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The Only Way I Was Able To Stop Smoking



  • Thanks for your kind words Bbnpcfl.

    (EDITED TO ADD I didn't intend to hop up on a soapbox with my response and very nearly deleted this entire post because I felt like I did. I decided to go ahead and post it because this is only a random post and everyone is free to NOT read it. And why would someone with no intention of quitting even be reading through this particular section to begin with? I just started typing and let it all hang out, so here it is.)

    I'm still smoke and nicotine free. I had been using this forum as a place to write random stuff about my journey and thought few people (if any) would get any benefit from it. If someone is going to quit I think they will, and if someone is not going to quit then they won't. Reading stuff like this didn't do anything for me before I quit and I don't understand why someone with no intention of quitting would even bother to read this. Threads like this one were helpful for me only after I finally found my own motivation to quit.

    So today marks 116 days for me having no sickerettes and no nicotine. 116 days at one pack a day is 116 packs! That's 2,320 ciggies! I've also not spent $696.00 on 'em. That, interesting enough, almost pays for the new camera I just bought. Now that I think about it, another week of no smoking will pay for it in full.

    I'm finally getting to the point where I will, somewhere during the day, realize I haven't been thinking about cigarettes all day. This not smoking thing is so out of character for me. Now and again I still think I'd like to fire one up but it's much easier to disregard that thought these days because it's too crazy to consider. Smoking a cigarette sounds as unbelievable today as thinking about quitting a few short months ago did.

    But I've made it this far.

    I keep remembering the quotes I used in a prior post. They DO help me get through the rough patches:

    "N.O.P.E. = Not One Puff, Ever"

    "If you think you're miserable because you don't have a cigarette remember you'll be even more miserable if you DO have one"

    "If you have one cigarette you'll be back where you started, and that place where you started was desperately wishing you were where you are today"

    I've gone back to using the vape stick off and on, but it isn't every day and it's not more than two or three draws each time and I'm satisfied. At that rate there is absolutely no danger of me falling off the no-smoking wagon. I guess the vape stick has morphed into  my backup just-in-case pacifier.

    I don't believe there are any special words or methods that will convince a smoker to quit until that smoker makes his/her mind up that they are going to quit. They'll quit when they find their motivation. As I posted before, my motivation was pain. I wish my motivation would have been something like swimming, where I decided to quit because I didn't want to get my valuable cigarettes wet, but it is what it is.

    I've watched people unable to quit after they could barely walk because they couldn't catch their breath, and would often light up and smoke a cigarette while they stopped to catch their breath. I've watched people unable to quit after they started pulling a O2 tank behind them. I've seen people unable to quit when they couldn't smoke an entire cigarette because they couldn't catch their breath while smoking. I've seen people unable to quit when they could not eat a meal without stopping for a smoke break. I've seen people cry because they were literally sucking for breath and did not have enough strength to smoke that one last ciggie while waiting for an ambulance for a final trip to the hospital. One of my biggest fears was ending up like they did but I knew I was powerless to avoid that ending. THAT'S the power of nicotine.

    I'd still be smoking today if not for the orthopedic surgeon saying he would not do surgery if I was smoking. I know that's a sad statement but I also know it's true.

  • April 9 2018

    I've been nicotine free for 18 weeks and 2 days. Yes, I'm counting those two days. They're important to me. It's like a little kid telling someone how old they are and they gotta put that half-year in there ("I'm six AND A HALF"). I've been smoke free for 18 weeks AND TWO DAYS.

    That's 128 days I've not smoked. At one pack a day that's 128 packs of cigarettes I've not smoked. At $6 per pack that's $768.00 I've not spent. With 20 cigarettes in a pack that's 2,560 cigarettes.

    I just realized that, even on the day I quit, I was having trouble trying to imagine how I was going to get through NOT smoking one specific cigarette: the next one. Now I've not smoked 2,560.

    Two thousand, five hundred and sixty. 

    Those who have never smoked might be thinking "Big deal" about the smoking and "Awesome" about the money.

    Those who have already quit smoking understand and applaud the difficulty of making it 18 weeks and two days without a smoke.

