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Old 11-06-2016, 06:48 PM   #1
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Default My Achilles' Heel

I am not overweight; I finally hit 'normal' for my height & age. I get plenty of exercise, averaging 10-20 miles of walking each week. I rarely touch alcohol - simply don't care for the taste of it. The same goes for coffee or tea - I can take them or leave them & usually leave them unless I have a real need to stay awake, clear my sinuses or warm.

The one thing I've never been able to stay away from is cigarettes - started at 12 & amost 44 years later... yeah.

Roughly 17% of the population of my province over the age of 12 smokes; thankfully the percentage of teens who start, is dropping every year is dropping & is now down around 10% The older the cohorts, the higher the number of smokers. I've been very lucky so far - no known cardiac issues or any others although I have no idea what's going on at the cellular level. I... probably don't want to.

My province has spent the past 10 years putting together & tweaking a provincially funded program to help those who want to quite. It's unimaginatively called STOP: Smoking Treatment for Ontario Patients. Family practice health teams can apply for the funding & materials needed & my family practice did. They provide smoking cessation aids - patches, lozenges, gumm, inhalers & Chantix or Zyban through your doctor if it's judged that's needed. There are regular meetings with a counseller & follow up phone calls or e-mails. The program is part of a long term study on what works.

I've tried such programs before & just couldn't do it... just could not. This time... so far, so good. The first big improvement was matching me up with a counsellor who was formerly a heavy smoker herself. Sorry but a "I've never smoked" type never did it with me... they just don't get it. The second major difference was the patches. They've learned those of us who smoked heavily need more than the 21 mg. patch. They have me on a 21 AND 14 mg. patch right now & that's the sode I'll stay on until the end of the month.

I think it's been the one on one talks that have been most helpful. I don't like the happy, feel good, chirpy bull when I know perfectly well that's not how I was going to be feeling for quite some time. I didn't need a non-addict 'helpfully' suggesting all sorts of planned activities for me when it was all I could do for a week to eat, breathe & sleep without imploding.

This counsellor gets it. She told me to stay in the moment; not to plan ahead for all sorts of activities & other changes right now. She's right. Previously, I decided to change too many other things at once & cratered. The first 6 days, I swear I was sleeping 18 hours a day - I was exhausted. And I WAS sleeping. I have no idea where my brain was. I did manage to get out for some short walks just to get some fresh air but planned no other rational activities.

The last couple of days; I'm coming up on 2 weeks, have been considerably better. I THINK the sleep issue is resolving... I'll take that for a start. I'm not mired in gloom. No, I'm not comfortable but it's a heck of a lot better than it was. And not trying to plan out a whole bunch of other stuff is making it easier to stay as focused as I need to - when I need to.

I still marvel at how hard it is to get away from one bad habit - one addictive substance. Insane.
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Old 11-06-2016, 07:15 PM   #2
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There is such a thing as "hospital grade" patches........ there are in Australia.
In the year 2000 I had a couple of weeks in hospital with a collapsed lung caused by an injury ......... broken ribs "the lot"
I never smoked again.
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Old 11-06-2016, 07:25 PM   #3
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DH was on the patch while in the hospital this time. I'm calling them tomorrow to find out what dosage so I can buy him some for home. The days he was in the hospital he had no cravings, the day after he got home and took the patch off he smoked one cigarette and now he needs to start all over again. He's not a heavy smoker, he's cut down in the last few years to 2-3 a day.
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Old 11-06-2016, 08:57 PM   #4
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Malcolm, that's how my aunt quit in her 60s...in the hospital with broken ribs from a car accident.

I quit for 7 months in 2010 or 2011. I was never able to get off the nicotine aids though. I'm seriously thinking about trying vaping. BFF from Mexico recommended it when he was up in September. I'm not even sure if nicotine by vaping is legal in Canada.

Best of luck Sue, hope it sticks this time!
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Old 11-06-2016, 09:20 PM   #5
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rb - yes it is. The local corner stores here sell the kits - yours surely do as well, as would any smoke shops. It consists of the apparatus & the rechargeable battery that powers it, a cord for recharging the battery & you buy the vials of nicotine liquid or; it's more like syrup. They come in different strengths & flavours. I tried that - it was simply too fussy & frankly, I hated the tastes of the nicotine liquids.

