I love smoking. I don’t love the expense, or the health risks, or the stench, or being driven out into the buttass freezing cold, but I bloody love smoking otherwise. It gets me outside at random times, whereupon I see things that people who aren’t driven onto the porch in the wee hours o’ the morning by the nicotine demons don’t see. Like the badger that one night. The badger was awesome.
It’s been sixteen years (taking three off whilst living with a vegan. Note to smokers: yes, you can quit for other people, but you’ll know the relationship’s on the wane when you start sitting downwind of smokers and inhaling deeply). Sixteen years of snappy comebacks to random strangers who try to lecture me into not smoking (Random Lady: “You shouldn’t smoke! That’s going to kill you someday!” Me: “Yes, ma’am, I know – it’s called population control). Sixteen years of worried friends having The Conversation (Them: You shouldn’t smoke. That’s going to kill you.” Me: “I know. What a tragedy I’ll miss out on all the lovely Alzheimer’s at the end!”). Note to people who want to get people to stop smoking: choose targets whose families have a history of longevity without horrible degenerative diseases that hollow out the mind. You aren’t likely to convince us that dying of lung cancer a few years early is a terrible thing.
I’ve had doctors tell me I don’t need to quit smoking. That one time I pulled a muscle without realizing it and went in terrified the pain in my chest was early-onset lung cancer, the doc x-rayed me and said, “Your lungs look great! You might want to cut back, but you don’t need to quit yet. Better watch out for that arthritis developing in your back, though.” To which I said, “ZOMG WTF srsly?”
I bloody fucking love this habit. And I might miss it. But I’ve been hacking in the ay-em, after naps, and at other random times for two weeks now. And I promised myself, back when I first started smoking at the age of 18, if I ever developed a smoker’s hack, I’d quit.
So I bounced in to the clinic on Thursday to see if Dr. John was back from vacation. He was. He’s been after me for years to quit. And so I announced that the time had come, and he said, “Why?”
“I’ve developed a smoker’s hack,” I said.
“Are you sure it’s not allergies?” he said.
“ZOMG WTF srsly?” I said. “Maybe. But let’s call it a smoker’s hack so I’ll quit, m’kay?”
He was good with this. So on Friday, I made a really-real appointment, and we discussed things. The question was Zyban or Chantix.
“You might have crazy dreams on Chantix,” he said. “That’s what most people report as being the most disturbing side effect.”
“That would be awesome,” I said. “I haven’t written fiction in a while. My dreams have been utterly dull. Maybe this will wake the Muse!”
“You are the first person who’s been excited about the dreams,” he said, gazing upon me with wonder and bemusement. Then he wrote me a scrip for Chantix, because he says that’s the better drug for quitting.
I read the insert. There are amazing potential side effects, some of which involve life-threatening skin conditions. I’d be too afraid to try it if I hadn’t been reading science and medical blogs for a few years, and could reasonably assess the risk (minuscule). I might get very stabby. If that happens, we’ll stop Chantix and start Zyban instead, which is a happy-making drug. Yay, psychiatric drugs!
I’ll be starting Chantix when I get back from Quartzville, because taking a long trip with no alternate driver on a new mind-altering medication is a terrible idea. We’ll see how it goes. My stepmother didn’t even have to finish the whole course before she was done smoking. She said she just woke up one day and the urge was completely gone. She stopped early because the dreams weirded her out. As a person who’s spent the greater part of a lifetime writing SF, I think the dreams will be quite useful, even if bizarre. (Now watch me be amongst those who don’t have them. That would be disappointing.) And this is what I want: to wake up one day, and discover a complete lack of interest in cigarettes.
I don’t think I’ll miss my habit much. It’s like the relationship with the vegan: nice while it lasted, a little stressful, and probably should’ve ended it a while ago, because we’re not as good for each other as I think. Like the vegan, I’ll look back at this period of my life with a mix of fondness and exasperation. In my sillier moments, I might even miss those days.
And I’ll probably always think of myself as a smoker. I’ll just be one who doesn’t smoke.
Keep me honest, people. Even if my smoker’s hack turns out to have been allergies, it’s time to stop spending so much damned money on stuff I burn. And remind me, if I start making noises about not wanting to live through Alzheimer’s or any other horrid end-of-life disease my family’s prone to, that I happen to live in a state where doctors are allowed to assist me in cutting that shit short. Tell me I can drag my arse outside at random times without having to light up. Do not let me get away with stupid excuses. And if anyone wants to take this opportunity to quit with me, grab a scrip for the magic pills of your choice and let’s go.