Friday, November 30, 2007

Yay! (Warning: Early Holiday Cheer)

Today is Smoke-free Day 165.

I have no real particular reason to be in a good mood today, but I am. It's early, but we put up our fake tree last night (yes, I live in the Northwest where we are kind of known for the real trees - call me a cheapskate or rebel or even giggle and stretch it to environmentalist if you don't know how obnoxious I am in real life about that kind of thing or whatever sounds good), and then put on all the ornaments, which we then had to remove because we hadn't yet put the lights on the tree. After the twisted up bundle of lights were untangled and on the tree, back on with the ornaments. You know, adult kinds like Hello Kitty, Spider Man, Yoda, that kind of thing. Whatever, it put me in a good mood that lasted through the night apparently.

I say all that because I don't want to talk about the idea that the increased tuggings of the past handful of days might still be here this morning, even with my exceptionally good mood. I kind of think they are, those little tuggers. But I'm sort of tired of it now, and I don't really want to think too much about it, so I won't. I'm still busy remembering things like how thrilled I am not to be standing in the rain that could turn to snow at some point this week (sadly, probably not on a work day) and how thankful I am that Chantix coupled with my cooperation and follow through probably gives me a better shot at even more Christmas seasons to enjoy. And I do enjoy because I focus on the parts of it that mean something to me while mostly successfully disregarding the parts that don't - that's just my strategy so that I don't feel as miserable as I know lots of folks do amid both the hype and melancholy that seem to swirl to the point of nauseousness this time of year. It helps that Tom and I are each approximately 4 years old this time of year, too. And that there is such thing as eggnog lattes. And Santa.

I remembered to soak the damn beans last night, so if all goes according to plan, and since there's been a request, I will share the results of the Calico Bean Soup Recipe made from the Calico Bean Soup Mix - if it works and tastes yummy, it could make a very nice little gift that can be appreciated (by recipients something like me, I guess) without costing too much.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

String Around My Finger

Today is Smoke-free Day 164.

I almost feel like I should put a little string around my finger so that I don't forget because I keep forgetting an awful lot of stuff.

I have my Calico Bean Soup Mix ready to go so that I can actually try the Calico Bean Soup Recipe it makes and so that I can both use up the ham bone from Thanksgiving while also testing out a potential gift jar before I give it, but I can't seem to remember to soak the beans overnight. Yes, I know I can boil them, remove from heat, let sit an hour instead, but doing all that after work means we won't eat until way too late, and I'm a hungry girl from way back early in the typical day. Hopefully tonight I'll remember so that we can have it tomorrow, and tonight we will have what we call "fend" for dinner. Again.

That's not what I'm really trying to remember anyway. What I'm really trying to remember is that even if the blasted tuggings (as I call them) continue to be particularly irritating yet again today, it's still so very worth it to continue on my smoke-free little path. I need to remember that...
  • heart disease is a real issue in my family and that it would be ridiculous for me to think I'd have dodged that bullet if I'd continued smoking. I never cared about that kind of thing until I hit 35, and now I suddenly understand that health issues are real, as in they could happen to *me*. Let's not even talk about cancer or the host of other forms of Very Bad Things that Smokers Get.
  • now I laugh whenever I want, as hard as I want, for as long as I want, until I pee my pants if I want (no, usually I don't want), but I no longer end up ruining my own fun or feeling embarrassed by it ending in a huge and horrible coughing fit (sometimes with chunks and other gross lung stuff - sorry, keeping it real and really trying to remember).
  • sometimes Tom laughs at me and asks me what the heck I'm doing, and it turns out that I have a handful of hair in my hands pulled down over my nose just because it smells so damn good and not disgusting smoky like how it used to stink.
  • even when there are days, that apparently can come in strings of several days, when it feels kind of hard again because I feel those damn tuggings, these rough patches are temporary. They do go away. I know they do. They have before.
  • it will be far easier for me to stay quit as I am than it would be for me to quit all over again from scratch (that said, a little stumble like I had awhile back did not mean I was starting from scratch, so if you do happen to hit a bump, bouncing back onto the path quickly should still be easier than starting over entirely). Besides, as much as Chantix helped (lots, thank you very much), I don't miss the nausea thing I had going on at the end.
  • this is my journey, and I am where I am, good, bad, indifferent, other. Sometimes I feel silly at 5+ months whining about tuggings (maybe almost urges, almost), but that's where I am. I don't dwell, but I also don't ignore or pretend.
  • overall, for about 10,387 other reasons not mentioned, I actually am *happy* that I quit smoking, even when I don't remember that right first off the top of my mind. This is why I needed my little finger stringer thinger today.
Thanks for reading along as I remind myself of stuff I need to remember today.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Theories Are Fun

Today is Smoke-free Day 163.

Theories are fun. Yesterday I theorized that the increased frequency and strength of my "tuggings" to smoke (not as strong as urges, certainly not even approaching craving status) over the glorious and wonderful long weekend may have been due, in part, to the idea that it truly was a long weekend (4 days=heaven!), which translates to "me time," and historically (see links in yesterdays post) that, in turn, has translated into wanting to smoke because I just damn well felt like it over there in Me Mode, thank you very much.

That's all cute and probably has some serious kernels of reality and good theorizing mixed in there on weekend days, but this morning happens to be Tuesday and not part of a weekend (so painful, yet so true), and I *still* find myself taking some deeper breaths and romanticizing death by stinky poison (crazy, crazy, crazy, nutty, silly, crazy, addict, crazy) before I remind myself that I chose to quit smoking and that this is not punishment (a post that I'm glad I wrote because I needed to see it again this morning - if you happen to get something out of it, that's cool, too, but I just made my own day easier).

So I'm updating my theory. It's not anything new, really, but it goes like this:

Addiction to cigarettes/smoking is insidious. I'm not out of the woods yet. I'm still walking that way (out) and not smoking, and that's what counts. Thankfully, overall, really and truly, it is much easier than at that start, but there are still tough stretches sometimes. There just are. Just because it's insidious. Besides 20+ years as a die-hard smoker vs. 5 months trying not to be, well, you do the Maggie Math. There have been a handful of us that have stumbled of late, and it's simply because addiction is not an easy thing to beat, doesn't go away immediately and is crazy easy to get sucked right back into, too. I'm still pulling for all of us to make it, stumble or no stumble, back on the Chantix or not.

So, yep, the insidiousness theory, but one day at a time, just until bedtime, we can all do this.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Why

Today is Smoke-free Day 162.

Over this past weekend I mentioned that some decent sized tuggings were back with some frequency (not as strong as urges, definitely nothing so bad as an actual craving), and after considering a very good question in comments (this is why I *love* all of my fellow Chantix bloggers), I got wondering, too, why the sudden onset?

