On January 5th I celebrated my one year anniversary without a cigarette. Well, I actually didn’t celebrate. It was January 17th before I even realized my anniversary had already passed. And I would guess that to be a good thing.
I do remember the first day I actually went all day without thinking about a cigarette. It was a little over eight months after quitting. When I say, thinking about a cigarette, I’m not talking about a craving. I’m talking about something as simple as, “Wow, it’s nice not to want a cigarette,” type of thinking, or something along that line. What I’m saying is, it was the first time the thought in any shape or form of a cigarette never even entered my mind. It was that night in bed when it dawned on me. And it felt good. There are many steps in quitting an addicting habit. And to me, that was the most important step.
I had been a smoker for some 50 years. 50 years of making certain that no matter where I go, what I do, I have enough cigarettes with me to last, not to mention a lighter or matches. I was never a heavy smoker. Usually little more than a pack a day. When it comes to quitting, what that comparison has to do with a two, three or four a pack a day smoker, I have no idea. I only have my personal life to use in comparison.
Over the years I made feeble attempts at quitting, never usually lasting more than a week at best. But about seven years ago I gave it a pretty good try. I made it about 6 months. My down fall was seeing a “long” butted cigarette laying in an ashtray after my wife had had a card party. My wife has never been a smoker. It was someone elses. I didn’t even want it. I just thought, I wonder how it would taste after this long, and I lit it….And it tasted wonderful! Needless to say, it was not long that I was smoking again. What I learned from that experience was, just like any other addiction, having just one is not an option.
When I quit this time I used a nicotine patch. And it was a tremendous help. I might add here, that I used the Walgreen Pharmacy patch which was much cheaper than the Nicoderm patch. Anyway, it pretty much took care of the physical need for nicotine. My challenge was overcoming the daily routines of lighting up after getting in my car, finishing a task, having coffee or a drink, the list of reasons went on and on. I religiously followed the 10 week program, and when I threw away that last patch I truly no longer craved a cigarette. Oh, every once in a while a twinge would come up, but nothing that didn’t go away within a couple of minutes. But I will not sugar coat it. The urge still does come up. The bottom line is the addiction may always be there. I have heard of people restarting the habit five to ten years later. I guess like any other addiction, it is one day at a time…352 days a year. But as a ray of hope, at one year it sure beats the hell out of what I went through in the first few weeks of quitting.
I will be the first one to say, I loved smoking. I really did. It was the magical security blanket that covered virtually everything in my life! Cigarettes were there for me when I was happy, sad, pissed off, or anything in between. But in the mean time I was truly beginning to feel like a pariah. At almost all get-togethers I was usually the only person slinking out the door to light up. And now being a non-smoker I know what a smoker’s breath smells like after just having a cigarette. And, as most probably already know, it’s not a good smell. But the bottom line was, I finally thought, hey, I’m 68 years old! What in the hell is it going to take for me to quit? The doctor telling me he found a growth in one or both of my lungs? Or the realization that an oxygen tank will be my companion for the rest of my life? My sister, who is now 66 and a smoker just found out she has a cancer in her left lung. Right now it is small, so we’re hoping for the best. My ex-wife, who has been a smoker all her life now drags an oxygen tank around with her everywhere she goes. And her smoking husband has a ragging cough that makes one cringe. But has either quit? Hell no! So when I quit at 67, I guess I was on borrowed time. Hell, who knows. Maybe I still am. But I’ll be damned if I’ll make a request in my last will and testament that someone put a carton of cigarettes in my coffin to take with me.
I just had my yearly physical and all is well. And I would prefer in keeping it that way, thank you. Don’t get me wrong. I have a faith in a Father that was so loving that He gave his life on the cross for me, so I can honestly say I am not afraid of dying. I really mean that. I truly wish there were more people who could say the same. I really mean that too. But I would still prefer to hang around this life for a while longer, if you don’t mind. Besides, if I were to die, then where would my 6 followers who I’ve accumulated over the past two years go for entertainment?