigarettes. I never bought my own cigarettes. 

Next, I went to see my doctor. I told him my plan and I asked if he would prescribe Zyban and Nicotine patches for me. Of course he was more than happy to do that. Zyban is a drug especially formulated to help people quit smoking. It also comes with a full "Quit Smoking" plan and support group. Many people use Wellbutrin, which is the same drug but without the support. Zyban works by reducing the cravings and other withdrawal symptoms.

Continuing on with my preparations for the final date: I walked our backyard and picked up and 'field-stripped' every cigarette butt that I found. And believe me when I tell you that during some of those first days I wouldn't have had a problem going outside in search of an old cigarette butt. So I am glad I did this. I also started to make myself walk around the block every time I wanted to smoke a cigarette. I was determined to not gain the notorious 40 pounds after one quits smoking. This was one of the smartest things I could have done. Because (in the beginning) I did not gain any weight.


Finally, November 1, 1999 arrived. I had to work the night of October 31. After I arrived at the hospital and before I headed in for my last shift I smoked my 'last' cigarette.


Now the real hard work started. I am not going to tell you that I didn't backslide. Because I did! More than once. One night, on a night off work, while at home, I wanted a cigarette so bad that I literally thought I would die if I didn't get one. So, I grabbed a couple of dollars and headed down to our local Kwick Shop. It was the middle of the night. I asked the clerk for a pack of Salem Slim Lights and I slid my couple of bucks across the counter. The guy looked at me and said, "It's been awhile since you bought cigarettes, hasn't it?" I needed two more dollars. What????? When the heck did smoking get so expensive???? If you think that stopped me you would be wrong. I went home for more money and returned for the cigarettes. Sad, I know! But I really liked smoking. 

 One early morning, at work, when I had not smoked a single puff for almost a month , one of the day-shift nurses came on duty. The first thing I noticed about her was how she smelled like a dirty ashtray. It was that realization (and probably that alone)that has kept me from ever smoking again. I cannot believe that I used to smell like that. It's funny that when you are the one who is smoking you don't smell it!

It was a horrible, tortuous, long road to becoming a non-smoker. My oldest son once told me that quitting his drug habit was easier than quitting smoking. It is so sad that it is that addictive. I think those who have never smoked just don't have any idea.

I used my Zyban and Nicotine patches religiously. I can remember beginning to panic when I would get low on either of those. It was like smoking. But with both there is a step-down process that will wean you off the drugs.

During those months of quitting the thing that I missed the most was the 'hand to mouth' habit of smoking. So I 'smoked' tootsie rolls. The skinny ones that are shaped like a cigarette! And I cut straws into cigarette length and 'smoked' those. They became my crutch for the cigarette that I missed so much. I'm sure I looked stupid as heck. But I didn't care.

I have been free of cigarettes for more than 15 years now. I gained around 30 pounds from that. (I Gained more during my recent caregiving stint)! I haven't noticed that I have more money, but I know that I do. Especially with cigarettes now more than $6.00 a pack here. People told me that I would be able to breathe better. I don't!( But that might be because of all the fat I now have around my lungs) People told me I would be able to taste food better. I don't! But I do know that I SMELL BETTER. My house smells better. My clothes smell better. My grandkids smell better. For that alone I am thankful!. I'm still just as crazy! I just don't smoke.


Tell me....did you ever smoke? How hard was it for you to quit? Share with us, please.


  

34 comments:

  1. I feel like you're talking right to me, Paula. Only, instead of Zyban I used Chantix. It wasn't 2 weeks before the physical cravings disappeared, but darn if I STILL don't want a cigarette almost 2 years later. I don't know if it's the hand-to-mouth action, or just the ceremony of allowing myself to relax at day's end with a cocktail and smoke.

    This testimony is so powerful; I hope anyone who's considering taking up the habit reads this and reconsiders.

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    1. It has been more than 15 years for me and I still want a cigarette. After Richard died I thought a lot about smoking. So far I have been able to resist. I loved smoking!

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  2. Glad you quit smoking. I smoked in high school. That was about it. Now I can't stand the smell of it.

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    1. I can't either Katy. Like I said that is probably the only thing that keeps me from going back

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  3. I never smoked, but I have pretty strong opinions about smoking. I was raised by a smoker and considered it. On a date in high school I was offered a cigarette and my date said it was great after you got past the nausea. He did me a big favor with that statement. I have no first hand knowledge having never smoked. But I have seen close up (and very personal) what smoking can do to the body and getting on my soap box about tobacco is about to happen now.