Truthfully, it could be completely random because some days are just like that, but I have a theory. I've always been more prone to missing smoking on weekends. In fact, I blogged about the whole weekend thing just last month and plenty of those weekends at the start (yep, my same recycled links). It was all related to my sense of the weekend being "me time" and how smoking was a "me thing" (ain't that the truth, in my case to the point of selfish even). Given that little twist in my mind, I would bet that the thought of it being not just a weekend but a FOUR DAY WEEKEND (I can't begin to express how much I love a weekend that long, tears in my eyes from the joy in my heart) was just too much for the old addict that still lives within me to contemplate, and so the normal weekend urges that have recently been not so noticeable were amplified and multiplied times four and then some. And you all know what happens in Maggie Math. That's my most likely theory, anyway, and if we all get our own set of favorite triggers when we sign up to quit smoking, I got the weekend trigger in spades (coupled with the drunken smoky situations into which I still don't venture since I fell out of my tree).

Still, I made it through the weekend, and as strong as a few of the tuggings were and as frequently as they came sometimes (and when I posted on Saturday morning that I was back to normal, they just hadn't come back yet), I did not smoke, and I am not pissed off that I couldn't/didn't.

Yes, overall this non-smoking journey has gotten a million times easier than the day I swallowed my first Chantix scared I might fail again, easier than the first days of deep breaths and plenty of water in order to both not smoke and not go completely nuts (er, nuttier), easier, really, overall, than most of the days already behind me along my path. I promise anyone reading along at the start of the journey that there really are so very many not tough days in between the harder ones, but I will be honest that for me it still isn't easy every single day just yet.

I remind myself again that while I'm over 5 months quit, I smoked for 20+ years. Daily. Every hour or two. Of each of those days. Oh, and I *loved* smoking, and even the Chantix didn't make my cigarettes taste bad like it did for lots of folks (maybe because they were menthols?) (though it made me feel nauseous enough while smoking to not want to smoke so much). That I don't smoke or even want to much of the time, considering all that, is actually pretty damn cool, in my own not humble opinion. And it's probably still within the realm of complete normal that I'm not "over it" just yet, too. We each take our own paths to get where we are going, and I know that I am well on my way if I keep going and that it really will continue to get easier overall, and I say bring on more long weekends! The tuggings weren't bad enough for me to not want four days off work. Not even remotely close to bad enough. Matter of fact, is it Friday yet?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Weekly Winners Sunday 11/25/07

Once again, it's Sunday, and time for my favorite pictures taken during the week. Thanks again, Lotus!

Click for larger images or take a peek at the entire album at once and/or watch as a slideshow at this link.

Seen Walking: Last Stragglers Hanging On


More Seen Walking: Evil berries on "the evil bush"
(look close up - sinister looking leaves, no? just me?)


Close Enough to 5


Long weekend attire, puzzle I finished and a cheesy self-portrait


'Tis the season

Long Weekend

Today is Smoke-free Day 160.

Long weekends rock. Life needs more of these, I think. The eggnog lattes are in full swing in my house (and super easy, too, thanks to my little stovetop espresso thingy and the microwave for the eggnog cut with milk), the Christmas lights are up outside (actually did it last weekend), and I haven't left my house since after work on Wednesday. I really should consider taking a walk. Last night I ate more leftovers than I'd eaten even fresh on Thanksgiving. Considering I no longer smoke away the calories and have gotten used to walking with the work ladies, it would be a good idea. After I play the Sims2 for a bit. And relax. And have another plate full of yummy. Maybe then I'll walk.

Thankfully, the renewed tuggings of the past couple days are again back to more normal and more rare whispers. It did occur to me at one point that if it got really bad, I do still have a handful of Chantix pills remaining (different kind of leftovers, I suppose), but it never got that bad, and I'm not sure that really would have been the way to go. I'm still not ready to toss them, though, just in case.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Ate and a Linky Loos Add

Today is Smoke-free Day 159.

Like many folks yesterday, we ate. And ate. And ate. And since I cooked for two armies, but there were only two people, there are many leftovers to be had. I know that I will likely gain weight, and I'm not thrilled about it, but I still think it's better than smoking and not gaining like the bad old days. For whatever reason, the sharp tuggings like I've had the past couple of days continue to be more frequent again this morning, but again I know that I will not smoke today and that each one is fleeting and that soon it will be back to the new "normal" where these are more rare. I'm not even really complaining as much as just commenting that yep, even now, some moments are not as easy as others, but I smoked for 20+ years, so at about 5 months quit it's probably not an entirely unreasonable experience.

And now another add to the Chantix bloggers on the side and to the Linky Loos list:

Current, Regularly Updated Blogs I Read Daily:
And now it's time for a plate of yummy leftovers for breakfast.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Giving Thanks

Today is Smoke-free Day 158.

Odd, last night while getting started on cooking my crazy menu for two, every once in awhile I would get a stronger than usual little tugging (perhaps just a strong whisper?),and I would have loved to have taken a little smoke break. Ditto this morning. It's really kind of strange. Though strong, these little tugging whispers went away as quickly as they came.

I'm grateful today on this day of giving thanks that just because sometimes even now smoking sounds kind of yummy (ew, I know), I don't have to smoke anymore. I AM FREE as long as I want to be.

Thank you, Chantix, for making it not as bad as it can be. Thank you, wonderful, supportive fellow Chantix bloggers for inspiring me and reminding me that I'm not alone. Thank you, Super Tom for being just plain super and making me feel like a lucky girl.

Now, be a dear and please pass me them yummay lookin' sweet pertaters, would ya?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Menu

This past weekend Tom and I poked at each other a bit about the Thanksgiving menu. The old Maggie cooked almost exclusively out of boxes and cans. The new Maggie actually enjoys cooking and using fresh ingredients. Tom, bless his heart, enjoys our "traditional" fare of things like Stove Top Stuffing and Green Bean Casserole and isn't as interested in experimenting with new things like Green Bean Bundles *correction - going with these Green Bean Bundles instead* or Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes that sound so yummy to me on the big day. So, I'll be making some of the "old stuff" along with some of the new stuff, perhaps some dishes just on a smaller scale. For anyone super curious, I have my menu on Recipezaar so that I could keep track of it all. Yes, it's just the two of us. And my freezer. And Foodsaver. Yes, not ham but turkey because that's how we roll and because we can. Wait 'til I tell you about our Christmas plans.

While I'm on food, I meant to share this the other day, but I didn't. The other night I made homemade tortillas for the first time in my life for use in making Oven-Fried Chicken Chimichangas that were pure heaven and healthier than traditional versions, and even if the tortillas were a workout to roll out, they were really yummy and super cheap to make. Those were followed by Five Minute Fudge to make up for any good deed in the healthier version of chimichangas because life is about balance, you know, and I have to pass along any good stuff I try.

