Week 9 (or “How RATM Helped Me Quit a Nasty Habit”)
“It has to start somewhere, it has to start sometime
What better place than here? What better time than now?”
(Rage Against the Machine, Guerilla Radio)
So I haven’t written about it cuz last time I did so, it jinxed me. But I figure I’m solid now, so it’s ok. I’m 9 weeks on Wednesday without a cigarette!! They say the hardest for most people is day 3, week 3 and month 3, but I’d say there hasn’t been a hardest time. So I’m very confident.
This all came about shortly after my brother’s wedding in March. I was walking to my car after work after a few days with a flu-y chest cold. As I walked up the not-very-steep hill towards Robson where I’d parked, my left shoulder started hurting. It hurt more and more as I walked, and eventually moved down my body and into my chest, which tightened up like someone was slowly crushing my chest. Being a slightly-over-weight-almost-40-year-old-smoker, you can guess what I thought was happening. I was actually somewhat frightened. I debated with myself whether to call 911 or not, but decided to wait til I got to the car. I got into my car and sat down and all that pain evaporated in a matter of seconds. So I didn’t do anything at the time but worry. A few days later I told Ruth about it and she convinced me to go so a doctor.
Of course the doc gave me shit for not going to a hospital; “chest pain, sore left arm, short of breath…duh”. He sent me for some blood tests and an ECG to see if I had a heart attack and sent me on my way. Well, the blood tests and ECG didn’t show anything, so they sent me for a stress test. They prescibed me a nitroglycerin inhaler and some blood pressure lowering pills that I never took as well. Again, from the stress test, nothing negative. So that’s the good news. I apparently didn’t have a heart attack! Yay me and my good genetics.
The direct result of all this, tho, was that it kind of woke me up a bit; it was the kick in the ass I needed. A few days after the first Dr. visit I was going to buy smokes, when the penny kind of dropped: Quitting isn’t hard when you don’t have smokes, it’s only hard when you have them. When I’ve attempted before I always blow it because I get that day where “Meh i’ve made it x days without much difficulty; if I go buy a pack now it won’t be hard to quit again tomorrow.” Of course that doesn’t work; that pack turns into two packs turns into more turns into back to a pack a day. So I started reciting the lyric at the top of this post in my head, and it’s become my mantra. Every time I get the urge to go buy a pack, I basically use that lyric to not procrastinate the quitting.
And it’s worked! I’m in week 9 as a non smoker, and apart from the occasional urge it hasn’t been especially difficult. It is most difficult when I’m by myself; when I’m at work or with Ruth the stigma of failing quitting keeps me from smoking. When I’m all alone it seems that I crave it; perhaps I smoke out of boredom? Anyways, the thing that made me feel like a non smoker now is that I’ve had 3 social occasions in the past couple of weeks (two for work after some planning sessions and one just Friday for a buddy’s birthday) where drinking was involved and I didn’t crave one in any of those. I don’t have a problem with my morning coffee either. So it’s all good…I seem to have kicked.
I’m still using the Rage Against the Machine lyric on those rare occasions where I walk past a drug store or convenience store and get the urge. I’ve kind of started using it for other changes as well (I’m a horrible procrastinator). So, thanks Rage, even though it’s completely out of context… You see, at the end of the day, all changes have to start somewhere and sometime; what better place than here? What better time than now?