Saturday, June 30, 2007

Me Time, Revisited

Friday nights seem to be the last hold out that are still kind of tough for me to not smoke. Just like last Friday night, I have a hard time realizing that even though it's the weekend and, therefore, "me time," that no longer includes being allowed to suck on poison. It's not impossibly horrible, so the Chantix is still doing its thing, and I'm still sticking to cooperating, but it is noticeably tougher than other nights - probably all in the mindset. The good news is that in the middle of our Ugly Betty marathon (I've seen them all, consider a favorite show for a million reasons, finally convinced Tom to watch them all, too, and in less than a week we're almost done with the first season so that I can get all jaw dropping about the finale again and wish it was time for fall and season 2), Tom took a break, and I took a little nap. Zero urges or cravings while napping... I'm adding naps to my list of things to do instead of smoking, but at work I probably have to stick with things like the drinking water and breathing ways of coping.

Some more good news: no nausea from the Chantix tonight, and I woke up from my nap feeling better and back to not really wanting to smoke, just really wanting to watch our last two episodes of Ugly Betty (have I mentioned that I love that show?) and then more Kyle XY (also have watched from start all the way up to current since just before quitting smoking - been a busy girl).

Day 12 Smoke-free / Chantix Day 23 (actually 24)

(Bad math - this is actually Chantix Day 24)

Every once in awhile I'll get a decent sized urge that makes me think at that moment that my not smoking journey hasn't gotten any easier at all, but as soon as I come through the other side of it and can think clearly again, I know that this week has been better than last. Urges are fewer and further between, and my automatic response habits aren't so obvious to me any more. When I can look at the clock and see that it is past the time I usually had a smoke break and that it hadn't even occurred to me, or realize 2 hours or more after dinner that I hadn't thought of smoking after a meal, I know the habit part of this whole quitting smoking thing is starting to really break down, too. I have Chantix, of course, to thank for working on the other aspects of breaking the addiction, and I'm still amazed at how well it works.

My walking, which seems to be a weekday 20 minute mile with the work ladies and a longer one on the weekend (with one day off) still feels wonderful, but I'm starting to have issues with shin splints. I'm not about to go out and buy expensive shoes (to me, anything over about $25 counts as expensive - I know, that's why people call me cheap... well, maybe that, too), so I tried doing some little shin exercises before the walk today, but it didn't help. I'll have to look into this some more because substituting that morning smoke break for a morning walk has become very important and meaningful to me on a few levels, and I hope I can continue it.

Also, so many good things going on with other people doing the Chantix thing, quitting smoking and blogging about it. I read regularly the ones that update often (there's a link or two that aren't as updated but still have great info, or some that have great participation through all of the new comments on an older post), and I'm inspired by all at the various stages from those thinking about it, to those getting ready, then making the leap, then just staying with it. Very cool.

Thank God it's Friday. Is it 5 yet?

Friday, June 29, 2007

Accelerated Healing from Failed Kitty Rescue

A quick Yay! to Lakasha who actually went with the Day 8 quit date that is instructed (unlike me) and seems to have pulled through it on her first day today. Very cool.

So on Monday while I was doing my daily walk with the ladies from work (has been really helpful in not smoking), I also attempted a kitty rescue. I'm known to do that kind of thing because I love animals, and it breaks my heart when people dump them like trash, which is what I think happened with this one. Since there is currently no room at the inn (our home) due to other sad stories, I can't adopt any more, but I can bring them someplace safe with a chance at a new forever home with a forever family. So I walked with my cat carrier and the work ladies until we came upon the cat in his usual spot. He let me pick him up, but wasn't real keen on getting into the carrier, and I wound up with battle wounds. My finger was scratched up pretty badly in a few spots and bleeding enough that I had to practically wrap the entire thing in Band-aids for a couple of days. I've noticed over the past several years that when I get cuts, they don't seem to heal nearly as fast as when I was younger.

When I looked at my finger today and realized what I was seeing, I about fell over. The thing is healing as quickly as I remember from when I was younger. Could it be that not smoking just these past 11 days could already have something to do with this accelerated healing? Sure enough. I happened to find this article (aimed toward burn/surgery patients) that might explain why the cuts already look so much better, which says in part:

How does smoking affect my skin and wound healing?

Smoking causes blood vessels to become smaller. The smaller vessels have a harder time carrying the oxygen, nutrients, and healing factors to the wound. This can cause the wound healing process to take longer.

Carbon monoxide is a poison from smoking that enters your blood cells. This poison lowers the level of oxygen in your blood. It only takes 3 full days of no smoking to get rid of all the carbon monoxide in your blood. It is vital to quit smoking for at least 3 days before your surgery so that the oxygen can build back up in your blood stream. Oxygen is vital to your healing.

Amazing.

In other events, about 9:30PM tonight I realized that I had completely forgotten to take my 2nd dose of Chantix. I had so few urges tonight (and zero bad cravings) that I didn't even notice. The thought of smoking still occurred to me and sounded good once in awhile, but it never really took hold or lasted very long.

I continue to be blown away by the whole process of quitting smoking this time around and by how wonderfully the Chantix is working with some cooperation on this end.

Who Am I?

Wow, I don't smoke, and if the work ladies bag out on me for the walk because of the weather, I go do my daily mile walk anyway. And even enjoy it. Who am I? This is such a good thing. So is Chantix. I think I might like the new me. Not really missing the old girl, gotta say.

Time for a Reward

Today is Day 11 on my smoke-free journey (and Chantix Day 23 - corrected). The urges really seem to be slowing down a bit. They come, but either it's less often or I'm just not paying as much attention. I am still getting that 30 minute nausea thing after each pill lately, but it's really pretty mild - and well worth it for the benefits.

Everywhere I look today, I'm being told that it's time for me to reward myself. On the Chantix GetQuit program (which I do find somewhat helpful some days, by the way), on the little newsletter from my health plan (the program I had to enroll in to have Chantix covered by insurance - that was an easy decision) - they both said today that I need a treat.

I'm kind of amused with myself. Usually I am first in line to be the queen of doing something nice for myself. My tastes are not at all expensive, but I still pamper myself in my own way. Last weekend, my big reward was going to be that carwash (inside and out) that I still haven't gone to get. I will, and I might even get a latte, too (since the move it's no longer on the way to work, so I rarely even have them), and that will still be my reward. I just find it funny that I haven't done it yet considering how I am.

Of course, I'm still in great anticipation of the day I finally buy that Roomba (MTurk balance is now over $150 within the month - nice!, plus the $100 Rent.com gift card I'm sitting on and the $100 in old birthday/Christmas money just waiting, and I'm pretty well there). And we did buy those curtains that night on Day 3 that I was going a little nutty with the urges, if that's kind of like a reward.

Otherwise, cheeseball corny trite and cliche as it might sound, the reward I'm content with today is that I'm starting to finally get a taste of the freedom of being a non-smoker. I've got a way to go, like when I am both done with the Chantix and also not still having urges - whenever that day is, but so far, so wonderful. I'm breathing, and it feels awesome. If I wasn't staying up so damn late every night, I bet I'd feel that extra energy even more (as it is, I just feel kind of tired, but not run down like I used to). Knowing that I'm on my way headed in the right direction is reward enough. I'll still get that carwash, though. And maybe a latte. But maybe not today. Today I'll just keep smelling nice.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

So That's Why...

