Friday, August 31, 2007

Normally Nothing

Today is Chantix Day 86 (or day 1 of the 0.5mg dose while tapering) and Smoke-free Day 74. I'm happy to report that I still am noticing nothing different with the reduced dose, so nothing really to report on that, and I see that as a good thing ;)

Yesterday was a very busy day and more of the same in the evening, but not wanting to smoke through any of it was certainly welcome. When things were this busy in the past, I always felt like I needed my little smoke breaks in between every single task. Smoking was my reward for completing one thing, and my encouragement before doing some other thing, especially if it was something I didn't want to do. Most especially if it was something at work that I didn't want to do. My brain became so used to the evil nicotine reward system I'd created that it was strange once it was gone. I mean, what exactly is it that "normal" non-smoking folks do in between, well, anything? I couldn't just go stand next to people's desks to watch them for my answer, but I didn't really need to anyway because I already knew but just didn't quite understand how I could do the same after training my brain to want poison (along with the poison that nicotine alone already is). So what is it that these normal people do in between every single task?

Normally, nothing. Nope, not a damn thing. They just start on the next one without thinking of smoking. Wow.

Sure, maybe once in awhile have some sips of coffee or talk to someone or take a potty break or grab a little snack, but it's all more random since none of those things have quite the same pull that going and having a smoke had, and it's not the first thought literally with every single task accomplished like it was for me. Every time, I'd wonder if it had yet been an hour since I'd smoked since I thought about every hour was fairly reasonable.

So, what goes in the place where smoking used to be? When I first quit, plenty of water and breathing filled those gaps. My walking with the work ladies took the place of one of my smoke breaks. Going a little nutty and wishing I could smoke but knowing it wasn't an option filled in some of the other blank spots for awhile, too. For just awhile, though, because eventually, at some point not even that far into this whole not smoking thing, I started acting like and thinking more and more like a person who doesn't smoke, and then I was, dare I say it, almost "normal." Not only did I not "need" my poisonous little treat in my reward system, but I didn't even really need to replace it with something every hour, either. I can just function, work, live life, do my thing and all that other stuff. Sure, there are still times when the thought of smoking pops up where it used to, but each day is more progress, and now most days are just fine rewarding myself less directly by just knowing that whenever, at any point in my day, if I want a deep breath or a belly laugh without coughing, I can have it because it's right there for the taking just because I don't smoke.

And now a couple more links added to the side that I'll be adding these to my list of Linky Loos soon:

Current, Regularly Updated Blogs I Read Daily:
  • With Chantix and a little bit of Hope - Hope's blog. Since Hope hadn't been posting posting back on her quit date of August 18, 2007, she's been recapping what we missed as she keeps moving forward.
  • Lisa Quits - Lisa's Blog. Lisa looks forward to smoke-free clothes with a quit date of August 30, 2007 and an end to a habit that's still disgusting even when the cigarettes are of the more lady-like variety.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Crazy, Not Craving

Today is Chantix Day 85 (or day 4 of the 1mg dose while tapering) and Smoke-free Day 73.

This will be super short since I'm in the middle of crazy chaos, but I'm still noticing zero effect from the tapering off Chantix, and no matter how much nutty I'm handling, craving a cigarette is not one of those things on my list. That's a good thing.

Listening to someone hack up half a lung today was also a really great reminder of what I don't miss.

More later. Happy Smoke-free Days All Around!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

New Addition and Best French Toast (Ever)

Today, we have a new addition to our home. My long awaited stovetop espresso maker arrived today, and I am in love (yes, it's posed next to my Hello Kitty toaster - real men eat Hello Kitty toast, I keep explaining to my dear Tom). I live a rugged life, though, because first Tom had to test the new coffee toy, and then I wanted to try it, so I've wound up drinking about 6 shots of espresso this evening on a school night. It's hard being me.

I never got a straight answer from anywhere I looked on just how much in ounces the 3 cup version would make, but that's the size I had to get because the 6 cup version didn't have free shipping on Amazon (3rd party seller), and the 9 cup would be too much even for me since the Bialetti stovetop espresso maker folks that I called said making fewer cups is not recommended. These folks agree and also give tips on perfecting this new art form on an old theme in my life. And so, I have the 3 cup one, and best I can tell, it seems to make roughly almost 4 ounces. Now we all know.

Then there's the whole technicality of just how much is a "shot" of espresso, and that seems to vary from 1 oz to 2 oz, with 1.5 oz as standard, so I guess I get roughly 2 shots to 4 shots of espresso per pot depending on definition of a shot (and that kind of range seems completely nutty to me). Starbucks counts 1 oz as a shot, and they only put 2 of those in a Venti latte, which is borderline criminal. Thank God for Dutch Bros who understand that 4 shots is a good number so that you are safely and blissfully caffeinated no matter how many ounces they consider a shot.

Whatever all the math and ounces and whatnot, I will say that shots made in my stovetop espresso maker is plenty stronger than the same sized ones coming out of my regular espresso maker, but quite a bit, based on my experiments of the evening so far.

But I really wanted to mention that I made the absolute best French Toast in the world tonight (with bacon, yum, and these kinds of reasons are why Tom puts up with eating Hello Kitty toast). I'd made some French Toast a few days back, and even though I've made it all my life without much trouble, it turned out awful. Really awfully awful. Tasting like an egg instead of an egg mixture on bread awful. So, I wanted to redeem myself tonight by actually using a new recipe and following it (mostly) since I was clearly forgetting some kind of basics somewhere on something I'd been making since elementary school.

This fabulous and easy French Toast recipe was the perfect redemption. I tossed it all into the blender, poured that into a shallow bowl and was on my way. The flour was a new idea to me, and it made all the wonderful difference. I also added a little almond extract and nutmeg (same amounts as the vanilla and the cinnamon, respectively, but I kept those, too, because good things are just a good thing), and it was pure heaven. Breakfast for dinner is something we'll have to do again soon.

Almost Got Quit

Today is Chantix Day 84 (or day 3 of the 1mg dose while tapering) and Smoke-free Day 72.

Apparently, I've sort of graduated from the kindergarten portion of the GetQuit program put out there by the kind Chantix folks for support because today it said that instead of new material (I use the term loosely) every day, I'll instead be sent reminders to check in only twice a week. It makes sense, I guess, since today would have been the last day of Chantix if I wasn't prolonging the joy with my plan to taper off Chantix (ask your doctor) beyond just these 12 weeks. Still, when the topic said something about that it wasn't really a goodbye, I kind of thought I will miss it as part of my daily routine. It's not that it was the greatest support program ever made, but there was something inside of me that just loved checking the boxes each morning saying that yep, took my Chantix and nope, didn't smoke and how strong the cravings/urges/tuggings to smoke were (OK, they don't say tuggings - that's just me).

Some days there were really great topics or activities that did get me thinking, other days it seemed like it was just more of the same, like the millions of times it seemed I was supposed to again reward myself somehow. I do know that some of you really didn't like the GetQuit thing, but I am glad to read once in awhile that I'm not the only one that at least found it somewhat helpful. I do think it's at least worth taking a peek at it when starting Chantix to see if it seems helpful or not to you.

One word of advice if you were hoping that the little urge tracker thing on the GetQuit page would actually keep track, mine never did, and I do wish that it had. I think it would have been pretty neat to have looked back to the early days where it was higher numbers like 7 or 8, then dropped to more like 4 or 5, to my current 1 because I can't enter 0. Thankfully, I've been blogging my way through my Chantix experience enough to get a decent general idea. Anyway, just an idea if you like tracking this kind of stuff that you might want to track it yourself after entering it on the GetQuit page so that you can actually look back at how far you've come.

The lunar eclipse last night (or, technically, very early this morning) was really incredible, and I'm so glad I woke up for it. Even better, we had the perfect view from my balcony that I reclaimed (but still barely use), and Tom didn't have to put up with it smelling like the stale cigarette butts that used to take over the whole area. It was almost even romantic there in the crisp night air at 2 something in the AM huddled close for warmth. In the past, I would have been out there smoking, I know it with certainty. I would have told myself that it didn't really affect Tom because it was outside, so it didn't count somehow. Then I would have smelled bad, and huddling close wouldn't have been so pleasant. Instead, it got to be how it was, and I didn't even think of smoking.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Pirattitude, Red Moon, Espresso

Sometimes I just love stuff on TV enough that I really look forward to it. Even repeats sometimes. Like tonight. WifeSwap (favorite guilty pleasure show) with the real life pirate family from Oregon. Ever since, I try to approach parts of my life with "pirattitude." Sometimes it works, usually I'm unsure, but it always makes me laugh.

