For those breathlessly following my quitting saga, and who might have missed the update yesterday: the deed is done. I’ve not had a single puff since last Saturday night. Haven’t even stood downwind of smokers inhaling deeply. In fact, I walked past the smoking area at work Thursday and quit breathing because it smelled bad. My nose is changing its opinions.
Quitting, I will not lie, has been hell. A primal part of my brain has spent the last two weeks frantic, believing it’s going to die. It was merely unhappy as I was cutting down. It had a few bad moments on Sunday, when I told it sternly that it could do without. And then came Monday, and work, and I thought it was going to end one of three ways: with a suicide, with a homicide, or with me busting into that unopened pack I’d got in Oregon assuming I wasn’t actually quitting completely on Sunday.
I survived, others survived, and the pack stayed closed. Barely.
Writing was awful. I’m in the habit of going out every hour or two to puff and think. My thought process revolved around: I have to get this done, I need a smoke NOW. And all the while, that physical addiction, pumping ye olde body full of panic juice. Chantix, I thought, should’ve cut down drastically on that. It blunted, but did not stop.
But it’s been getting better. Each day, a little less frantic. And the pack stayed unopened. I decided to get sour straws, so I could do the whole stand-on-the-porch-and-think thing smoke-free. That’s worked, to a degree, and replaced my favorite thing about smoking: unexpected moments. I stepped out for a breath of air and a sour straw before bed in the pre-dawn darkness the morning I finished my most recent Rosetta Stones post, and saw a meteor send a silver streak down the sky. That swath of silver against the deep blue was phenomenal, and no nicotine required. This will do.
Thursday, I dropped in on Dr. John to advise him of progress and ask about increasing the dose. He agreed we should since my body burns through drugs at a remarkable rate, and put me on three milligrams of Chantix a day. That led to fun times with nausea, but otherwise, a glorious lack of needing nicotine. My brain is no longer freaking out, even though I cut out the third milligram forthwith. And I’m so over smoking that I handed the emergency pack to another smoker that evening. Don’t want it. Don’t need it. Between Chantix and native stubbornness, I’ll get past the initial stage wherein it’s hardest to quit, and end up staying smoke-free once I’m off Chantix.
Oh, I miss it. I will not lie: I loved to smoke, and I wish I still could. Someday, I may even break down and go with the nicotine-free ecigarettes, simply for the joy of drawing something (this time safe) into my lungs whilst I contemplate life, the universe, and the turn of the next phrase. But I may not need to. A deep draught of earthy night air might start doing the trick. And I do very much like not having to drop what I’m doing to feed the nicotine demon. I like not hacking up my lungs. I like not spending insane amounts of money on a habit that will kill me. Only problem being, I now wish to eat everything in the universe, so total savings is probably in the negative digits. Still, it’s tasty spending.
Now I just have to convince my lungs we can breathe and hike at the same time. Argh. It’s like having iron bands slowly tightened around each side. I’m told this gets better. I hope so, because I didn’t used to be such a ginormous wuss.
So yes, going well so far. I shall probably stay on Chantix for an extra three months, just to be sure – it’s something they suggest you do to stamp out smoking completely, and helps ensure you don’t slip. I want this to be the only time I have to quit, because I never want to have to endure physical withdrawal again. Besides, I’m enjoying the dream life. For that, I’d stay on this stuff the rest of my life if I could. I got very lucky: Chantix doesn’t work this way for everyone.
So that’s that. I’m leaving my profile pic up as is, because I like it, and that’s still me. I may not have a cigarette in hand, and there has been a lot of water under a lot of bridges since that day, but I’m still that person, kicking back in Mexico on the way to see the Peacemakers. Just like being transplanted to the Northwest didn’t take the Southwest out of me, quitting smoking and very rarely drinking hasn’t taken away from that tequila-marinated, sun-soaked person I used to be.
I suppose that’s the moral: for those who didn’t heed the warning not to start smoking in the first place, quitting’s all right. You get past the withdrawal. You don’t give up your identity, just the little burning cylinder. And you can do it. With prescriptions, with patches, with sheer stubborn force of will, you can do it, if a part of you is ready to say, “Enough.”
And I’ll be here to cheer you on if you need a gothic cheerleader with sonic screwdriver pompoms.