Four day weekends fill me with indescribable joy. I hope everyone has wonderful holidays and smoke-free for those of us on that bus, maybe even those who aren't. I'll probably still be posting (NaBloPoMo, and all), but it might not be much depending on whether I'm to full to type.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Chantix / FDA - Do Be Careful Part 2

Today is Smoke-free Day 157 (well, it will be when I wake up since I'm in no danger of smoking in my sleep now that I'm headed to bed).

I've already said "Do Be Careful Out There On Chantix," and I meant it. I'm a success story so far. Lots of the other Chantix bloggers to the side are, too. That's wonderful. Chantix has worked just as it was supposed to for lots of us with no serious side effects. Two words: I'm grateful.

That said, I feel like a broken record sometimes saying that it is important to talk to your doctor if something seems off and beyond the scope of typical nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Frankly, it plain scares the pants off of me when people talk about some really oddball or bothersome possible side effect going on, but then they won't talk to their doctors to make sure all is OK. We as patients on any medication simply *must* pay attention and report any real oddities.

I still feel very much the same as I did when I wrote my "Do Be Careful Out There On Chantix," post (where I had the energy to get into it in more detail than right at this moment) - nutshell version: new drugs are risky, smoking seemed in own opinion just for myself to be more certainly risky and poisonous than new drugs, so I was content to take a risk with Chantix, and it worked, so I'm glad, but I am not you, so you have to do your own research, soul searching, butt searching, whatever other searching and determine whether this Chantix method is a good thing for you to consider along with your own doctor.

I have no idea what the FDA will actually determine, but I'll definitely be interested to hear, and this is in the news and worth at least being aware of as part of being an informed patient. Chris noticed this, too, so thanks, Chris for the heads up (and for the FreeRice site info - loved it so much I added a banner to my page so I remember to click often). There are tons of articles in the news, but here is the FDA's release:
FDA Issues Early Communication for Chantix

Background: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an Early Communication about an Ongoing Safety Review of Chantix, a drug approved as an aid to smoking cessation treatment. An Early Communication reflects FDA’s current analysis of available data concerning these drugs and does not mean that FDA has concluded that there is a causal relationship between the drug and the emerging safety issue.

FDA is evaluating postmarketing adverse event reports for Chantix (varenicline), a prescription medicine to help adults stop smoking.

Based on FDA’s request for information from the manufacturer, Pfizer, Inc., the company recently submitted reports to the agency describing suicidal ideation (thoughts). In the wake of a case report citing erratic behavior in an individual who had used Chantix, FDA has also asked the company for any information on additional cases that may be similar in patients who have taken the drug.

FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research is working to complete an analysis of the available information and data. When this analysis is completed, FDA will communicate the conclusions and recommendations to the public.

In the meantime, FDA recommends that health care providers monitor patients taking Chantix for behavior and mood changes. Patients taking Chantix should contact their doctors if they experience behavior or mood changes.

FDA also advises that, due to reports of drowsiness, patients should use caution when driving or operating machinery until they know how using Chantix may affect them.

Full text of the Early Communication about the Ongoing Safety Review can be found at: http://www.fda.gov/cder/drug/early_comm/varenicline.htm.

Why I Don't Do Math

Today is Smoke-free Day 156.

Yesterday's post is *exactly* why I don't do math. June 18 to November 18 (or 19 even) simply does not equal 6 months. It equals 5 months, even with the new math rules, and even if it was early May that I made the appointment that it took a month to get in order to get the Chantix. And while 5 months is still totally awesome in every way, I felt pretty darn silly when the smart math people commented asking (nicely, of course, because you are all so nice to me) if I could do basic addition.

Good, maybe when it really is 6 months I'll feel more like it has been 6 months because it didn't really feel like 6 months.

We'll do this all again on December 18th (one day at a time between today and then). It will be a Tuesday.

Thanks for playing! ;)

Monday, November 19, 2007

6 Months (um, 5 months)

(Update: I'm not so bright on the math stuff. This is 5 months, not 6 months, so just pretend I said 5 months wherever I said 6 months, cool?)

Today is Smoke-free Day 155.

Yesterday was 6 months since I quit smoking back on June 18, 2007. Lots of thoughts occurred to me in the shower this morning ranging from "wow, 6 months is a chunk" to "wow, and there are still moments I'd like to smoke." Don't get me wrong, I've said the same a million times, it's still way better now day to day than it was at the start in the early Chantix and just post Chantix days, and I can remember my last real meltdown. It will be awhile probably before I'm comfortable around certain triggers, and I'll take my time. I just really, really want this to stick this time for good. I don't ever want to have to go through the whole quitting smoking thing again, even if Chantix and fellow bloggers made it a much easier path. I still hold with the thought that this process, like most in my life, actually, is not a straight line from "hard/difficult/bad" headed diagonally up on a graph to "easy/no problem/who me? I used to smoke?" and that there are peaks and valleys, ups and downs, all along this worthy path, still always headed in that direction even when it appears that there are minor downturns. Lately, the downturns have become fewer and further, and I'm delighted and thankful for all of my fellow Chantix bloggers.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Weekly Winners Sunday 11/18/07

Each Sunday, I'll post my favorite pictures taken during the week. Thanks, Lotus!


These are all clickable thumbnails, one by one, or you can take a peek at the entire album at once and/or watch as a slideshow at this link. Do click to enlarge if you want to read the recipes.















Baked Ziti & Dipped Gingersnaps ...and a Self Portrait

image name

image name

image name
More Dipped Gingersnaps Pics in Previous Post. Yum.























All My Catties: Naptime, Bathtime, Anytime

image name

image name

image name

image name

image name

image name

image name

image name

Lazy Saturday

Today is Smoke-free Day 153.

It's Saturday, and that's always a good thing. I'm feeling too lazy to post much of anything, but every day that I'm not smoking is a day worth mentioning. Yes, even now, this far in because I know that I am still fragile right now. We all go at our own pace, and that's where I am. Some day I won't be. That's fine. I smoked 20+ years, and I've only been quit almost 6 months. I'm not in a hurry as long as one day at a time I keep on not smoking and remind myself that it's worth it whenever I start to forget.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Uninterrupted

Today is Smoke-free Day 152. And it's Friday. Life is good.

I am no longer prisoner to an addiction that required me to stop what I was doing every 1 - 2 hours to go light up, and the ways that translates into real life activities without interruption is really something. In particular as the holidays approach things like seeing a movie, sitting through a long holiday dinner (not that I'll be going anywhere, but if I did...), taking a flight (again, I'm not, but if I were...), doing a big cooking spree requiring constant attention to burners - all of these are activities that used to be accompanied by the endless nagging in my mind thinking about how soon it would be over so that I could smoke. I hated that feeling. I loved smoking, but I hated the addiction part of the whole deal. I loved that Chantix helped with the craving thing even early on so that this feeling of freedom started sooner rather than later into my quit.

Now, I get lost in time doing things I enjoy because I don't need to come up for air poison, and even the things I don't love as much aren't made worse by also not being able to smoke when I'd about kill to be able to do so.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Tell a Friend

Today is Smoke-free Day 151.