Still plodding my way through Smokefree Day 10 / Chantix Day 22. The brief period of extra urges this morning didn't last long, and I'm back to feeling good again and actually having perhaps the fewest urges yet so far in this journey. Now what I intended to talk about:

I always kind of thought is was overkill back when I'd tried quitting smoking in the past using the patch (always removing it while sleeping - "the vivids" issue again) how the instructions would mention proper disposal when done and sometimes even gave you a little plastic receptacle for the used patches. My thought was, OK, sure, I probably don't want my cats chewing on these, but otherwise, so what? Then, the other day, I went on my tirade about the 4000+ chemicals in cigarettes (still angry about ammonia in particular - finding some justice in the fact that my anger has pulled me through a few urges, bastards) and marveled at what crazy stuff is in cigarettes. Today, I'm surprised that I'm surprised (if that makes sense) about nicotine itself... I've pretty much considered myself the expert on all things nicotine for years (along with coffee, Hello Kitty, Japan, how people should behave, and plenty of other stuff; just ask me - or Tom). That's why this article about nicotine blew me out of the water. Like the other chemicals post, I guess I kind of knew, but it's like I didn't really get it or something (or only the nicotine in *your* cigarettes was like this, not mine again kind of syndrome that I had). Anyway, the whole article and even the other sections of it about how nicotine works are interesting, but here's the tidbit that really got me (and my goat, too!):

Unfortunately, the fact that nicotine alone is an extremely toxic poison often goes unmentioned. Not many people realize that nicotine is also sold commercially in the form of a pesticide! And every year, many children go to the emergency room after eating cigarettes or cigarette butts. Sixty milligrams of nicotine (about the amount in three or four cigarettes if all of the nicotine were absorbed) will kill an adult, but consuming only one cigarette's worth of nicotine is enough to make a toddler severely ill!
(Ann Meeker-O'Connell. "How Nicotine Works". January 02, 2001 http://health.howstuffworks.comnicotine7.htm)
Nicotine, my old buddy and pal that gave me that little mood bump every hour or so. Wow.

Breathing Day 10 / Chantix Day 22

I don't know why, but I'm more excited about Day 10 not smoking that I was about reaching the week mark. And that's even though I've noticed a few extra urges this morning (some days there are just more...) but also noticed that getting into my car and not smoking didn't seem at all strange like it did that first day. I don't know exactly what day that mind shift happened, but I'm glad.

Other stuff I've noticed:
  • Nausea with Chantix (which I love for how well it's working). Taking Chantix does still make my stomach not feel so great sometimes for about 15-30 minutes after taking it, but as I've posted before, nausea is less if I take it when not too hungry or not too full. This morning I feel a little more nauseous anyway, so go figure.
  • Dreams on Chantix. My "Chantix Dreams" are not quite as noticeable or entertaining anymore, but they have also not turned into the scary sleepless creepy ones I call "the vivids," so I'll take less entertainment and be OK. I woke up this morning not really remembering what I dreamed, but I think I did dream something. This is compared to first being on Chantix and waking up able to practically write an entire novel about every detail I dreamed.
  • Coughing while Conscious. I'm still coughing, but maybe a little less. I do know that I can't yet have a good belly laugh without it ending in a coughing fit (one of those little goals that pulls me through the urges). I had a mini-coughing fit this morning, but shorter than they used to be, and I didn't feel as breathless when it was over.
  • Coughing while Unconscious. I haven't noticed because I'm, well, asleep when it happens, but Tom mentioned yesterday that lately he hasn't heard me coughing in the night. Apparently that was a pretty common thing. I do vaguely remember sometimes waking up in the middle of the night sometimes pissed off that I was awake and not sure why only to realize that I was hacking up a lung. I apparently became so professional at it that sometimes I didn't wake up. But I did wake Tom up (or he was still up...).
  • Smoke Runs. I used to find it really irritating and annoying when I would be low on cigarettes and would have to haul my ass out to the store no matter what the time or weather, so half the time I would beg and barter and make Mt Dew or Snickers related deals with Tom to get him to go for me. I absolutely love not having to go or convince him to go anywhere when we are at home hanging out and not really wanting to leave. It's a feeling of freedom, really. I spend less money, too, because I used to call the additional cost of Mt Dew/Snickers/other badness the "surcharge" on a pack of smokes, and it all adds up when you buy pack by pack by pack (over the past few years I always thought quitting was right around the corner, so I often tended not to buy cartons).
  • Habit Urges. Like I mentioned above, getting into my car this morning didn't make me think of smoking, and in general, that part is starting to fall into place. While I do still have smoking urges, they are coming at more random times rather than out of habit at exact times when I would usually smoke (such as getting into my car, right after dinner, etc.). Clearly the one right before bed still vexes me, but it, too, will go away. Someday.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Cruel Summer

Most nights I have "a pod" (as opposed to "a pot") - usually decaf because before that switch I stayed up even later than my bad 12AM-2AM habit and would get "the vivids," those too real dreams I complain about. My little one-cupper has been so special to me that I own two (one on my desk at work) and once devoted an entire blog entry to it. I've been being tough and hanging in there not smoking (thank you, Chantix), and I don't even ask for much out of life, just a nice pod of decaf on school nights after a long day (and today's events at work absolutely qualified me for a long day award). As Tom called me into the kitchen, I could tell by his voice that either one of our cats was dead on the kitchen floor or that something was wrong with my coffee. My little one cupper is no more. Plugging, unplugging, replugging, pushing the button, not pushing the button and praying over it, pushing the button again, not pushing the button again and cursing at it - nothing. Nothing works. It's dead. And so ends a cruel day at the start of what can only be a cruel summer (couldn't resist) - smokeless (yes, yes, it's a good thing, blah, blah) and, alas, coffee-less (most certainly not a good thing), too.

Other than that, the night is actually going OK. Very few urges to smoke. Probably the fewest so far, I think.

Doctor Doctor

Day 9 smoke free continues to plug along, thanks in part to it also still being Chantix Day 21. The workday is still definitely the easiest (not what I expected). The urges come, they annoy me, the urges go away again. I'm getting used to the rhythm, and it's not so bad. Still, it will be nice when the thought of sucking on poison has zero appeal. You know, like normal people.

It turns out that my asshole doctor might not be so bad after all. I mean, he did not only get my initial "starter pack" of Chantix correct, but it turns out that he's already also ordered the correct continuing packs. Considering some doctors get this wrong, I feel lucky (it's scary that doctors in my health plan not screwing up is remarkable enough to mention - yes, thank you God for the apparent luxury of even having health insurance, let alone one that covers Chantix; every day, I'm grateful). His bedside manner still sucks. Anyway, I called the pharmacy ahead this morning, and they'll have my continuing month (1 of 2 more) supply ready sometime tomorrow. Tomorrow I start my last week of the mini-pack I already have (if this all makes no sense, again look here), so there's plenty of time, but I like having my little Chantix ducks all in a row and ready to go. Avoiding surprises while quitting smoking, especially as they relate to my Chantix Rx, is a good and prudent thing.

Good Night Sweetheart

First, before anything else, over at Danielle's blog, today is Danielle's quit day. I bet she'll update, but she did tell me that she is doing it, and this day hasn't killed her. The first day of my not smoking journey really wasn't as bad as I feared it would be (even if it wasn't the easiest day ever).

Now about this Goodnight thing. Going to bed has become really difficult, and I'm staying up entirely too late (2AM last night). Part of this is just that I am a night owl, but the newest little quirk is the idea that I used to always, as in without fail, have a smoke before bed (Tom's personal favorite, I'm sure). Now that I don't smoke, it's like it's never time for bed. I'll be sitting there at 11:30PM thinking, "Should go to bed. OK after a smoke. Wait, I don't smoke. Well, let me screw around online for awhile more then instead of smoking, and then I'll go to bed." A half hour passes. It occurs to me again that I should be heading towards bed, I decide I will after... Endless, until I can't keep my eyes open anymore and just drag my ass in there. This is silly. I'm not a smoker. I can go to bed right after I think of it if I want, but my body/mind habit doesn't know that yet. At least the cool Chantix dreams (fewer now, but still there and still the good kind instead of the scary "vivids") give me more to look forward to when I do make it there.

I have more to post, but can't right now. Stuff that has to be done is calling me.

Come to My Window (or Get Away from My Window)

Fresh Breath Day 9 / Chantix Day 21 - Feeling pretty good! Still just a tad bit of nausea for just 15 minutes or so after taking the pill last night, but still very minimal and then gone.