Then, in theory, since I am on the west coast where the viewing is supposed to be really good, I'm hoping to wake up for about an hour overnight to see the lunar eclipse during the wee hours, around 3:37AM Tuesday morning (which to me still counts as Monday night, but whichever). Red moon? I had no idea that could happen (Tom did, but he's a smarty pants who knows stuff), and now I just *have* to see it.

Thankfully, tracking my order, it appears that my new stovetop espresso maker (the one at the bottom) is on its way, and should arrive tomorrow! Tom has promised to learn how to perfect the art of coffee using this option as well, and given my sleep being interrupted by my moon curiosity, I'll probably need a little espresso tomorrow so that I can stay awake while we marathon our way through the latest tv series we are watching (throughout my quit, they have been a great distraction), Big Love, the show that reminds me that I would never, ever want 3 of myself as wives unless I wanted to punish myself for something.

Little by Little at 10 Weeks

Today is Chantix Day 83 (or day 2 of the 1mg dose while tapering) and Smoke-free Day 71.

By now you'd think I'd start to feel something different with the doses reducing ever so slightly, but I just have a couple of small things to report that might or might not be related. The Chantix nausea I was getting at bedtime has been gone the past two nights, and my nose/face itching might be less. It's hard to say because anytime I think too much about itching, well, something starts to itch. I am not noticing any increase urges or any other differences, but given how slowly I am tapering off Chantix (ask your doctor), I'm still not expecting anything dramatic at all. In fact, the whole point was to have a very smooth transition, and so far, that's how it's been.

Other stuff. Yesterday I did get around to making and freezing some of that Baked Ziti I mentioned on Saturday, and I'd forgotten how ridiculously easy it is. I also cooked fajitas at the same time (also to double and freeze because they do freeze really well, and I think taste even better in the spices longer while thawing), and with all 4 colors of peppers, they looked too good not to eat for lunch-dinner, which I call LunDin. I love having a freezer full of meals even if I'm not hardcore enough and don't have the space enough to do an entire month at once. Like many things in my life right now, just a little bit at a time, small steps towards good things do accumulate into so very much more.

Here it is already 10 weeks to the day that I quit smoking, and I not only feel great, but I also have a freezer full of meals ready to go. Life is grand.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Didn't Feel a Thing

Today is Chantix Day 82 (or day 1 of the 1mg dose while tapering) and Smoke-free Day 70.

Again, I'm not recommending, I'm just sharing my experience ;)

Nutshell version of what I've already discussed: Awhile back, inspired to discuss the issue because of a post on Ellie's blog, I talked about the fact that I still had a pack with 4 cigarettes in it sitting on my kitchen counter because I wound up quitting sooner than the Chantix Day 15 drop dead no matter what absolutely must do this quit date I'd set for myself. So, they were there on June 17th when I went to bed, and when I woke up June 18th (Chantix Day 13) and decided that it was the day to become a non-smoker, there they still were because no magical force removed them while I slept and enjoyed my Chantix dreams. The first few days I just didn't have the inclination to do anything about them because I was scared to pick them up for fear they they would tie me up and breathe themselves into my lungs. Then within a few days or however long, it wasn't that fear anymore since I had to pick them up whenever I used the espresso maker on which they sat (and we all know I do that frequently), but it became helpful to me somehow that even though they were right there, I had decided that I did not want to and wasn't going to smoke, and it made me that much more determined. I couldn't explain this so well, but Ellie explained in the comments part of what made sense to me. I just knew that I wasn't even remotely tempted to have one of those, even during the most rugged patches of cravings, urges, tuggings or just plain wanting to smoke. Again, I can see where this "plan" could be a disaster, and it's not for everyone, and if I'd have known I was going to quit on that exact day, I probably would have tossed them like most folks for the same very good and very sane reasons.

Now for the today stuff: This morning I woke up and wanted to see if I could re-create the absolutely perfect latte I'd made yesterday (well, almost out of Peach flavor, so this one would be Watermelon) by not tamping the grounds, just tapping the side. I slid the espresso maker out from it's position on the counter, took the sugar bowl off of it, took the pack of cigarettes off of it, and just decided that while the sugar bowl stays, I could think of no good reason anymore to keep that pack of 4 cigarettes. Not only did I still have no intention of ever smoking them, whatever mental good it was doing to have them there passed long ago, and I no longer cared about them either way. In fact, just like when I first wrote about them 10 days ago, they were no more emotional to me than a napkin holder (though on a good PMS day I bet I could muster up some emotion for that - OK, never mind). I'd toyed with the idea of keeping them like others had mentioned knowing people to do for 25+ years or whatever, but I have enough clutter. Since I can't find that fanny pack I thought I had and considered wearing, I might have actually tossed it before the move, the thought parting with the last remnants of my days killing myself just wasn't that big of a deal. I still do get it why people keep one in the glove box forever after quitting, and I think that's great for them. I just don't have room in my glove box, don't want to keep moving them when I make and Americano or a latte, and don't care enough to find them a new home, so they are gone.

Of course, I did open the pack, pull one out and smell it before I tossed them. They still have that "fresh" smell that menthols in particular have, the one that has misled me in the past. I like that smell, but since smoking them is anything but a "fresh" feeling and instead involves being poisoned and smelling bad, perhaps they are made to smell good before you light them. It's not like the tobacco folks haven't come up with other tricks. Anyway, it was almost odd how even after smelling the old familiar smell, I didn't feel a thing as I tossed them into the trash as if they were general kitchen rubbish. Which, in fact, is all they had become.

Oh, and the latte did come out perfectly!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Lung Tickle

Today is still Chantix Day 81 (or day 4 of the 1.5mg dose while tapering) and Smoke-free Day 69.

Somewhat productive day, and somewhat perfectly Saturday style lazy, and that's even better. I had a weird lung tickle and some coughing that kind of got my attention because it felt so strange from anything I've felt before. Then it all went right back to my new normal (meaning not having my lungs feel icky all the time). Maybe my cilia (and I do *love* my cilia) were celebrating and got a little rowdy?

Anyway, I continue to look forward to the next step down on my tapering plan (ask your doctor) going to 1mg tomorrow. It makes sense to me to still take it twice a day, so I'll probably just split the pill and take half at lunch and half before bed in keeping with the same routine. Last night I was actually able to read in bed for quite awhile, and there was no nausea! Since my nausea has come and gone, it might have been leaving again on its own anyway even without the reduced dose - hard to say the reasons where Chantix nausea is concerned because its an odd bird. Either way, a night without nausea means I'm liking this idea of making my way off Chantix more each day, though it was more than worth the few side effects I had because it's helped me so much. Little by little, I'm getting where I want to be.

Oh Happy Day and Another Linky Loos Add

Today is Chantix Day 81 (or day 4 of the 1.5mg dose while tapering) and Smoke-free Day 69.

I have no good reason to be particularly happy this morning, but I suppose waking up smoke free and not coughing or feeling that pain when I took that first deep breath is plenty. I didn't make it to bed until about 4:30AM, and yet 8:00AM I was awake. Since it's the weekend, I forced myself to go back to sleep until 9:30AM when I just couldn't stay asleep anymore. I made myself the most perfect latte I think I've ever made in my espresso machine (the big one, since new one hasn't arrived yet; today's secret was: don't tamp the grounds because this batch might be too finely ground), and it's heaven and didn't cost me $3-$4 or require me to get dressed yet. Anyway, I guess this whole energy thing likely from not smoking is still doing it's thing.

I have a day of returning defective items to Target (would you believe both the shower head and the lamp both from one trip!?), which I don't relish because of their return policies of late, but then I get to make another Stromboli for my baby as well as a pan of Baked Ziti to freeze, and maybe even freeze some fajita filling (strips of beef, peppers, seasoning) if I get to all of that.

I do know that I'm not feeling like smoking today (at least not so far), and the tapering (ask your doctor first) does not seem to have affected my mood or urges. In fact, still no noticeable differences. Today is the last day at 1.5mg/day, so tomorrow starts 1mg/day.