Yesterday a co-worker told me with great joy that her daughter quit smoking two weeks ago. With Chantix. I'd mentioned to my walking ladies that I'd quit and that Chantix was such and incredible help and made quitting a million times easier (with my cooperation, of course). My co-worker wondered if what I was taking (Chantix) was the same as what her daughter had mentioned her own friend taking. It was. It sounds like the friend had some stomach issues with Chantix and didn't continue, but hearing about Chantix in stereo and all around, the daughter gave it a try. And it's working really well. She is having the kind of experience some have described where cigarettes started to taste awful (mine never did...) and where she has practically zero desire or cravings, so she's having an even better go of it than I or many of us have experienced. Good for her!

So, do tell a friend. Many friends. All of your friends. Nope, I won't nag, preach or otherwise harass or condescend any smoker (hate it when people do that, hate it), but I will just mention my own experience and the role Chantix played in my quit to smokers and non-smokers alike because you never know who will tell who from there. In this case, my good experience with Chantix made it seem worthwhile to someone to give it a try.

Disclaimer because the world is nutty anymore: As always, this is my own experience I share, and I am not a doctor. People considering taking Chantix should talk to a real doctor. I'm not one. I'm just a girl who smoked for 20+ years and loathed it while loving it for the last several of those years, and now I'm free.

Happy Great American Smokeout Challenge Day! I said it yesterday, but really, if you are thinking about it, go for it. You can do it just for one day.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

150

Today is Smoke-free Day 150.

Some of us still count days, some of us don't, but since I'm one of those who does, this one seems to have the flavor of a milestone to me.

150 Days.

Cool! Thank you Chantix for the nice start to this whole thing. Looks like it's working if I just keep going.

I already nagged about this last week for anyone just considering quitting smoking, but tomorrow really still is the Great American Smokeout Challenge. I have no idea how many people take that one day to string it together with others to actually quit smoking entirely, but I do know that just one day at a time, we can all do this as long as we wish. I still don't say forever, even if I hope that it's so. I just wake up each morning and know that I can make it to bedtime without smoking. That's each. Each day. Rinse. Repeat if desired, and it turns out I do desire to repeat. Still, on this special day tomorrow, anyone can quit just for one day. No further commitment required, though it just might inspire a body to keep going one already 24 hours in. If not, it's still a day to prove to yourself that you *can* most certainly and absolutely do this.

If I can do this, I'm convinced that anyone can.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Gingersnaps Update

Oh my. Yes. These are good, and the Almond Bark (melting chocolate) worked perfectly in the microwave, following the instructions.

nicely becomes this

nicely become this

I think my previous attempt was foiled by either impatience and having heat too high or using my beloved wooden spoon (LOVE the spoon) because if not entirely dry they can contain just enough moisture to create very bad things. Next time I'll try to remember to add the butter like the recipe says so that they look a little "warmer" than the stark white.

Dipped Gingersnaps and Chantix

Yes, I still cook sometimes but just haven't been blogging about it as much. In fact, if you are interested, I keep my own public cookbook on RecipeZaar (love, love, love RecipeZaar) with everything that I have tried since I joined. Most of them will have comments from me one way or the other. Me? Comments? Yah, shocker.

Anywho. Last night I tried a bit of heaven called Dipped Gingersnaps. The cookies were crazy delicious, to the point that even Tom, non-gingerbread family eating man of mine, gave them high praise. Something like 4 out of 5 stars instead of expecting to hate it enough for a 0.

The problem was that I, non-baking and still new to cooking even at my age me, screwed up the whole white chocolate thing. Twice, once per attempt. Yes, it was probably related to heat or water or both. Chocolate is kind of high maintenance and bitchy for a novice like me, so I went in unprepared and confident thinking I'd just melt the stuff like it said so mine would look as gorgeous as those pictures (yes, link again - do look). Next time I'll be more careful. Sheesh.

So I was looking into my chocolate issues to find out why I wound up with a useless (bummer, turns out it can be used for other purposes if you don't disposal it in disgust with yourself) lump of blah where beautiful and satiny melted dipping chocolate should have been, and I saw this:


Odd. My chocolate crisis. My Chantix method of becoming a non-smoker who used to smoke. All in one place. Guess I'm being called tonight to bake more cookies and not smoke. OK. I can do that. Off I go.

Fragile (and Psychic Update)

Today is Smoke-free Day 149.

Each day that I don't smoke is kind of like its own little miracle (again, with my cooperation). Even now, to some degree.

I say that because you all know that I had my smoking oops back in mid-October, and I've talked about having been quit in the past for anything ranging from 2 months to well over a year, only to go back to smoking again. I'm not alone. I'll let each person tell his or her own stories, but even the best and most determined among us are capable of lighting up again (debating on putting link here to blog of one of the most supportive folks that helped me and has had a little stumble, but not sure if I should, so for now, I won't unless I'm told to go for it - doesn't matter either way since it could be any one of us).

Within a day of hearing about a dear fellow Chantix blogger slipping/sliding/stumbling/falling from a tree/whatever it's called, John also happened to post about this article, and I agree with John's choice of words to say that for many of us, our quits are "fragile." I'll quote the same thing John did because it stopped me in my tracks:
more than 90 percent of people who quit smoking eventually return to this dangerous habit
I'm not sure on that statistic since it sounds really high (though it may have been specific to the Bahamas), but I am aware that lots of those who quit smoking do not stay that way. For a good while, I didn't.

Also, this:
Dr. Mintzer also warns ex-smokers to avoid second-hand smoke. Not only is it dangerous to your health, but, when you are with others who are smoking, the temptation to light up can be almost irresistible.
Believe me, I know. The one night I was drinking and cigarettes were available, I failed. That was about 4 months into my quit, and I do not feel much stronger right now.

Tom and I have a tradition of going to Reno every year in February. Two years ago, I ended a quit of several months there, and last year it didn't matter because I was a full-blown smoker again (though I think I'd attempted quitting in between trips). Back on Chantix Day 57 / Smoke-free Day 45, I wrote a post about it not being worth it to me to take a chance in smoky places, especially where alcohol is involved, because *I know how I am* and I tend to smoke in those places, but at that point I was sure I'd be ready for Reno. Today, as the date looms closer, I'm less sure. I'll decide in January.

Perhaps this sounds really silly to those who are able to be in those situations and not smoke or think that I'm a weenie because this far along (approaching 5 months) I'm still not feeling so ready. My dear friend J that told me about Chantix was out in his favorite haunts immediately (looking hip, slick and cool as a non-smoker, I'm sure), and even though I screwed up briefly the time I gave the same situation a try, he hasn't had a single puff. Not one. I've said plenty times, we are all different. I wear Hello Kitty pajamas and have eaten squid entrails (gross as it sounds), probably unlike most of you (though please email me immediately if that also describes you).
My triggers will likely be somewhat different from some of your triggers.