Smokers are becoming more rare. When we moved into our new apartment, I wondered who the other one was near my building. I've never seen this person, and only sometimes noticed the smoke, until about 8 days ago. Then once I quit smoking, suddenly I'm all nose, and the smoke comes through the window just enough that it kind of antagonizes me if I let it. I never know which way my mind will go with it, either "mmm, remember when" (breathing in just a tiny bit deeper, wanting to stand closer to the window but not doing it) or "ew, gross, smoke, glad I don't" (carrying on with life) or "ohmygod if they don't stop I'm going to be driven nuttier" (closing all windows on a hot day like a crazy person). I guess my life would be kind of dull if my mind was consistent.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Jeez 115 Cigarettes?

So I added the little quit meter thing to the top of my page mainly because it's a quick way to take a peek once in awhile at my progress not smoking, and I can't believe that it says "115 cigarettes not smoked." I suppose it shouldn't surprise me considering how quickly it seemed I could fill an ashtray, but wow, that's kind of a big number. Another one of those little things that got my attention. Even more scary is that I went with very conservative numbers on the meter - I went with the least case scenario of 15 cigarettes a day and average cost of $4.00 per pack, but I do know that some days I had more than 15 - more like 20 or 25 (back in my Japan days smoking at my desk I was getting close to 2 packs a day). The $4.00 is just a guess, too, because some places were $3.80, others were $4.25, and if I wasn't paying close enough attention and was stupid enough to end up in a Plaid Pantry with no other good options, it could be $5.50. Still, I think the meter is probably on the lower end of close to my typical pattern over the past several months.

What the meter didn't calculate is the 3 - 5 minutes for each of those 115 cigarettes: 5.75 to 9.6 HOURS of my LIFE roughly each week that I don't get back. I'm an English major, not a Math major, so someone tell me if I botched the calculation, but that seems like a lot of time spent killing myself even if my math ain't right... Thank you, Chantix.

One Week Ago (Day 8 of Life, Day 20 of Chantix)

One week ago today, with a body full of Chantix that I'd taken a bit longer before quitting than on the 8th day is instructed (I waited until the 13th day), I woke up and knew that I was finally as ready as I was going to be to be all done smoking for good, and so began this journey to my smoke free life. I'd like to take a moment to be cheesy and break my arm patting myself on the back and also give thanks where it's due: to my crazy friend who told me about Chantix, to the other bloggers doing the same thing because it helps, and to my Tom who keeps me going just by telling me I smell nice. Oh, and also for cutting up celery sticks for me.

On this 8th day at the start of my 2nd week, I'm feeling strong. I've had some urges this morning. I save the word cravings for the times when they really are that strong, and that's been more rare on Chantix. I don't really expect them to go away completely. I hate it when I feel the desire to smoke because it confuses the whole non-smoking mindset I've been working on, but something I learned on other more rugged pre-Chantix attempts still holds true - at the moment the urge to smoke comes, it seems so powerful and like it will never go away, like I will feel that hellish urge *forever* with no recourse but to sit there and suffer, but guess what? IT'S NOT TRUE!

It's simply not true that the urge will last forever - in truth, the urge (or even a stronger craving) will probably last 5 minutes, maximum, and even shorter the further away I get from the time I sucked poison into my body. Hell, even my sorry butt can do 5 minutes. A couple of deep breaths, a few sips of water, a bite of celery, some mindless distraction, and I'm good to go. The catch, of course, is that during the really tough times (and there have been some, even with Chantix - just not as many or as bad as without), it's not long after making it through one urge/craving before another one pops up in its place. It's like that Whac-a-Mole game they had at the arcade growing up. If you have no clue what I'm talking about, you see and even play Whac-a-Mole online here, or even buy one for your home for a mere $3795.00 (who knew?) with all that money saved by no longer buying poison in a pretty cellophane wrapped package. Anyway, the urges keep popping up, and I keep doing whatever it takes to bop them on their ugly little heads and smash them down, and I know also from the past that little by little, instead of speeding up like the moles in the game, the urges actually start to slow down and become fewer and further between so that it's even easier.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Walking Works

Shortly before I left for my walk today, Tom walked up behind me to give me a kiss and said I smell good, and it made my week. It's so wonderful not to stink like smoke anymore. Truly.

I went for another power walk, and it was a solid 30 minute work out. I had no idea I could walk so far so quickly. I came back hot and sweaty (I'm not an exercise person - well, until now). Not only did I not want to smoke while walking, I felt so good about it that I've had almost no urges in the past few hours since. Even after dinner. Even as I type this. Right now a cigarette is the last thing I want. It feels so good I could cry (not sure if it's the Chantix or the process or just being a girl, but I've been getting a little emotional the past couple days). Freedom is around the corner - I can smell it and taste it, and if I just keep walking toward it, I bet I'll get there.

Yummy Cadmium

The 7th Day 100% smoke free! Chantix Day 19. I woke up today feeling like I think I am kind of getting into this not smoking thing. With eyes half closed, I poured a bowl of cereal so that I could take my Chantix without nausea, and it wasn't until I was eating it that I realized how much of a habit that part of my day has become after years of not eating breakfast. Just as I had breakfast without thinking, I hope also that not smoking becomes just as natural to me - it's starting to already for longer stretches. I know I'm on my way.

On the Chantix GetQuit thing today, there was mention of some of the chemicals and ingredients in cigarettes. I already knew that there was a long ass list of bad things, and I could even name a few of them, but for some reason seeing Cadmium, used in batteries, really got my attention. What would possess me to put that in my body? If that's not bad enough, Cadmium is one of only 4000 chemicals (!). Wow. I slept through health class, I guess - I mean I knew it was bad, really bad, really very damn bad, but that bad? Sheesh.

Looking at this about.com list is mind blowing - 3 and a half pages of ingredients listed in small print. Then there was this list at quitsmokingsupport.com that also encourages people to get riled up enough about ingesting toilet bowl cleaner type ingredients (like ammonia) with each puff that we finally decide to quit once and for all since the reason all this scary crap is in there is so that we can smoke more - in particular, the ammonia ensures more nicotine is absorbed, meaning more of that kick we crave when it hits the brain. Cute little science trick, huh? Why am I just now really starting to get it? I've been hearing this for years yet somehow have been tuning it out convincing myself that nobody put rat poison (cyanide) in *my* cigarettes, just all of someone else's. I feel stupid. And pissed off. Pissed of enough that I'm ready to stay quit this time for real, for good. Those bastards.

If you are looking for something to do with non-smoking idle hands, here's a little quiz where you can match cigarette chemicals to other ways they are used - disgusting, effective, makes my little urge to smoke vanish for a few minutes. In fact the entire quitting section of the website has a lot of great information and resources about quitting smoking. It's the "National Women's Health Information Center (NWHIC), a service of the Office on Women's Health (OWH) in the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)" (mouthful, that), but most of the smoking info should work for the guys, too, I bet.

And so that I don't end on a sour and pissed off note after all of this, from that same long name website for chicks, here are some happy thoughts to ponder as well:

Calendar if you quit smoking right now
Independence from Smoking Home > Tools > Calendar if you quit smoking right now

Within 20 minutes: Your blood pressure drops. The temperature in your hands and feet rises.

Within 8 hours: The carbon monoxide (a gas that can be toxic) in your blood drops to normal.

Tomorrow: Your chance of having a heart attack goes down.

Jun. 26, 2007: You can taste and smell things better.

Jul. 08, 2007 - Sep. 24, 2007: You have better circulation. Your lungs are working better.

Jul. 24, 2007 - Mar. 24, 2008: Coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue, and shortness of breath decrease. Your lungs start to function better, lowering your risk of lung infections.

Jun. 24, 2008: Your risk for heart disease is half that of a smoker's.

Jun. 24, 2012: Your risk of having a stroke is the same as someone who doesn't smoke.

