Friday, October 24, 2014

Labour Friday Evening Blues

I've been sneezing, coughing, wobbling around and nursing a sore throat yesterday and today.

It's not a flu, but it could be a cold. Possibly an allergy or just another symptom of the not smoking. I'm not overly worried, I quipped at work today that I think I'm allergic to public holidays. This is the start of Labour weekend.

Funniest thing about the sneezing is that now I've given up the smoking I'm noticing for the first time how strong the eucalyptus smell on the Kleenex really is. I don't think I'll be buying them again, sticking to the aloe vera ones instead.

I've really been feeling like a smoke off-and-on today. It started on the way to work. I didn't feel up to cycling or walking to work so I caught the bus for I think the first time since giving up. before giving up I would have had a smoke on the way to the bus stop finishing there or had one after getting of the bus. Today I was dimly aware of smoking on the way to the bus stop. I'm guessing this is why I didn't get triggers then. I most definitely had one as I walked up to work from the bus stop.

Lunch was at the Indian place in the food court. Usually I only go there when I've already decided I want a vegetarian lunch, today I'd pre-decided I wanted a meat lunch, and happened to be close enough to the Rialto that I went up for a lamb curry. The lady serving was quite surprised when I asked for a non-veg curry. Despite planning on lamb I ended up having beef.

Walking back to work after lunch I could so easily have lit up. Going home tonight I needed to pop into the supermarket for some weekend supplies and heading home after that the feeling was strong.

It's lessened a bit now, but I'm still aware of it going on in my head.  48 days into non-smoking I know I can do it and I will do it. I don't know where these triggers are coming from today and tonight, but I will defeat them.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Redefining myself

I had a little chuckle when I wrote that title. Ten years ago I started this blog with a single paragraph posting about how I was redefining myself in the wake of a failed relationship, except I used 225 words to effectively say nothing. Following that paragraph was a five month hiatus until my next posting. Now I'm saying the same in the tail end of ending my relationship with tobacco. The difference is that at least I've built up a habit of regular blogging over the last 6½ weeks.

For that 6½ weeks I've been thinking of myself as a person who was quitting smoking. and quitting has occupied a lot of my attention over that time. As it exposed me to support and advice from an audience of other New Zealanders who are also quitting, this made quit-line a good place for my blogging. I'm now finding that I'm thinking about other things a lot and if I find I mainly want to discuss those things, then this or ¿Que? are the venues I'd prefer.

The other thing to consider is that giving up smoking is a process.
  • Smoker - Self explanatory - becomes
  • Quitter - Someone who is no-longer smoking, probably with great difficulties, possibly using chemical aids, support groups and services like quit-line - becomes
  • Ex-smoker - able to resist smoking without using chemical aids, still recognising an addiction, may need a level of support - becomes
    Non-smoker - Able to resist smoking without using chemical aids or support groups. No-longer thinks much about smoking.
    There's lots of other scales, for example quit-line goes straight from Quitting to Non-smoker, I want the Ex-smoker step in there, because I see it as a measurable step in my recovery from nicotine addiction and one I want to get to and then go through. I would like to define myself as an ex-smoker today, except that today I am using Champix, I am due to use Champix for the next 3 weeks. I don't at the moment know if I could successfully continue quitting without using Champix, and I've decided not to try and find out. This means by my definition I'll still be a Quitter for those 3 weeks. Of course there isn't a sudden transition from one stage to the next, obviously going from Smoker to Quitter is sudden, but the other steps are progressions, one day you realise you have moved from one to the other and even within each stage there are a lot of levels.

    One of the things I'm finding on Quit-line is that when I read postings by those who have just quit (or are just about to quit) I know that only 45 days ago I was where they are now, but it seems a lifetime ago. They and I are at opposite ends of a wrong-way-telescope; I try to give useful advice to their questions and know from what I've seen that those who survive will be where I am now around Christmas / New Year, to me when I was there the people who had managed to stay given up for 40+ days seemed to be in an unimaginable position of success; now that I'm there I know that it's just one day at a time repeated a lot of times. It may only be  one day repeated lots of times but I know that it is moving me closer to my goal.

    I'm hoping I can move on and find the energy to think of blogging about other things that fit here; or at least some more small essays for ¿Que?.

    Sunday, October 19, 2014

    A nice day for a smoke

    After Sunday market Tessa and I occasionally go down to St Heliers beach for a "picnic" late lunch from the local bakery.

    We've done it plenty of times, including the nicer Sundays over the winter but this was the first time we'd done it since I quit smoking.

    We sat on the bench seats looking out over the beach to the sea, eating our lunch, watching the people go by along the promenade. I finished my lunch, leaned back in my seat looking out to sea. As I did this the thought "Nice day for a smoke" came unbidden into my head.

    I said "Yeah, it would have been" quietly to myself and put it out of my mind but it's interesting how often the first time I do something I haven't done since quitting, or go somewhere I haven't been since then causes a smoking trigger to be released.

    When the trigger comes up I often realise that yes, this was a place / time I regularly smoked. I almost certainly would have lit up after having lunch in that very seat in the past.

    Alternately, as I'm now going to places I only occasionally visited before quitting, I'm wondering if I really do associate those places with smoking or if the addiction is asking "maybe here??" If it is the latter, will visiting places I've never been before act as triggers in the future. Will thinking I should have a cigarette become my standard reaction to new places? If so, I wonder how long will that last?

    Rust never sleeps. Nor, it seems, does addiction.