The important thing for me is to keep in the very front of my mind,
at least for the next while, however long that is, is what kind of situations would make me more likely to succumb and smoke, yes, even now, and either avoid those situations when both reasonable and possible (I understand that sometimes I won't be able to, nor should I hole myself up in my apartment with racks of guns in fear of smoking breaking down my door), or at least prepare my head before entering one of those situations when I want to or have to go anyway.

Someday, maybe, it won't be quite like this and perhaps such vigilance will not be required. Until then, this really isn't so bad. Honestly, for all the fear and fragile in this post, today I actually feel pretty darn strong because I will not be in situations that make it difficult for me. In fact, overall, I'd still say that it continues to be almost easy not to smoke, and more so every day that I don't smoke.

I just understand that I am not somehow cured or immune from ever smoking again, and I never, ever, ever, EVER want to have to go through this all over again if just a little vigilance and listening to what I know is best for me can prevent it.

If you are off track, get back on. We can all do this. Carefully.

Psychic update: Watched the episode of Aliens in America that I missed last night, and had to laugh at the timing considering the post I wrote today. Nutshell: Raja, the exchange student, lights up a smoke, and before long both parents (secretly from each other) start to re-kindle the addiction long since gone. Lies, secrets, promises to quit, anxiety while quitting - all of it back just like that. Boom.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Wind, Rain, Poison, Linky Loo

Today is Smoke-free Day 148. I quit smoking 21 weeks ago. Thank you, Chantix. Sometimes I'm still amazed. Today is one of those days.

Outside the weather is just craziness. Wind, rain, downed trees, snarled traffic, the works. Just running between home to car and car to office was an exercise in tucking in any body part that could fit into a pocket (no hood - silly me) because it just feels miserable. I remember this time last year. Vividly. It used to irritate me when the weather was like this because just standing under something to smoke didn't work when the rain was blowing sideways and threatening to extinguish my little poison treat, the same little treat that seemed such a nice reward for braving the elements. When the weather was really and truly just bad enough, I'd try to postpone a smoke until it looked just a tad better out there, but then all I could do in the interim was to keep thinking about whether it was time yet and driving myself nic fit crazy.

Me, with jaw agape during this revelation: I can't remember the last time I even had an actual full-blown nic fit. Wow. More amazed.

As soon as I walked out this morning, it occurred to me how ridiculous I was as a smoker. Go stand in the wind and rain, get all cold and wet, and do this just for the sole purpose of sucking poison into your body. In an hour, do it again. Rinse and repeat. All day long. Like a good little lunatic addict. Good riddance.

Another link added to the Chantix bloggers on the side, and to be added to my list of linky loos:

Current, Regularly Updated Blogs I Read Daily:
  • Diva in da Chantix House - Leslie's blog. Leslie started working on quitting smoking before starting Chantix and officially quit completely on November 11, 2007.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Thank You and Sorry - Do See Linked Article

This kind of stuff gets me all kinds of aggravated.

Today is Veteran's Day. Most of us know someone or at least know someone who knows someone that has served in or is serving now. Whatever your view on the current war or any other, these are brave men and women out their doing their job, and they have my utmost respect. I'm far too much of a coward to face half of what many have experienced.

It breaks my heart to hear Vietnam vets talk of coming back home to such an ungrateful society who would confuse opinions about the war with opinions about our brave soldiers sent to do a job and risking their lives doing it. The veteran interviewed on a talk show I was listening to today was elated to be lifted out of hell and back on American soil, happy enough to cry even, and then people called him a "baby killer." Seriously, imagine that for a moment.

I hope nothing of the kind will happen this time. I worry already about so many of our "kids" returning with all of those scars, those seen and unseen, and my heart goes out to each of them and their families. How do you live in such fear so long while half a world away and missing your home, and then return home to a wife and children and just resume normal because you were luckier than the ones who weren't so lucky?

All of our honored veterans deserve our admiration, respect and support in whatever way they will allow us to give it to them.

Sales by greedy, disgusting retailers should not even be a part of the picture. Shame on you Macy's, Kohl's, Zales, Sears, and all the other pukes out there that think the almighty dollar is more important than proper respect for the brave men and women who have so selflessly served our country.

I was going to rant long and loud on all of this, but it's already been done in an even more articulate way than how my version was likely to have come out. Please read this excellent article, and keep sight of what really matters. The article touches on the one reason why September 11th as a "day off" kind of holiday would be bad - the sales. Can you imagine? You know it would happen.

Veterans, I thank you. I'm sorry that we don't always do such a great job of showing our gratitude, but lots of us do "get it" that this day isn't about a day off or a stupid sale. It's all about your brave service to your country, and you have my respect.

Really, NBC? Now?

OK, OK, I know that I just posted. This is unbelievable. The strike is mainly about compensation for writers (and eventually actors, etc.) on new media since they all get ZERO when I watch shows online. So today is when NBC chooses to launch their Direct Download service? Gotta be kidding. Nothing like making the point that the WGA folks are trying to make. Silliness.

Random Sunday

Today is Smoke-free Day 147.

I feel more awake, alert and interested in life in general this morning, but I have a stiff neck, and I'm feeling super random. Lucky you.

Eggnog Lattes
That's all fine because all weekend long has been egg nog latte weekend since egg nog is now in stores considering Christmas begins at Halloween. While I normally find that irritating, Christmas coffee flavors are nothing but wonderful year round. I was excited just that the creamer is out for just regular coffee, but a real latte with real eggnog (be sure to cut it with half milk) is to die for if you are me.

Ghetto TV
I need a new old TV and might be getting one today if the $20 one on Craigslist works out as planned. I have a TV next to my desk that is almost always on when I'm on my computer. Ever since the move back in May, it's been dropping channels. First it was FoxNews. Maybe that was a sign of sorts. I won't say. Then slowly a lot of other channels started to go away. Randomly. Shaking the TV or putting stuff under it to prop up one side or just yelling at it sometimes worked. For awhile, one channel wouldn't work, but you could get that channel on the channel next to it, but only sometimes. This goose is cooked. My Wifes are on tonight, and that is one of the channels I no longer get, so I need a cheap solution and have fingers crossed I've found one. Until then, the Food Network does come in clear as a bell. Maybe Tom is behind this somehow.

Twitter
I've had a Twitter account for a long time but pretty much never really used it since I didn't see the point. I still don't, but I've added it for my entertainment or your curiosity (over there, on the right). For now. So far I've just talked about coffee. Surprising, I know. If I find that I actually update it, I'll keep it. If not, I'll take it down. Nothing worse than twitter showing what someone was doing 36 days ago.