    Those who are only thinking "Maybe I'll try to quit soon" are immediately horrified with only the mere thought of going that long without a smoke.

    To me, after smoking 48 years, going this long without a smoke is unbelievable. It's like Willie Nelson going on tour without weed or Hank Aaron sliding home from first base. Totally unbelievable. The hunger for nicotine no longer consumes my thoughts. I still have a desire to smoke now and then but it's not even remotely comparable to the unbelievable cravings I suffered through at the beginning.

    When I'm simply in the general vicinity of a smoker the odor is very obvious. A couple of times the odor has actually made my eyes water. Not cool. I had feared the odor wafting off smokers would make me want a cigarette but I'm surprised (and happy) it has the opposite effect. 

    I've been on medical leave since January but stopped smoking the beginning December. My workplace has been "no smoking" for several years, so I wasn't tempted with cigarettes after getting inside and away from the parking lot smokers.

    In January, while I was recovering from back surgery, my wife and I were surprised to see a TV news report about my workplace being shut down. Long story short I still have a job... it just won't be in the same place. It took a couple of days to get the information about not actually being without a job and it took a couple of weeks to actually verify it, so that was a stressful time and I was sorely tempted to smoke. End result is I'll be doing the same thing I've done for decades but it will be in a different county with different workmates and I'll still be a non-smoker.

    Since we found out I'll be going to work somewhere else I've decided that it will actually help me maintain my non-smoking status, because I won't associate the drive to work with firing up a cigarette at specific locations during the drive in. I also won't feel that urge to "get that last cigarette in" when I get within a mile or so of the workplace.

    In years past I knew exactly how many cigarettes I'd need to get to work. I also knew I had to add one because I'd need it to get me to where I could buy another pack at the end of my shift. I further knew if I'd need to stop on the way to work to get a pack. I knew exactly when to fire up that last cigarette while driving to work so I'd be finishing it as I drove onto the parking lot. I knew exactly when to fire up that last cigarette on the way home so I'd be finishing it as I pulled into the driveway. I knew exactly when to fire up that last cigarette at the end of the day before I got ready for bed. I knew if it looked like I would have just enough time for a cigarette before supper was ready. Commercial break during a good movie? Just enough time to run out for a quick smoke. See someone else slip off to the side for a smoke at a BBQ? Better join them... even if I just smoked one.

    Looking back it seems I kept track of time not by the clock as much as when it was time for a cigarette. I even made plans based on how long something would take before I could have a cigarette.

    The journey continues........

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  • FRIDAY APRIL 27, 2018

    4 months
    3 weeks
    5 days
    146 packs
    2,920 ciggies

    Another chapter in my little stop smoking journey.....

    I'm still cigarette and nicotine free. No ciggies for the past 146 days... that's $876.00 not spent and 2,920 cigarettes not smoked. To be clear, that should read $870.00 not spent [on cigarettes] because I treated myself to a new camera, but still...

    With that said, I'd sure like a cigarette right now, but don't freak out because there is no danger of me smoking one. I know it wouldn't taste as good as my mind is trying to convince me it would. I feel that I've come too far to come only this far anyways.

    To recap where I came from, after 48 years of smoking I stopped in December 2017 and have been doing real well. I suffered through the withdrawal and was proudly victorious as I battled insane cravings for a smoke. I felt I was pretty much past the roughest of the rough but am discovering to my deep disappointment and sad surprise that there are new and unexpected hurdles looming.

    Looking back, I now realize that a lot of the "doing real well" with the quitting smoking thing was partly due to a winter schedule (as far as doing household chores) and partly due to very little physical activity because of back pain and what was then upcoming surgery. AFTER surgery the "doing real well with my quit" part was helped immensely by basically being stuck in a big fluffy chair all day while taking pain pills and hoping I'd soon poop.

    All of that is now in the past. The doc has pronounced me healed from the surgery. I'm free to walk outside without a cane or any other support and do whatever I'm able to do within limits of weakness and soreness caused by awakening and rebuilding the muscles I've not used since January. I've started physical therapy to help me get my strength back. It must be working because after the first two visits to physical therapy I was as sore as the first week or so of boot camp.

