A year ago today I made a decision that had a huge impact on life as I knew it. I butted my last cigarette (actually didn’t butt it since I used a self-extinguishing ashtray, but I digress). First, my stats: 1) just under 14,000 cigarettes not smoked; 2) $2,100 saved and donated to charity; 3) my lungs have improved by 5% – this will be the longest part of the journey. One of the apps that I used to log my progress/success showed me that since I stopped smoking there have been 3,497,345 smoking related fatalities, and I AM NOT one of them.
I know of at least 6 people that have found encouragement from my journey and have left this horrible addiction behind. That in turn encouraged me along the way. Five of these people I have never met in “real life,” just via Facebook. Outside of Facebook, my ex-husband quit and both my kids moved from cigarettes to e-cigs (the vape rage) and I am so thankful.
What I wasn’t prepared for a year ago was how the journey would go. I had quit before, many, many times. The last time I was serious about it was over 30 years ago, and other than nicotine withdrawal, I had very little discomfort. What a difference 30 years makes. Thirty years of tobacco manufacturers adding more and more addictive ingredients.
Thanksgiving last year was horrible. I was nine days into detox. I vomited most days/nights during that first few weeks. Everything smelled like it had come out of the back end of one of my dogs. The house, refrigerator, food (both at home and out), you get the point.
That early detox actually led to the very success that I found this time around that eluded me any other time I had tried to quit. Finding myself so physically ill pissed me off. Really pissed me off. The more pissed off I got, the more I was determined that I would never go back. I cried a lot. When I would voice my anger the tears would flow and the determination would be even more cemented.
When I hit the two month mark I walked into a gym. I was just looking for information, but left with a membership and a trial evaluation with a trainer. The first week in February I began the physical part of my healing. Combining the smoking cessation with the training – that push – I really started to feel the changes. They didn’t happen for many, many months – it was a slow process. From a distance no one would see the change. The weight is the same. But as you get closer or have a conversation with me you notice so very much. I can complete a sentence of more than 4 words without coughing for air. I can laugh without coughing. I had become a recluse. Rarely would leave the house. I’m out a minimum of 4 days a week – even if just 30 minutes.
What a journey. What a ride.