Smoke Free 90 Days!

Smoke Free 90 Days!

Wow! Now that’s a new record for me. It’s a miracle that’s for sure, one day at a time. Never underestimate the power of prayer. And I can’t forget the Chantix. I know I couldn’t have made it this far without it.

I have not been going to the gym. I miss going because it is such a great reminder that I no longer smoke. I tend to take it for granted that I am not smoking anymore. Can you imagine? As desperate as I was to stop and all those times I tried, I have now become complacent. When I go work out every step on that treadmill reminds me how lucky I am that I can breathe and still have the oxygen and stamina to walk two or three miles at a pretty good pace. Now if it gives me such a great feeling, why don’t I go? I have a million reasons. I forget to bring my shoes/clothes in the morning, my son works at 5:00 and needs my car most nights during the week, I never think about going in the morning before work, and I never think about going home changing shoes/clothes and then heading for the gym. Okay, no more excuses. I just figured out how I can overcome the minor obstacles I have thrown in my path. After all, I am paying for it every month, I might as well use it, right?

Well, our KU Jayhawks have made it to the Final Four once again. I am so excited. Those kids have worked hard and I hope they go all the way! Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

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Smoke Free 62 Days!

Smoke Free 62 Days!

Okay, this is getting weird. I have been smoke free for 62 days. How can that be? I am calm, rational, conscious, focused, peaceful, serene, happy, employed, sane and the list could go on and on. What’s up with that? Normally when I quit I am totally INSANE! I never know what I might be capable of. So I must say, this is different and very interesting.

I have to blame the Chantix. That’s all I can think of that I have done different this time. Motivation has always been there for me, at least the last five years or so. I have given it everything I’ve got and still was not able to make it even 60 days. The patch, Nicotrol Inhaler, gum, lozenges, filters, herbs, and anything else you can think of, I have tried them all and nothing worked until now.

Grateful doesn’t even begin to tell you how I feel. This is a grace I have received from God and I did nothing to deserve it. It is a gift. A gift to me, my children, my Dad, my friends and to all the people that love me and care about me.

Through this blog I hope I can help others who have struggled the way I have struggled with quitting smoking. I may get Cancer tomorrow but at least I quit. My son who is still smoking, and my daughter, can see that their Mother can quit, after all those years of me telling them, “I Can’t.” Now when my son is ready to quit he will know that he CAN do it. There is a way out from under that horrible addiction to nicotine.

Once I finally made up my mind that I wanted to live instead of die, then I started to desperately search for a way out, a way to stop hurting myself and my Dad. I didn’t have to hurt anyone anymore, especially myself. Smoking is a slow suicide. For me smoking was an easier way to kill myself. I don’t think I consciously knew I hated myself and wanted to kill myself. But why would someone who is in their right mind want to continue with a behavior that will kill them? Now the keywords here are ‘right mind’. I cannot say I was in my ‘right mind’ while ingesting nicotine as fast and as often as I could. That was all I cared about was my next fix.

Freedom! That is what I have today. Freedom from slavery to Nicotine, freedom from stopping at the Kwik Stop when it is seven degrees outside and blowing snow and getting out of my nice warm car to slip on the ice as I trudge into the store for a pack of smokes. Freedom from excusing myself at family gatherings so I can go outside and smoke. Freedom from feeling like an outcast with my own family. Freedom from worrying if I’m going to have enough money to buy smokes, to heck with food, that comes second, I NEED CIGARETTES! Freedom from worrying about my health and when will I get Cancer? Freedom from the guilt I had every-time I would light a cigarette and know what my children would have to go through, not just if I died, but if I had a lung transplant and needed 24 hour care and the hardship and burden I would be on them when they are just starting to live their own lives. Freedom! That is what it is all about.

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The Journey from Self-Destruct to Self-Love

Smoke Free 27 days!

