The quitting smoking blog

It was a stressful morning

Scouring the internet for images to use at the top of this blog threw up a bounty of excellent imagery connected to quitting smoking, most sum up really well the pointlessness of it all.   I am only 6 days into my journey so am not quite at smug ex-smoker status yet, though you have to have aspirations right?

This image above is honestly not that far removed from the butts I would throw out, I only ever allowed myself to smoke outside in the home I have been in for 2 and half years now, so would fill up two tiny ashtrays and then tip them into a carrier bag when full, this would then build up very quickly before being thrown out, so only after a week it would look rather like this image above.

I loved smoking, I always say that and will still say that now despite knowing it is down to the addiction and not the pure love of smoking.  I even liked taking myself away for a brief interlude just me and a cigarette or a select few friends when out in a group so we can have a breather (so to speak!) Quite what this says about my enjoyment of my friends company that I want a break from them however brief is another matter.   I think I just like things broken up, cigarette breaks stagger your work day and your social life, and I do this even when cycling to work (yes fit and a smoker) I break down the journey into sections so never having the final destination as an end point until the last stage.

I have not always been a smoker, quite strangely I started at 28 years old, now at 35 it feels like it has run its course.   Quite why I started so late I cannot say, far too old to bow to peer pressure, it just seemed natural to smoke around the people I was hanging out with at the time.   You take up different things during your life, smoking was one of them, I could have taken up sailing but a boat wouldn’t have fit so well in my pocket.

I have always set future dates for quitting as I never did want to keep it up forever, I knew eventually it would take its toll and the damage would be irreversible.   Every smoker knows this, they are not stupid although non-smokers can understandably think they are for doing something which essentially is killing them.  It’s hard to explain, we know it is bad for us but we’ll stop in our own time, we had a nice ride while it lasted but you essentially have to see that end date in the distance.  Mine has been creeping up, I come back from holiday armed with duty-free cartons and then work out that will last me so long and that will be it, obviously they only last half as long as planned and then you think it is not time yet.

This just happened having returned form a wonderful break in Portugal (blog to follow on that) having worked my way through about 200 cigarettes in 9 days there and returning with another 280 packs, on my return I gave half of these away to my friend who house sat for me, and the rest were slowly being used until last Saturday when on heavy night I smoked far too many and finished them off.   I was in my garden with 3 friends who only smoke part-time and were going through them at a rate I would be shocked at.   I had my epiphany moment, yes it was forced on me in a way as I could not physically take another puff, I could not even sip another drink, I was spent.   But before I did I glanced around at the empty cigarette packets we had left strewn on the patio table that evening and I knew this was time to stop.

The next day I did not smoke at all, feeling so bad certainly helped, but deep down I knew something had changed.   I have quit before when suffering terrible toothache but had always gone back to it, you have to be ready and know in your own mind, its not a straight forward decision, it’s whole new mindset.

The following day I felt fine but having none in the house and with a new belief I never smoked, I have not told everyone I am quitting at this point as it is far to early.

The next day I am back at work and I think after 2 days cold turkey the cravings are bound to kick in, and especially since the cigarettes define my day, the two on the way to work, the one at 10am with coffee, the three at lunch, the one for afternoon coffee and the two on the way home, they are centred around routine, and any routine is a hard thing to break.  It is also my excuse to escape for a break, where I work we have nowhere to go, on an isolated industrial estate we are trapped here all day, and my colleagues can sometimes be too much, I need that break from them, and I have always used smoking as my crutch to get a break from them as they were stressing me out.   But I lasted the day unharmed.  They still stress me out, that’s the way I am and the way they are, it’s not as bad as I had led myself to believe.

However the next day was a shocker.   I started feeling a bit tender at lunchtime as I was heating my leftovers in the microwave, I proceeded to eat my sausages and lentils, and began to get sharp pains in my abdomen.   This escalated to such a degree that I couldn’t sit at my desk for the next 3 hours and I then had to get a taxi home.   I was feverish, in constant pain in my stomach and was getting dizzy and unable to focus.   Having just read about Germany’s E-coli outbreak, I did begin to wonder…

The next 24 hours is a complete blur, I never ate, I was vomiting, bed-ridden, sweating, delusional, the rock in my stomach was pressing down so hard that even the trusty foetal position you adopt when sick still left me writhing in pain.  Two days later I can still only drink water and nourishment shakes and eat dry toast, and my stomach is still a bit tender to the touch.   I have looked at various websites to self diagnose, coming across indigestion to appendicitis, food poisoning to urinary tract infections.   Many of the described symptoms fitted what I experienced, but then I thought this is such coincidence, I had been eating more healthy since my return from Portugal and its fresh delights and my decision to quit smoking days earlier – it can’t be making me ill?!

