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?

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2 comments so far

  1. Rosie on

    Clay, that is awesome! Congratulations on your great quitting smoking progress!!

  2. kasia on

    Clay, I am so proud of you! You don’t quit once – you have to quit every damn day, and that’s what a lot of people don’t realize. YOU have, though. Congratulations!!


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