Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My Timing Is Impeccable

So my parent’s visit is in week two, and we’re having a great time.

It’s weird when my parents visit. Mostly because I never quite realize how much I’ve missed them until they actually get here. It usually follows the same pattern. I look forward to seeing them, then start to freak out about what I’m going to do with them for two whole weeks…then they arrive, we have a lot of fun, and they seem to leave way too soon.

Yeah… your parents visiting from out of state or from another town is one thing. When they’ve flown over 3000 miles to visit, you kinda feel obligated to make the trip something special.

The problem is I don’t live in a tourist resort, so there’s only so much you can do…there’s not a lot of sight-seeing opportunities in Easley.

The second thing to mention is that I quit smoking yesterday. The experience so far has been…odd.

The last time I managed to quit smoking for a while I tried all kinds of quitting aids with little success. The gum tasted so bad I couldn’t stand it. The lozenges didn’t really help (and left the back of my throat feeling like I’d just smoked an entire carton in five minutes)…and the patch was just constant reminder that I wasn’t smoking.

This time I’m using the inhalator. It’s basically a little plastic tube that takes nicotine cartridges, and you draw on it just like you would a regular cigarette. Of course, it’s nothing like actually smoking. I think I’d have to use five at once for over an hour to get the same effect as just walking past someone who has a lit cigarette. The good thing is that it helps an awful lot with the habit side of the addiction.

Basically, a large part of getting over smoking is getting past the habit and ‘ritual’. As using the inhalator is extremely similar to smoking an actual cigarette, it really helps.

It really is weird though. After just a day without smoking, the ‘reflex’ is still there. I know from last time I tried to quit that after about a week, while you still crave, your brain has got the idea, and you don’t find yourself automatically reaching for a cigarette out of habit alone

The absolute hardest part, though, is the cravings. One minute I’m sitting on my couch thinking “This is easy! I don’t even feel like smoking! What’s all the fuss about? I should have quit years ago.”

Two minutes later I’d willingly swap both arms and legs for a three week old cigarette butt.

I think the key to quitting smoking is just getting your head around the fact that the cravings go away on their own after a few minutes. It’s understanding that it’s not actually difficult all the time… It’s just that five or ten minutes every hour or so when the craving’s kick in.

Anyway, wish me luck.


MC Etcher said...

By quitting while your parents are still there, aren't you risking getting really irritable at the worst possible time?

Michael Hoskins said...

I'd never gotten the irritability part from quitting. I quit sometime towards the beginning of this year. What I found happening was the habit part of my brain kept trying to put me into a situation wherein I'd trigger my adrenal response (confrontation, fear, etc).

What helped me most, though, was feeling every part of my body begin to shed the poison that I'd been giving it for years. I could feel my circulation improve, my lungs expel the coating that constantly stayed in them, and I could smell everything. Tastes were much more significant as well. Basically, I had to make myself realize that by even backsliding by one cigarette, I'd destroy all the hard work I'd just done and all the wonderful things I'd let myself miss out on. By about a month later, I really had no desire whatsoever for the taste of a cigarette. The smell still doesn't bother me, though, and doesn't trigger a craving. Every once in a while, I'll have a random desire for a puff, but it quickly passes. Your mileage may vary, of course.

Congratulations on making the first step, Paulius. I wish you the best of luck. Just make sure you're doing it for yourself.

On a side note, I had an MRI done of my torso (kidney-related), and they found a 1cm-sized "medically insignificant" something in my lower left lung. I shudder to think what it could have become in a few more years of smoking.