Jun. 24, 2017: Your risk of dying from lung cancer is half that of a smoker's. Your risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney, and pancreas also decreases.

Jun. 24, 2022: Your risk of heart disease is now the same as someone who doesn't smoke.

Current as of March 2007

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Idle Hands

Continuation of Day 6 smoke free / Chantix Day 18. I wound up taking a nice long nap, which means that those couple of hours of not smoking were pretty darn easy, and then having a nice long bath with yummy smelling girl bath stuff that wouldn't just get covered up with stinky smoke kept me entertained for a while more. In fact, I still smell nice. Since my eyebrows had gone way out of control to the point of looking really bad for this reason, I finally got around to plucking them and didn't think about smoking at all - plus it gave me something to do with my hands for 30 minutes (there was a lot of work to do).

We decided against Evan Almighty since the reviews haven't been all that great (if I'm shelling out what it costs to see a movie in the theater, it better be good) and tried to see Knocked Up instead, but when we got out there, it turns out that the movie times online were very wrong - that's never happened before. I was kind of annoyed because seeing a movie sounded like a great non-smoking thing to do. Sitting through an entire movie and not wiggling around with cravings is something I look forward to as a non-smoker because in the past it was rugged. I never did get around to the car wash since I was napping, but maybe tomorrow. We took his car because mine stinks.

Overall, this first smoke free Saturday wasn't as bad as I feared, but weekends are a different kind of challenge, for certain. Interestingly, the Chantix did make me really nauseous after a belly full of Taco Bell and a soft drink instead of water on the way to the movie that we wouldn't see. The trick for me does seem to continue to be to take it on a "medium stomach" - not empty, and not after eating a bunch. I think this is why the small bowl of cereal or granola bar for the first one in the morning has been pretty OK, as has the 2nd dose around 5PM when I've already had lunch but haven't already had a big dinner. I'm almost looking forward to Monday just to be back on my normal schedule with fewer idle hands moments to fill - I know, I can't believe I just said that either. Bite my tongue.

No Cigarette Diet

And now we begin Day 6 not smoking / Chantix Day 18. I wound up staying awake until about 3:00AM - it's not insomnia or anything related to Chantix, it's just related to being me. I was having more of the very weird "Chantix dreams" version of sleep: a couple of people I love dearly died (but I got to make my peace before they went, so it was actually a good thing, kind of), and then I was inside some strange but gorgeous religious cult place (after driving through their landscaping) with silver walls and lots of marble where everyone had adopted Chinese babies. Those were the highlights. The dreams have been less dramatic lately after the full on weirdness at the start, but I'm still glad to say that none of my Chantix dreams have ever been "the vivids" as I call the ones that make me feel exhausted when I wake up - these are just interesting. I was drawn out of the strange cult place at about 9:00AM when I was awakened by a puking cat aiming for the brand new carpet in our still "new" feeling apartment. I managed to get him in time, but after all that, I was ready for some coffee, so I just got up.

I went to the Chantix GetQuit page like I do every day, and I almost cracked up at how true it is when they had this to say:

Coping with the Weekends

You know how dieters sometimes “let themselves go” on the weekends? Well, sorry. There is no cigarette diet. There is only quitting, and staying quit. Weekends can be especially tough for former smokers. Saturdays and Sundays are kick-back time. Time to relax and de-stress. Most likely, that used to include smoking. To get through the weekend, you need to plan ahead. Figure out what you’re going to do. Think about where you’re going to do it. And who’ll be with you. Make it easier on yourself. Try to go to places that don’t allow smoking. Ask your friends not to smoke near you. Often, drinking and smoking go hand in hand. So if you meet for a quick one, limit yourself to one. (Or two.) Alcohol can loosen your inhibitions and lessen your resolve.


That's exactly what I was trying to say about my Friday night "me time." Wow, it's not just me! On this weekend's agenda for me is still that car wash (inside and out), probably a movie (a rare treat), and another long walk to satisfy my curiosity about exactly how many minutes it would take me to get to the nearest coffee. In between, the urges are here in a noticeable way so far this morning, but still manageable (thank you Chantix) and not quite craving level (close sometimes), and the simple act of just breathing in is amazing. I didn't shoot out of the womb smoking or for 12 years after that (yep, I was 12 - scary), so it's really not something that I "need," no matter what my addled mind insists. Onward!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Me Time

My first Friday night, Day 5 smoke free, was a little tougher, but I've made it through and am almost ready for bed. The weekend is when I look forward to relaxing with large pots of coffee "man-made" by Tom. I am in love with him for his coffee making skill, and I'm in love with my awesome coffee maker that grinds the beans itself right before brewing (mine with thermal carafe is no longer available, but it's otherwise basically this one, and now they've updated with the same with the new model with built in weather - wow, crazy, kind of silly).

Until this weekend, all this serious relaxing and coffee drinking also always meant going outside to enjoy a smoke pretty much whenever I wanted because that was me, and it was "me time." Tonight was kind of a shocker to my Friday state of mind, I think. I look forward to the point when whatever new definition I come up with for "me time" is firmly implanted in my brain. So much of quitting smoking is retraining the brain, I think.

Really, though, while tonight was a bit more rugged than last night, now that I'm headed off to bed and thinking back, it wasn't quite as bad as those first couple of nights - and with the Chantix it's nothing like the weeks of agony I remember from other times. Breathing in deeply and drinking water are still my two favorite tools next to the Chantix. Well, that and finding others who are at various stages of the same process - I updated the links in my previous post and added my links from del.icio.us because they'll update themselves, so that's probably easiest, and I think that kind of thing is neat.

One last thing - I can't get over the amount of energy I've had the past two days. It's incredible. In fact, today I remembered how I started feeling noticeably more drained when I started smoking the last time, but as I kept going, that just became my natural state.

Swattin' Flies (and updated links)

Today is Day 5 of the new non-smoker me (thanks to it also being Day 17 on Chantix), and I gotta tell ya, I think I am in L-O-V-E! Maybe being a Friday has put me in such a great mood, but whatever the reason, today is a good day so far. The urges this morning (again, I reserve the word craving only for those that really are that bad, and they've been few) have been so very minimal that it was almost as easy to make them go away with a deep breath and a sip of water that it made me think of swatting at a fly. Sure, it's annoying, and yep, they come back, but it's still easy enough to shoo the sucker away once in awhile.

I'm not the only one doing the Chantix thing an blogging it at the top of my (now clearing in a body not near you) lungs, these fine folks are, too (directly to their smoking/Chantix/etc. related posts if grouped/tagged as such):

My Thoughts - willifordblog.com
My Chantix Quit
Am I Really Gonna Quit??? Of Course I AM!!!
Blogfabulous
Jane's Fact & Fiction

Update: Oops, forgot this one, too
Stop Smoking Cigs

Update2: And just found this one (great sense of humor, too!)
The 13th Apostol: Quitting Smoking with Chantix

There are plenty of others, but these are the ones most updated and/or with the information I've found most helpful.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Almost a Walk in the Park

Day 4 Smoke Free / Chantix Day 16. Each day so far has been a little better, and the secret for me to avoid those almost craving level desire to smoke in the evenings does seem to be to take the second dose of the day earlier. Right now I'm taking the first pill around 8AM and the second pill around 5PM, and that seems to be the sweet spot. I've been staying up until midnight or 1AM (or later... clearly the drowsy side effect is not hitting me), and it hasn't seemed to feel like it's somehow worn off by then. In fact, even in the morning I'm still OK. It's funny, I used to spend most of my morning shower time thinking about having that first smoke of the day. Now I grab something to eat (me, the non-breakfast eater) so that I can take my pill. I've even gotten used to eating something now, so that's probably just another good habit to develop - most important meal of the day and all.