I'm not sure what's different this time. The first week was pretty hellish - depressing. It was really important t stay in the moment & not look ahead because frankly, at that stage of things - everything sucks. Your BRAIN knows better but this addiction trying to influence you, not brainz. It wasn't until late Friday that I realized I wasn't thinking about it 24/7. Yesterday was better & today better yet.

THAT is what seems to be working - just staying in the now & by this point, realizing the cravings are actually measurable occurrences & don't last. I'm starting to be able to see what behaviour patterns & times of day trigger cravings... step one. Changing those is very much a work in progress & has only just begun.
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Old 11-06-2016, 09:35 PM   #6
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I quit smoking several years ago, 2 or 3, I honestly can't remember, but I have been vaping ever since. I am not particularly motivated to quit vaping, because all the symptoms I had with smoking, disappeared after I had been vaping a few months.

What I find interesting is how this all plays out in my dreams. For the first couple of years I dreamed of situations where I had lost my smokes, or was asking someone to bum a cig. It didn't really make me want to smoke again, but my dreams had not caught up with my reality.

Only recently have I started to have dreams that include vaping in some form or another. A few nights ago I dreamed I was showing someone how to put a vaper together.

I think my unconscious mind finally understands that I don't smoke anymore. It's about time, since I honestly don't remember whether I quit in 2013 or 2014.
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Old 11-06-2016, 10:37 PM   #7
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I dreamed about smoking the first week - along with a plethora of bizarre & vivid dreams of all sorts - the patches do that. But in my dreams I had just found a cigarette or a pack, had bought one or was given a cigarette. I woke up before smoking & almost cried. Not with relief that t was only a dream & I hadn't smoked but BECAUSE I hadn't. Addiction is a strong thing.

I haven't dreamed of smoking for several days & I realized this evening, ads on TV for quitting didn't irritate me; over the past week & a half they really angered me, often to the point where I had to walk out of the room.

Yesterday evening, I bought myself a scratch ticket & won back the amount I paid or as I prefer to say: "A free ticket". All day, I've been winning off the replacement tickets I've kept buying, mostly the cost of the original ticket but once today $15 & at another point, $25. I've done the quarter mile walk to the store & back about a half dozen times today & finally realized I was enjoying it. It's been a clear & cool day, dry enough for the air to be clear as a bell. There are plenty of leaves left on the maples & to my surprise, considering the deep draught this summer, the colours are as lovely as I can ever recall seeing.

I'm still sleeping more than usual but today it was a proper night, then one nap after supper - okay, so it was a two hour nap but I won't tell, if no one else does. I'm thirsty, so thirsty... so I've been downing all sorts of juices, lemonade. I've avoided most of my beloved chocolate milk in order to really minimize caffeine intake & along those lines, instead of mainlining Pepsi... I think I've only had 3 all week. Don't know if it's helped but I haven't really felt like drinking it.

With just the 2 of us at home & no schedule set in stone most days, we've been eating when hungry. SO quit as well but he's got a few days start on me - we figured too of us at the same level of homicidal might be a little much. He's also remained smoke free so we figure we're doing well.

We bought ourselves a fridge full of juices, fruit punches, good, wholesome, healthy food & some of that is quick & easy to prepare. We bought some snacks too - both healthy & indulgent types. Yesterday I picked up some multi-vitamins with minerals for us - can't hurt. I also, after calling my doctor, cut my dose of the minor anti-depressant I've been taking every evening now for 2 years. It's an old school type, (Remiron) & was prescribed for me specifically because of the side effects - it helps with sleep, (I have notoriously bad sleep without it) & patients complain about weight gain with it. I needed to gain weight & it finally started helping with that about 6 months ago.. But I wondered if cutting down the dose a bit might help me stay awake. Called the doctor Friday & he said to give it a whirl. No downsides to that yet - I slept fine the 2 nights I reduced the dose AND didn't sleep as much during the day.

I'd been given a bunch of reading matter to do with quitting smoking a while ago & finally got around to reading some of it Friday - just couldn't focus on anything long enough before that. No, to be honest, I didn't want to know! I didn't realize how much nicotine & many of the other chemicals you inhale while smoking end up becoming part of your biochemical pathways. I also didn't realize how many & specifically which nasty chemicals you end up smoking with your nicotine - gack!