    But this isn't about the surgery and it isn't about the physical therapy and it isn't about the sore muscles. It's about the smoking. So stay with me here because this is where I make the velvety smooth transition to "I said all that to say this........"

    I said all that to say this........ (see what I did there?)

    I'm learning there are warm-weather triggers I'd never thought about; triggers that I wasn't tempted with while snow was on the ground AND triggers I wasn't tempted with while sitting in that big fluffy chair taking pain pills and hoping to poop.

    Today I more clearly understand how people can stop smoking and go back after six months or so, because the new cravings I'm going through are soooo intense. They're almost as bad as the initial cravings when I first quit. I'd thought I was well past the searing desire to fire up but I ain't.

    For decades I'd smoked while doing regular old every-day chores and never once thought about smoking while doing them, even though I was. I'd be in the middle of doing something, stop long enough to light a cigarette, and continue doing whatever I was doing while I smoked and not even realize I had done so. Now I'm doing those every-day-chores for the first time without stopping for a cigarette and the cravings have reawakened.

    Here are some trigger examples:

    While weeding flower beds I'll slow down, look where I've been to see how it looks and realize that must be about the time I'd fire up a smoke because I have a sudden and intense craving to do so.

    While on the riding lawn mower cutting the grass, get to a specific part of the yard and realize that's about the time I'd fire up a smoke... and realize it several more times in several more spots before I get done mowing.

    Stop in the warm sunshine and look around to see what else needs done and realize that's about the time I'd fire up a smoke.

    Walk to the shed and realize that's about the time I'd fire up a smoke.

    Stop to wipe sweat off my brow and realize that's about the time I'd fire up a smoke.

    Hose dirt off garden tools and realize that's about the time I'd fire up a smoke.

    Stop to get a drink of water and realize that's about the time I'd fire up a smoke.

    Sit on the porch watching the rain and realize that's about the time I'd fire up a smoke.

    Stop because of a phone call and realize that's about the time I'd fire up a smoke.

    Wife comes out and asks a question and I realize that's about the time I'd fire up a smoke.

    Fill up bird feeders and realize that's about the time I'd fire up a smoke.

    Trigger after trigger, the list goes on and on and on and on.

    I KNOW I'm way past the nicotine withdrawal stage and I KNOW these are only psychological cravings but that knowledge makes it no easier because they're still there and they're strong.

    Still, I know I'm fighting a good fight and also know I'm still well on track to keeping my non-smoking status.

  • Wednesday June 20, 2018 - I'm still a non-smoker. I've kicked the nicotine habit but now I'm addicted to keeping track of how long it's  been since I last had a cigarette. There is no small degree of satisfaction each time I ignore the desire to fire one up, and it makes me feel good to know each desire suppressed means actual money in my pocket.

    At this time last year, if I had a $10 bill in my wallet today I'd have only $4 tomorrow because $6 would have gone for a pack of cigarettes. I'd also need a couple more bucks to add to that $4 tomorrow so I could get that next pack, and then I'd have to come up with another $6 the day after that.

    But today there are times I've had the same ten dollar bill in my wallet for a week or more. That means that if I have a $10 bill in my wallet today the chances are good I'll still have $10 in my wallet tomorrow, and that's a good feeling. I was like an alcoholic or a heroin addict but nicotine was the drug that made me it's slave.

    I've said that to say this:

    I remember that first day I quit when I was desperately wanting a cigarette and wondering if I could make it another half hour or so without firing up, but I've now been nicotine free 200 days. Two hundred days.

    That's 200 packs of cigarettes I've not smoked.

    200 packs at 20 ciggies per pack is 4,000 ciggies not smoked.
    At $6 per pack that means I've NOT spent $1,200 on cigarettes. 

    That has paid for my new camera with several hundred dollars left. Now I've got my eye on a certain lens (which happens to be on sale with $180 off).

    It's true that each day I still want a cigarette, but it's only now and then and the desire does not consume my thoughts like it did when I first quit. The desires are much more manageable and are NOTHING like the insane cravings I had the first couple of weeks. It IS getting easier to ignore the "I want a smoke" thoughts. I know a cigarette wouldn't, COULDN'T, taste as good as my mind is insisting it would.

