Mornings were the worst when I would wake myself with a harsh coughing fit I couldn’t control. My throat would remain scratchy and over time and my chest would fill with a sharpening pain. It’s not something that I woke up with one day, this built up slowly over time with some occasional really bad days. Yet, coughing or not, I continued to smoke.
I began to smoke at the age of 17. Many of my friends were smokers and that curious devil in me wanted to know what I was missing out on. I was on break with my buddies at a fast food place when I reached out for somebody’s resting cigarette in the ashtray. That first drag was a dizzy high that left a smile on my face. I always felt that I could beat it if I wanted to, that I wasn’t really addicted. But that first experience wasn’t repulsive for me, I enjoyed it. Nobody ever told me that the high would fade away. You can’t use it, the tobacco uses you. That rush returns only when your body has been deprived of it.
A pack of my cigarettes were my crutch for the next ten years. They were a part of my routine, emptying out of the box like some sort of twisted clock. I smoked when I woke up, after meals, while I drove, while I rested, nearly every half hour of my waking life. And they were there when I needed anything, when life seemed frustrating as hell. Over the next ten years I smoked a pack a day. That’s roughly 73,000 times. And at average of $3.00 a pack during the bulk of my smoking years, that was near $11,000 at a time when income was precious. During this whole time, I never purchased my cigarettes by the carton because I always felt that I might quit before I finished them.
I must have tried quitting at least a hundred times, though it’s never just one battle you’re up against. It’s you vs. yourself, your body vs. the drug, the crash of changing your whole daily routine so you’re not tempted, struggling with your vision to look away while you see somebody lighting up, arguing about the harmful effects while your close friends continue to smoke, and yesÃ¢Â?Â¦ I was horribly grouchy every moment of that.
Self reasoning was my biggest foe. When I couldn’t handle it, I would trick myself until I would become completely defeated. How many people knew that I was quitting this time? One smoke would cool my temper. I will quit before my birthday. It takes time to do this. One more day won’t do anymore damage. I can’t quit in the middle of the day.
Quitting cold turkey works for some people, but it was the toughest method for me. My day would put me and anyone I encountered though a rollercoaster of emotions. Most of that time I clammed up, prepared to avoid confrontation at all costs. But whether we’re driving or on the job, there’s always a situation that’ll be better treated with a cool head. And out of nowhere, without any provocation, that dizziness returns, my head filled with headache and fever, and I’d have to stop and breathe. At first, right then and there I’d pick up a smoke and relax. But then I’d learn to fight that urge and wait for that ugliness to pass. Before you know it, I was moving on, but an hour or two later that bastard devil returned and sooner or later I’d smoke again, if only to save the people who had to deal with me.
I had one moment in the year 2000 when I couldn’t catch my breath at all, and for once this wasn’t a desire to smoke. This was an asthma attack that led me into an overnight stay at a local hospital. I’ve never had asthma before in my life so I was scared, and I was without insurance. Because of the latter, my experience was limited to unanswered questions because the costs of tests and knowledge were too great. I resolved to quit again, and I made it for all of a month or so before I eventually caved to the nature of me. A couple years later I wound up in the same place, but insured and ultimately informed. Smoking wasn’t a primary contributor to my failing health, but it was a big part of it and I began to cherish a better quality of life.
I did it! I’ve given it up for close to three years now. It happened with a lot of struggles, support, determination, and I also think that society has pulled me closer to this goal. Our attitudes have obviously changed and for me it was extremely helpful. The anti-smoking ads became vicious in their campaigns and the methods of quitting became more expansive.
The nicotine patch was my greatest weapon. NicoDerm CQ was the premium product I used and I recommend this to everybody. I tried a cheaper brand but I found that the patches wouldn’t stick that well and I would be on my own without even realizing it. Not only were my cravings controlled on a step by step basis, but when I occasionally lit up anyway, my mouth would be immediately rancid from the extra nicotine and I wouldn’t be able to stand the taste.
I also tried the gum, thinking that it would suit me well, but that wasn’t so much of a success. I’m not sure if it was the brand or what, but I would instantly be overwhelmed with the hiccups every time I chewed. Humorous, but it was a product I couldn’t take seriously.
In the end, it was much more than a store product that got me where I am now. No one reason had done it, but it can be accomplished. My quality of life has improved and I feel great about that. No more coughing, catching my breath, scrounging for quarters to buy another pack, however it’s not forever gone. Every now and then I have a passing moment when I’d like to give in for just one. I think it’ll be there for the rest of my life, but it’s not troublesome anymore. Seconds pass by and I recall my success and think about where I might be if I hadn’t fought this that very last time.
Support a better life, quit smoking.