I am curious about the desire to improve oneself. Why is it that some people have the need to better themselves — i.e., quit smoking, start exercising, eat healthier — and some people are on ‘self-destruct’? Actually, I have been on both sides of this coin. It comes down to self-love or self-hate, depending on where you are at. Look at Brittney Spears, it’s not hard to see that she doesn’t love herself right now. Oh I believe she loves her boys, but until she can love herself, she has nothing to offer them.

When I was on self-destruct, I was so ‘self’ absorbed that all I could think about was myself. I loved my children but, I was not capable of showing that love or contributing anything that would benefit them at the time. Alcohol was what I loved the most. It’s hard to admit that it consumed my every thought, action, and feeling. My life was all about Alcohol and I can say the same about cigarettes

.Quit Smoking
Being a slave to a chemical like nicotine or alcohol is being on self-destruct. It’s like a slow suicide so it is not surprising that a lot of smokers are depressed people. When we smoke we are self medicating our depression. Nicotine is an upper so it works for us. When we quit, we get depressed. Some of us get dangerously depressed. Suicidal thoughts, no hope, and crying constantly. These are all experiences I have had when I’ve tried to quit smoking in the past. This time it is different. The Chantix has made it so that I can feel somewhat normal while not ingesting Nicotine into my blood stream. I am on an anti-depressant so I am anxious to see what happens to me after 12 weeks on Chantix. Will I crash and smoke again? God, I pray I don’t. I have come too far and learned too much during this quit to go back to smoking. And smoking again will absolutely crush my self-esteem–what little bit I have gotten since I quit–and that would depress me all the more.

Now that I am on the other side, self-love, it has become clear to me of one major difference between self-hate and self-love. God. He was nowhere in my life when I was abusing Alcohol. I have struggled with a ‘conscious contact’ with Him during my sobriety. I try to remember to ask Him to Please keep me Sober in the morning and Thank Him at night for doing so. Having a scheduled time in the morning for my readings and meditation helped me with this but, since I started attending 7:00 a.m. meetings, I have let that go by the wayside. The last few weeks I haven’t been able to attend the early meetings so I went to a different group on Friday night. Everything in my life has changed since I quit smoking so I shouldn’t be surprised my meeting schedule would change also. When I quit drinking, everything in my life changed also. Doing things differently is what going from self-hate to self-love is all about. I need to be more open to the changes that are happening in my life. Not just the physical, which is all I have been focusing on for the last 27 days, but the spiritual and mental changes too.

Quitting smoking has made me crave a more spiritual life. I feel that my heart is open to God and there isn’t any ‘clogged arteries’ anymore coming from guilt or hating myself. Loving me, being comfortable in my own skin, is something I have searched for in bottles and in packs all my life but, I could never find. I have found it because God is in my life today whether I am ‘conscious’ of Him or not, He is here with me at all times. He loves me, which means I am lovable, which means I deserve to be loved. That love comes from me, loving myself, taking care of myself, so that I now have love to give to my children and family, plus any other people I meet along this journey that I am on. It’s true, ‘you can’t love someone, until you love yourself.’

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Do You have “Ex-Smoker Disorder?”

Smoke Free 24 days!

Signs you may be an ex-smoker…

There are so many “Disorders” these days, I thought there should be one for all of us ex-smokers. Now that we have Chantix, there are going to be a lot more of us running around. Make it easy on yourself to recognize someone with the disorder, by reading the symptoms below.

