Thursday, July 05, 2012

Quitting



A noticed a few days ago that cigarettes tasted really horrible. I mean, I’m sure many would say – of course they do. Why is this news? Because it was new to me.

I knew that other people find the smell of cigarettes nasty, some to the point that it makes them gag. I could walk into my house and think, ugh, smells like cigarettes in here.

But there was always that loveliness for me of the inhale. Like chocolate. Or sex.

I guess that’s what I’d say to someone who doesn’t smoke and can’t understand why smokers persist in being so stupid and disgusting.

What if it were sex? What if medical researchers had very good evidence that having sex, um, damaged your immune system in some subtle way. That that intimate contact between your body and another body with different MHC proteins, different microflora, over time, inhibited natural killer cells and greatly reduced their ability to destroy cancerous cells. So that, when you looked at the epidemiology of it, you see that people who have led celibate lives have much lower cancer rates than people who have had sex. And further, the more years of sexual activity, the higher the rate of cancer.

So. Would you stop having sex? The healthier celibates are telling you that they don’t miss it at all, that life is better without sex. Really. And the sooner you quit having sex the better, but it’s never too late.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

There are moments when you think: Right now. Right now life is good. Right now I feel so lucky to be alive.

We’d like to think that those moments are when something momentous is happening, but more often I think, it’s just some bit of the loveliness of life that strikes you.

I often feel it when I walk out on my back porch late at night in the summer. There’s something about the feel of the air on a summer night in a hot climate. As if the air is palpable, liquid, cool and flowing over skin in the light breeze. Sometimes there’s a moon lighting the trees and grass of my back yard. My dog will be there, and often a cat or two.

That’s all. Nothing special really. Just walking out on my back porch after midnight, on the way to bed. But I feel it for a few minutes. I’m so glad I’m alive.

Sex usually did that for me. And a really good meal. And those first couple of cigarettes in the morning with coffee. And the ones that I smoked as soon as I got home, that I’d been looking forward to for the last hour or two of work.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Anyway, suddenly not feeling it. Cigarettes stop the craving for a cigarette, but at a cost of oh my god that is so nasty gah hurts my throat smells terrible bleh.

So I figure, seize the moment and quit now.

A friend who had to write a paper for psych class years ago had done it on quitting smoking (though she had never smoked, which I found interesting). Anyway, she had discovered that many experts in the field declared that the first 48 hours were the most difficult. Pretty much all you’re going to do in that time is crave a cigarette. Constantly. For two weeks, the cravings are pretty frequent. It’s hard to not backslide, hard to keep up your motivation. But it’s not as bad as those first 48 hours. After that it gets a lot easier. Cravings are infrequent and more and more fleeting. At six months, something changes – you’re really a non-smoker now. Not that you’ll never want a cigarette again, but disliking cigarettes becomes strong.

So. Two days. Two weeks. Six months.

I’m on day one. It’s been 3 hours since I got up. Three hours of that first 48. I cleaned up the kitchen, fertilized the plants in the vegetable garden, watered it, made a little graph thing that I can color to mark my 2-2-6 progress, watered the flower garden in the front yard, fed the pets, mowed the back yard, wrote this blog post . . . and it’s only been three hours. And I really, really, really want a cigarette.

[published on 6/30/11]

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