Last night I felt like I had so much more energy than usual. Even during the work day I didn't feel that drain from staying up too late. I guess no longer sucking on poison makes my body more energized - who knew. In any case, I, she who does not exercise, went for a quick walk last night that turned into 2 miles because it felt so damn good on about 800 levels. Just walking and getting exercise makes me feel good when I do it, but even better was breathing in as I went and smelling the grass that had been cut earlier in the day and really feeling like I was actually BREATHING! I know that even smokers breathe, but this was different. I felt it at the core. Best of all the place where we moved couldn't be any more perfect for these kind of power walks because there are always plenty of people out running or pushing a stroller or walking a dog, and there is also a decent amount of traffic and homes right there, too, so it feels safe. I've even joined the little group of walkers at work for what I call my "mid-morning 20 minute mile" just in case I don't do so well at sticking with the walking in the evenings thing. I've walked more miles in 24 hours than I probably usually do in a month or more.

Side note/rant. Even though there are plenty of nature trails easy enough to get to in the area, I'm always leery of walking on them alone, even in daylight and even though other people do go out there quite a bit - problem is there's no promise that they'll jog by at the time I'm there and meet up with Mr. Creepy. I'm overly cautious about such things, but even though everyone really should be, I have very good reasons for how I am - one time, in a story for another day involving a man in a green jacket back when I lived in Japan, it turns out that I was dead right to be paranoid and act accordingly, and it probably saved my life. He didn't want to practice his English with me; of that I'm sure. Aside from all that, I watch the news about what goes on out in our sick world. I'm by no means a recluse. I refuse to let my fear of what can happen to me actually paralyze me and keep me from going about my business, but at the same time, I am usually pretty aware of all kinds of possibilities whenever I am in public, and I try to be as prepared as anyone can be in case it happens. My mindset is why it absolutely kills me when I see women set their purses in a shopping cart and walk away from it just a bit down the aisle to the box of Pop Tarts, basically sending out an invitation for someone to steal their stuff (or these days identity with it), thinking it can't happen because they only look away for an eensy weensy wittle second or because it's daytime or because it's a nicer store in a nicer area or blah, robbed you blind, blah. Get with it ladies! Carry your purse close to your body and where you will at least know if someone is reaching in or taking the whole damn thing. I'd be another 1000 words on the issue of how now to act while walking out to your car that you can't find by making it clear to anyone looking that you are lost and not paying attention, so I'll leave that for another day - maybe on man in the green jacket in Japan day.

OK, now back to what I was trying to say before you distracted me.

Not smoking and doing it while taking Chantix is incredible. I've described it as not quite a walk in the park because there really are some tough times, and it's not a "magic pill," but it's close enough to it that I'm really happy not to be smoking, and I'm really enjoying my nice smelling and deeper breathing walks. Without having to carry cigarettes everywhere I go, I also won't really need a purse much of the time either. Just another perk.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

No Longer Jealous but Snacky

Another day, Day 3 (but who's counting, right?) smoke-free, and I'm not terribly pissed off about it because Chantix (Day 15 now) is doing its thing. I have had some strong urges, almost cravings, here and there, so it's still not exactly like falling off a log, but it beats the agony of every other attempt by a long shot. Last night when I thought I was going to go crazy, I went and bought some awesome drapes like I'd been needing to do ever since the move. They were $60 at Target for the 2 panels plus about $3 for the cheapo curtain rod thingy (because I'm far to cheap for the next step up at $16+), but they are lined and dark and thick enough to do a great job of blocking the insane morning sun. I behaved and didn't buy half the other stuff I wanted to buy, and of course didn't smoke, so it was a fairly productive diversion. That said, this bed-in-a-bag really would look great with those new drapes...

I noticed a funny thing while driving yesterday. Every other time I have quit smoking, whenever I saw someone else driving and enjoying a cigarette (at least it looked enjoyable to me), I would get kind of jealous of them because they were "allowed" to smoke because they weren't doing the quitting thing, and I was being "denied" my pleasure. It used to kind of piss me off. It's nutty, I know. I ain't judging my mind, I'm just telling you what was in there. In any case, yesterday at a stop light the guy next to me was smoking, and instead of thinking "lucky him!," I thought "wow, I wish I could tell him about Chantix." Same thing happened when I saw another smoker standing outside when I was turning in towards home. I kept quiet, but what a strange shift in thinking. I really didn't expect that.

While the jealousy has left, feeling snacky hasn't. In our home, "snacky" means a few different things, but in this case I just mean that I feel like eating anything that's not bolted down or rotting. Considering that reason/justification #87 for me to keep smoking or keep starting again after quitting was weight gain (yes, again, I know it's nonsense when comparing risks to health - I didn't say my mind makes any damn sense), my "anything snacky goes as long as I'm not smoking" mentality needs to be kept in check. I'm about as far away from the poster child for healthy eating and regular exercise as you can get, but I still don't want to trade one bad habit for making the other already not great habit any worse. I'm not even overweight, but I know that I am very capable of going there, and then I'd have another damn battle.

Truth is, surprisingly, some weight gain from quitting smoking is likely anyway, even aside from diet just because of how smoking increases metabolism and suppresses hunger - a heavy smoker can burn 200 calories a day by smoking (!) according to this article. I'd heard that before, but I didn't know that there are even more factors in play related to smoking cessation weight gain, ranging from lung function to enzymes detailed in this article I ran across. All this before the snacky feeling even sets in and takes over.

And so, on another trip to a different store last night, I bought some celery. I like celery. Especially if Tom cuts it up for me (such a good guy). I'll be drinking even more water than usual (I happen to love water and drink little else aside from coffee) because it helps with smoking urges, "bad snack choice" urges, and I like to imagine that I'm washing away all the evil toxins (not sure if I actually believe it, but it's a nicer image than black lungs and toxins getting all my other parts, too). I don't intend to really try eating any less right now or worry too much about gaining 5-10 pounds, but I will attempt to put better stuff in my feed bag than fast food and pizza. If Tom and I can get back to our little 30 minute walks, that would probably be a decent start, too. There are so many great articles online about preventing additional weight gain when quitting smoking along with the ones linked above.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Day Two

I made it through all of yesterday without a cigarette, and other than a couple of hours in the evening, it really wasn't too bad. Chantix definitely makes all the difference (my Chantix journey is here). I was trying to space the pills out pretty close to every 12 hours since it says twice a day - 8:00-ish AM and 8:00-ish PM - but I think I'm going to adjust this to more like the same in the morning but something closer to 5:00-ish PM. Hopefully this will help with the craving onset I had last night. I just hope I still get the cool dreams! Those seem to be a bit tamer lately, but maybe I'm just getting more used to them. In other side effects, the nausea has reared its head a few times somewhat but not terribly strongly (except maybe yesterday morning for a bit), so it's real, but so far it hasn't been all that bad. The lack of cravings (other than last night) and just a few easier to cope with urges here and there definitely outweigh feeling a little pukey once in awhile. This morning I feel kind of spacey and sleepy (what's new), but just very rare little urges to smoke pop up and then disappear quickly. Cool.

I found an interesting post from a pharmacist about different ways your doctor might screw up your Chantix prescription (maybe my doc wasn't so bad after all) along with great pictures of exactly how the packaging looks at each step. The pharmacist also addresses the issue of stomach side effects and how there is yet another lower dose option for people whose feeling pukey/farting/bloating/general-gastric-badness has reached a point of intolerable. Good to know.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Smoke Free Day One / Chantix Day 13

Wow. There. I said it. Smoke free today. Here it is Day 13 on Chantix, and even though I allowed myself longer than the week time frame to quit (my journey to this point is here) and gave myself until this Wednesday the 20th if it took that long, I have no real desire to delay severing the final ties to a bad habit sometimes disguised as other bullshit any longer. It helps that I barely smoked over the weekend, even then partly because I didn't want the rest of the pack (bought several days back) to go to waste. Last night it made me feel so nauseous to smoke that I decided that was it. This morning I'm feeling a little yucky, too, from the Chantix, but I'm already looking forward to the benefits (the more immediate and more tangible ones beyond not slowly killing myself, I mean). I still hacked up half a lung this morning, but soon that will be in the past. I can't yet breathe in one of those super deep breaths that go all the way to the core, but I know that the feeling of gradual improvement each time I take a breath to cope with an urge is actually one of my best defenses (that and water), and the deeper I can breathe, the more thrilled I'll be with my decision. I still can't have one of those really good laughs without it ending in a coughing fit, and I think I look most forward to having the gift of laughter back because I miss that most of all. My car smells absolutely disgusting - something I didn't notice much until smoking so little this weekend and getting in this morning and not lighting up - so this weekend I'll be treating it and myself to a car wash inside and out.

