SmokeBlogging: Day Six

Well, its day six. Still doing OK. I did have one cigar on Wednesday night with a friend, but you hold those and let them burn more then smoke them – so I am not counting it.

Overall, I have found that the one key thing that I am not doing as much at home is sitting at my desk. It seems that this particular activity is one that really gets me going on wanting to smoke. Its not too hard to see the connection, the desk is where I’ve spent most my time. This, as well as the conference during the week is one of the reasons it took me another six days to throw a blog entry up. I think yesterday was the first Saturday in years that I did not touch the computer while at home.

The patch is helping, but it is definitely a constant struggle right now. I can see why this program takes about 10 weeks to complete.

One thing I am glad about. In the booklet that comes with the patches, one of the recommendations it makes is to avoid coffee and alcohol, as these two consumables are usually extremely associated with smoking. For me, I seem not to have that connection, as most of my smoking has been done outside or in the garage. When enjoying my first cup of coffee, or a glass of wine in the evening I leave it where its at and go outside.

Oddly, I do the same with my desk (I never take it with me), but that desk seems to be a HUGE anchor for me with regards to the urge of smoking. Not quite sure why the association is so strong, while coffee is not.

So – so far so good. I do know that I got huge leverage over myself from communicating what I was doing to everyone, including you folks. So thank you for being constant leverage for me over the past six days.

Also, thanks for all the comments and emails and even phone calls of encouragement. Each one has helped and, btw, increased leverage for me dramatically.

SmokeBlogging: Day One Summary

I never knew what a drug addict must feel until tonight.

I know, thats a strong statement. Let me explain. I’m in Orlando right now for a conference. As I had mentioned earlier, I had decided to start today to quit smoking.

Disney is very much non-smoking at this point. When I checked in, the person checking me in asked me if I smoked. I said “Not as of today”. She said “no matter what you do, don’t smoke in the room”, pointing to a policy Disney has of “room restoration fees” that total quite a bit of money per day.

I was OK though. See, I started the patch last night at bedtime. A friend told me that starting the patch at night would help me with the first morning cravings I might have. It didn’t – what it really did is make it so I couldn’t sleep at all. I was so wired 5 minutes after going to bed that it wasn’t even funny. There were no great dreams, no vivid dreams. I would wake up – and just lie there, hoping that I could go to sleep.

I woke up this morning, and sat down at the computer to check email. My usual routine is to wake up, start coffee, go out to the garage, and smoke. I started the computer, checked email, started coffee, and then said to myself “Self, time to go to the garage” – to which my always irritating self went “nope, not today”.

My brain literally locked up. I didn’t know what to do. I guess that is what habit is about.

I finished packing and headed out to the airport. I knew it would be hard to drive in the car that I have been smoking in for – not 3, but six years and it was – but no so bad.

I breezed through security (no lighter on me) and spent some time in the airport talking to Jonna over IM and checking email. It didn’t even bother me that I could not go outside or that I had not yet had a cigarette for the day. I even mentioned to Jonna that I was shocked that I was OK, I had no cravings whatsoever.

I checked into the hotel and it started hitting me. I really wanted one. Bad. Keep in mind this was about 4-5 hours later. I talked to Jonna and a few of my co-workers as we were out for drinks this evening about the hard time I had sleeping last night and really wanted to put off putting another patch on until tomorrow morning. I really wanted to sleep tonight.

The more the night went on, the more uncomfortable I felt. Jesus, I really want to smoke. On my way back to the room, I saw a few guys smoking outside (in a non-designated area mind you) and I really wanted to walk up to them with the “can you spare a square” routine. My pride got in the way and I walked on.

Then I got to my room. I was going nuts. I did not bring cigarettes with me – and I’m not sure where to buy them at all. I decided at my wits end to put another patch on.

I unwrapped the patch like Sid Vicious cooking his heroin. And literally, within a few minutes, I felt OK.

Did you ever see someone on TV get their fix? How their eyes roll in the back of their heads and a complete look of relief comes across their face? Ok, it wasn’t that drastic, but it was comparable.

This stuff really does work. What I know right now is that these things do not last quite 24 hours. But that initial shock to the system will probably be enough to get me through the next four days.

More tomorrow.

Update

Soon after writing this, I got this message from Andy, a former boss and long time friend via Plaxo:

I seem to recall a good way to motivate you in the early days was to tell you that you couldn’t do something. Hey, Ron… Betcha can’t stop smoking….

He knows me so well.

SmokeBlogging: The Night Before

Ok, tonight’s the last night of smoking. Tomorrow I start being smoke free.

I’ve given over the last two packs of cigarettes I have to Jonna – she’ll try to get rid of them tomorrow at work rather than throw them away (they’re expensive!).

I’m kind of encouraged by my mood yesterday and today. It was really dark. That is a very good thing, because that means that last nights post did what I thought it would. I committed in public, so there is no going “eh, maybe tomorrow”. Public commitment is a bitch.

Kelsi is really happy. She’s waited for this for some time. Jonna and I talked briefly today about it during lunch and she is looking forward to me spending less time in the garage – me too.

I’m getting ready for the trip to Orlando tomorrow. It should be interesting. Trip to the airport in the car that I have been smoking in non-stop for 3 years. I smoke when I’m bored – that includes the usual 1:15 commute – each way. Maybe I’ll drive with the windows open – it was 58 today.

More tomorrow. I should be in a GREAT mood.

SmokeBlogging: Time To Give Quitting A Shot

I started smoking at 15, which puts me at about 25 years as a smoker. I’ve decided, once January 1st hit and the big “ban” went into effect to try and quit smoking. I think it also helps that I have a conference to go to in Disney, which is as of June of 2007 completely non-smoking – no smoking rooms are even available anymore. This by itself was I think the clincher for me, as it has just become too inconvenient for me to keep doing what I’ve been doing.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading on the process of quitting smoking – and one of the key components of being successful is to want to quit. I have to say that, really, deep down – I don’t want to – except to save myself the inconvenience that smokers now face in order to get their “fix”. I also am no longer really fond of going out in the cold – or the mere fact of being dependent on it.

And that worries me. I do want to be successful because the taxes and jumping through hoops to find somewhere to do it these days has become unbearable. But I am not at all convinced that I want to quit for the right reasons.

In any event, I thought that at least blogging about the process – whether successful or unsuccessful might be a good thing to do. For one, it will give me some skin in the game. It will be hard to get up here and write that I am smoking again. For two, it will give some insight into some of the things that go on in peoples heads when they try to force themselves to quit.

I hope to blog about all of the mood swings and other things that happen when a 25 year heavy smoker decides to quit. Hopefully others who are trying to do the same thing will get some solace from the fact that they are not alone.

So, Monday is the big day. Thats when I’m starting to stop. I’ve decided to try the patch to make the odds a little more in my favor. Over the past week I’ve been talking to others who have either tried to quit or have known people who have. I’ve gotten the following advice:

  • Start the patch Sunday evening. Apparently the urge to smoke in the morning will be too strong and you may not start in time
  • Buy gum, toothpicks, etc to help with the behavioral pieces of smoking. Doing something with your hands seems to be one of the things that people falter with.
  • Be prepared for huge mood swings

I already chew gum all the time, so I don’t think that will help. I will be starting the patch at bedtime tomorrow night though, and I’m really not so sure that toothpicks will help – but I may try them.

I think that the biggest piece of leverage that I am looking at right now as the most value is the one I’m doing now. Making sure I have enough skin in the game by getting what I am doing out there to friends / family so that I won’t back down from it.

Wish me luck.