So, last weekend I was your typical 54 year old male confirmed lifetime smoker. I've smoked at least a pack a day since I started college and, to be honest, never really made any serious effort to quit. I did cut back a few years back (from two packs a day) when I did a favor to my wife and daughter and agreed to go outside to smoke at home, like everywhere else in the world these days. Especially with the cold New England winters, that brought my habit down to a pack a day, give or take...just from the aggravation factor eliminating some of those "smoke one without even thinking about it" butts. So, there I was last weekend. 37 years of smoking and no plans to ever quit.
Oh, yeah, I was also helping my dear sweet wife who was curled up in bed with one of those viscious winter-time flu bugs. Fever. Coughing fits. Sore throat. A real doozy. By Sunday night, I had come down with said flu bug. No big deal. I've forced myself to smoke through plenty of those, right? But, when I went out on the deck for a ciggie, I took one puff, snuffed it out in disgust, and said with some remorse "blechh, I can't smoke through this flu bug. I'll just give it a day and try again tomorrow..."
So, I spent my first day curled up in bed with a godawful flu bug and no cigarettes. By day two, I was still sick as a dog, but I figured, wait a minute, I just went a full day without a cigarrette for the first time in at least 37 years. I don't want to give up smoking, but why not go for two days and see what that feels like? I felt so bad from the flu bug that the last thing on my mind was smoking a cigarrette, so I wasn't having to pace the floor to keep from smoking. I was stopped up. My throat hurt. I was wheezing to begin with. It wasn't that hard to not smoke. It was just one big blur of being sick and feeling bad.
Towards the end of day two without a cigarrette, the stark reality of the situation was unavoidable and kind of frightning. I hadn't planned on quitting smoking. I hadn't set a date. Or done any research. Or plotted a strategy for the big day. Heck, I didn't even want to stop smoking. I enjoyed smoking. But, darn it, here I was wrapping up two days without a cigarrette and I had to face the facts. The moment of truth had been dumped in my lap. I could probably become an ex-smoker, right here and now, and be done with the whole nasty mess for good. Scary, huh? Even a lunkhead like me could figure out that I probably should give serious consideration to such a golden opportunity. I mean sure, I enjoyed smoking, but who's kidding who? It's a nasty vile habit.
Still not sure, I dug into the internet looking to see what I would be in for if I continued down the path of becoming an ex-smoker (remember, I hadn't given a moment's thought to trying to quit). Actually, I think I had already decided to go for day three without smoking and my first internet search was to look up info on patches or gum in case the withdrawal got too bad. Fortunately, I found Joel's site and started plowing through the wonderful videos and articles. Wait a minute? Do you mean that if I can make it through today, the worst of the physical withdrawal will over? This is as bad as it gets? I'm not going to feel like bugs are crawling over my skin? Or ice picks in my eyes? Or any of that stuff from horror movies?
Day Three was pretty rough. Surprisingly, not difficult to keep from having a ciggie...that really hasn't been that tough so far. I'm just not having one that day and that's that. But, the other symptoms piled on. The combo of the flu bug and withdrawal has my upper respiratory system tied in knots with the mucous and the hacking and shortness of breath. Like a bad cold on steroids. But, day three also brought an inability to go to sleep, which continued for about 48 hours. Yechh. But, learning of what to expect from Joel made each of these little tribulations tolerable. OK...cold and quitting will be really bad, but it will pass. OK, insomnia is common, but cut back on the coffee and it will pass. Sure enough, by then end of day four , I was back sleeping like a baby.
So, here I am Five Days, 14 Hours and 9 Minutes into a quit I never in my dreams planned to try a week ago, already having passed up 112 cigarrettes.
The craves haven't been that bad. Sure, I catch myself heading towards the deck out of habit at trigger points (like while waiting for my coffee in the microwave). But, I chuckle and say, "Nope. Not any more, big fella". The continuing flu bug, while improving, has provided ongoing motivation. I'm starting to feel the first signs of improved breathing. Sometimes it's a sensation almost like breathing in menthol vapors as I notice cool air in my nose, sinuses, and respitory tract for the first time in decades. Stopping to take a few deep breaths and enjoy that sensation has been my best response to those momentary thoughts of a cigarette.
I've been spending a lot of time wading through the materials on the cold turkey site, because I don't want to get overconfident as my flu bug clears up. I'm pretty stubborn by nature and, even though it took me completely by suprise, I'm now committed to being an ex-smoker. I don't want to have gone through that three or four days of withdrawal for nothing and I've got a couple people in my life who are really pulling for me. I'm going to try to be too stubborn to let them down. They never thought I'd quit.