What is already different is that my hair smells good today, and so do my clothes. And my hands - hand lotion is one of my other defenses because it smells so good and no smoke smell is seeping out from underneath. Even better, but one of those less tangibles, is that according to this article that my sweet Tom found for me awhile back, not only has my blood pressure dropped back to normal (which they say happens just 20 minutes after a cigarette), but since I'm beyond 8 hours now, the level of carbon monoxide (poison) in my blood has gone down by half, and my oxygen levels should now be normal. Hell, if I keep going, even more good stuff is supposed to happen.

The best thing about this experience quitting smoking this time around is that I really just don't feel like smoking. In all the times I've quit, I've never been able to say that. Chantix really is something else. The lead up time has already gotten me into the habit of not always smoking when I usually did because of not wanting to so much, so today going to zero cigarettes really doesn't feel much different from over the weekend when I just had a few. Even though it's a Monday and a workday and I've "missed" one smoke break, it so doesn't feel like it. I'm not really thrilled about feeling kind of nauseous today (been lucky enough to mostly avoid that side effect to this degree up to this point), but I do think that's helping. Yay Chantix! Yay Me!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Chantix Day 12

Wow, yesterday I only bothered to smoke twice (other days are here), and that's partly just because I still have a few cigarettes left. There were some "urges" here and there that I sat through just for practice, but it wasn't like the insane "craving" feeling of times past. There is a world of difference between the two. Urges I can handle (deep breaths and drinking some water help me most). I'm still having very few side effects with nothing really all that bad, and the dreams are still a pleasant and usually hilarious experience instead of a scary/sleepless thing. I'm pretty amazed at how Chantix works and how well it works.

As we get closer to the actual quit date for real, I found this great Helping A Smoker Quit: Do's and Don'ts for people who have the joy of living with someone who is quiting smoking (bet that's loads of fun!). This tip might be exploited: "Do help the quitter with a few chores, some child care, cooking – whatever will help lighten the stress of quitting." I'd add making coffee, but Tom already does that perfectly. He's good to me, and I'm a lucky girl.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Chantix Day 10 & Desperate Bloggers

Day 10 on Chantix (previous days here). Blech. Yep, that's the first thing that comes to mind when I think about having a smoke. If I mention smoking to someone, my hand moves automatically to my stomach without thinking like when you feel like throwing up. Wow. This doesn't mean that I'm having none quite yet, but I am more certain than ever that I am going to be able to quit by my self-imposed deadline of Wed June 20 (one week longer than instructed) if not sooner. I think I had about 7 or 8 cigarettes yesterday. This is compared to roughly a pack a day (which was down from my crazy Japan days when I was almost up to 2 packs). For the most part I don't feel all that nauseous except for a short time after taking the pill sometimes, but last night when I smoked I came back inside feeling kind of yucky. The morning cigarette on the way to work doesn't seem to be as bad - maybe because I've usually not taken the morning dose (1mg) yet or have just taken it minutes prior. As for the smoking out of habit at certain times thing, I didn't even want one on the way home from work or after dinner (!), so I didn't have one. I'm aiming for the same tonight. And thank God for a Friday night and that I'm not trying to quit coffee.

Now a little thing about blogging. I know that I have close to zero readers (well, some days a few more than that), but I enjoy blogging, so I do it anyway. I enjoy reading and remembering some of what I've written in the past, and Tom seems to like it, my nephew reads sometimes, once in awhile other friends pop by, so I'll keep writing until I decide I'm no longer interested. If other people find me and decide to read along, well, that's cool, too. But what I promise I will never, ever do is repeatedly post HITs on MTurk begging for people to comment on my blog or link to it. Is it just me, or is that kind of desperate? Currently there is one requester offering $0.04 for a comment to his blog (and $0.15 to link to it - not worth it to me, so no link here) and another offering $0.05 on his. I suppose it's better than "a penny for your thoughts," but kind of creepy/dishonest somehow to me. I don't want to call anyone out because that's not how I am, and these change constantly anyway, but I'll probably search for those kinds of HITs once in awhile just for entertainment instead of smoking.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Chantix Day 9 - Getting There but No Pizza

So today is Day 9 on the Chantix train (other cars here), and it really and truly is starting to do its thing. I might even wind up quitting before the 14 day cut off I gave myself (yes, instructions 7 days, but I knew I wouldn't be ready yesterday, and I wasn't). I'm starting to think that it won't take me until that 14th day, though, which would be next Wed June 20. I say that because yesterday I stretched the time between smoke breaks and only had a couple of cigarettes at night. It doesn't even seem super appealing to me most of the time, not even after dinner last night (which was not pizza). That is nothing short of amazing. Home still seems easier, getting in my car to and from work are hardest. It's so much about the routine. Even taking the full dose yesterday, my dreams are still just interesting instead of bad (it's almost like going to the movies, but even cooler), and the stomach stuff is mostly just minor. I do feel tired, but that could be because I need to go to bed earlier...

So about this pizza thing. Let me preface this by saying that I've been ordering pizza for a lot of years and online for the past several years. Let's just say that I've ordered a lot of pizza because I think it's more cost effective (and yummier) than most fast food because two people can munch on it for a few meals instead of one. In all that time, it went the same way. "Hello, pizza people? Yes, I like the deal for 2 large ones of these with some of this and that on them. OK, $20 something and about 30 minutes, sounds great" (same but quieter online), and then they turn up on my doorstep with a pizza anywhere from 20-50 minutes later, and I do that thing where I try to sign something standing on one leg with the pizza box balanced on my other knee while I try to make sure that one of the kitties doesn't escape and that I don't fall over and drop the damn pizza. Last night I only made it up to the order placing portion of the process with Papa John's. And then we waited.

When I'm waiting for a pizza, I always feel kind of like a hostage. I mean, I don't want to really start anything involved because sometimes they show up in 20 minutes. And yet when they show up 50 minutes later I think "well crap, I would have had plenty of time to floss the cats' teeth and run out to buy more laundry detergent if I'd have known for sure they were going to be late, but I couldn't because I didn't." So last night I got a confirmation email saying it should be 30-40 minutes and busied myself playing around on MTurk (up to $54.40 or $69.27 if the rest ever get approved and cleared) with the quick and dirty HITs I could stop at any moment. After about 50 minutes, I started to wonder. That's usually about the threshold. So I try calling the local store number as instructed in the email where it said I'd be eating by now, and the phone rang off the hook. For 3 minutes and 4 seconds each time I called, more pissed and even hungrier each time, the phone would ring and ring and finally disconnect. Then Tom and I both started dialing as if that would make a difference - it didn't.