Another blogger to add to the list on the side and also to my list of Linky Loos as soon as I get in there to update.

Current, Regularly Updated Blogs I Read Daily:
  • My Journey to Stop Smoking - Sue's blog. Sue quit smoking right on Chantix Day 8 on August 14, 2007, saying goodbye to 34 years of smoking and hello to many more years of happier lungs.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Another Anthem and Another Linky Loo Add

It's still thankfully Friday, Chantix Day 80 (or day 3 of the 1.5mg dose while tapering) and Smoke-free Day 68.

Awhile back I was all jazzed up screaming along to the radio in the car to what became my new anthem as a former smoker now breathing free (The Eagles, "Already Gone"). Of course, I blogged about it. It happened again today. I was just screaming along, minding the own business of me, and I found that much of what I was scringing (new word - scream/sing) I would have said in my goodbye to cigarettes letter that so many of my readers have written but that I didn't. If you don't know the song by heart, the full lyrics are here, and at least for right now it's posted on YouTube if you want the full experience with video I'd never seen, but this bit gives you an idea:
But Since U Been Gone
I can breathe for the first time
I'm so moving on
Yeah, yeah
Thanks to you
Now I get (I get) what I want
Since U Been Gone
And I *do* get what I want now, and it's not the cigarette that I always thought I wanted. It was my damn addiction part of me that wanted that poison, not the rest of me. What is it that I want? I want to LIVE and BREATHE and smell the seasons (yes, I really can, and in fact, I did it on my lunch break - still summer)! I want to LAUGH all the way, no holding back, deep down to my belly and with joy in my heart without coughing. I want to KISS and be KISSED without a shameful ashtray mouth. I want to SING at the top of my lungs and hold long notes even if I can't carry a tune. I want my MONEY to be spent on anything, anything but killing myself, practical (likely) or frivolous (unlikely) though it may be. I want to LOVE and be LOVED without feeling guilty that if something smoking related (plenty, take you pick) "got me," it would have been my own damn fault (I'm not out of the woods, but now I'm headed that way at least). I want to never, ever trade what I really do want for a cardboard box of poison wrapped in cellophane. No more, I say! No more!

Oh my God, I just said never, and now my eyes are all welled up in a good way. I think I'm in this for good this time, even if I do take it one day at a time getting there because some days will be that way, I know.

Someone else I look forward to cheering on who will shortly be added to the links on the side and to my list of Linky Loos:

Current, Regularly Updated Blogs I Read Daily:
  • My Chantix Experience - Chris started Chantix on August 22, 2007 and started cutting back as part of the gearing up for the quit.

Mini Update

Today is Chantix Day 80 (or day 3 of the 1.5mg dose while tapering) and Smoke-free Day 68.

It's a busy morning, so this is just a quick update that I'm still not feeling any differently while tapering off Chantix (ask your doctor first) so that's a good but not terribly surprising thing (again, it's really not much of a step down, by my own design). As on the day before, yesterday I also took one whole 1mg Chantix pill after lunch, and then a 0.5mg before bed. I can tell you with certainty that the Chantix nausea that I seem to get only with the bedtime pill (but not with the lunchtime pill) is still alive and kicking even with that half dose. Generic Tums (because I'm a frugal girl) helped. Why ask why if they even taste good. I'm very glad I've stuck with the Chantix the entire 12 weeks (well, 11.5 or so currently), but I'm also looking very forward to not having the nausea at bedtime. Usually I can fall asleep before it hits, but last night I made Tom tell me stories about the space station as a bedtime story of sorts (don't ask).

It's Friday. And not a moment too soon. More later. Happy Smoke-free or Almost Smoke-free Friday to One and All!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Thank You for An Entertaining Movie

Today is still Chantix Day 79 and Smoke-free Day 67.

Last night before I fell asleep on the couch (love having those recliner things and love it even more that I got it practically like new but for very CHEAP!), Tom and I started watching the movie that lived in my Netflix queue for several months and then sat on my desk for a few more weeks. Last night we both got off our computers and finally sat down to watch Thank You for Smoking.

Even though I do think I'm mostly past being bothered by seeing people smoke in movies (and bothered is a strong word - it's was more that I noticed it in the first movie I saw where the main character was smoking and kind of cringed, and I also didn't like the image of crushed cigarettes), it wouldn't have mattered because there is so little (maybe even none? didn't notice any...) actual smoking in this movie. It's a satire, and it's also pretty funny in the way that satire is when something that isn't funny is presented in the way it is. It's not for everyone, but I liked it. Tom did, too.

I could describe it, but Netflix does a better job of it (and you can watch a preview at that link, too):
Big Tobacco spin doctor Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart) is on a mission to make the country forget the dangers of his product. Rallying for the cause, he works to promote smoking in the movies and hush former employees who bad-mouth cigarettes, all the while trying to remain a role model for his young son. Maria Bello, Katie Holmes, Robert Duvall and William H. Macy co-star in Jason Reitman's razor-sharp satire, which won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay.
I don't want to give away much of the movie in case you haven't seen it and still intend to, but I *loved* to bits and pieces that they showed the scene that they did that addresses nicotine itself as a poison, even in the form of the patch. I was a little shocked and wrote an entire post about the poison contained in nicotine aside from all of the many other poisons in cigarettes. I almost fell off the couch at how this was handled.

Pre-School Math and a Dream

Today is Chantix Day 79 and Smoke-free Day 67. The numbers got screwed up a day or so back, so I've corrected them. All that really matters anyway is that it's today, and I'll make it to bedtime tonight without smoking. I'm a One Day at a Time kind of girl at heart, but I do like seeing them string together all nice and stuff.

Obviously I don't have much to report on the tapering off Chantix thing (ask your doctor first) other than that yep, I proudly cut that second pill in half before bed last night, and I was happy while I did it (no dance, though, because I wanted to get it as close to perfectly in half as possible). As I've mentioned before, I've missed 5 pills (of 1mg each) along my Chantix journey and once missed both in a day (=2mg for non-math people), so dropping down to 1.5mg with only 0.5mg less than normal (wow, I'm really going for the easy math questions this morning) really wasn't that huge of a step down. This is all my roundabout way of saying, yep, no changes yet ;)

I'm going to miss Chantix dreams, even if they are not as bold as they were at the start. They are still way more bizarre than normal dreams, but just not as profound as they were since they have settled into strange but subtle. Hard to explain. I did have a smoking dream last night, though, that I only remembered after being awake for a couple of hours this morning. It's funny how dreams do that sometimes. I've had some smoking dreams in the past, and I've talked about a couple of them on here, but the others have been basically more of the same. I don't recall any super recently other than last night. As always, the cigarettes did not taste bad to me, and I still think this might be because they never did, even on Chantix for 12 days before quitting, and I wonder if it's because I smoked menthols. Who knows. I just know that in the dream, they tasted good, as good as I remember, and I was enjoying smoking... until I wasn't enjoying it and just felt so incredibly and intensely disappointed in myself. I don't worry too much about my smoking dreams one way or the other, but I'm always glad to see that even in my dreams, even if smoking sounds like a good idea and something I want, in the end it never actually is, just like in my real life. Even at times when I would love to go have about 10 puffs, I want to keep being a non-smoker, especially as I see another day behind me string together with those before it, and that just wins.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

In a Pickle (Not Chantix Related)

It's still Chantix Day 78 and Smoke-free Day 66, but I have something else on my mind right now.

I'm in a pickle.

Normal people dress correctly and just seem to understand what's OK and what's not OK for any given situation. I tend not to. In the past I've way over-dressed even for interviews (very nice suit for not really nice jobs) and way under-dressed even for the grocery store (sweatpants and sweatshirt with bleach stains while I wonder what's up with the chicks wearing pajama bottoms - what is that about anyway?). I've talked about this before, back when I was weeding out for the big move back in May and how Tom is the closest thing I have to fashion sense.

I did weed out the biggest sins in my closet (again, the details of some of the gems are here), but I held a few back, just in case. I'm big on just in case because you just never know. Some items kept were just for "in the home" use. Like the above-mentioned sweat pants for instance. I still have several pairs from back when they had that cinched up little ring at the ankle instead of the evidently more "stylish" ones now that might taper just a bit or not at all (or that are not even made of fleece and have a stripe on the side), but they most assuredly no longer rubber band themselves to your ankles. Or mid-low on the shin where mine hit after being washed. Since it's been years since even Wal-Mart has sold that style, yes, the ones I wear for home use only are the same ones I used to wear in college. When I went to class. Seemed right to me.