Cooking
Dear Stan mentioned on yesterday's post when I was feeling "off" something about cooking. Oh, yes. I've been cooking, just not being quite as creative as I was for awhile when I was cooking instead of smoking and blogging about it. That said, since I do still get the Food Network, on Friday I did make some very wonderful Strogie Hoagies because I'd watched Rachel Ray do it. Think Beef Stroganoff, on a bun. Mine didn't have watercress, but did have mushrooms, so it works out. Tomorrow is Cheap Ass Frugal Monday (yep, since last month, we do this every Monday), and one of my favorite super cheap meals: Butter Beans and Batter Bread, both from an excellent resource over at Hillbilly Housewife, in particular the $45 Low Cost Emergency Menu for 4 to 6 that she posted way back that I finally started trying (now I'm addicted to recipe above - works out to $0.35/serving shopping where I do - yes, I did the math all by myself). Turns out the site used to belong to another Maggie (had to be good), but has just recently changed hands. I appreciate that both of these women of faith spend less time preaching at folks and more time just putting good and useful information out there for people to help themselves. That is faith in action in my book.

That's All
OK, I've said plenty for the morning, so I'm off to enjoy my latte, maybe work a puzzle that I started (this one, if you are curious - I don't love Kinkade, but I do love puzzles, so here I am), consider whether it's OK to toss out the remaining Chantix that's still left, probably decide not to just yet like always, then have another latte and work on the puzzle some more. In theory, I need to go to the store so that I can cook Oven-Fried Chicken Chimichangas for dinner (since I have boat loads of chicken in my freezer from when it was on sale). We'll see. I'm not sure all of my lazy has left just yet.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Off

Today is Smoke-free Day 146.

I've been feeling a little off all day. It kind of feels almost like a cold coming on in my head, but not quite. I can't describe it. I do know that the way my head feels, almost like a smoking hangover, would be far worse if I actually was smoking like I used to do regardless of whether I wasn't feeling well. Thankfully, I don't feel terrible, and I'm hoping it's just a lazy Saturday kind of thing, which is not at all bad.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Super Sniffer

Today is Smoke-free Day 145. And Friday. Praise God.

Dear former self who used to inhale poison,

You, my little pal, were a stinky one. I know you thought that gums and perfumes and hand washing and hand lotion made it not be so, but I am more sure than ever that it was so because my sniffer has gone super, and I can smell a smoker from an aisle away. All this past week it's like the nasty smoke sniffer intensifier button has been pushed and turned this new feature on with full force. Smelling as I am now, this means others could smell you, and it did not smell good. Ever smell an ashtray? Yep, pretty much like that, but more stale in your hair and clothes and on your fingers. Ew. Your smoking fingers were the worst. The Chantix is long gone, and it's not always easy, but it's so very worth it, even just so that people cannot tell by smell if you have just left a certain area as they walk into it and want to gag. That's kind of creepy.

Love and non-stinky kisses,
Your current smoke-free self

Is it 5 yet?

Friday, November 09, 2007

Fair is Simply Fair

I support the Writers Guild of America. As much as I will miss my shows, I support these folks and will not whine too much while they are fighting for nothing more than just what is right.

If you think, as I admit I was guilty of when there were just whispers of possible strike, that this is something like "a bunch of left leaning, privileged, silver-spoon fed, pinko cry babies" (yep, almost verbatim my thoughts), please do have a look at this post, The Reality of the WGA Strike.

I personally have watched *tons* of episodes online when I've missed a show, and while I did know that there were ads, I certainly didn't know until the strike that people like the writers or actors were not getting paid. Is there work any less valuable because my schedule causes me to sometimes watch online instead of in front of the TV?

If you are a fan of The Office, Jenna Fischer (Pam) explains the strike well on her myspace blog and links to another excellent explanation by James Gunn on just how this affects more than may first meet the eye and goes way beyond writers.

The United Hollywood blog is keeping folks up to date and providing links to more information and ways to help.

If YouTube is your thing, take a look at wgaamerica's page has posted from the strike. Here is one of many (again, folks from The Office, who I just plain love):



If you also support the WGA and believe as I do that fair is simply fair, go ahead and sign the petition at http://www.petitiononline.com/WGA/petition.html to show your support.

Scoffers and Brats

Today is Smoke-free Day 144.

I had to laugh yesterday when I posted encouraging folks considering quitting to consider doing it with lots of others one week from today on Thursday, November 15, 2007 for The Great American Smokeout Challenge, and then I was reminded by Bob and Tasina in the comments on that post how funny it is that I'm actually doing my part to promote this kind of thing (sheesh, links much?).

I actually did get a giggle out of it (without coughing now that I don't smoke) when Bob said he used to scoff at such propaganda and Tasina used to be bratty and smoke even more on that day. I laughed because that was me, too, for so, so many years.

My perspective on smoking has changed so much over the years.

At 12, when I started smoking, I didn't care that it was harmful. I was bent on self-destruction and somehow believed I'd be dead by 18 anyway. Considering how I acted, I'm a lucky girl. This was mostly more of the same into high school where it was the stoner thing to do to be a smoker hanging out in the smoking lounge (yes, we had one, crazy, I know), and it looked cool with all that black eyeliner and attitude I wore. Even if I was so very not at all cool.

I wound up in a non-smoking dorm in college likely because I was either mid-quit for a day or two when I filled out the form to choose or was experiencing some wishful thinking, but it didn't really occur to me at that point that there was really any good reason to quit. I was still so young. Everyone I knew smoked, and so did I, just not in my dorm room (well, except for that one weekend when my roommate was gone).

Then Japan. Smoking everywhere was OK at the time. I worked in public schools. Those that didn't have a smoking room just let you smoke at your desk. I took stupid pride in being told that I'd won smoker rights for women in the high school where I worked for 2 years because I didn't realize that I had been smoking only with men until I'd given one woman who smoked in secret the courage to join. It never occurred to me that my students saw me smoking *all the time* when they had to actually walk into the smoking room before class (in keeping with the tradition that a class sends a student from their homeroom to collect the teacher from the teacher's room - or smoking room, I guess - to bring the teacher to the classroom). So much for setting an example. I still thought I was cool and immune from the dangers.

Then home from Japan. While I was gone, smoking had started to get super restrictive in the US, and I thought it was crappy. I couldn't believe that people couldn't smoke at Wendy's, so I wouldn't go there. Eventually most places were like that, and I resented it. I still have some mixed feelings for another post on another day since this is already bordering on ramble.

Through most of those stages, my attitude was pretty much Great American Smokeout, my ass, complete with the scoffing and brattiness expressed by Bob and Tasina.

Then came the years when I would try quitting once in awhile with varying degrees of success, meaning that one time I quit for about 3 months and once for over a year, but I always wound up smoking again. Still, every year I would get just a little bit older, and with that would come a combination of common sense, wisdom and fear that would meld together in such a way that I knew I wanted to quit before Something Bad Got Me. Want is kind of a strong term. I wanted to be able to snap my fingers and be done, but I did not want to have to work at quitting smoking. Besides, I *loved* smoking - and P.S., I still would even now if I didn't have so many reasons to get and stay quit. Once I heard about Chantix, I felt ready to give this quitting thing a go again sooner than I otherwise would have, and yay me, it worked.

