Wednesday, October 5, 2011

27,572 Coffin Nails

It always surprises people when they learn that I used to be a smoker.  (It also shocks them to learn I used to work at a McDonald's too.)  I suppose it is because people think of me as a pretty health-oriented person, as an organic using, vegan, bicycle riding, nutrition label reading, jogging, yoga practicing, gardener type.  I am flattered that they imagine I was always this way and boy, do I wish that WAS the case.  But, far from it.  It has been a slow, steady, and frequently challenging journey to improve my health and lifestyle.  It is a journey I am still very much on.

I can remember a time when I honestly imagined I'd smoke forever.  I can remember many, many painful and fruitless attempts at quitting.  I can remember when I first quit that I could visualize not smoking TODAY, but when I thought about the future as a non-smoker it became hopeless.  But, with supportive family and friends, and sheer will and determination, I am here...five years later, a non-smoker.  Change is hard, but positive change is certainly worth the effort.

Yesterday one of my friends announced that she has been smoke free for 24 hours.  Knowing that it all starts one day at a time I was so happy for her, but also know that the start is the hardest part so I wanted to offer her some encouragement.  One of the things I mentioned was a calculator I used when I quit.  It was so inspiring and motivating to see the numbers go up and up.  It made me proud of the accomplishments I was making because they were spelled out in a concrete way.  The calculator that I used was an app on myspace way back when myspace was cool, but I found a website that had the same premise.  I figured while I was on the site why not run my numbers.  I must say I was pleasantly surprised myself at how time has gone by and how far I've come without really realizing it.

According to the calculations I have been free of cigarettes for 1838 days.  I have not smoked 27,572 cigarettes since then, and have saved a total of $2,067.93.

The amount saved is pretty low really.  That is because the last couple years of my addiction I smoked truly terrible, bargain basement, roll your own smokes.  They were really, really, really cheap....and really, really gross.  If I had been buying full priced smokes ($5/pack) the amount saved jumps to $6,893.12.  Either way that was a lot of money to pay someone in order to slowly kill myself, no matter how much I thought I enjoyed it.

27, 572 cigarettes...that is a lot.....and I wasn't even a pack-a-day smoker.  It is rather horrifying to try to imagine that many cigarettes....let alone CONSUMING that many.  Plus, think of all the trash waste.

Matt quit when I quit, but it wasn't nearly as challenging for him.  He was always much more of a social smoker which was all well and good until I entered the picture and thus his social smoking increased dramatically.  I cannot begin to express how valuable it was that he quit with me.  It helped me quit.  It improved his heath.  It saved us even more money.  Win, win, win.

I can't really remember the last time I wanted a cigarette now. Wait,  maybe I can... I'll have to think....hmmmmm....outside of a Yonder Mountain String Band concert maybe two years ago maybe.  (I honestly can't remember the last time I craved McDonald's though!)  I love my life as a non-smoker.  It really opened up a whole new world for me.  A world where everything smells and tastes better, where I discovered running, cycling, hiking, and where perhaps most importantly to me, a world where I am more in control of me.  It is a very good thing.  For me it just goes to show that you never know what you are capable of until you try and that little in life is really impossible if you want it badly enough.   

6 comments:

  1. Congratulations. You ave kicked one of the most addicting habits on the planet.

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  2. Thanks Mary. I still say it was one of the hardest things I've ever done, but oh was it worth it!

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  3. Congratulations,
    I would never have guessed.

    My father died from smoking. Now, both my daughters smoke, and it hurts me so because I know their future. The son does not smoke. I never smoked, but that is not really a prideful statement. It never appealed to me because I grew up choking and allergic to my father's cigarette habit.

    I tell my daughter in NYC that soon, she will look older from smoking and that since I look younger than my age and don't smoke, we will look even more like sisters. She is not amused.

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  4. Thanks Linda!

    I am sorry to hear that about your father. I can only imagine how hard it is on you that your daughters now smoke.... That was a motivating factor for me to quit. I watched my step-grandmother die from it. She looked so different by the end. I saw how my blood grandmother wasn't able to quit despite heart surgery and cancer (she now has!). I thought, "I gotta kick this thing now before I get sick or it gets any harder."

    Just like all former smokers say: "I wish I'd never started." You are blessed to have never been down that road at all. I always love to hear of people like that. My friend Lisa K. has never smoked or consumed alcohol. I think that is pretty cool.

    At one point in time every member of my immediate family were smokers. That isn't the case now obviously, but we also aren't 100% non-smokers yet either. Maybe someday! They have all quit for extended periods of time (years in some cases) so it is possible.

    And I bet your daughter isn't amused! Still, you have a good point and sometimes the truth hurts, doesn't it?! :)

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  5. Congrats on your great achievement!

    This is a constant battle for my husband. He's 24 & smokes about a half of a pack/day. I do not smoke, it bothers my allergies. So he smokes outside & never in restaurants or in my car (at least he's courteous). He was able to quit for 4 months, but he let a stressful job get the better of him & started back up.

    My FIL (father-in-law) tells me I should make him quit smoiking. I tell him it's not worth our marriage -- I don't want to be the nagging wife. My husband knows I don't approve and I desperately want him to quit, but ultimately it will be his own decision & doing.

    Did you quit cold turkey or little-by-little?

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  6. Thanks TLC!!

    A smoker with common courtesy makes the habit a tremendous amount easier to deal with (for non-smokers) if you ask me.

    And I think you are right. No one is going to "make him" stop smoking. It has to be your husband's choice. I always say when the time is right it will happen, but it might take several false starts to find the right time.

    I quit for some length of time and then started again a handful of times. I kind of think of it as practice now. Even when I would just quit for a few days I felt it was practice....for the time I really would. I bet I practice-quit 30 times before it stuck for real. It was a real roller coaster.

    It tried weaning down little by little, but that didn't really work for me. I tried the gum, but that didn't really work for me. I tried cold turkey and failed several times. In the end it was cold-turkey crossed with crochet. I made a long scarf (8ft by 1ft)with a teeny tiny crochet hook and embroidery thread. It kept my hands busy. Especially in the car. Whenever I wanted a smoke I would crochet.

    I don't know if your husband crochets, but perhaps you could find some other similar keep-your-hands-busy type alternative.

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Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and ideas. I value the advice and friendship that you share with me!