I'm still getting to the pickle I'm in, so just bear with me.

As much as I do love gadgets and still scored as an Omnivore on the Pew Internet & American Life Project (their interesting studies are referenced in the news quite often), I've never owned an iPod. Of course, fellow Omnivore Tom has, and he has kindly offered to let me use it for my walks. He's convinced I'll love it. I'm convinced that while I love music and also love walking, it makes me nervous to be out and about with my ears plugged by something because I lean a little towards paranoid sometimes because such leaning has paid off in the past (and I still owe you that tale of creepiness related to the man in the green jacket back in Japan). I'll need more than Madonna's Like a Prayer playing in my ears to save me if I can't hear someone coming up from behind me with bad thoughts in their icky little minds. (Sidenote: Until about 6 months ago I didn't even know that the song was less about prayer and more about what an attacker might have in mind.) Anyway, with the volume low enough to still hear life around me, I might give it a try one of these days.

Here's where the pickle I'm in comes in.

When I walk, I don't wear my "in the home" use only sweats because technically, I am in fact leaving the home, and aside from that technicality, they also have no pockets. Luckily, I did go current in that area awhile back and do have 2 pairs of the ones with the stripe that do have pockets. I currently carry my keys in one pocket and in the other pocket my driver's license (yes, they let me drive a car, crazy, I know, but I carry it in the event of something bad - morbid, I know, but at least I'm not afraid to actually leave the home) along with my cell phone (to call for help or to check my email or the Cubs score, whichever) and my debit card, just in case (in case I walk far enough to find someone willing to sell me latte - I was both a Brownie and later a Girl Scout, so I'm always prepared for stuff like that). That's all the pocket space I have, folks, and given my well thought out reasons above, it's not like I can part with any of those things.

This iPod that Tom thinks I'll love having on walks is one of the more old school models. I haven't kept up, but instead of fitting under your tongue or whatever they do now, this one is the size of a small starter home for doting newlyweds and doesn't have a clippy thingy. And so if I were to take said iPod walking, I'd need a way to carry it, but there's no room in my pockets because I have to carry all that other crap.

As luck and bad fashion would have it, I think one of the sins of my closet I held back for possible home use (or other general future use) is something I used to take everywhere I went instead of a purse because I felt it went better with sweat pants (and that's important).

A fanny pack. (American definition of fanny, not the other one)

I don't even recall when it was that I stopped using my fanny pack, but I do know that every trip to any country in Asia that I took shows me in pictures smiling proud, fanny pack around my waist, not knowing any better or that I was on a fashion crime spree that had gone international. Those taking my picture were either similarly clueless or too kind to alert me. To the left, me and my fanny pack in Singapore. To the right, we're just outside of Tokyo.

It was so convenient! You could carry it like a purse (I did) but also just throw it around your waist if you needed two hands for something, like shopping for really cheap sweatpants or more effective gesturing as a means of communication. I still wish they would come back into vogue (you know, like back when fanny packs were all the rage).

It's the only solution. My fashion sense has grown silent after all he's tried to teach me, and I'm off to find my well-traveled old friend, fingers crossed it made the cut.

All Dressed Up

Today is Chantix Day 78 and Smoke-free Day 66.

As excited as I am that my tapering off Chantix begins today, it really won't start until bedtime since today I'll be taking 1.5mg or one and a half pills, so I'll take the whole pill at lunch, and then the half of a pill before bed. This didn't occur to me until last night when I was pawing at that last packet of Chantix.

I did finally go ahead and open the pill splitter to give it a little test last night. I'd been waiting until the time was closer so that it would be kind of like Christmas getting to unwrap it in celebration of beginning the taper. Yes, I'm fully aware of how mental that sounds. Think of what poor Tom has to put up with... I am amused so easily that it concerns small children who want expensive toys and fear that they could end up like me all happy about a non-exciting pill cutter thingy. Anyway, I didn't want to split a Chantix pill just yet (same reason as above - I'm not right), so I tested it on a monster-sized vitamin. It worked perfectly! And then it occurred to me that maybe I should be taking a daily vitamin anyway since I'm headed in a healthier direction. Maybe someday.

And so here I sit, all geared up for the taper like being all dressed up and no place to go until bedtime, but now with more vitamins A through Z.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Chantix Bloggers Know Stuff

Today is still Chantix Day 77 and Smoke-free Day 65.

Another all around decent day where I didn't have any urges, even as things heated up at work. There were plenty of those moments today when in the past I would have taken a little cigarette break in between tasks, but today I barely even thought about it other than to think that it's what I used to do. Instead, I just kept going, and it was out of my thoughts. When I really feel like I "need a treat" sometimes I go make a cup of tea or another cup of coffee. That works, too, these days.

There was a great tip for Chantix nausea over at MsTekLady's blog today - peppermint. I'd heard that before, but it's not something I tried or would have thought of off the top of my head, so it's great to hear it again and know that it worked. Awhile back I posted this link to an article that is among my list of Linky Loos with some other ideas that might help (and peppermint is on there, too!). Nausea is just no fun, and any idea that works when you have it is a great idea. I've been avoiding it by the timing of my doses in a way that's been working for me.

This kind of helpful information is yet another reason why it's so wonderful that so many people are blogging about their experiences on Chantix. As we go, we learn things from each other, and there are a lot of things about the Chantix experience itself that only someone who has been on Chantix would know about or could describe (well, other than those not on Chantix reading our blogs, I guess).

In that spirit, now another person added to the side and soon to my list of Linky Loos who is going the Chantix route and blogging about it:

Current, Regularly Updated Blogs I Read Daily:
  • Chantix User Blog Updates - Jen's blog. Armed with a week of Chantix under her belt and a desire to quit smoking, Jen jumped in and quit on August 20, 2007.

More Taper Talk

Today is Chantix Day 77 and Smoke-free Day 65.

Not to stay on this whole upcoming tapering off of Chantix thing that starts tomorrow, Wed 8/22 (again, do check with your own doc first), but really, that's where my mind is (so very excited still!), so you'll likely be hearing more about it for awhile. As much as it would be nice to be all done with Chantix by a week from today if I wasn't tapering off, I still like the idea of taking it slowly, very slowly, just in case. The day when I'm completely off Chantix and still smoke-free will get here whether it's later rather than sooner, and I'm OK with that as long as I end up smoke-free for good.

I'm not expecting much change especially the first 4 days of the taper since I'll still be taking 1.5 pills, and in the past I've missed more than that without noticing. In fact, last night I rounded up all of my packs of Chantix with any missed pills inside, and there were a total of 5 (or was it 6?). That's probably not too terrible compared to how many pills I remembered to take these past 11 weeks. One of the days I missed taking both pills at the start of a pack somehow. I lived through it, and that makes me hopeful that this will be a smooth transition.

If I'm wrong, I'll still have 5 or 6 pills left to hold me over until a prescription refill (some folks are put on up to 24 weeks instead of just 12 weeks). Given how I feel and where I am with my mindset of being a non-smoker (still not 100% cemented, but feeling the progress each smoke-free day), I think it's unlikely I'll need to extend this Chantix journey beyond my plan because I FEEL GOOD!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Settled In

It's still Chantix Day 76 and Smoke-free Day 64, and it's been kind of a long day. My late night from last night has finally caught up with me, so I'm home just relaxing and glad that I can watch the Wife Swap rerun (I really just love that show), maybe play the Sims2 a bit (didn't get to all weekend long), talk to the cats, or do whatever and maybe get to bed at a more reasonable hour.

It occurred to me tonight, as it has in the past, that it seems like it was always nights like this as a smoker when I would usually run out of cigarettes. Then I'd have to haul my goodies out to my car to either go to the more expensive place that was closer for a single pack or to the cheaper place that was a further away for a carton. All of it money wasted on poisoning myself instead of staying home, all cozy with my man and all my cats, where I really just wanted to stay, not spending a dime.

I'm all settled in and about to put on one of my too many sets of Hello Kitty PJs early because I don't have to go on a cigarette run. Life is so very good right now.

9 Weeks and a Different Kind of Tired

Today is Chantix Day 76 and Smoke-free Day 64.