  • A bleak outlook—nothing will ever get better and there’s nothing you can do to improve your situation. Never be able to smoke again. What is there to look forward too? No more smokers cough in the morning to wake up to. No more panic attacks because when I get out of bed and I can’t find my cigarettes or worse…a lighter. Yes, it is rather bleak to wake up in the morning with clean lungs and no panic attacks.
  • Loss of interest in daily activities–No interest in or ability to enjoy former hobbies, pastimes, social activities, or sex. OMG! You mean I can’t enjoy my former activity of being a couch potato. What about my favorite pastime of standing outside in a wind chill of -50 degrees trying to get a good hit off of my cigarette. Oh yes, that is a true loss.
  • Appetite or weight changes–Significant weight gain—a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month. What can I say? Food never tasted so good! Unfortunately I now enjoy food with all my senses, I can smell it and actually TASTE it! Amazing. Not to worry though, this symptom will correct itself around 6-months to a year.
  • Sleep changes–Either insomnia or oversleeping (also known as hypersomnia) Sleep is good! Our bodies are healing and they need the rest to restore all the damage we did to ourselves by smoking.
  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation–Either feeling “keyed up” and restless or sluggish and physically slowed down. And this is supposed to be something new? I have always had this symptom, even when I was smoking.
  • Loss of energy–Feeling fatigued and physically drained. Even small tasks are exhausting or take longer. Time does seem to move in slow motion now. I used to get up and get ready for work and have a good 30 minutes to get on my computer and check emails or blog before I had to leave for work. Oh yeah, I would get up at 4:30 a.m. coughing my lungs up and craving a cigarette. Now that I’m not craving nicotine in the morning, I can sleep later. I don’t have to get up and have my “fix.”
  • Self-loving–Strong feelings of worthiness or pride. No criticism of perceived faults and mistakes. All of a sudden, we love who we are. Active, healthy,empowered people who are doing the single most important change we can make in our entire lives. We are proud of ourselves for overcoming many obstacles and not smoking. We have made it through many trials and tribulations and did not smoke! We are no longer beating ourselves up for not taking care of our health, for being perceived as “outcasts” in our society. Yes, this is a tough one to live with. More self-esteem is always a downer.
  • Concentration problems–Trouble focusing, making decisions, or remembering things. Smoking a cigarette doesn’t help us focus or concentrate any better. It’s a distraction from the problem at hand. If I have problems concentrating, I take 10 deep breaths which gets more oxygen to my brain and relaxes me. It works every time. Or, getting up and walking around also helps. I think it does the same thing-get that oxygen flowing to my brain.
  • Irritability–Easily annoyed or frustrated and lashing out in anger or snapping at others. Unfortunately, nicotine withdrawal isn’t a good legal defense for murder. So, for now we have to learn how to cope with these feelings. I haven’t murdered anyone yet but, I have lashed out with some choice words to a co-worker. Before I quit smoking, I thought I was a saint, so lashing out just makes me a little more human and a little less perfect. I’m okay with that. It was a lot of pressure trying to be perfect.
  • Aches and pains–New or worse physical symptoms, including headaches, backaches, diarrhea or constipation. Feeling aches and pains makes me grateful that I’m alive and not lying in some hospital bed with a tube in my lung and hooked up to oxygen. I can deal with a few minor discomforts because my body is healing.

That’s it for now. If you recognize any of these symptoms in yourself, get down on your knees and thank God for the blessing he has given you. A second chance at life and the power to choose how you want to live it, this time around.

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Back at Work, MacBook Air™ Released, and Gratitude for Quitting Smoking

Back at work today! Everyone is talking about the release of the MacBook Air™. Of course, I work in Information Technology so it seems to be all the buzz with the staff around here. Wow, it is the thinnest laptop ever and I am just amazed myself. I am a PC person and Macs are peaking my interest more these days. Hmmmm we’ll have to see where that takes me.

Enough about IT/work stuff. My mouth seems to be healing pretty well from having my teeth pulled last Thursday. Periodontal Disease is just one more thing I have to thank cigarettes for. I have been running around to all my smoker friends, (they hate me now, because I’m so happy being 14 days smoke free and I’m usually skipping off to the gym as I pass them by), telling them the good news about our Insurance Company covering the Chantix now. That was their last excuse to not quit. Oh, I can’t afford that much money every month. Actually, the Chantix cost about the same as my cigs did every month. Anyway, I just smile and say, “whenever you are ready!” It is wonderful being able to “skip” without getting winded. So many things I have to be grateful for. Oh no, I’m going to start gushing. Oh well, I haven’t done that for a while so here goes.

