Greetings. It's great to be here. I've chosen to be the meerkat because this little beastie is known for its expertise as a sentinel -- and I know I need one standing guard to keep me smoke-free for the rest of my life.
My story: I started smoking at 16 facing first-semester finals in college. (My roommate smoked.) I aced the exams, and cigarettes, up to 2 packs a day along with gallons of strong black coffee, became my crutches for years to come as I went into journalism and politics, fields where smoke-filled rooms were the norm. I smoked for 29 years, then quit for 10, then started again in 2005, a particularly stressful year. I thought it would just be for a month or two, but there I was smoking away the years again. I smoked my last cigarette on Friday 2/4/11. I had been tapering off for months, from half a pack down to 1-2 cigarettes a day. That Friday evening I was out of cigarettes when I went grocery shopping. I thought about buying a pack but decided not to. And all through that weekend, despite my heavy work schedule as a freelance editor, I continued deciding not to. After 3 days smoke-free, with most of the toxins gone from my body, I determined to quit forever this time.
Other than a couple of days of nausea ( a weird symptom I hardly ever experience) around the 2-week point, I'm doing great physically. I enjoy breathing deep, without even a tiny wheeze. I have been sleeping as much as possible and am allowing myself to eat whatever I need to get through February -- mainly, that's meant lots of chocolate. Starting in March I plan to work on losing the chocolate weight and developing a more rigorous exercise program than my usual walks. Mentally, I think my dreams are helping me. At the 1-week mark I dreamed of being at a party in a bar where someone offered me a cigarette from a shiny black box (coffin image?) and I refused. Last night I dreamed of a relapse. For no particular reason, there I was smoking cigarette after cigarette. Maybe that's the addiction making a last-ditch effort to reclaim me. I won't worry about it. As long as I never smoke when I'm awake, I'll be fine.