For some reason realizing that I'm at 9 weeks smoke-free kind of startled me, in a good way, of course. That just seems like kind of a long time not to have had a cigarette compared to every hour or two back in my former life, back when I was a smoker instead of a non-smoker. I do know that I still don't get to light up to celebrate as I kick back on my laurels or anything like that, but it's still a great feeling.

Plus, I'm all kinds of excited that it's this Wednesday, the 22nd, that I'll get to start tapering off of Chantix, and I still really am looking forward to it. Of course, tapering means that I'll have been on Chantix for just over 13 weeks instead of just 12 weeks, and almost a full dose for the first part of that (see link above to my calendar), but if tapering does help to prevent the onset of any stronger urges (some swear it does, some are sure there's no difference, my doctor and both pharmacists say no harm in tapering just in case - check with yours), then it will be well worth it to me to stick it out for another week having come this far.

After my productive and yummy cooking day yesterday, I wound up baking Tom a cake late last night because he is cute and supportive and really wanted one. Of course, by the time it cooled enough to frost (well, he frosted, and I caught up on some blogs), it was even later. Then by the time we ate some (I know, cake before bed, bad) it was about 2AM. Even for me, that's a little late. Yep, I'm a little tired today, but I gotta tell you, I really, really notice the positive difference not smoking makes on my energy level when I do this night owl thing. In fact, I've noticed it both ways going from quit to smoking again in the past and then now from smoking to quit.

When I was goofy enough to have started smoking again last time, within just a few days I noticed that same old dragging and sleepy and just tired all the way to my bones feeling throughout the day and often felt like I had to nap in my car at lunch to even survive the rest of the day. It was literally within a few days of taking up the poison habit again that the dead tired thing returned, and it was so apparent to me by contrast to the week before that when I hadn't been smoking. Thankfully, the reverse has also been true for me, and so now smoke-free again, while I am a little tired today after a late night, I'm not feeling like I'll never make it to the end of the day or like I need to curl up in a little ball under my desk. I just feel a little tired. Perhaps skin deep tired, but definitely not tired in my bones. Nothing a cup of coffee can't fix ;)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Grain of Salt

It's still Chantix Day 75 and Smoke-free Day 63, and I had such a productive day (yep, made it happen as I'd hoped) that I almost forgot that I used to smoke. Except when I had some small urges. But then it was time to stir something or freeze something, so it didn't matter.

I take certain things I read online with a grain of salt because, well, I read it "online" somewhere. I do see a lot of stuff I find interesting, but I try to refrain from posting what I find if I'm not comfortable with trusting the source unless I can find another with the same information that I do trust. That said, I found this interesting enough to share, even if I couldn't find any further information about the Chantix trials released over the weekend that the article references. And so, with that take it with grain of salt preface, here's a few of the interesting bits from the article I read:
Two new trials of the smoking cessation medicine varenicline (Chantix) were published this past weekend. One reported the results in 515 nicotine-dependent Japanese smokers (mainly men) and the other reported the results in 250 Korean and Taiwanese smokers.
The article goes on with some information about placebo effect and appetite that I found interesting, and next says:
So far, the placebo-controlled trials of varenicline have been remarkably consistent in finding that it approximately doubles quit rates compared with placebo, and that this increased quit rate is maintained even after up to 40 weeks off drug. The early studies suggested that Chantix may result in higher quit rates than other pharmacological treatments for smoking. Whether this ultimately turns out to be the case will require additional studies directly comparing different treatments.

The take-home message for smokers interested in trying to quit is that this new medicine continues to demonstrate that it is safe and effective in increasing smokers’ chances of successfully quitting, with the most frequent side-effect being mild nausea (16-42% of users). The nausea is less marked at lower doses, and also appears less when taking the pill along with food and water. Most people using Chantix are able to continue using it and the initial nausea subsides. Those continuing to take Chantix for the full course (up to 24 weeks) tend to have higher quit rates than those discontinuing early.
Assuming the source is good and the information above true, it's nice to see more and more folks having success with Chantix and having it also doing well in studies. Hopefully more of this kind of thing will lead to more insurance companies covering Chantix and more people going ahead with quitting sooner rather than later now that there is another option that is "easier" (still *not* easy and still requires cooperation) than what many of us have tried in the past. I'm also very interested in the long-term success, but since Chantix is so new, long-term doesn't currently cover much time. I suppose in 10 or 20 years those of us now quitting will know how well it worked long-term, and I'm hoping that the answer is that we are still smoke-free. And maybe even stunningly good looking. And rich. And ridiculously happy. OK, OK, if it's just smoke-free, I suppose Chantix would have done its job, but that would make me happy and with more money not wasted and maybe even fewer wrinkles.

Laughing, Cooking, Not Smoking

Today is Chantix Day 75 and Smoke-free Day 63.

Another day waking up just feeling good. It's funny how sometimes in the morning before I take a nice deep breath I'll almost forget that when I inhale so deeply, it won't hurt, and I won't cough afterward. I still almost brace myself for it, and then I smile when I realize that I'm a non-smoker. I still cough a little bit here and there sometimes sort of at random, but I guess even non-smokers do that sometimes. I do know that being able to laugh without coughing has drastically improved, but it's been awhile since I've gotten to really test it out with something side-splittingly funny to see if that's completely healed. Someone say something really funny, would you?

I have to go to the cheap grocery store today, which is always a zoo, especially on weekends, but I'm not dreading it so much because I am really excited to get to be in my clean and smelling not like a smoker lives in there car. The small joys in life make me happier than a sane person ought to be (hush). If the day ends the way I'm hoping, I should have in my freezer:
  • 2 meals of Ziti Pepperoni Casserole. Yep, it's as healthy as it sounds (not very), and Tom only eats something called a casserole since it also says pepperoni. I can't get him to eat a quiche with any ingredient in the title, though. This recipe works equally well with either ricotta or cottage cheese, but do add things like olives and peppers and other yummies!
  • 1 meal of Simply Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas. These are to die for, and I don't even love chicken or order chicken enchiladas at restaurants. Another meal of the same will be happily in our tummies by end of today, and I look forward to it with joy in my heart. Just. So. Good.
Both of those are frozen assembled, but not yet baked, so when they do come out of the freezer and are thawed, they bake and taste as fresh as if never frozen.

I love that I'm getting back into cooking and freezing ahead because with this mindset, we've only had fast food once this past week, which is pretty incredible for us, King and Queen of the Drive-Thru and the "value menu."

I wish I could say that everything tastes so much better as a non-smoker like I hear so many say, but I guess I love food so much that it never did taste any less flavorful as a smoker or any more flavorful when I've quit in the past. That's probably a good thing, though, because if some things tasted any better than they do, I wouldn't be OK.

And I'm off. Busy non-smoking day ahead of me.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

That Was Me

Today is still Chantix Day 74 and Smoke-free Day 62.

I did go get that car wash I'd been talking about since the day I quit smoking. Finally. It only took me two months. Getting into my car all smelling good and free of ashes and dust and no more of that awful can't see through it smoker glaze and haze on the windshield was just awesome. It was almost like having a brand new car, but much cheaper.

While we were sitting outside waiting and watching the 812 other cars with the same idea get all cleaned, I smelled someone smoking. It didn't really smell "bad" to me, but, pretty much like Tasina's experience today, it also didn't make me freak out and go buy 3 cartons on the way home, either. It just kind of was what it was, someone smoking, and I didn't love it or hate it, but it definitely got my attention.

What did surprise me, though, was when I looked to see just how close it was that this person was standing to me, it turned out that he wasn't very close to me at all. He was actually way off to the side, over there alone by the ashtray in one of the little "bad smoker corners" apart from the rest of society like where I always wound up standing. And yet, even from there, I could most definitely and absolutely smell his cigarette. He probably thought that he was far enough away that his smoke wasn't right there in our line of breathing. I know I used to think that same thing outside of just about every store, restaurant, gas station, rest area, or any other place I ever went to and needed to have a smoke since I was so careful in recent years to stand further away or more off to the side as if the smoke wouldn't travel. Like a good little addict that couldn't dream of going more than an hour or two without smoking, I usually stepped out to smoke before, after, and sometimes even during, almost any event.

It's so nice to have a clean car to go wherever I want and not feel tethered to my box of cellophane on the outside and poison on the inside every couple of hours or more. I think I like being a non-smoker. I think the people going into and out of places where I thought I was being so courteous are glad, too.