I then searched up symptoms of quitting smoking and this aswell fitted along everything I had encountered, cramps, nausea and constipation.  None of them quite go as far as to describe the complete horror of what I had been through, I imagine heroin has the most awful withdrawal, but if this was what I was experiencing from quitting cigarettes I can only imagine how horrendous that must be.   Twenty four hours of non-stop physical pain like your are repeatedly beaten in the stomach, delirious fever and cold sweats…just how hooked was my body to cigarettes in the first place?   This I had never heard about, and I know ex-smokers, did they not experience this to any level, does it soon become a distant memory when your life of cigarettes is replaced by cartwheeling around daffodil fields?

I am hoping that is only a side effect, and not a more serious medical condition then at least it will serve as a reminder not to start again and will only spur me on.   It has also been contributing to the health of my teeth, I was recently told two would have to be removed, one is impacted so it has to but the other is rotting away, I was later told an extra two making 4 in total may come out, they are all infected, this may not be purely down to smoking but it can’t have helped.  This is also the NHS and the dentists do not like doing NHS work, they don’t earn enough from it, so I am getting a second opinion from a retired dentist who can tell me straight if the teeth can be saved or not.

But back to  the positives on quitting, I mention I cycle to work, I also go to the gym, smoking has always been the contradictory thing opposing the healthy lifestyle I think I have in some part.   I never have a great deal of issues exercising, it has probably been a blessing to keep my body functioning better after being bombarded with nicotine, but after a couple of days the difference in my lungs is noticeable, so this can only improve further.

So my body is healthier, only right that my bank balance will be too.   In a week I have also saved about £30 I would have spent on cigarettes, over a year this would be about £1600 I will have saved.  I am imagining what this injection of cash will do, I can take greater holidays more often, eat out at nicer restaurants, and I should hopefully start to see the difference very quickly….though that may be on hold until after I pay for the private dental work I know need!

As I said, its early days, but I am confident I don’t want to smoke anymore, and I am not ruling out a relapse, though I will do my utmost to prevent that.  We had a good innings, shared some wonderful memories together but things change, people change, it’s for the best.

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  1. How is this going Joe?

    • On quitting smoking? 😀 That didn’t go so well, but otherwise am good.

      Hope everything is cool with you?

      • Yeah, things are good.

        • I sent you an email a week or so ago, did you get it?

          • Yes.No. My husband and I are working through a lot of things. I told and showed him our emails. It was the right thing to do, but it hurt him. The lies more than anything else. He deleted that one.

            Anyway, we are being really open and honest, which is really good for us. Please don’t email anymore, we can talk here, or on my blog, but I want him to know that we are just friends and that everything is in the open where he can see if he wants to. It is important for him to be able to start trusting me.

            • No probs, not sure what you mean by the lies thing, but no need to explain. You need to do what you have to as I’ve said before.

              I’m just a gay bloke in London writing a blog, I don’t want to upset anyone, that goes from my neighbour to people on the other side of the world. I only want to spread a bit of goodwill and humour in the world.

              • You are my friend Joe. More than some gay bloke in London who writes a blog.

                I know you aren’t trying to upset anyone. You didn’t…I did. My husband understands that. He also cares enough about me to want me to be happy. I haven’t always realized it, but I’m lucky to have him.

                So, speaking of friends…my friendships here are strained. The majority of my friends were from church, which I’m having a lot of issues with. I haven’t gone in more than a year, but they still send offering envelopes. Wanting me to mail some money in. No one directly from the church has contacted me. It pisses me off, but I’m probably over-reacting.

                Sorry, I got distracted…anyway, you’ve spread goodwill and humor, and enough of yourself to let people in. You’re a good guy, good writer, good friend. You should probably go get drunk now. 😉

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