I'm not sure how I managed it, but I seem to have caught another cold. I caught one a month ago, so it seems highly unfair that I have landed another one. I will have to speak to someone about how unfair this is, and see if something can't be done. Ha! I seem to recall that a month ago, I was also working the weekend when I caught a cold. From this, I draw the conclusion that working weekends is hazardous to my health. Think my coworkers will see it my way? Nah, neither do I. I managed to get over the last one very quickly, so I'm hoping the same thing will happen this time. Again, quitting smoking was one of the best things we've ever done!
I don't recall if I've written about how we did it. If I have, it bears repeating. I hope that any of you who smoke will take it to heart and know that yes, you CAN quit. I loved to smoke...just the ritual of it, the easy familiarity, and the psychological sense of calm that it gave me. My job is highly stressful, and I always said that I'd quit smoking when I quit working, because I didn't think I could cope with my job without smoking. All that changed in 2006, when I caught a cold, it turned into bronchitis--as it always did--and a month later, I still could not stop coughing. [Ken just read this entry and informs me that it was much longer than a month, more like 2 or 3, and that he told me I needed to go to the doctor. I'd forgotten it was that long, but he's right, and he did tell me I needed to go.] I'd wake up in the middle of the night and cough for a half an hour. I love my sleep, so that was bothersome. I'd start laughing, and it would send me into a coughing fit. I love to laugh even more than I love to sleep, so that was especially bothersome. It was obvious that I needed to see my doctor. A thorough checkup, chest X-rays, and a bone density scan later, I found out that I had the beginnings of emphysema, as well as osteopenia, which is the precursor to osteoporosis. I'm 45 years old, people, much too young to be looking at something like that!
So that was my wake up call. Ken and I had a talk, and agreed that it was time for both of us to quit. We were set to go on vacation, and agreed that we'd start our program when we got back. We smoked like chimneys when we were on vacation, believe me! But we got it out of our systems and were ready to quit. Ken came up with a plan where we'd gradually cut down by starting with 5 fewer for the first two weeks, 5 fewer than that for the second two weeks, 5 fewer than that the third two weeks,then we'd quit. We also talked about changing our behaviors, i.e., we stopped smoking in the car, I smoked one less in the mornings, etc. By the time we got to the final two weeks, we were theoretically down to 5 a day. We found that we didn't always stick to that, and sometimes had more...with the understanding that when those two weeks were up, we would stop completely.
We were able to do it without drugs or patches. I think the main thing for me was breaking that psychological dependency. Once I realized that yes, I could cut down and not miss it, I was able to take another step and say that I could actually quit. Once I had it set in my mind that I was going to quit, it became a matter of pride. I don't like to lose, and if I let myself be controlled by cigarettes, that would mean that they won, thus making me a LOSER. Ken just reminded me of another little trick I played on myself. I told people--lots of people--that I was quitting. Admitting defeat would mean admitting to my friends and family that I was a failure. That is simply not acceptable. :)
Let me just say that I am not calling anyone who smokes a loser or a failure. This is just the process I had to go through in my own mind to motivate me to quit. (The whole emphysema thing gave me a good, solid scare, too.) We were also able to quit without any drugs, but I encourage anyone to do whatever it takes to quit. My doctor in Indianapolis was so great, and of course, he was always encouraging me to quit. He said that he'd do whatever he could to help me. For one of his patients, he prescribed Valium, because the risks of dependency were less than the risks of continuing to smoke. I think any doctor will do whatever they can to help you quit. But you bear most of the responsibility. There really is no magic pill that will change you from a smoker to nonsmoker overnight. You have to believe that you will do it, that you want to do it, and that you CAN do it.
As an added plus, it turns out it was probably the best gift I ever could have given my parents.