And now another blogger to add to the list to the side and also to my list of Linky Loos:

Current, Regularly Updated Blogs I Read Daily:
  • My CHANTIX™ Diary - MsTek started taking Chantix after a nice full meal on August 18, 2007 and has both a strong attitude about quitting along with a quit date of August 25, 2007.

Two Real Months

Today is Chantix Day 74 and Smoke-free Day 62.

It's also the 18th of another month, so that means it's been 2 calendar months smoke-free!

I woke up in a really excellent mood, even though I'd had a nightmare (I blame the coffee, not Chantix, because it wasn't vivid or weird or otherwise Chantix-y, just scary). Being half awake and snuggling up to Tom, then waking up a little while later and making a latte (been a long time since I've bothered with the whole process, but I was inclined, and it's worth it) was the perfect start to the day. Now I feel like I want to go accomplish something. Maybe a mini road trip or another batch of dinners to cook and freeze or maybe that carwash I promised myself week one and never got (still some rogue ashes inside my car) maybe a movie at the cheap cinema - something. After I relax a bit and just enjoy feeling so good on a Saturday morning all smoke-free and all happy about it. Even if I accomplish nothing else today, this is just about plenty.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Persistence

It's almost the end of Chantix Day 73 and Smoke-free Day 61.

Persistence does finally pay off, but sometimes it takes... persistence. I thought I'd go get a pill splitter/cutter tonight after work just because I felt like doing something (yep, Friday night is that exciting around here) and would like one for easily halving and quartering pills during my big Chantix taper.

So, we went to Target, and they were sold out. Odd-ish, but I didn't think too much of it. Later I went to the drug store, the most likely place to find one, and they were also sold out. Really? Sold out there, too? The pharmacy lady looked at me like I was high when I asked her if they were maybe keeping them behind the counter with the cold medicine that we can no longer buy without sharing our identities all on a great big sheet for all of the ID thieves to read when they are not busy actually making meth but just purchasing the ingredients with fake IDs (brilliant system). Anyway, nope, the pill cutters are not in stock and not with the cold medicine. While I was mid-mumble about asking because Target was also sold out, she elaborated without my asking that they use razors when they cut pills back there. But then, they work about 10 feet from all the Band-Aids and probably get a discount.

Since I was out in the fresh air and now feeling like I was on a mission, I tried the grocery store in the aisle with everything from shampoo to laxatives to reading glasses and other things that I hope not to have to deal with for a very long time, and they were not out of stock. They just don't carry pill cutters. At all.

At this point it wasn't even so much a mission as just a funny joke (again, I get my Friday jollies in my own ways), so I tried one more store. Another grocery store, but one with a pharmacy. I looked through all of the aisles that made sense, and didn't see a pill cutter. Then, I saw the closed pharmacy area, and there, lo and behold, on a little rack off to the side was one pill cutter next to a batch of others that looked almost identical but inexplicably cost more. I took the last one of the cheaper ones ($4) and was on my way feeling accomplished.

Best of all, I don't think I even thought about smoking the whole night, even if it is a Friday night.

Counting Down to Freedom

Today is Chantix Day 73 and Smoke-free Day 61.

I added a little countdown thingy at the top of the page late a couple nights ago that I kept meaning to talk about yesterday but didn't because of distraction by figs and gold stars, so today with no fruity gifts or mind reading, I can finally talk about looking forward.

I'm really looking forward to starting my taper off Chantix next week on August 22. The whole tapering thing has been thought out in the anal detailed way that I approach certain things (and certainly not others) with a plan, and I'm literally starting to count down the days until the beginning of the end of the Chantix part of the journey (sound dramatic enough?). It's not that Chantix has been a bad thing for me because, in fact, I've been fairly lucky as far as Chantix side effects go, but I do look forward to not worrying about having to creatively dodge the nausea or wondering if the now much more infrequent gas issue is just me or the Chantix. The whole face itching, my nose in particular, will hopefully leave with the Chantix, so that will be nice. I'll miss what's left of the Chantix dreams for sure. They were fabulous at the start, then now much more muted when I do get to have them at all. I am not a pill person, so not having to take one twice a day will also be a very welcome thing.

But more than all of that, I'm looking forward to the beginning of the end of the Chantix portion of my journey because it will begin a new chapter, the chapter where I just do this thing on my own. Training wheels off like a big girl - first the Chantix helper wheels raised up just a little bit, then a little more and a little more until eventually, I can just reach back and rip them off completely and be on my way down the block with my bell ringing, pigtails blowing in the wind, and.. OK, it's probably a little different from those days, but it feels an awful lot like that kind of freedom. An awful lot. Having another hand holding on and running along side me in the form of a box of packets of pills has been great, but unless I want to do that for the rest of my life (nope, I don't), I do feel like I'm about as ready as I'm going to be, and boy howdy, I am READY!

Now I just have to hurry up and wait until Wednesday, and then a couple weeks beyond that before the tapering tapers down more and more until all gone ;)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Coffee, You Ask?

It's still Chantix Day 72 and Smoke-free Day 60 (yay!), but there's another pressing issue that needs to be addressed immediately. If not sooner.

The definitive and illustrated answer to the question I've been asked a few times in the past month is all right here. These are the coffee makers currently living on my kitchen counters. I love each one based on its own wonderfully unique merits. And I love Tom for knowing how to brew the perfect coffee in each one.

This is the one cupper that I've already raved about at great length here before later lamenting its demise here. Actual details on Amazon are here. It was cheap and takes any brand of pod (or can brew using ground beans, too!). So flexible. But it still just won't turn back on. Tom might try taking it apart to see if he can do anything about it, but if not, at least the identical one that I have at work does still work.

This is my French press that doesn't look like one. It's simple and makes great coffee with more kick than the one cupper and less work than the ones below it. This was a gift, and it kept me awake when it was new. The company's website is here.

My "regular" coffee maker bought in January 2005. This is where the magic happens every Friday night and all weekend long and how I get my "man made" (made by my dear man, Tom) coffee. There is no previous blog entry to point you to , so I'll just tell you that you start by putting whole beans in, and it grinds them based on whatever settings you've indicated, and then it brews right into the thermal carafe. There is nothing in the world better than this wonderful invention. It's no longer available, but when it was, it was here on Amazon. They do still sell one that is like this model but with a glass carafe.

And now we get serious. This is where the espresso is made and the milk is steamed all frothy and yummy for lattes when I deserve a more involved coffee treat. This is also the home of very easy and quick little Americanos for a less involved treat. This is also where the 4 cigarettes that I don't smoke live (though I took them off for the sake of the picture). I've had this machine for years. In case you live somewhere far, far away from Starbucks (sounds impossible, but I know for a fact that one of you do!), it's on their website here down at the very bottom. The fancier ones on the website didn't exist way back then.

I do not yet own this wonderful little gem apparently sitting on stovetops throughout Italy. Until I started watching Giada on Everyday Italian (it's like food porn) I had no idea these existed. It makes several shots of espresso all at once instead of painstakingly pulling just 2 shots at a time as with my machine above. Sure, I won't get the crema on top, but lots of still very good espresso quickly and easily all at once is a good thing. There are fancier ones and all different sizes, so I'm still working on details. For example, if I buy the 12-cup one (meaning 12 espresso cups of 2 oz each, not Maggie-size mugs), am I committed to only being able to make 12 cups, or could I just make 4 cups so that I'm not wasting it if it's a weeknight? Once I know the answer to that question, one of these will live on my stovetop.

**Update 8/17/07: On the Bialetti stovetop espresso maker. I've searched and searched and finally called the company, and while I had to wait for a call back, I do now have the answer I fears. No, the quality will likely suffer if you try to get smart and make just 4 cups in your 12 cup Bialetti. So now I have some real soul searching to do on this, and I have until the end of August to decide (a gift certificate issue).

**Update 9/17/07: On August 28th, I did get the wonderful 3 Cup version of the Bialetti Moka Express, and it was perfect in every way, except that bigger would have been better. So, on September 16th when I found the 6 Cup size at Target, I snatched that one up, too. I've lost count, but I have a lot of coffee makers now ;)

Linky Loos Add

I meant to include this before I ended my last post, but since I didn't, there is another link on the side that will also be added to my list of Linky Loos:

Current, Regularly Updated Blogs I Read Daily:
~Party of Four~ - Amanda's blog (different from the other Amanda). Amanda's handful in the form of two little ones are two more great reasons she quit smoking on August 14th, 2007 using Chantix.

