Smoking Cessation: Day Five (The Phantom Menace)

650px-Maul_Devil

It’s the fifth day of not smoking and I feel like I’m on the easy glide path now. I am feeling much better, unlike Day Three, which was crazy bad.

I think that smoking is probably a different experience for each individual. No way to confirm anything.

For me, smoking was not so much an addiction to nicotine as it was an addiction to the romantic notions of smoking perpetuated by various media. On Day Three, I was forced to confront each and every one of the notions I’d bought into and reject them one at a time. By extension, it was a process of rejecting part of myself.

I’ve been lucky enough to have never experienced amputation, but I’ve read about how amputees can still feel the amputated part of their body; what is referred to as phantom pain. The brain remembers the body part even though it doesn’t exist in physical reality. On Day Five I’m dealing with phantom pain around the part of myself that I cut loose on Day Three.

It’s a very weird feeling. I can hear the faint Siren Song of all the BS reasons I used to smoke, receding into the background, but still there.

I have this friend who still smokes and he told me that he’d quit several times; sometimes for as much as two years straight. When I asked him why he started again, he explained that it was due to international travel. He would go back to places he’d been on business and people there thought he still smoked, so they’d offer him cigarettes in bars, after they’d had a few drinks. He mistakenly thought he could have just one, in the moment, and avoid taking it up again as a habit. Wrong.

So I need to be cautious because the phantom menace is lurking out there and I don’t ever want to have to go through Day Three again. Shudder.

By the way, now that I’ve quit I promise not to turn into one of those condescending A-holes that preach to smokers about how bad it is and how easy it is to quit. For starters, I’m not going to write about it anymore on this blog, unless I succumb to the phantom menace.

Thanks to all those who offered words of encouragement the past few days. I appreciate it.

Smoking Cessation: Day 4 (Cold ******)

turkey

Hi!

I held off. Didn’t smoke a cigarette on Day 3.

I would’ve had to have gone to the drug store to get a pack, but what really stopped me was commitment.

I had many moments in my mind when I was walking toward the usual smoking place, and having to guide myself back.

Now it’s easier, I hope.

All I need to do now is to go to bed, and that’s easy ’cause I’m really tired.

Smoking Cessation: Day Three

IMG_2370

When I took the smoking cessation class the instructor said that day three is the most difficult. I’m finding that true just this moment, but I don’t know whether it’s because her comment teed it up that way, or because the┬áski vacation is over and I’m back home in familiar surroundings.

Anyway, I am determined; absolutely DETERMINED to stick to the program. I just need to cook dinner and have a glass of wine to calm my frazzled nerves.

See you on the other side of tonight.

Epic(fail)Mix

I was going to share a photo of me from today’s ski trip that was taken by a professional photographer who works for EpicMix, but when I tried to purchase it I got the following error message: Oops! We cannot process your request at this time. Please try again later. So I tried again later, and again, later. No dice.

EpicMix is a website that is supposed to provide an on-line experience for season pass holders by aggregating data about their ski experience using an RFID chip that is in the ski pass itself. You can go online to EpicMix, sign in with your pass number, and see how many vertical feet you’ve skied on a particular day, among other things.

Good stuff, unless you want to buy the option to own all of the photos the EpicMix photographers take of you, your family and friends. In that instance, you’re our of luck. You’re also out of luck if you want to nest a link to the EpicMix website in your blog post. Apparently, they’re touchy about that because when I tried to do it, the draft of my post disappeared and was unrecoverable.

I haven’t smoked at all today, and was feeling great until running into the EpicMix problems. It’s at times like these when I crave the negation of smoking; that’s what I’ve decided it really is: negation.

Anyway, I’m sticking with my plan. I’m not going to let some lame website ruin things for me.

Smoking Cessation: Day One

IMG_2370

I just dumped the last ten cigarettes from this pack into the trash. A relative suggested that I post a picture of that instead of this, but I like clean, elegant images on the good ole blog. I think this better represents my approach to quitting than showing a bunch of cigarettes in a mess of trash. Quitting is supposed to be absence of cigarettes, right? So why start by showing them? Instead, I choose to display this empty pack, posing open like a maw you don’t want to get sucked into.

So far, the downside to quitting has not shown itself, except for a weird jittery feeling of not knowing what to do in a given second. When that feeling comes on I take a couple of deep breaths and refocus my mind on doing something to fill time.

The upside is that I didn’t have to stand outside in the cold this morning to smoke. Also, my clothes don’t smell like smoke. Best of all, those around me have been extra nice this morning.

That’s it for now. I think I’ll go skiing this afternoon. Further updates this evening.

Happy New Year everyone!

A Busy Saturday

IMG_2348

Is it weird to like a hospital? I would have thought so until I went to the new Kaiser hospital in Oakland. Here’s a photo of the waiting area for the orthopedics department. I’ve been going there with my daughter because she broke her leg snow skiing last February. She’s all healed up now and ready to have the rods removed later this month.

Anyway, the new hospital is beautiful; another word I would not have associated with a medical facility until now. Here’s another photo of the interior. This one’s next to the cafeteria. The photo is of a mural made up of thousands of images of Oakland residents, arranged to create a panorama of downtown Oakland near Lake Merritt.

IMG_2349

As inconsequential as it may seem, I think there is value to aesthetics when it comes to a medical facility. It makes going there less intimidating and reduces the stress one usually associates with health concerns. Here’s one final photo; this one is also next to the cafeteria. It shows a container of spa water put out by the staff.

IMG_2350

I went to the hospital lab yesterday to have blood samples taken as part of my annual physical. By the way, I really like my doctor. He’s an elderly guy with a Southern accent that sounds exactly like Andy Taylor from the classic TV show Mayberry RFD.

After the lab work, I took a smoking cessation class. Yes, I smoke. Not much; I average about 7 cigarettes a day, but still. I had quit three years ago by going to a hypnotist. I started again after my wife died of cancer. She never smoked and barely drank. Who said life was fair? I realize it’s counterintuitive that I would start smoking again after that terrible event. I don’t claim to understand it myself. The good news is that I am going to quit again.

So in the class they helped me draw up a plan to quit. One of the things they tell you to do is to let others know you are going to quit so that you are more committed to success, which is why I’m telling you this. My quit date is January 1, 2015 (I know, I know). But it’s not a New Year’s resolution, really. It’s just that I’m supposed to be doing certain things to prepare, such as to start using a nicotine patch, in advance of the actual quit date.

I plan to blog each day about my quitting experience. It should be fun.

After the smoking cessation class I went to the car dealership and bought my leased vehicle. If you read my post about the SF car show, you’ll know why. Just as I was about to leave the dealership, a few hundred protesters marched by. I had only seen the protests on TV, so it was interesting. Here’s a photo (not a very good one).

IMG_2352

Of course, the protesters were there because of the controversy surrounding deaths from police shootings, the most recent being the shooting of a twelve year old boy brandishing a toy pistol. The death has been ruled a homicide by the medical examiner. There’s video of the incident. I would assume that there will be an indictment in the case, but based on recent history I’m not holding my breath.

OK! I need to go buy a Christmas tree. Happy Holidays!