Anyone who’s met me within the past twenty years will know me as a smoker: I’m almost always seen with a cigarette in hand, if you’re a fan of Terry Pratchett then just picture Adora Belle Dearheart…
She also smokes like a chimney. Her whereabouts can be determined by asking the tobacconists, or simply finding a huge cloud of cigarette smoke and heading toward the middle of it. Efforts to dissuade her from smoking are generally futile and any long time without a cigarette is likely to put her in quite a bad and, for the people around her, dangerous mood.
I’ve no real idea of how many I smoked a day – partly because I smoke roll ups rather than regular cigarettes, and partly because roll ups go out if you’re not puffing away constantly, so half-smoked fags were a permanent feature of the ashtrays in our house because I’d leave one on there then forget and light a new one rather than the old one. It’s probably fair to say that I’d light anywhere from 20-30 roll ups a day, but it’s anyone’s guess as to how many were actually smoked down to the filter!
When my dad died, of lung cancer, I said I would give up smoking… but, let’s face it, grief is stressful and although I had a bash at stopping it didn’t go very well. In September, very randomly, I decided to try again. It had crossed my mind once or twice this year but I was prompted to make a more definite decision when I was at Queens Park Day and saw a stall advertising Stoptober. The stall was being manned by staff from the local pharmacy (who have known me since I was a kid) so I had a chat with them and agreed to pop in and see them about smoking cessation.
I was true to my word and went to see them the following day (before I could change my mind!), and they kitted me out with some Nicorette patches and a Quickmist Mouthspray. I started using the patches with no problems, but the Quickmist was a disaster – it tasted so bad that the first thing I did after using it was have a cigarette to get rid of the taste! The patches were good though and I happily whacked one on every morning. I wasn’t aiming to stop straight away, I wanted to cut down a bit before stopping on 1st October.
I went back to the pharmacist again the following Monday and was given another pack of patches and, after telling them how unsuccessful the Quickmist had been, an Inhalator. The inhalator was fine in terms of taste, but it made my throat sore so I didn’t persevere with that either. During this second week of cutting down my asthma flared up and I ended up having to get an emergency prescription for inhalers as I’d not used one in over a year and couldn’t find any in the house.
On 1st October I stopped smoking… and by 2nd October my asthma had got so bad that I had to go to the doctor as my inhalers weren’t making any difference; he prescribed some steroid tablets and told me to take a few days off until my body sorted itself out. Miserable doesn’t even come close to describing how I felt, and being off sick when you’re self-employed means you don’t get paid, so that’s an additional kick in the teeth when you’re already feeling rubbish!
My chest was finally back to some semblance of normality by the 6th and I went to work that weekend… and then by the evening of the 7th my glands had swollen up, my throat was tender and hurt when I swallowed, and I’d come down with a temperature. I was not a happy bunny.
Since then my asthma has woken me up around about 2 or 3am every day. I generally manage to get back to sleep after about half an hour of coughing, wheezing, and frantically sucking on my inhaler, but it’s not exactly restful. I am exhausted. Giving up smoking is supposed to be good for your health and your bank balance, but my health has been woeful and I’ve had to have so much time off sick I’m almost in the red.
So, am I still a non-smoker? I think yes. I’ll put my hands up and say that I’ve smoked a little bit, but I’m not going to beat myself up over it. I actually stopped using the patches on 29th September because I didn’t want to end up hooked on NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapy) instead of tobacco, and I think I’ve done marvellously without them. I read that Allen Carr book in the run up to 1st October and it was actually very helpful even if I have allowed myself to smoke a wee bit, which goes against the point of the book but hey it’s working for me and I’m not trying to kill people. If I have a cigarette or two a couple of times a week then I really am not going to guilt-trip myself for it – at the moment it’s actually very helpful… what no-one tells you is that another delightful side effect of giving up smoking is constipation, and frankly I can’t cope with that on top of everything else at the moment so if the odd ciggie helps keep things moving then so be it. I’m working on increasing fibre intake and all that jazz so hopefully my digestive system will start to move along at a more regular pace on its own, but for now I’m happy to give it a helping hand!
If you made it to the end of this post then well done, it’s not the most thrilling read but when I saw that the word for this week was cessation it seemed the most logical subject to write about
Carmen over at Tails of a Biomouse is our host for this week and chose cessation for this week’s word, so don’t forget to pop along to her blog later to find out who else is playing.
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