I expect it will take a long time, as my various cells, organs & systems do their cyclical tissue replacement, for me to feel better again. Being reminded that they do age out & get replaced on different time frames means that, when I can concentrate a little more, I'll pay more attention to what I'm shoving into my face, although I expect almost anything without the smoking is better than the best diet AND all the toxins. In any case, I'm not eating that badly & the vitamins will help.

I did notice, at some point during my frequent short walks today that I have a ton more lung capacity than I remember having in... years. I forced myself to inhale & exhale as much as I could - almost to the point where it hurt. But I noticed, I was coughing a bit ore after so I suppose it's helping clear old crud from my lungs. I've never been one to get winded walking any distance but walking somehow seemed... more fluid today. Perhaps it's all in my head. If so, that's fine... I need to start finding positives in this experience - any little positive will do. And the exercise certainly didn't hurt.

We didn't smoke much in the house - usually went outside but we did periodically so my fall round of deep cleaning will be particularly productive.

As for distractions - the election is certainly providing a welcome one & the aftermath should also prove interesting. I've got a few unread books in reserve & access to more. I've also decided to start a Plant of the Week Club with myself as the charter member. Hey, it's a ton cheaper than smoking & I'll happily admit, I need some kind of reward.

It's going to take me a long time to think of myself as a non-smoker... a long time. There's a lot to build & rebuild but for now... just one day at a time.
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Old 11-06-2016, 11:52 PM   #8
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Watch how much juice you consume Sue. Sugars.

IIRC, it took a good month for my lungs to completely clear out. Most coughing stopped by the two week point. You can hasten that with water, water, water.

What really freaked me out was vision changes and how pink my nailbeds became. My sleep didn't get any better, although that's been awful since I was 8.
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Old 11-07-2016, 12:26 AM   #9
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I quit my lifetime packet a day habit with the book "Easy Way to Stop Smoking" by Allan Carr seven years ago and haven't touched nicotine under any form since then. And no cravings, no will power needed. Give that book a try, Sue.

I did join a self help group forum but the quitters there where moaning, qvetching and crying so much that I quickly left them.
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Old 11-07-2016, 12:26 AM   #10
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Trying to drink more water than anything else... don't know why my mouth feels so dry all the time but it is dry inside the apartment these days - probably just that.

I'm only starting to feel a bit better physically; expect it will be weeks yet before there are any changes of significance there. I'm just hoping we have a cold, rather than dry mid to late fall. Walking in cold is a snap - late fall rain... not so much.
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Old 11-07-2016, 02:14 AM   #11
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Excellent, I prefer you not dying early. Keep at it. I'll give you a shout some time this week and we'll see if we can make it down the week after once we're on the ground.
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Old 11-07-2016, 02:19 AM   #12
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Excellent - bring me home a rock - nothing larger than fist sized & preferably an interesting one.

A rock from that far north would be cool.
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Old 11-07-2016, 03:15 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CanadaSue View Post
Excellent - bring me home a rock - nothing larger than fist sized & preferably an interesting one.

A rock from that far north would be cool.
Ok, no problem. Didn't think of that, but we'll go grab a few north of 60 rocks to bring with.
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Old 11-07-2016, 09:28 AM   #14
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Excellent news, I used this https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Varenicline when I gave up about 4/5 years ago, I used to smoke an ounce of tobacco a day and when I stopped smoking a week after starting the pills I have never looked back, wish you well.
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Old 11-07-2016, 01:54 PM   #15
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Sue I am so glad you and your SO are quitting before you develop COPD. DH didn't even cut back in time and now has moderate to severe COPD and his lungs will not heal themselves anymore. I wish the two of you the strength to not go back to smoking and to enjoy better health.
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Old 11-16-2016, 12:25 PM   #16
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You probably do have some emphysema—pulmonary injury is to significant extent dose dependent, and we have so much reserve pulmonary capacity that by the time you're symptomatic, you've lost most of it. I tell you that not to give you grief, but as some additional motivation, if you find yourself needing it at some point.
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Old 11-16-2016, 12:39 PM   #17
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The additional motivation never hurts - this is a grim process. But three weeks done.
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Old 11-16-2016, 12:53 PM   #18
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Good luck, Sue!

I wish you the best of luck and will power.

