After 41 years of smoking, on April 5th, I quit. This was done dragging my feet, kicking and screaming. So, what brought about this miraculous change of heart? High blood pressure, Multiple Sclerosis and my slowing worsening vision. Because of the retinal swelling and the growing blind spot happening just left of center in my right eye, the idea of my left eye developing what they call cotton wool spots was more than scary. I don’t drive at night and my left eye is the only reason I let myself drive during the day. It sees what the blind spot does not.
The doctor said there were two possibilities: the MS or my smoking. Since there’s not a damn thing I can do about the MS, quitting smoking was my only option. I’m not willing to take the chance and lose my vision sooner than I need to. So, 21 days ago, I started on Chantix and have been following their Get Quit plan.
Though Chantix is definitely helping, it is not easy. I still get severe cravings for a cigarette but it is not a nicotine craving, it is the process of smoking craving. That slow draw on the cigarette, the short intake of breath and then the slow exhale. Boy, I miss that. So, I had to get a little creative with compensation.
- I always have food in my mouth and something in my hands. Gummie bears are my favorite because I can chew them and it takes a few of them to boost the calorie count, unlike chocolate or cookies. It is wreaking havoc with my acid reflux but hey…they’re not cigarettes.
- I drink a lot of hot tea or water (not coffee) and drink it through a straw placed against the bottom of the cup. This imitates the slow draw effect. After I swallow, I do a little quick in breath and then a slow breath slowly out. I do this at least 20 times a day for a full cup of hot liquid. Why 20? There are 20 cigarettes in a pack and I was a one pack a day smoker.
- I try to stay away from smokers. I really don’t feel strong enough to fight the urge while smelling smoke or watching people smoke. So, I stay pretty much in non-smoking places, my nice clean car (I had it detailed the day before I quit) or with non-smoking friends.
- I faithfully follow the Get Quit plan that came with Chantix, following the activities and advice. It does come in handy. For instance, this morning I was worrying about the food I’m eating and possibly gaining more weight. Then I checked today’s activity. After congratulating me on a solid week of not smoking, the article was about throwing away the scale. (Ha! Ha!). Yes, they said that it is natural to worry about gaining weight during this period but that quitting smoking is one of the best health decisions I can make and will make the greatest impact on improving my health. They said worrying about weight gain can pick up after I have quit smoking long enough to not be on the edge of smoking again. Makes sense.
- I post on Facebook my daily triumphs, getting kudos from my cheering squad and encouragement when the road gets tough.
I’m hoping this will work, as it has so far. I have tried every way known to man to quit smoking prior to this and I had a VERY rough day yesterday. I was coming up with every reason in the world why just one cigarette wouldn’t hurt. Yet, I did realize that was the addict in me talking. Yes, addict, for even without nicotine, there are a hundred thousands little habits and traps that go right along with smoking. Any one of them can grab you by the throat and whisper, “Do it, Do it, Just one. It won’t even matter.” I managed to stave off and today was easier, perhaps because I made it through yesterday. But, I’m not fooling myself. I know there will be other days like that. I just have to keep eating gummie bears until I pop.