Now what the hell do you do? If I always felt like my time was being held hostage before, well now I was really in a pickle far beyond the usual. The pizza might or might not arrive, my card may or may not have already been charged, and I'm ravenous with no idea whether to stay, go get something else or stand on my head. Ordering another pizza, which is what we were really in the mood for and the whole reason I even bothered, was out of the question because that would take another forever and could mean we'd have something like 4 pizzas for 2 people if PooPoo John's ever did come through with the goods. It was madness. Finally, at the hour and a half mark, I called the online tech support number (they actually called it a "support group," which I found absolutely hilarious - maybe it was my hunger), and that guy also got the unanswered ringing when he tried the local store for answers (but I bet it didn't bother him as much because he wasn't as hungry and it wasn't his pizza), and he was able to cancel the damn order and said he'd send an email confirming my card wouldn't be charged. I got some asinine email while we were out getting something else to eat that wasn't pizza (while very, very irate and ravenous and fairly surly) saying something about how they couldn't reach me, so the order was canceled. Good thing I'd already eaten or that email would have pissed me off, too because it *so* didn't happen the way their canned response said - they were the deadbeats in this scenario, not me.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Chantix Day 7

Well, I don't know. As much as I felt like the Chantix was working (previous days of the saga are here) and as wonderful as it was to not want to smoke much on the weekend, it seems to be no match for the workday. These past two days I've been pretty smoking darn close to the normal amount, so I'm really starting to think that there really might be more to the whole "what are your triggers" question than I really bothered to truly consider. The interesting thing is that even if the actual craving itself is not super strong (maybe the Chantix actually is working some), the trigger habit apparently really is. The good news is that there is more Chantix where today's pill came from, and starting tomorrow, the dose goes up to 2mg. I've read more than a few places where people didn't notice a huge difference until around Day 9 or so. In any case, I'm very, very glad that I put my quit date out to two weeks out instead of just the one week as prescribed (which would have been tomorrow). At the two week mark, I'm done regardless of how happy I am about it or not, but I am still hoping that it truly will be just a bit easier than the times I didn't make it.

The first time I heard that nicotine was as addictive as heroin or cocaine, I wasn't terribly surprised (though I still wonder exactly how they measure something like that exactly), and I ran across that tidbit again when I found this pretty comprehensive guide about quitting smoking, which also has a lot of really good information.

Chantix dreams still rock!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Chantix Day 6

Well, I think it's starting to work (other Chantix days are here). Saturday was the first ramp up in dosing, and I definitely noticed that yesterday I smoked much, much less. Something like 5 cigarettes the whole day. Of course, today is Monday, which means being at work, which means getting up to smoke just to walk away from hell for a minute. Still, even that's been a little less today, maybe half as often. The "tummy trouble" side effects that were kicking in have pretty much gone away for now. I've actually come to *love* the crazy Chantix dreams. As I said previously, the dreams have, indeed, been vivid, but not the bad kind I was fearing that kept me from actually feeling like I'd slept. So far one of the best dreams had to do with the most delicious ravioli I've never actually had (since it was all in the dream...) - no idea where I was, who fed it to me, what kind of sauce, just that they were round and full of beef and absolute heaven. That kind of "changes in dreaming" I can handle. Hell, if I keep having food dreams, I might not have to eat as much while I'm awake and won't gain wait with the big quit - that would eliminate one of my ridiculous not even a real reason for smoking.

I've given myself 2 weeks instead of the 1 week after starting Chantix to quit. I decided this up front after talking with my friend who quit doing the same, and we all know that my completely useless doctor (OK, he was useful in getting the Chantix prescribed, so just mostly useless) has no opinion. Considering that I'm already craving less but not quite all the way ready to take the leap right at this moment, this additional buffer may be a good thing because that would otherwise be 2 days from now. Of course, if I feel ready before the 2 weeks, that's even better. That's just my drop dead (no pun intended - I hate puns) date.

And now it's time to write my "Dear Cigarettes" letter. This idea/task/activity popped up on both the email from my health plan as well as on the GETQUIT program, so even if it sounds cheesy and a little silly and hokey, I'm willing to give it a try. I've been through the reasons to quit, my triggers, etc. a million times, but I've never written the letter. May as well give it a shot since my methods up to this point did not make me not a smoker - who knows which cheesy idea is the one that helps, right?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Chantix Day 4 Before the Ramp Up

It's Day Four on Chantix (other days are here), and tonight is the start of the ramping up process where I'll take an additional pill for a total of 1mg instead of just the 0.5 I've been taking. So far, there have been some very small changes.

The "changes in dreaming" side effect has so far actually been kind of cool instead of the horrible restless "the vivids" I was afraid I'd have (some folks on Chantix haven't been as lucky). My dreams are different, and they have taken on a more real and vivid feeling (sometimes even hilarious like the one I had when I dozed off and took a nap on the new couch today), but just without the accompanying sense of terror and waking up feeling like I haven't slept. Hopefully the increased does will not bring on the bad dream stuff.

Other than that, once in awhile I think I'm smoking less, but for the most part I haven't really slowed down much. I do sometimes feel just a tinge of nauseousness after a smoke, but not enough to stop me. Some of the other stomach issues mentioned as Chantix side effects have gradually become pretty real but still not bad enough to turn back now, and I just hope that these will not get too much worse. I've been careful to actually eat breakfast (a new habit) before taking my pill and having a full glass of water with it just like the directions say (wow), and that seems to keep any real nausea away - I've been amazed reading blogs/boards with people who say it makes them throw up but that they take it on an empty stomach. No thanks.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Chantix Day 3 and Maybe a Robot

Today is my 3rd day on Chantix (getting to Day 1 is here), and so far, so good. I haven't noticed a lot of changes quite yet, but that's a good thing because I was concerned about those dreams I call "the vivids" or having tummy trouble issues. So far just a tiny bit of the latter, but nothing terrible, and nothing I care to elaborate on (you're welcome). Overall, I'm smoking just about as much as usual, but a really weird thing happened when I got in my car after work - no desire at all to have that end of workday cigarette that is usually one of my favorites. So I didn't have one, and actually waited quite awhile until after dinner before I even had any interest. Maybe it's starting to work? Tomorrow the dose jumps up, so we'll see if that brings any further changes.

Meanwhile, I've still been playing around on MTurk seeing how much closer I can get to that Dustbuster goal, but I'm pretty much there and up to a bit over $40 already (thanks in large part to the very quick and dirty $0.01 HITS that I blew through yesterday). I've gotten to thinking that a Dustbuster might not be quite as much fun as this Roomba for Pets (or maybe even this more expensive one that allows scheduling), though. See, the whole point of the Dustbuster was for all that damn kitty litter tracking, but if the Roomba could just go in there periodically and make it all go away while I do other stuff, well, that would be even better. I have $100 from Rent.com from the move (find apartment on their site, they confirm it, wait several weeks and get a Visa gift card thingy) and $100 in birthday/Christmas money I've been squirreling away just waiting for the perfect frivolous thing to spend it on, so if I combine that with my goofing around on MTurk, I can just about justify a Roomba. And how cool would it be to own a little robot?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Time Number What?

As my asshole doctor, with his condescending know it all smirk, phrased the question on my first and last visit with him last week, "so this is time number what?" I'd have to answer that I've actually lost count somewhere along the way just exactly how many times I've quit smoking. It's been more than twice, less than 10 times, and lasted for over a year at least once, maybe twice.

In any case, I've quit smoking enough times to know that for me the first day isn't usually as bad as I think it will be, but by the second or third day some of the novelty of feeling fresh and not stinky is gone and that even after a couple of months or more I'm capable of starting all over again even though I've pretty well figured out how to combat the cravings (for me, deep breaths and sips of water work best). Going to Reno (this trip, not this one) around the 3rd month and having a bit of a buzz from the free drinks and playing video poker while sitting in the smoky casino next to someone who is smoking menthols (my poison of choice) and breathing in more deeply instead of taking a short break outside is probably where I went wrong. Even then, I'm still somewhat convinced that the pack that was supposed to be bought in Reno and to stay in Reno might have still been OK (hey, I know most would disagree, but I'm the one writing this) had the pack not made it onto the plane for the return flight. And so it did, and so I bought another in the following days. Bad move, that. That was February 2005. Since then I've had about a one month stretch or so where I quit, but I started again for a silly reason that I might share someday.