I am one of those "never smoked" types. My maternal grandfather saw to that when I was a young boy. Watching him die agonizingly slowly of COPD and emphysema from a life-time of smoking unfiltered Camels had a lot to do with that.
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Old 11-16-2016, 01:05 PM   #19
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I've been pretty much a regular user user of some form of tobacco or another since before I was ten.

At 40 I thought I was literally going to die one day trudging through deep snow with a heavy load at over 10000' and swore I'd never smoke again.

Switched to snuff, and then within weeks to swedish snus (which has almost all the bad stuff cooked out of it by pasteurization) and still use it. I cannot imagine ever wanting to smoke again but my nicotine dependency seems to have become part of my dna so the snus keeps me going.

Quit for a year once---completely --and the cravings never subsided or went away and my mental state was erratic at best the entire time.

Another positive---apparently the snus changes the PH of your mouth and makes it unfriendly to bacteria and my gum disease has not only gone away but my dentist says my teeth and gums are in better shape than he has seen them in in 20 years.
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Old 11-16-2016, 01:06 PM   #20
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Excess thirst and the sleep issues could be from quitting... but you might get your blood sugar level tested too just to be sure.
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Old 11-16-2016, 02:37 PM   #21
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The thirst has backed off to normal levels but the sleep problems... I'm just exhausted all the time & when I'm not sleeping, I'm beyond irritable.
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Old 11-27-2016, 11:26 AM   #22
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Default Update

31 days smoke free & counting. Friday, I stepped down my patch dose to a 21 mg. plus a 7 mg. patch. The higher dose was starting to make me feel constantly nauseated, especially the first few hours after the patch was changed. The new, lighter dose has improved that 95%.

It's still WORK. I don't think about smoking 24/7 but still think about it too much. I still find I'm very tired but that's starting to improve a bit, a little better every day. My sleep still is awful but I've been very thirsty all the time & I think that's most of the problem. I could be having worse issues so, I'll live with that.

My hands no longer feel cold in cooler weather. I haven't been getting nearly enough exercise because right now it seems every time I have to go somewhere, every smoker in town congregates around me...I end up cranky & craving & I don't need to add to that stress.

I have noticed a slight improvement in exercise tolerance when I'm schlepping home loads of groceries & I expect once I'm more comfy going out for long walks again, they'll feel even easier.

Food tastes better & my sense of smell is improving.

I still don't see myself as a non-smoker but that will come eventually.
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Old 11-27-2016, 11:47 AM   #23
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Good job!

Re: thirst I cannot smoke without drinking SOMETHING at the same time. If you were the same...
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Old 11-27-2016, 11:41 PM   #24
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I used to always have a drink beside me but didn't consume enough fluids. I'm definitely drinking a lot more now. I may always miss smoking; who the hell knows. It may fade over time; I'm trying not to have any expectations... something I find hard to do.

According to Quit Charts, my vital signs should be pretty much back to normal. Not a clue but with the weight gain, perhaps not. I know my circulation has improved & I'm pretty sure my breathing on exertion will have improved.

I like to think I'm slowly "rebuilding my body" without all the toxins that were contained in cigarettes. I'm making a point of eating better & a couple of times a week, I pop a multi-vit + minerals. I know a lot of the damage can never go away 100% but I'd like to correct what I can.

On that note, after a month of simply focusing on not smoking, tomorrow, I'm going to start a 3 day a week running plan. The first step will be getting myself up to running 5 km or 3 miles. I'm tempted to blast into it but face it, I'm 56 & my joints & muscles wouldn't appreciate that kind of trauma. There's a really fun & gradual program available online called 'Couch to 5 K' that's nice & gentle; very gradual increases in the amount of time spent running, (jogging), compared to walking but after 9 weeks, most people can manage to jog or run that distance without dying. 3 days a week will give me a bit of leeway in terms of weather too - starting this as we head into winter may not seem brilliant but I can't afford a gym & even if I could, the time I'd need to get there is all the time I need to get my walk/run in. Plus - I've already got a route measured & reconned.

Just don't expect me to make an appearance at the next Olympics.
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Old 11-27-2016, 11:47 PM   #25
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Sue, if you hit a nasty weather patch, you may be wise to keep a cheap yoga mat and some small Walmart weights on hand. You can find all kinds of free exercise demos online. Or run stairs in your building. Better than slipping and injuring yourself.
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