Ellie Gets a Star / What's On My Counter Top?

It's still Chantix Day 72 and Smoke-free Day 60.

Ellie gets a gold star next to her name in my book of people who read my mind and find what I've been looking for without saying it out loud for bringing up something I hadn't because even though I knew that it was working for me, it's not something I would recommend for everyone. I knew that I wasn't completely alone in this and that John did the same, and I knew that in the past I had heard of people doing this, but I didn't want to just drop it out there on my blog without some kind of someone saying that it really and truly was OK, either an expert or someone I could link to that has been smoke free for many years after doing it. Silly, I know. I mean, if it's working for me, why not just share it? Well, because I'm not convinced that it is for everyone, and I'm more convinced that it could be very risky for some and probably for good reason goes against the good advice in most other places we've all read, so frankly, I was too chicken to put it out there until I had something more than "well, it works for me even if it sounds bass-ackwards" to share.

What am I talking about (unless you've already been over to Ellie's today or guessed from the title - gold stars for you, too)?

Keeping cigarettes around you when you are in the process of quitting. Not throwing out all cigarettes before quitting. Having temptation always at hand. Going against what sounds like the best advice. And not doing it to be cheeky but because it seems like it will actually help with your journey somehow.

Yes, folks, ever since late at night on June 18, 2007 when I took my last puff, there have been exactly 4 cigarettes in my home in plain view. This didn't start out as intentional. Regular readers (or those who have seen my taper calendar covering my Chantix journey start to finish) may recall that I planned on a drop dead no matter what last chance quit date of Wed, June 20, Chantix Day 15. Instead, I quit on Mon, June 18, Chantix Day 13 because when I woke up that morning, I was just ready to quit. Fortunately, or unfortunately, whichever, when I woke up that morning ready to quit, due to the power of Chantix, I still had cigarettes left in the pack I'd been sluggishly working my way through smoking. As a matter of fact, I had 4 cigarettes left in that pack, and those are the same 4 still there today. Part of the issue was that I really didn't want to look at them for the first several days, and the other part of the issue was that it seemed wasteful to toss them.

Side note to Stan because I do know you must be even more curious now: no, it makes no sense to me either that seeing people smoke in movies or seeing crushed cigarettes on your website or on John's bothers me, yet I have part of a pack of cigarettes in my kitchen (though it is bothering me less these days, now that I think of it) - that's beyond the scope of any real understanding I'll ever likely have, but I'm content as long as I still wake up each day knowing that I can make it to bedtime that day without smoking.

Anyway, as I was saying. At first the cigarettes were on the counter next to the Chantix, but then they relocated to the top of one of my coffee makers (yes, I have several on my counters and may be buying another new one very soon). Tom doesn't smoke and neither do the cats, so yes, the remainder of the pack was still mine, all mine. Now they sort of belong to the kitchen, I guess, since I am not interested in smoking them, and yet, there they are, and I think it has actually helped me in my quit. It is my choice to smoke or not smoke, and even if the past few nights I've had to physically pick them up every time I made one of those fabulous Americanos I keep talking about (so good, so very good), surprisingly, it never actually occurs to me to even want to actually smoke one of them. Even on the more hellish days of my quit. Even this past weekend when I went a little nutty with wanting to smoke. As much as I thought I wanted to smoke, and, well, yes, did want to smoke, I didn't want to badly enough to go through with taking one and smoking it because of everything that it would mean and everything that it would bring back into my life that I've been working so hard to get out of my life (all those reasons I quit smoking and stay quit). So there those 4 cigarettes sit, as if they had no more meaning than a napkin holder on the kitchen counter.

Someday, maybe I'll throw them away, but I do know of someone who knew someone (this so vague and not very authoritative information is why I was reluctant to share...) who kept one, just one, cigarette in the glovebox of the car for something like well over 20 years. That was many years ago, but as far as I know, it's probably still there.

I'm sure that the book (Hooked - But Not Helpless, by Patricia Allison) and Ellie, having actually read it, could explain this whole thing way better than I can, which is why until now I haven't even attempted it. From what Ellie said about the author's approach to cravings, I'm intrigued and bet that she is onto something there, too. Since buying this book new on Amazon doesn't seem like an option, I've kept Ellie's link to the book at Powell's, and I may try to borrow it from the library (which I prefer doing most of the time anyway because I am extremely cheap frugal).

As always with certain topics, I feel the need to do a little disclaimer. This has been working really well for me. It might not work for you. In fact, I can see about four reasons why and how this method could easily backfire on someone trying to quit. But this is my quit that I am sharing with you, and having 4 cigarettes in my home (I don't carry them with me and have no reason to start doing so) has only convinced me further that as much as I sometimes want to smoke, I want to stay quit even more.

(Second post of the day where I didn't talk about what I hoped to get to because I got too far along on something else, but this is even better. The rest will keep.)

Day 60 Smoke-Free and Fig Power

Today is Chantix Day 72 and Smoke-free Day 60. I like numbers ending in a zero.

I continue to either find crazy fruit to try, like the pluots awhile back, or sometimes it finds me. Today, it was a fig. My only knowledge of figs was that it was old, like bible days old, that somehow the leaves can be sewn into clothing and that figs were probably somewhere in the family tree of Fig Newtons, which I like. Nothing prepared me for what they actually look like or how it feels to hold or press on one or, most especially, the scary surprise when you bite into one. I won't ruin the surprise, but if you don't know, then it's, well surprising.

Apparently figs are very fabulous in the nutrition department, fiber in particular, but the reason I was offered a fig today along with a snippet of a newspaper article about figs was not for concern about my regularity by someone who barely knows me. Instead, the reason had to do with what the article said about figs, the same as what this site had this to say about figs:
And because of its high alkalinity it has been mentioned as being beneficial to persons wishing to quit smoking.
Plenty of other websites say similar (raisins and almonds and other stuff, too, if you are curious), so maybe there is something to it, maybe not, but no harm either way because figs are crazy nutritious. If I'm ever again given the gift of a fig (not likely since it took 35 years for the first one), I'll probably eat it, but I won't likely be seeking them out for purchase on my own because they are just... different and hard to look at inside. Whether the many virtues of the mighty fig actually affect this non-smoking thing I have going or not doesn't matter as much as the fact that someone offered it to me just in case it would. And *that* kind of support when it comes least expected is always a good, good thing.

This is not even remotely what I intended to post about this morning, and yet, that's what fell out of my now figgy head.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

P U Stinky

Today is Chantix Day 71 and Smoke-free Day 59.

I liked telling myself that I didn't really stink like other smokers when I would come in from a cigarette. In fact, sometimes I would even try to make sure that the smoke didn't blow back on me, as if that would prevent my clothes from smelling like smoke. Still, as I've said, Tom would do that coughing thing if I tried to go near him within 30 minutes or so of smoking, and even a boss once told me that it was easy to tell the last time I'd started smoking again... by the smell. It was put a little more delicately than that, but the truth remains. The smell of smoke was there, and to most folks, it's not exactly as pleasant as say, linen fresh air spray.

Since quitting, I think my nose is on super-smoker-sniffer overdrive or something, and it seems like I can smell smokers from a mile away. In the grocery store, even someone with a cartload of Pop Tarts, produce, pickles, poultry, pumpkin pie and pretzels (items starting with the letter P are half price where I shop), who I keep seeing and who has clearly been walking around for quite awhile accumulating all this stuff, can't escape this nose thing I have going on. I can tell if the shopper had a cigarette at some point before going into the store because I can smell it.

I don't love this new talent because honestly, there are things I'd prefer not to smell, like stale smoke on a fellow grocery shopper. What I do love is that I no longer smell like that while convincing myself that I don't as if somehow my own cigarettes smelled like fresh ocean air instead of like an ashtray.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I See Another Reason

It's still Chantix Day 70 and Smoke-free Day 58.

As if I didn't already have plenty of reasons and then another one to stay quit, here's yet another one that was in the news yesterday: increased chance of macular degeneration times 4 for smokers.

On my list of diseases I fear, this is always one of them. Obviously any loss of vision is a very big deal with major impact on lifestyle, and this one has seemed particularly cruel to me because even if it's not completely blind, it's just blind enough to change your life in not great ways.