Sitting here on the other side of quitting smoking with all of that old dread of quitting and the romanticizing of smoking now behind me and replaced by confidence that I can really do this and that I'm not even pissed off about not smoking (most moments, most days), I do want everyone to be able to experience life after cigarettes. It's from that place that I now promote the Smokeout day thing instead of reacting to it how I used to as some kind of joke.

I promise to never condescend anyone who smokes or become "one of those" kind of self-righteous and pompous non-smokers who feel it's OK to go out of their way be rude to smokers because smoking is bad (it's not OK - rude is still rude), but if I can say or do anything to encourage anyone to go ahead and give quitting smoking a try, I'm all over it, and this is a great opportunity, now that we're beyond that whole silly scoffing and brattiness that I'd almost forgotten.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

NicVax

Still Smoke-free Day 143, shortly before midnight, which means I should be sleeping instead of blogging.

Listening to the evening news, my ears perked up when there was mention of a vaccine to help people to quit smoking. First a pill (thank you heavens above for Chantix), now working on a vaccine called NicVax that seems (in my not expert mind anyway) to work somewhat similarly to Chantix, even if perhaps through a different mechanism, in that they say it blocks nicotine from getting to the brain where nicotine makes smokers happy.

Reuters can explain this better, so here's how it's described in their article:

The vaccine is designed to make the body produce immune system chemicals called antibodies that stop nicotine from getting to the brain and producing its pleasurable effects.

Rennard said patients who produced the most anti-nicotine antibodies were also the ones most likely to stop smoking for longer. And if they did not quit, they smoked less -- 10 cigarettes on average a day, compared with 20 before they got the vaccine.

I find it interesting that even in this study it's noted that different people's bodies do different things to different degrees. This is why I do think that one solution is not necessarily the same great solution for all people quitting smoking and that we take our own paths getting to the smoke-free where we are headed.

If this vaccine will help people quit smoking, I say bring it on. I know how much Chantix helped me. I do wonder about the side effect thing. With Chantix a person has the option to reduce doses or discontinue taking it (both under doctor's advice, of course) if side effects become too much, but with a vaccine, I'm curious what can be done after the shot has been given.

More information, including the name NicVax, can be found in this article.

Stop Thinking About It, Do It Nov 15

Today is Smoke-free Day 143, and I'm thrilled about it.

Most of the time I just share my own experience and try not to tell people what to do, but today I have to make a little plea to anyone still smoking and still just in the stage of considering quitting (which I was in for many years...). You have the perfect reason to just give quitting a try right around the corner, and you'd even have a week starting today to mentally prepare. If you already have a prescription for Chantix and started taking it tomorrow, your quit date would coincide with The Great American Smokeout Challenge on November 15, 2007, and you would be one of many giving it a go, even just for that one day. There is strength in numbers, and if you make it one day, you know that it's possible to stay quit as long as you choose to, one day at a time. Stop thinking about it, and just do this.

Even if you are not going the Chantix route, there are tons and tons of excellent resources over on the Smokeout page linked above (and you all just *know* that I will be adding it to my list of Linky Loos). There is an actual Quitline set up to give you a call, there are computer desktop goodies and toys that include a craving stopper button (includes a little distraction game, too - how cool is that?) and tips and fact sheets about what happens when you quit (you all know that I love these). (note: the little craving stopper button doesn't seem to work, so not sure it's worth the download unless they fix it)

There is life after quitting smoking. In fact, there is probably even more life. Stop thinking about it and just give it a go. Jump in, the water is fine.

Nevus Update

Many thanks for the many kind thoughts as I freaked out about having to revisit this silly blue nevus thing. After talking with the doctor, it sounds like waiting to see if it becomes an issue later is just as good of a plan as it would have been to have let them butcher and stitch me yesterday, so I went with that option. Tom was there, and he can attest that I didn't wuss out but really was given both options as equal.

Instead, we both got flu shots and then went out for a bite (a Chicago dog almost like the real deal, yummy) to balance everything out.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Nevus Part Two

Today is Smoke-free Day 142, and it is morning, and I do regret staying up until almost 3:00AM. My quit meter seems temporarily not to be showing for some reason, but I am *not* temporarily smoking. No clue what's going on. If I ever wake up today, I'll try to sort it out if it doesn't magically reappear on its own. Oh, OK, it's back. Never mind. If only everything else on my to do list could do that little trick.

You all know that I do not love needles and other painful stuff, and if you were reading way back in mid-July when I had the punch biopsy done on something called a blue nevus, then you know that I whined about it and used it as an excuse to buy more Hello Kitty Band-Aids to soothe my wounded psyche from the horror of it all. I get to do all of that again. Today. Turns out that they didn't dig deep enough, so this time will be more of the same, just a bigger hole, maybe an extra stitch. I am such a baby about all this, and thinking about the thought of stitches grosses me out and makes me feel like I deserve super extra special treatment (preferably in coffee form). Will I ever become an adult?

Not to be lame and quote myself, but I'm going to be lame and quote myself from an old post because no matter how scared I am about later today, this really is nothing but a little thing since they are still sure it is not cancer.
I'm so grateful right this moment that I quit smoking. I mean, I know that non-smokers do absolutely get cancer, but I'm glad to not be thinking about it so constantly as if it was right around the corner and would be my own fault for ignoring the warnings and letting it "get me" by not only doing nothing to prevent it, but worse, so blatantly almost tempting it. I'm not sure if there's a time frame by when I'll be completely out of the woods across the board from the effects of having been a smoker, but today I'm just glad that I've picked up my little pack of useful tools and resolution, said my goodbyes to my poisonous old friend and have started hiking my way out (with my walking stick, Chantix; thank God for Chantix this time through), and I won't look back.
Yep, I think I will live through this. But I will need coffee, Hello Kitty pajamas, and another box of Hello Kitty Band-Aids until the stitches come out. You know, like a big girl.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Middle of the Night Linky Loo Add

Right now is approximately Smoke-free Day 141.5 (not sure what day to call it since I'm up past 2AM on a school night - ugh, bad, bad, bad).

One more Chantix blogger added to the side and to add to my list of Linky Loos when I am actually awake, which probably won't be in the morning, possibly not at any point on Tuesday.

Current, Regularly Updated Blogs I Read Daily:
  • Jason Lutjen's Blog >> Chantix Blog - Jasons blog. After the first week on Chantix, Jason quit smoking at the end of October, and the rest is well worth reading and his to tell from there.