    I watched my father-in-law die a horrible death from 3 main site cancers due to tobacco and alcohol, I watched my mother-in-law die in my home struggling for each breath because of lung cancer due to tobacco, I watched my husband struggle 30 years ago to get off tobacco - his story is similar to yours. Thankfully he is still free of that habit. And as a former cardiology tech, I saw the results of smoking on the heart.

    I am glad you are off of this drug. I am so sorry for all those older folks who still smoke who took up this habit before science knew how dangerous tobacco really is. For gosh sake, in the 30s, 40s, and 50's there were ads by medical doctors saying how helpful tobacco was for various medical conditions!! Of course people smoked back then. But I am TOTALLY appalled by the young folks today who start smoking - with all the overwhelming evidence of the harm this drug does, and I have NO sympathy for the suffering that is in their future.

    Stepping down from my soap box now.

    ... hmm. I haven't done that in a long while. :-)

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    1. I think there are so many things that make us unhealthy that society has accepted. For instance obesity. It makes me really mad how many people bash cigarette smokers yet say nothing about the fat man standing in line next to them. At the same time they are blasting the lady with the cigarette. That is my soapbox Elaine. All people chose to have bad habits. Smoking is no more atrocious to ones health than eating....cardiac disease, diabetes, kidney disease, thyroid disorders....I could go on and on but I won't. The difference is that smoking can have an adverse affect due to the secondhand smoke. I accept that! But I'd be lying to you if I didn't say I would go back to smoking in a heartbeat. I liked it!

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  4. It has been 22 years for me.....hardest thing I have ever done in my life!!!

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  5. I quit smoking cold turkey in 1992 when I realized that I had smoked for 20 years! I gave up cigarettes for Lent figuring that if after 40 days if wanted I would resume smoking. When the 40 days was up I didn't resume smoking because I didn't want to ever have to go through quitting again! It was pretty hard but not as hard as trying to lose weight!

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    1. God Bless you Jeanette. Richard went cold turkey as well. Many of us can't

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  6. I've never smoked. I am very sensitive around cigarette smoke because my allergies kick in like crazy. I sneeze and my nose runs and its not pretty. I lost my step dad this past January to emphysema caused by years and years of smoking. So glad you quit.

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    1. Thanks Holli......there are many things that affect my allergies. Cigarette smoking wasn't one of them. Wish I could make the house dust go outside with it's affects on me!!

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  7. I smoked 3 cigarettes in my life, LOL, in my teens. Could never quite get the hang of it and that's probably why I didn't smoke more :)

    You did all the right things when you started to get the desire to quit smoking, planning a quit date, going to the doctor for help, etc. I think with anything that we try to give up, we do have those moments of relapse but glad that you got back on the wagon so to speak and kept pursuing to be smoke free!!!

    betty

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    1. Thanks Betty! Most of us do start smoking as teens. Made us seem cool!

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  8. I've never smoked in my life. But my parents did and when it was making me sick when i was little my mom stopped. My dad just stopped smoking recently and is doing well with it. He stopped in October last year and still is doing good. He was on chantaix medicine and started running/ walking. He wanted to be around longer for his grandson.It was hard for him but he has not smoked since then. He wanted to get a new truck so my step mom told him he had to stop smoking. So he did. Wich i am thankful he did.
    My husband chews tobacco but only at work he's trying to stop but It's hard for him but i believe he can do it. Good post. Hope you have a good day.

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    1. Chewing tobacco has many, many health effects as well. But it is so much more socially accepted than cigarette smoking is

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  9. You've covered the process of quitting. It's that awful, and as one comment said, I won't start again because I have no intention of quitting again. I tried more than once, quit for short periods in the past. I quit for good eight years ago, after smoking for forty five years. I purchased my last carton before the last federal tax increase, and that was it. I could not afford it as it was, and that one was the capper.
    I used lozenges, and in a month I was breaking them into quarters to use when necessary.One day I decided they were just another crutch, and gave them all to a friend who needed to quit. Not having a lozenge handy was the worst part of kicking it; but, my brain needed to know there would be no more nicotine.
    I gained no weight. I've never been a snacker; only eat regular meals. One night I did find myself consuming several cupcakes in a row and realized how stupid. I made sure I didn't binge again.
    I know when I'm near a smoker and have apologized to my non-smoking friends for smelling that was for all those years.

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    1. Me too Joanne. I didn't know I smelled that bad. But quitting smoking is the hardest thing I have ever done.