Sadly, those of us who have smoked any real length of time are not out of the woods, and some of the damage may already have been done even if we do quit and stay that way. This is true, of course, for plenty of diseases. As nice as it is to read about how wonderfully our bodies will be resilient enough to in many ways return to normal (and I do love reading those), it was still poison that I regularly ingested. I can't expect to walk away without any further risk as a consequence of what I did for so many years, can I? Says the article:

Smokers were about four times more likely to develop the disease than people who never smoked, and developed it an average of five years earlier, according to the study published in the journal Archives of Ophthalmology.

Previous smokers were three times as likely to have an advanced form of the disease than people who never smoked, the study also found. "The risk from smoking seemed to persist above that of never smokers for a considerable time after quitting smoking," the researchers wrote.

I'll still hang out and try to be in at least the little bit less likely category rather than more likely category since I can't very well go back to age 12 to undo it from there. If I could, the lecture I would give myself that I wouldn't listen to because I was too cool and too young to care would be more wasted breath, but it would be hearty, indeed! I do get to choose what I do with the next hopefully many years, and one day at a time, I'm going with smoke-free before they figure out any more badness turns out to be made more likely or worse with the smoking I no longer have to be doing, thankfully.

Nausea Revisited

Today is Chantix Day 70 and Smoke-free Day 58.

Lately, the Chantix pill that I take after a usually pretty medium-sized lunch doesn't ever really bother me or make me nauseous, but the one right before bed gets me if I don't hurry up and actually go to bed soon after taking it. Especially the last two nights.

Last night was probably my fault because I wound up taking one at dinner (forgot at lunch) and then before bed (an hour or two less than the 8 hours between Chantix doses I mentioned reading here near the end of the post). I also had an Americano during the finale of Hell's Kitchen (I'd link, but their site shows winner, so spoiler alert if you go there - this show is one of the few guilty pleasures I have left, so I watch it even if it's not even remotely "quality" tv). Then while I made a batch of another meatballs recipe (yummy Basic Meatballs, now in freezer with the others - so productive lately), I also had my first glass of wine post-quit (went well, still not ready for more than one small glass or in a smoky place). None of the above helped with the eventual tummy issue, I'm sure. It did make me start looking forward to the beginning of the end of Chantix when I start tapering off next week because nausea is just no fun.

The whole Chantix nausea thing has been kind of odd. First really bad, then not bad at all, then suddenly it came back, then left, and now it's become all about timing and meal size. I did a little re-cap awhile back (on July 23rd, this post) but I'll include some of it here as well just to keep things all in one place. This is what I had to say then:

For those who haven't been reading along, don't remember every detail I've written or just like stuff neatly summarized, this has been my experience with Chantix nausea so far:
  • First few weeks: mild nausea that wasn't so bad if after a lighter meal and plenty of water
  • Next few weeks: very little and sometimes no nausea even on an empty stomach with coffee
  • Chantix Day 46: worst nausea yet - clearly empty stomach with coffee method stopped working this day
  • Chantix Day 47: fairly strong nausea even when taking with food and water again due to previous day's bad experience - huh?
  • Chantix Day 48: little to no nausea after taking Chantix after lunch and plenty of water
  • Update - Beyond that: after lunch dose is mostly fine, but the 2nd dose before bed often does make me fairly nauseous
Related to all of that is the timing of my Chantix dosage, so I also re-capped it here on July 27th, and included below again. I'm still taking it after lunch and before bed to avoid the nausea.
  • Before Quit (I Quit Smoking on Chantix Day 13):At first, I got kind of mathematical about the whole thing spacing the 2 doses about 12 hours apart because it made sense, so I was taking it around 8AM and 8PM. [update: this was before I'd read about it being fine to take the second dose at least 8 hours apart - 12 hours not necessary - mentioned at the end of this post]
  • Shortly After Quit: Daytime wasn't so terrible, but some of the evenings got really rugged, so I decided to try taking the same morning dose around 8AM and started taking the evening dose earlier, around 5PM. It seemed to help. No clue whether that was all in my head, whether it was just getting a little easier, or whether the change in time of second dose really made a difference. Who cares - it worked.
  • By 3 Weeks Quit: Somewhere by my 20th smoke-free day when the constant or really bad urges or cravings were mostly gone, I'd already started still taking the morning dose at 8AM but taking the second dose of Chantix pretty much whenever, usually sometime after dinner.
  • Around 5 Weeks Quit: After the crazy and sudden and worse than it had been on Chantix nausea cropped up, I went back to being careful about taking it after eating. Since all of my best becoming a breakfast eater intentions had fallen by the wayside, 8AM was no longer practical. So this brings us to current. I'm taking the first dose after lunch and the second dose right before bed. Both of these time choices are aimed specifically at avoiding that nausea thing, and it seems to be working.
Thankfully, throughout this process the nausea has been minimal and not so bad with adjusted dose timing as I've been going. I'd still say that any Chantix nausea I've had has been more than worth it because I'm in the neighborhood of 2 months smoke free (by weeks, yes, it's been 8, but by calendar date, not until the 18th), and it hasn't been as hard as it could have been without the Chantix to help me along.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Just One or Three

Today continues to be Chantix Day 69 and Smoke-free Day 57, and thankfully, I'm back to just barely feeling tuggings today, if that much even. Yes, it's that good again. No urges, no cravings (never even reached cravings level on the worst parts of the past weekend).

I shared this below today as my comments where I just meant to write a sentence or two. Since it turned into what it did and so that I never lose track of it and in case you don't read all the same places I do and might find it helpful, I'm sharing it here now, too:

Today is 8 weeks smoke-free here, and the Chantix continues to help, even if it doesn't do it without my cooperation. It was a hell of a weekend. I would have given anything to have a smoke without consequences, but I know better.

I quit once for well over a year. Had a drink or two one night, and had a smoke. Just one. Just once.

It took another few years before I had the guts to try quitting again sometime in late 2004, I think.

Then I went a few months smoke-free on yet another quit attempt. And we went to Reno. I was having free drinks, playing video poker, feeling free, on vacation, me time and all of that. The guy next to me was smoking my brand or at least something menthol. What the hell, the cost of smokes at the casino was only double what they would be at home, and I wanted it badly enough even that many months quit, that I convinced myself it was a bargain and plunked down my money telling myself that it was just a one time thing, the last pack I'd ever buy anyway. I'd be OK. I was still a non-smoker. Only other people actually start smoking full-time again after playing with fire like I was. I'd done it once before without starting again, so this time would be no different. I was smarter and different than everyone else, and I'd proven to myself that I actually could get away with a smoke or three every once in a great, great while.

I lied to myself as I got on the plane to come home with the remainder of pack number who knows how many I'd paid double for by then (but it was more than just that one last one, for certain). I lied to myself first by saying the rest of the pack wouldn't even make it onto the shuttle from hotel to airport. I was leaving it all behind in Reno. Then it became OK, at airport, one last smoke, and then goodbye forever. Then, OK, in my bags, but as soon as I finish that one, I'm done. I mean, I still was a non-smoker, right?

Wrong.

Dead wrong.

That all happened in February of 2005. This is August of 2007. In between, I've quit a few months here and there because I obviously I'd started again here and there. I believed each time that I could have just one. Sometimes I was right as rain, and it was just that one. In fact, once I had one very, very early into a quit deliberately because I was craving one so badly and knew that a guy at work smoked the most awful brand and that it would be disgusting. I did have just one, and it was horrible. That was the precise reason I had it. That time, it worked. I do not recommend this to anyone - I'm just saying that's how that went. This time, thankfully with Chantix, I haven't had to resort to such a risk, and I don't have the guts to even take that chance.

Back to every time I've told myself that one puff was no big deal. Clearly, my plan went awry, no matter what lies I insisted on telling myself.

What hurts my heart to think about is that while I lied to myself, I also lied to the person who loves me the most, and I said the same lies out loud to him. "Don't worry. I promise. It's just here. It's just in Reno." The look on his face when I lit up once we got home still haunts me.

This is just my own experience. Everyone is different. I will be posting all of the above on my own blog as a reminder to myself because it's one more tool for me to use on days like this past weekend when a smoke sounded so damn good, and I need all the tools I can get. Thankfully the tools I had on hand worked just fine this time.

'Nuff said.