My Gratitude List

  1. The disgusting smoker’s cough is gone!! I don’t even have that little rattle anymore. My voice is almost melodic when I speak, not that “deep old lady voice” I used to have. When I do cough it is such a little wimpy cough, I can’t help but laugh at it.
  2. I’m not all full of that awful phlegm anymore.
  3. I drink a ton of water and only one 20 oz diet coke a day. Two 2-liters a day of diet coke was the norm. For some reason, the caffeine left me at the same time the nicotine did. There wasn’t any withdrawal symptoms, headaches, etc. and I am truly grateful for that. Think of the money I am saving on pop alone!!
  4. Speaking of money. I can tell something is not right when I still have $60 in my checking account and it is payday. Now that is very unusual, since I don’t make much money and live paycheck to paycheck. Oh my gosh…what if I can start saving money now! Woo Hoo!
  5. My breath smells nicer and my clothes and of course my car. Actually, I have noticed all kinds of smells since I quit smoking, especially walking downtown past some of the restaurants. 😉 I did buy some air fresheners this last weekend for my house. That is something I have always done but, I can actually smell them now. Some are too strong and I have to unplug them once in a while.
  6. More energy! That’s a big one. I go outside and do things like visit with my neighbor, walk Sonny and not get winded. I can’t wait until Spring so I can smell the fragrances of flowers; the fresh air and the smell of rain.
  7. I am so grateful for the friends I have made online during my quit. All of the support I have gotten just from blogging has been incredible.
  8. This might sound weird but, I am grateful for the little bit of weight I have gained since I quit. At least I don’t look like the walking dead, super skinny, and puffing on a cigarette. I don’t mind having a little extra pouch, (I’ve never had one before), the dog, Sonny, seems to really like it when I am sitting on the couch and he tries to lay in my lap. It will be more comfortable for my grand-kids, whenever I become a grandmother. That was my inspiration to quit smoking, by the way, “To live long enough to become a grandmother!” It’s kind of sad now when I think about it. (I am tearing up here at work, NOT GOOD.) I was so worried I would die before I got to be a grandmother, or see my children graduate college or get married. I want to be there when my daughter delivers her first baby. (Gushing now…) If I die now, even from lung cancer or a smoking related illness, at least I quit smoking.
  9. I am mostly grateful that I QUIT SMOKING!
  10. Last but not least, I am thankful that my Higher Power gave me the strength and grace to overcome this addiction for 14 days of this lifelong journey, one day at a time.Wow! I feel so much better after making this list. Maybe it’s time for you to make your gratitude list, ya think?? I know it sure helped me feel better. Take care of you!I am closing with a picture of my bud, Sonny Boy!

Sonny Boy

TTFN




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Chantix Now Covered by Insurance Companies

“Many of the Insurance Companies are now covering Chantix because it has had such good results!”

Today, when I went to Walgreen’s to pickup my Continuing Monthly Pack of Chantix, I had the best surprise! I had several other items I was picking up and the pharmacist said, “Your total is $65.” I thought, oh gosh he forgot the Chantix. So I asked, “Does that include the Chantix?” He said, “Yes, your Chantix was only $20.” I about fell over. My mouth did drop to the floor, which wasn’t a very pretty sight I’m sure, since I had four teeth pulled the other day. 🙂 Anyway, the pharmacist continued, “Many of the Insurance Companies are now covering Chantix because it has had such good results!” WOW! Of course I had to tell him I had 12 days smoke free and I had tried everything else there is at least once, and nothing worked except Chantix. I’m sure I was skipping to the car and could not stop smiling. I also couldn’t wait to get home and Blog about it.