    I honestly did not believe I'd be able to stop smoking but here I am, knocking it outta the park. People are always saying "If I can do [whatever] anyone can" and I'm now "one of them" ... Hey, if I can stop smoking anyone can.

  • This is the most inspiring post I've ever seen regarding smoking.

    All that reading I've just done is so true.

    Triggers are the biggest challenge to change and so true, coffee, after eating, it's like when the phone rings that's my cue to light up, I've done this without even realizing it at times.

    Last night I called 800quitnow, convinced myself finally to do so, wouldn't you know it, no one answered.

    I thought, it figures!.

    I realize this moment the key to quiting is within us, not in some patch or pill.

    Thanks for the encouragement.

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  • Mud flap, welcome to the other side of siggies, I grew up in a family of smokers, all my siblings ended up smoking. I married a smoker. He was a pack a day at just over $30 a pack back then. Oh my word it caused him vivid dreams. And that first year his anger was scarey. He took up food instead,lol. well that year we brought two new quads for the kids for Christmas. The smoke money paid for those instead. I never smoked . You will soon find the smell of smoke on other smokers isn’t very nice, my husband says even after all these years it makes him sick 

    Good luck and keep on smelling fresh air. Harpy 

  • Thank you guys for the comments.

    I hope Benz found the incentive to stop and you're right that the key to quitting is within us. That's a good way to describe it. It's easy to quit but tough to stay quit.

    I hope harpy made a typo about cigarettes costing $30 a pack. Now that I don't smoke I can kinda sorta imagine your experience being a non-smoker and married to a smoker. How in the world could you survive that?

    I'm now at 4,580 cigarettes not smoked.
    That's 229 packs.
    At $6 a pack that's $1,374.00.

    NOT smoking has gotten me a new camera and that lens I had mentioned in an earlier post. As a special treat for me I also upgraded my tripod and head.

    Things have gone sour recovery-wise and I'm still off work. All the back stuff is healed but recovery from nerve damage is going slow. Sloooowww. Long story short it's going too slow for work and I'm scheduled for Involuntary Separation, meaning if I'm not able to do the job they want to separate me and replace me with someone who can do the job. My involuntary separation is scheduled to go into effect on Aug 3, 2018. There are several unanswered questions but I've been in contact with the head  of Personnel and have a meeting scheduled betwixt Personnel, the brass, my wife and me on July 31st. I expect to have answers then.

    This year my wife and I have had some crushing disappointments but the involuntary separation thing is the lowest blow we've endured so far.

    But we're still standing tall and proud. And I'm still a non-smoker.

  • Joel1QJJoel1Q Posts: 331
    edited 07/22/2018 - 12:30 AM

    Mudflap, you said something nice back when I was a pre surgery wreck at the beginning of the year, and it helped my spirit at the time. Your humorous posts the past half year since have been enjoyable to read- i now have a good line for all my lovely neighbors with yippee dogs... 

    It’s so wonderful to read how well you are doing post surgery AND that you have managed to quit smoking -and get past the tough part while having major surgery and all the other triggers and distractions you experience - and after smoking for 48 years...your story is an inspiration for us all!  

    Congrats and stay positive!


    L3-S1 ALIF Feb 2018 and 

    L3-S1 PLIF Laminectomy and Fusion March 2018

  • Yes you read right mudflap, $150 he would pay for a carton, they were cheaper by the carton, that was back in 2000 . today my son pays $48 for a pack 40 sickies here. He is now 30 and took up sickies only 4 years ago.  I really am glad I never smoked, I walk into a shopping centre and people all stand at the 10 metre mark from the entry for there sickies and the smell of smoke over comes you , grose. 


  • ps

    Anyone debating, quitting is the best thing you’ll ever do for yourself. I tried 4 times. The last time was the second time I quit cold turkey, and the only time it worked.

    Removing those triggers and getting through the first 3 weeks were key to succeeding, but in the end it’s just using the power of the mind to have willpower. 

    L3-S1 ALIF Feb 2018 and 

    L3-S1 PLIF Laminectomy and Fusion March 2018

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