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  10. Well done for giving up. I gave up nearly 30 years ago. In that time I think I have smoked two cigarettes and found them both disgusting and didn't finish them. I don't think I will ever take it up again because in the UK cigarettes are heavily taxed and very expensive (and it is a filthy, nasty habit that is bad for you!) Currently I live in Greece where smoking is very popular and no-smoking laws are often ignored. Since being here I have had the occasional twinge that it would be nice to have a cigarette while enjoying a coffee in my local harbour-side café, but I haven't given in to it. The idea of what it would be like is quite unrealistic and I'd feel very cross with myself. I have to admit I do occasionally hold a pen or pencil as if it were a cigarette.

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    1. I have not smoked a cigarette since I quit. Well except when I was still backsliding. I am afraid that if I smoked one I would be hooked again. I still smoke a 'straw' now and then :)

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  11. I have never smoked, and never wanted to try as my grandpa smoked so much that I could not stand the thought of it. Well, that isn't exactly true...I did smoke Popeye Cigarettes when I was a kid! We would go and see him and he would have a cigarette going all the time, and you couldn't breathe in the house, we hated going in the winter as we couldn't go play outside to get away from it. My mother in law had a friend who quit smoking, and decided she would eat carrot sticks whenever she wanted a cigarette. It wasn't long before her skin turned orange from the beta carotene! I am very glad you quit, I know it is really hard to do ( and I can understand how you would still want one!)

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    1. I'm glad you never smoked. Very difficult to quit

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  12. I was so lucky that as a teen, I tried it once and choked and coughed and said, "no more." Fortunately my ineptitude kept me from smoking.

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    1. I coughed and choked too. But I practiced until I didn't. Not smart, huh?

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  13. I quit in October 2013. I couldn't thank my employer more for taking a stand on smoking. If you chose to continue to smoke, your health insurance would go up $80 per month. You had to sign an attestation that you didn't smoke, and if you were positive for nicotine on a random drug screen after signing it, then it's grounds for termination. I quit cold turkey and haven't had one since. Thank you, Presbyterian!

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    1. Good for you Lisa. I knew that it was something you struggled with. Hard to quit!!

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  14. Nope, I never smoked. My dad did. He bought popsicles by the truckload while he was quitting. He did that while I was a teen, so I never had the inclination towards smoking.

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    1. Oh my if I had replaced cigarettes with popsicles I would have weighed a ton. Tootsie rolls were bad enough

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  15. I never smoked but both my parents did. I remember, as a kid, being given money and going in to buy Export A for my dad and Cameo for my mom...I must have been 5-times have changed. My dad quit cold turkey but my mom-nope. She knew it was bad and, once, when I was 16, she looked at me and said "You see this cigarette? I will rather buy my smokes than buy food" You lose your freedom to the cigarette". I will never forget that. She is a true rebel and disliked anyone telling her what she has to do which is the main reason, I am sure, she did not quit. She got her gander up whenever the anti smoking laws, ads etc... came on the air. She would be incensed. She lived with me for the past 12 years and when she started showing signs of dementia-it was scary. I found her hair burned, paper burned...I was terrified that one day my home would be on fire and her along with it. When we took her smokes away (she lit a pen on fire and tried to smoke it), she went ballistic. She went to the hospital and that was a Godsend! She came back and never smoked again. She is now in long term care. She has no recollection that she lived with me and she has emphysema. She can now no longer walk to the dining area and must go in a wheelchair. I am glad you stopped smoking

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    1. My mom smoked too! I don't think I ever bought cigarettes for her though. I do remember stealing them from her. LOL. I am so sorry about your mom. And yes, when that starts to happen you just have to take the cigarettes away. I used to get all up in the air about the "No Smoking" BS. So many rights being taken away. But I understand the need to not smoke. I am an RN!

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  16. Some of my relatives smoked, all belonging to one family. Two of them died of smoking-related conditions in their 50s. A good lesson to never pick up a cigarette. Sure, there are some people who live into their 90s while having smoked all their lives, but to me it's not worth the risk to enjoy a stinking addiction. Their house always smelled, so did their hair and clothing, and of course their teeth and fingertips were yellowed. Glad you succeeded in quitting the nasty habit even if you did gain a few pounds in the process :)

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    1. I never looked at it as a 'nasty' habit. I still don't. I just never realized how bad we smelled. I loved smoking. But I am glad I quit

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  17. Hi Paula - I've never smoked thankfully .. as I know it's very difficult to quit. Many took up smoking during the war .. my father gave up in the late 50s/early 60s ... while strangely my mother could literally have one cigarette in a blue moon when she was with another smoker. It was a blue moon though ... Good for you for stopping and making that plan ... and I'm sure you are healthier and definitely smell sweeter!! Cheers Hilary

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    1. And the American Red Cross used to supply our soldiers with cigarettes. Isn't that funny that we just didn't know how damaging that would be in the long run. Thanks Hilary

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