Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Joyous Misery

It was with great hope and trepidation that I began my odyssey into kicking an addiction that had been a part of my life for over thirty years. Baring another episode of allergenic shock as happened with WellButrin, another chemical attempt at smoking cessation, I expected this round to either be a roaring success or another dismal failure. It turned out to be both and neither.

Two of the side effects mentioned most prominently was nausea and nightmares. As for the nausea, I DID suffer a mild amount of it during the first week of taking the new medication, but then that tapered off. It was the effect it had on my sleep that turned out to be the new monkey on my back I had to deal with. I wasn't having nightmares, per see, just really weird dreams which kept my mind racing and woke me up numerous times almost every night. In return for the moderation of the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal, I was losing sleep......ALOT of sleep.

The dose at this time was two mg divided between a morning and evening dose. I tried cutting the pills in two for each dose. I tried one pill in the morning. No luck; I still was losing sleep and starting to get a bit loony. Having not had a cigarette for more than four weeks, I decided to just quit the meds altogether lest I go to work with my pistol and all my ammo and have intense discussions with everybody I didn't like. I could only hope that having the nicotine out of my system by now would be enough.

You are supposed to remain on this medication for twelve weeks, with another twelve weeks recommended to increase your odds of quitting for good. I could only handle it for less than half that time, but it DID appear to make the difference. I didn't have the panic attacks which crippled me every time I even thought of not having a cigarette, and it seemed to eliminate any nicotine fit altogether. What it HASN'T done, apparently, is eliminate the habitual behaviors one picks up having been a life-long smoker. Hell, I even bought shirts based on whether or not they had a pocket I could put my cigarettes in. I attended events with the caveat that I could survive not having a cigarette before it was over. My life has more or less revolved around these evil tubes of tobacco. Whenever I finish a cup of coffee, finish a meal, you name it, there is a trigger that makes me instinctively reach for the pack of coffin nails. And, I still have this empty space in my midriff I can't seem to fill.....even snacking doesn't do it.

And speaking of snacking.......Great Bob, I could snack to my hearts content and NEVER have to worry about putting on more weight than I could burn right back off the next day, so ramped up was my metabolism. Now, however, I have already gained five pounds and it's NOT burning off as usual. This is the real suck factor I am experiencing in my freedom from my addiction. I know that very few of you are feeling sorry for me in this regard; it's about time I joined the rest of the American population in suffering the pangs of outrageous consumption. What it has really pointed out to me is that even as little as I eat, I still must be eating to much and I somehow have to adjust my mind to this new reality, finding some new "thing" to replace the hole left by nicotine and sweets. And no, I am not finding a new comradeship with the obese or the addicted; both are examples of excess and illogic that I am happy to be forced to deal with and think alot more people should be forced to deal with as well. I know this is not a popular idea, this being REQUIRED to do the right thing, and yes, dealing with it as I am right now I do not find pleasant in the least. But it IS the right thing, if nothing else than for not exposing my wife to second-hand smoke in our house, or eating sweets like a damn pig when my wife couldn't do the same thing without packing on the pounds. It's not all about US, folks, unless, of course, we really don't give a shit about anybody else but ourselves, even how we commit suicide.

No, even now, I am not entirely out of the woods. Any day I could on impulse grab a cigarette and once again begin the slide into addiction oblivion. I am a realist, even as I am a dreamer. I want the easy way out, knowing well that the easy way is paved with bad choices. But I want to at least say that I TRIED to do the right thing. Thus, each day I decide I'm not going to smoke a cigarette, that I am not going to eat that cookie unless I'm damn well starving to death, and that I am not going to conduct an illegal sock-puppet show in New York City. Don't ask.

So, my dearest Kindness, if ever I have given you the impression that my quitting smoking is easy for me, I hope the above has robbed you of it, and please know that I know how hard it is for you right now. If you fail, then I suggest you dust yourself off and try again when you can. Even if you never quit, I for one will never judge you for it, but I will always gladly lend you my encouragement.

This is my long, long stroll down tobacco road. Bob get me to the end of it.


Buffalo said...

During the seven years I went between smokes I wasn't troubled by triggers - at least not after the nicotine was purged from my system. Only once did I reach for the pack of cigarettes that was no longer there. Since I'm truly overweight I was really glad that I didn't gain any weight - in fact I lost some - after I quit. What didn't stop was the desire for a cigarette. Virtually every single day I wanted a smoke. Wanted, not needed.

Philosophical question for you. At what point does it become about "me?" Or should one always be selfless as opposed to selfish?

Steve said...


Kindness said...

Awwww thanks for this thoughtful post. I quit in February... started up again in March... and have now quit again and I am into the morning of my fourth day.

You never once gave me the impression that this was easy for you. You have inspired me to keep trying. I am determined to quit and if not I vow to never stop trying.

I have great support in my thursday evening smoking cessation classes; at home with the non-smoking dear husband; and on MWF mornings in kick-ass boot camp style exercise classes. I just gotta keep that "junkie-thinking" at bay...

Thanks again for your thoughtful and inspiring post.

Jane Poe (aka Deborah) said...

Good luck on this difficult journey. Remember, you are THE Micheal ... and we believe in you. Every day that you say no to cigarettes you say yes to winning this battle ... we'll be there to support you no matter what. Cheers, peace and love, JP

homo escapeons said...

sorry first I have to laugh at steve!
I think that it is easier to launch and return the space shuttle than it is to quit smoking.
I'm still at around 8 a day and I am slowly working my down.
Since heart disease is so rampant in my gene pool I always guessed that it would get me long before emphysema of lung cancer...that's pretzel logic at it's finest.

Look, if you can conquer this, just imagine what else is possible?
Maybe you should have your trigger stuffed..worked for Roy Rogers!

Keep it up. I may just be shamed enough to follow suit.