Of course you all know what this means don’t you?!! ANYONE can quit smoking using Chantix now. If you have insurance, please check it out and see if Chantix is covered now. It wasn’t in November so this might have just gone into effect January 2008! If you don’t have insurance, go to the Chantix site and there is a link to help those who qualify, lower income, etc., to get Chantix at a reduced price. So, absolutely ANYONE can get Chantix. That is so awesome. Especially now, all those New Year’s Resolutions to quit smoking, and now they can. Some might think I work for Pfizer or am paid to endorse this product. That could not be further from the truth. I am just a 50 year old lady that has smoked since she was 12 years old and has been diagnosed with COPD which includes moderate Emphysema, who has begged many Doctors to hospitalize me so I wouldn’t be grouchy at my family, especially my kids, while I went through withdrawal. I have been trying to quit for the last 10 years. When I turned 40 I wanted to do it then, then all of a sudden I turned 50, and redoubled my efforts. I finally came to terms with the fact that, no matter what, I will not take another puff. In the beginning the Chantix made me nauseated and I thought to myself, “well, I can quit taking it and keep smoking.” Then I re-thought that statement and said to myself, “well, even if I throw up on the sidewalk walking in to work, I am not going to smoke.” Then I knew I was willing to go to any length to quit smoking. The nausea went away after the first week and it hasn’t returned since. I make sure I take the Chantix after I have eaten and with a full glass of water. That seems to really help.

Chantix is now being covered by many insurance companies. That is the best news of the year for me. No more excuses. The cost of Chantix cannot be used to rationalize a reason for me to smoke. This news had made me very grateful and hopeful that many others will be able to try Chantix and become non-smokers.

TTFN


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Quitting Smoking and Weight Gain

Smoke Free 8 days!

Today I would like to talk about weight gain since I quit smoking November 19, 2007 and relapsed, (had 7 cigs) New Years Day. My total weight gain in seven weeks has been a ton! When I quit smoking I weighed 142 lbs. I am 5’8″ so that wasn’t too bad. I still wore a size 8 or 10, mostly because of my belly. Menopause changes a body. I have been very lucky, up until I was 48 years old, I have been a size 8, never had to diet or exercise. So I have been very spoiled all my life. Now the bad news…I weigh 158 lbs. Ugggh! I can hardly look at that number. I have gained 16 lbs, a little over 2 lbs. a week. I have joined a gym but, with the holidays, have not been able to go regularly. I love walking Sonny but, the cold weather has slowed that down. At work I do nothing but sit at my desk all day. It’s not like I am chained to it, I could get up and run up and down five flights of stairs if I wanted to but, who would really WANT to do that? Okay, enough of the BUTS! Enough of the I CAN”T MAKE TIME! Enough of the EXCUSES! It’s time to get off my arse and get moving!

My eating habits have always been pretty good:

a.) Never eat after 7:00 p.m.
b.) Always leave the last bite on the plate, (or give it to Sonny).
c.) Control my portions by thinking of the size of the palm of hand and not put more than that.

The down side of my eating has been getting enough fruits and vegetables. I have changed that since I quit smoking, now I have at least two fruits a day. I have also added Lifesaver Mints, Pretzels, Werthers, and Peppermints to my diet also. The food, (if you want to call it that), that I have added, has helped me with the “habit” of reaching for something to put in my mouth. So far it has been working and highly recommend all of them.

Bottom line on weight gain. I read once that a person that quits smoking would have to gain 100 lbs. to do the same damage to their body that smoking does. Well, 16 lbs is nothing and I can lose that, but right now I am not going to “diet”, or freak out about it. I am going to the Goodwill and buying size 12 pants/jeans for $3.00 and will wear those until this passes. Then I will “re-gift” them to Goodwill for the next lady that needs a larger size, (not that a 12 is all that large by any means), while she is quitting smoking. Another bonus about weight gain, you should return to your pre-quitting weight by 6 months to 1 year after quitting.

So, I am going to hang in there and keep plugging along one day at a time, and ask my Higher Power to keep me smoke free today, and thank Him tonight for the Grace He gave me so I would not smoke. For that I am truly grateful.



TTFN


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