Sunday, January 22, 2006

Off-Schedule

I'd like to share with you, dear friends both real and imaginary, my current status in operation:nix the cigs. So I guess I'll give you an overview of how it's gone so far to bring everyone up to speed.

I started my quest to quit in early August. People say "set a date" and "stick to it." Well I didn't really do that. I figured having the date approaching would add extra pressure to the situation. So when the date the doctor had set showed up, I was still putting it off, but I decided to quit when my carton ran out. I think this is an excellent way to quit, since delaying the inevitable involves smoking less, thus helping the process. Of course I got myself down to one cigarette for three days before I finally had no more... and went on the patch.

I've tried to quit a few times in the past, but had never used any quit-smoking aid. This time I went on Wellbutrin three months in advance - this is essentially the same as Zyban - to keep emotionally sane during the process (men are accustomed to rapid chemical changes in the body, but woman are wired to change slowly, and zyban helps keep things in check so woman don't flip out.) I got the patch. And the gum. In fact, my mother bought it for me, and while I was living with her that was an excellent motivator to stay on track.

Because I had pared my consumption down so much, starting on Step 1 patches was probably unessessary. Who knew? The first one I put on made me light-headed for over an hour. But I think it was good for my emotional addiction. I barely thought about butts, and when I got a bad craving I had some gum. It says on the packaging not to do this, of course, but my doctor told me that this was the was most successful method, so for the first few days I had one or two pieces a day, until it made me feel weird one time. I spit it out and saved the rest for when I didn't have a patch on.

I had gone over a week without a cigarette, and the concept of putting something in my mouth like that started to feel strange to me. I had begun to smell cigarettes on others and was truly amazed at the strength of the stench. I headed off to Plymouth for my week at the cabin with some concern that I would cheat, but I did not anticipate the reason:I could not stand kissing my boyfriend. He literally did taste as if I was licking an ashtray. And the waft of yick was attacking my nose even a foot away. For a non-smoker, kissing a smoker is overwelming- and really really really not in a good way.

In addition to being gross, it pushed a rage button in my brain. You see, my (ex-)boyfriend is the one who motivated me to quit in the first place. I was not quitting for him, mind you; no, that would never work. But he had been after me to quit so that he could quit with me, and had gone weeks previously using nicorrette to cut his consumption. I had my whole plan for my process, as I explained up there in the beginning of this post, and when it finally got to quitting time for me, my man was not ready and was back to a pack+ a day. I guess he hadn't mentally prepared himself. So that whole aspect of the situation made the grossness of proximity with him absolutely intolerable.

I didn't know what to do. I didn't feel comfortable making a big deal out of it. People quit (or change themselves in any way) for themselves, my friends, not anyone else. No good ever comes of trying to force change in someone else, particularly in relationships. I'm extremely easy-going, and by nature I want to accommodate people for who they are. I need to be able to be around people who are smoking, and not have a problem with it- well cause that's just who I am. So I took off my patch and I had a few cigarettes. It actually felt weird, and I didn't have much desire for it, but I had to get the smell and the taste back into my system in order to tolerate my man's company... otherwise my reflexes were pulling me away every time he came near me.

I had been so happy, I had been doing so WELL... but sure enough, after my man left and I was alone at the cabin with my books and the beach, I bought a pack of cigarettes. The lakewater would mess up the adhesive on the patch, and I kept forgetting to take it off before I jumped in, so I stuck mostly to the gum, but had a few butts a day while I was there.

After that I was cheating on a regular basis- a butt every day or two, and more when I was with my man. I told myself it was ok because I was still on the patch, so still technically addicted to nicotine anyway, so I wasn't really setting myself back. Um, of course I was setting myself back because the patch was supposed to be helping me break the actual puff-on-stupid-smelly-thing-on-fire habit, which I was still doing. Eventually this lead to smoking when out at the bar, which frankly just lead to more outings to the bar. Then my mom moved out, and with her my accountability. By the time I moved here to my new place, I was back up to 2-3 packs/week - less than half of what I was smoking before, but still a significant habit. I felt guilty, and gross about it. I didn't want to see my mom, 'cause I knew she would smell it on me, and still I would frantically chew gum and use hand lotion to try and mask it from her and Bonnie and Dad. No one said anything to me, but I bet I wasn't fooling anyone.

On Thursday I stopped at Walgreen's on my way home from work and bought a box of patches - Step 2. I went out that night and smoked the rest of my pack, save one, which I smoked Friday morning. Then I slapped on a patch. Guess I jumped back on the horse, or hopped back up onto the wagon, or whatever - all I know is I'm happy about it, and I'm not going to cheat this time. I'm done.

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