In the past, I've tried the patch, but I can usually only do it for about the first week or so because after that I would swear that the little trickle of nicotine actually makes me want to smoke even more. Nutty, but this is me. I've always had to remove the damn thing before bed, too, because it gives me what I call "the vivids." And I hate the vivids. The vivids are when I have that really restless sleep if I drink too much coffee (yep, even I have limits) before bed and wind up tossing and turning in between very, very vivid and very weird dreams. The dreams aren't necessarily scary, but just so very real and sort of creepy like that, and I always feel drained and tired like I've only gotten little patches of sleep.

So one of my good friends said that he'd started taking Chantix to quit smoking and that it actually made him gradually just not even really want to smoke. He was doing well enough that I called to make an appointment to see a doctor (new location, get to try a new doctor and hope it would be better than the ones I went to at the old place because they were not good). The soonest appointment was 3 weeks out - kind of crazy considering that you'd think the health insurance folks would want you to get going when the mood strikes on something like this that can save them buckets of dollars in the end - but, whatever, at least I'm fortunate enough to actually have health insurance.

Despite my new doctor's terribly condescending attitude for doing so, it's probably good that, yes, I do look at plenty of medical information online, even in people's blogs. This is a good thing because that snotty question at the start was about the beginning and end of our conversation about smoking or about actually taking Chantix. The rest of the visit was him mostly being a jackass rolling his eyes at me without actually rolling his eyes and passing me off to the smoking treatment people who would enroll me in some program where I got a "customized" plan with somewhat decent advice and will get 3 emails of tips and encouragement and apparently little else - well, except for the prescription for Chantix at a monthly co-pay price of $15.00 instead of the $111.90 it would otherwise have been without signing up for their emails. The good news is that I had in fact read a lot about Chantix online and knew the basics: it starts at 0.5mg/day and slowly ramps up to 2mg/day and that you smoke the first week while desiring it less and then quit the next week while continuing the pills for 12 weeks (oh, and that nausea and bad dreams are somewhat common side effects along with others that were of less concern to me).

So yesterday I went to the pharmacy with my special "you can get this for the co-pay price" letter that is apparently like gold to those folks (screwed without it I kept hearing), and I got my prescription. Just for fun, I asked for a consult and tried asking some questions of the pharmacist, but she was no more informative than my doctor - things like first saying that it's fine to take on an empty stomach, followed by her reading to me from the insert that says after a meal and with a full glass of water - and once again I was glad that I do know how to find the information I need online when my health plan folks aren't very cooperative or forthcoming. By the time I am an old woman and not quite so savvy I hope I will have found a good doctor.

As soon as I got home, I had to open this stuff up and take a look. The packaging is pretty cool and makes the whole ramping up thing pretty self-explanatory since it's laid out day by day from one pill of 0.5mg each morning for days 1-3, then 1mg/day taken as 0.5mg in the morning and 0.5mg at night for days 4-7. The remaining 3 packs for the month are for 2mg/day taken as 1mg in the morning and 1mg in the evening. I expect the next boxes for the remaining 8 weeks to be basically the same 1mg/day deal, but I've read that it might be useful to ramp back down (perhaps something like doing the starter pack, but backwards?) rather than just boom, stop. No chance of having anything resembling a real conversation with my doctor about this, so I'll just ask him when it gets to that time and see if he'll just prescribe. More out of curiosity than being committed to a specific quit date (in general, I'm just ready anytime), I went ahead and started with the first pill this morning (with a "meal" from the snack box and plenty of water) because I'm dying to know if this will actually work and make me slowly not want to smoke (yes, I know it's not going to make it a complete walk in the park and blah, blah, blah, but hopefully it will be better than times past when it just plain sucked).

The box also included a little credit card sized insert with a phone number and website address to sign up for the Chantix GETQUIT Support plan which actually looks like it could be useful and definitely better than what I expect in the emails through my health plan itself. Today's little activity (looks like you get a new one each day) was to write down every time I smoke along with where and with whom and how I felt. I took it a step further (because I'm anal and also love spreadsheets) to include anything else I notice, such as the little burst of happy giddiness that came from nowhere for no good reason mid-morning (though sometimes that's just how I am, so that might be a coincidence). As of right now, only a few hours in, that little "perk" that I feel when I light up roughly every hour has not left me, but if I understand correctly, that will slowly go away so that killing myself doesn't feel so damn good with that first drag. This is probably a good thing.

Hopefully my new answer to Dr. Asshole's question can be "Time number last, twit. Too bad there's not a pill to help you gradually stop having bad bedside manner."

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Pennies

So I'm totally cheap, but my justification for it is that it's true that pennies add up to dollars. I get all warm inside when I've saved some pennies, and I'm absolutely toasty this week.

That sofa that I found on Craigslist is awesome, but the key was patience. There were plenty of "almosts," but I had to just be OK with sitting on the floor until the moment was right. Finally last Sunday night, there it was, a La-Z-Boy sofa that was just the right size (80" long), reclined on both ends, wasn't ugly and came from a good home (meaning no pet damage, no pee damage, no sex damage or any damage that smells like or conjures up images of any of the above). Awhile back I'd gone to La-Z-Boy to look at sofas like this one, and they started at about $1100 and quickly went up from there. Considering my motto at home that "I can't have anything nice" because those other than me (mostly the kitties, once in awhile the duck) somehow seem to ruin anything nice, spending that much didn't really appeal to me. Now on the other hand, if I could get basically the same exact couch for only $125 from people who likely only used it 5 times ever and mostly just had it as a place holder in their sitting room, then it might be OK to have something nice. And so the deal was made. Having a friend with a truck is a very good thing, and having a sofa with removable back pieces just sweetens the deal since there are some tight turns between the front door and the final destination into the living room. Getting it into the house was effortless, and propping my feet up with an iced coffee at the end of the day is priceless (or well worth the $125).

My other proud moment happened when I went to the grocery store to pick up a few things. I try really hard not to go to the "real" grocery stores and to instead go to the Winco because the prices are really so very much less, but Winco's crowds and lines can be a pain in the ass unless it's a well-planned big shop (or in the middle of the night like we sometimes do on weekends). So here I am at the Safeway with the little club card thing that I hate, and I played my favorite little game of buying only things that are actually a really good deal (and that I will actually use) and nothing else. Usually the receipt proudly announces that I've saved 3% or 10% or something. This time: 40%! I got name brand laundry detergent at about half price, some bread, salad stuff (organics on sale, too!), deli lunch meat and cheese and 3 packs of Oscar Mayer hot dogs (freezable until camping and on sale 3 for price of 1!) for a total of $17.14. I saved $11.45 and came home in a really good mood.

Finally, since I have nothing to watch on TV, I went ahead and took a look at Amazon.com's Mechanical Turk (or mturk for short) program as was mentioned here on one of my favorite money blogs as something to do while bored. Wikipedia (love that site) has a decent mturk article/explanation, too. There is an incredible array of mind-numbing tasks that you can do and often get paid only $0.01 - $0.03 to do, but there are others that I actually found somewhat interesting (such as tasks related to English language teaching) and that even pay more. After 5 separate days of answering random crap in my spare time, my balance is up to $10.28. Not bad for time I'd have otherwise spent aimlessly surfing and getting $0.00. There's plenty more cents "pending," and that is a little bothersome since I see no guarantee that everyone who posts a task (called a HIT - human intelligence task) will actually pay. For now I've stuck to either tasks that are not very time-consuming or those from requesters who've come through with payment in the past. I don't see myself retiring anytime soon doing this, but it's something to do when bad TV shows are on in the background or if I'm really bored at my desk. At first I thought I'd just cash out (which you can do at anytime - didn't see any minimums), but since you can also just apply it to an Amazon gift certificate, I've decided to give it a few weeks to see if I can save up for this Dustbuster or this Dustbuster (can't find either in stores, and reviews sound like they will pick up kitty litter pretty well, which is the whole reason I'd like one) before I get so bored that I quit entirely. Sure, I could just order one, but that wouldn't warm me up, now would it?