What I Know About Quitting Smoking
Of Which Is Very Little
When I was diagnosed with emphysema, other than just trying to feel better, I went about researching what it was I had and the best way to over come it. The first and foremost thing that I decided to do was to quit smoking. So true to form I researched that. I had tried previously to stop. I even quit one time for over a year. There was a personal tragedy that was extremely stressful and I picked up “just one” and smoked again for another 10 years.
I will say that I know all the things people say. It is interesting to me all the advice I have been given over the years, whether by the “experts” or by well meaning friends and family. Sorry, but just taking a walk or eating carrot sticks doesn’t really help to get over the cravings. I knew I had to find my why. One would think that having emphysema would be a why, but it wasn’t. You would think that I might die from it was enough, but it wasn’t. I found my why at a free quit smoking class given by my health care provider. I didn’t want to plan my shopping trips.
That sounds totally selfish and really it is. I mean smoking IS selfish so quitting smoking has to be doubly selfish. There I was in that class and we went around introducing ourselves. This lady was pregnant and needed to quit for her kids, this guy said it was money, another disease. You know the usual. I said I had emphysema, but, as stated earlier, that wasn’t enough. So during the course of the class I found my why. I don’t want to plan my shopping trips.
After the basic how much it costs to smoke and what it does to your lungs and the lungs of your family, she talked about oxygen. As in oxygen tanks. It turns out that if your travel with oxygen tanks, one has to plan where they are going. You have to bring enough tanks and/or have tanks delivered where you are going. So say you are traveling to see a couple of states. You have to plan each stop and make arrangements for oxygen to be at each stop. What a pain but do-able in my book.
It was the shopping that got to me. Each travel oxygen bottle holds approx 4 hours of oxygen. They weigh 5 pounds each. If I wanted to go grocery shopping, I would need at least one bottle and watch my time. I would have four hours from the time I left my house until the time I get home, drive to the store, do my shopping and return home. I am not that great of a planner and what a way to kill a spontaneous “hey lets go grab a bit to eat.” So I decided to quit.
We already know I wasn’t strong enough to quit on my own. So I had to bring in reinforcements. I am not talking about friends cheering me on. That didn’t work before. So I used the patch and nicotine gum. It helped with the cravings. Then I went about learning more about quitting. First things first. I found a why. Second thing I had to quit beating myself up over smoking. I smoked. It was what it was. There is no sense in calling my self names about it. I wasn’t stupid or dumb or and idiot, I was addicted. I’m not talking about the whole talk good to yourself motivational crap, I am talking about not beating me up. I needed to accept my addiction as a fact not an emotional failure on my part.
Second thing to know is that your brain is going to trick you. A lot. There is an actual physical reason for this. I can go really technical, but the easy version is this: In your body there are neurotransmitters called acetylcholine. Acetylcholine and its receptors involved in many functions, including muscle movement, breathing, heart rate, learning, and memory. There are a ton of them in your brain. The nicotine molecule is shaped like acetylcholine and attaches to the neurotransmitters. Eventually the brain begins to rely on the nicotine. When you stop the brain gets confused.
Because your brain is confused and relies on the nicotine it will do what it takes to get you to smoke. It will try to trick you. It can create stress, remind you that you smoke at this time. It will tell you you can’t deal with this, you need to smoke. Its very strange to be doing perfectly fine then all of a suddenly get rage-full and think about a smoke. That’s why I used the gum along with the patch. Got that urge…in with the gum. If you use another method do know the urges dissipate, but it takes time. You got to give yourself time. As said, your brain will try everything it can. I did learn that like hunger pains, smoking urges do go away after about 20 minutes.
Next I had to give up the idea of weight management. I am only human I can only do one thing at a time, one addiction at a time. So I did not worry if I gained weight. It didn’t matter. I did put healthy snacks in my house. It didn’t really matter. I wanted to quit smoking not do weight management,. I even read a magazine article about how to lose weight and quit smoking. I wanted to save my life. Screw worrying about weight. I can do that later. (Note: it is later, 6 years later now I worry a little bit.)
I did gain weight. I quit smoking as well I am happy.
Never Give Up! Never Surrender!
Lastly and the most important thing I can tell you is don’t quit quitting. I know it sounds like a slogan, but it is not. Sometimes we mess up. Maybe have that cigarette, give in to the brains demands. So usually at that point I would say “Well, I messed up I might as well finish this pack” That is those silly little neurotransmitters that want to make you happy the easy way. You just got to not quit quitting. So you messed up. Its alright no ones perfect, you are giving into some powerful urges. It doesn’t mean you ruined everything or you have start all over. It just means you made a mistake. Honestly I didn’t even count days or years after the first year, maybe year and half. The technician giving me a breathing test told me how long it had been. If you are on a diet and you eat cake does that mean the entire weight loss you have achieved is all for nothing? Of course not. Having one cigarette does not mean you start over it just means you had one.
The Magic Is Gone
If you read all the way to here looking for a magical solution or a recommendation of what one should take to help quit smoking, sorry. Quitting smoking and what you should take is between you and your doctor. I cannot recommend any one thing. While I cant say that quitting will add years to your life, (possible) or that it will make you a better human being (maybe) I can cay that quitting will improve the quality of your life. A Lung Cancer researcher told me recently: “The idea is to find something to replace the smoking that doesn’t harm you like smoking does in order to increase the quality of your life and improve your bodies immune system.” I believe him. The quality of my life is sooo much better. I replaced my smoking with nicotine replacements aids until I no longer needed those aids. Now I don’t have to take time out of my life to smoke a cigarette. No getting up in the middle of a movie, or from the restaurant table or put anything on hold for a cigarette.
Happy Quitting I know you can do it.
Another about smoking http://theblogofteresa.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=1847&action=edit