Who's Counting

Today is Smoke-free Day 141. It's also 20 weeks since the morning I woke up on Chantix Day 13 and decided to be all done smoking. That's pretty cool. I totally get why a lot of fellow Chantix bloggers are no longer counting the days quit, but as long as I still get a little thrill each day from it like I do, I'll be counting. We all have our own little tricks and our own ways of walking along this path, and as long as we all end up non-smokers (though those who used to smoke), well, we all get where we are going. There is no right or wrong way.

I told Tom yesterday that at certain moments most days, I would give just about anything if I could smoke without consequence (not possible) and that at some moments, even now, it's still so damn hard. He said that it's an accomplishment each day I don't smoke and is a big deal and that he is proud of me (have I mentioned that I am in *L-O-V-E* with this dear man?). Truthfully, as hard as certain moments are, overall the vast majority of my days are not like that for more than less than one minute. That little less than a minute moment just seems pretty strong while it's going on and makes me forget about all those other moments when the day is just fine. Also, yes, on the one hand each day really is a big deal, but on the other hand, I'm really just doing what any sane and normal person does naturally without thought (you know, not willingly suck poison into his or her body), but then I pat myself on the back and count how many days since I smartened up and did something about it. Kind of silly. Not in a bad way, just in a silly what works for me kind of way.

Monday, November 05, 2007

NaBloPoMo

I'm not usually much of a joiner, but since I post something pretty much daily anyway, and since it sounds cool, I'm doing NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) this year. I had no clue what this was until one of my favorite bloggers, 13th Apostol, talked about it in a very nice post here (hopefully blogroll issues are OK). So here I am. For all of November, every day, I'll be prattling on about something. Just like normal.

For fun, have a look at a random blog. Never know what wonderful person you will find.

Yes, I'm cheating and backdating just this one eensy weensy teeny tiny little post since I didn't decide until this morning that I did want to participate. I'm in no position of any authority, but I think it sounds cool, so I say backdate against the rules in the spirit of joining if you want to do this but just found out about it.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Oh Hell Yes

Today is Smoke-free Day 139.

Having some man-made coffee (translation: made by Tom) with Eggnog creamer (even if it's way early yet but so delicious) before it's time to leave for my hour of absolute bliss in the form of an hour long massage from a package bought years ago when money wasn't tight that they say still has a few hours remaining, all that perhaps followed by a yummy latte at Dutch Bros (where I rarely go since the move) and then an extra hour with my man since tonight we get back that hour robbed of us in the Spring when we sprung forward. What's not to love about that?

In between all, no smoking. I can't wait to see how much longer I feel that much more wonderful from the massage. Oh sweet bliss, here I come.

This is my reward to me because I haven't done it in awhile, and frankly, I deserve it with all the not smoking I've been up to during the good days and the not so good days. The Chantix GetQuit thing hasn't mentioned it in awhile like they used to do constantly, but they did convince me that a little treat once in awhile is in order for everyone who used to be a smoker but is not doing it anymore. Oh. Hell. Yes.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Zero Lives Saved

Today is Smoke-free Day 138.

The blood letting yesterday turned into a huge disappointment. I didn't pass out, but I was also there over two hours only to not be able to squeeze out enough blood for them to use - almost enough, but just not quite enough. I still wonder if it's because I was about 20 minutes in before someone told me I was supposed to be squeezing the squeezy thing about every 5 seconds - would it have mattered? So it was two hours of white knuckled scary (because I'm a chicken who hates blood and needles or knowing they are coming before they do) and zero lives saved instead of three lives or any lives since they had to toss out my attempt. By the end, I was actually more frazzled than normal folks would be, so I went out to my car, and I had a little melt down and cried with more emotion than any of it really deserved, and then I had a big dinner and Halloween candy followed by falling asleep early on the couch, all of which restored and replenished my mind and body, in my mind, anyway. I'll be trying again in early January. They get one more chance.

I'm so proud of all of you who so selflessly do this on a regular basis. I'll keep trying.

As frazzled and upset as I was, it didn't even occur to me to smoke. And I can assure you that back in the bad old days after spending over 2 hours in hell, lighting up would have been the first thing on my mind. That's progress.

Of all the drugs listed in the materials given before giving blood, Chantix isn't even mentioned, so it must be fine to donate while on it or shortly after being on it, and if my next blood giving attempt also accomplishes nothing, I can at least feel good knowing that someone I've told about Chantix might also find the success I have with it, so in a more round about way, that's a life saved, too, since I feel it helped save mine. OK, I feel better.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Giving Blood

Today is Smoke-free Day 137.

I have an appointment to donate blood today. This is something that needle-phobic me very rarely does. The handful of times I've done, the process typically ends with me breathing into a paper bag and/or passing out. Still, I want to be better about doing this kind of giving. Quitting smoking has touched other parts of my life and has made me want to do more in general in the way of things that are just good for me like walking, or in this case, I guess, good for others like giving blood. Something about thinking about quitting smoking and then finally taking action (thanks in large part to my dear friend J's tip about Chantix) sort of influences me to want to do the same with other good things I've typically left at the "thinking about it" stage. Oddly enough, as I thought about it today, the handful of other times I've donated blood were during periods of being a non-smoker. Perhaps I was similarly inspired then, too, but since I didn't blog about it, I can't really go back to look. I know that even smokers can donate blood, but I still like knowing that my blood won't have as much junk or poison in it when I give it away. Of course, I would encourage smokers, non-smokers or those in between to do this good deed (here's a link to Give Life) if so inclined and eligible, but I'm just a happy girl that my blood is smoke-free like me!

All that deep breathing I've used to get through times of wanting to smoke should come in handy while I'm trying to relax at needle time. I'm such a brave little chicken.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

That Tree

Today is Smoke-free Day 136.

For the past couple of weeks the trees have been just brilliant with their colors. Since this is our first autumn in the new place since the move, it's all kind of new. I mean, of course there were trees at the old place (lots, actually), but there is something about the sheer abundance of them where we are now as well as just how they happen to be laid out that really is quite something. It's difficult to explain, but Tom and I are both just blown away whenever we walk outside, and we are still thrilled with our new location.

There is this one tree that I've been meaning to take a picture of to share [now taken, by Tom] because words can't do it justice. It is such a bright reddish orange to such a bold degree that it actually changes the color of the lighting at our doorstep as well as inside areas of our apartment. I've never seen anything like that.

Every time I see that tree and watch how it changes the appearance of everything around it by casting such an incredibly beautiful yet almost mysterious glow, I am reminded that I have so much to live for because there is still so much I haven't seen or experienced. This morning it occurred to me when I looked at that tree (at some point between rushing out the door, forgetting my glasses and phone, having to scrape frost off my car) that by quitting smoking I've improved my chances of seeing that many more autumn days like this one for that many more years. Anything can happen, but knowing that I'm no longer contributing to an early demise by lighting up every hour certainly makes me feel better about taking some responsibility for my own health and well-being, even when it's one of the toughest things to do some days (thankfully not all days are all that tough, even after Chantix).

The nice deep breath of crisp autumn morning air was nice, too.