Thursday, 20 November 2014

Stog Log – Day 4

               I just got a solid 8 hours sleep!  This never happens; I’m usually in bed by midnight & up at 6 before the alarm goes off at 7:05AM.  Last night I went down at 10:30, & slept straight through ‘til 6:30.  What sucks, is that this is akin to oversleeping for me, I’m sort of still half-asleep.  I guess I can be classified as a “morning person”, in that I’m wide awake within a minute of getting up.  I usually don’t have to deal with this interim groggy state; thankfully too, this is like some sort of purgatory between being asleep & being awake.  I wonder if this is the result of some sort of metabolic shift due to smoking cessation, do any of your anatomical systems start behaving differently after you quit smoking?  I’m still patched in, so it’s not nicotine deprivation.  Even though the longer I slept, the further away from smoking I got, I certainly hope that this is not my new, permanent sleeping pattern.
               I noticed, yesterday, where & when I most crave a smoke.  It became apparent that my internal dialogue has crafted a sort of pro-smoking ad campaign, with the message: “Relax, you deserve a reward”.  No wonder I smoked so much, I’m so easily wound up; both anger & elation seem to overwhelm me frequently & in varying extremes.  So, I was either trying to mellow out or celebrate, opposite ends of the emotional spectrum, yet the same prompting to smoke.  Since my first [and only] year of university, the reasoning skills I gleaned from Intro To Philosophy have helped me view any questionable concept with a cold, comforting logic.  Addiction, and its mind bending/ spell casting, seems to have trumped all logic & reason.
               I know, that even before I’ve started eating, that I’m going to want the After Dinnerer.  A post feast stog is truly the exclamation point to any & every eating experience; I’ve often referred to it, in all seriousness, as The Dessert Of Champions.  I can see this ultimate craving coming, so I can somewhat con myself into not wanting to smoke after a meal.  Sure, there’s still a certain level of discomfort involved, but because I’m granted some foresight, I can relatively trick myself out of the urge.    
               The two places in my apartment that get a hankerin’ for a haul off a stog is sitting at my computer & lying on my couch, watching TV.  This is where the “Relax, you deserve a reward” commercial gets turned up full-blast!  Even as I’m approaching either the PC or the couch, I’m hit with a craving-pang.  I kind of don’t know how to guard against this, my agenda is obvious when it comes to food, but now I need to be wary of locations?  As I recognized this pattern, I got more & more pissed off every time it would hit me.  I don’t know how long its going take to new-trick-learn this old dog, maybe this is just one of those things that I’ll never get over.   
               People from a 12 step program may have noticed that I don’t use any of their terminology, or at least I avoid it the best I can.  More than my desire to “just be done with it all”, I’ve failed on 5 to maybe 8 occasions to quit drinking, by going to AA meetings.  As a result it can’t be too hard to understand my repulsion towards AA slogans, mottos, mantras, etc.  Even more than my inability to conceive of some ethereal “higher power”, is my loathing of the concept of “Triggers”.  If I was to buy into this notion, I have to consider ONLY food, the couch & my desk chair as actual, legitimate triggers; because in all reality, THE WORLD IS A FUCKING TRIGGER!!!  What is there, in all of existence, that doesn’t have the power to both elate &/or infuriate?
 I need to apologize here; this is, I fear, my worst entry to date.  I’m blaming it on the extensive sleep, but nothing can excuse how uninspired I am today.  Usually, I get stuck on a word, that I can’t quite think of [a quick thesaurus check usually resolves it], but today I can’t think of basic sentence structure.  Still, I haven’t smoked in over 80 hours; I think Ice Cube said it best: “It ain’t over Mutha Fukkaz”.  More tomorrow…

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Stog Log – Day 3


OK, so that’s 3 patches, 2 days & 1 set of jangled nerves.  I’m taking every little victory & treating it like it’s a triumph that will echo through the ages.  Crossing lighters off the shopping list didn’t seem like very much at first, until I realized that I will NEVER have to deal with that “necessity” hanging over my head again.  This is the crux of why I finally resolved to quit. 
Certainly the health issues are going to benefit, but the fear of another heart attack didn’t come close to out-weighing my love of smoking.  I was in the hospital for no more than 2 hours before ducking out for a smoke.  It’s perpetually stinking up the apartment & its contents with a constant tar-fog [not that I could smell it].  I am so tired of wrecking or losing things; burning holes in clothes, and random burn marks in furniture.  After a lifelong exposure to 2nd hand smoke, you’d think the cats would get used to it, but they’re smarter than the let on!  An extra $80 -$120 per month isn’t going hurt either, I can now afford to eat gourmet wieners & beans.  But the main reason I’m quitting is to be free of this self-imposed obligation. 
Having 10 bags of smokes [2000 cigarettes] would create a temporary false sense of security, but 40 – 50 days later I’d have to set it all up again.  Finding someone to take me to the Rez - paying/ bribing them with gas money - waiting until they were ready to go – planning/ fantasizing about taking my bike out there [a 71km trek, when a 3 block tour to the Beer Store leaves me winded] – just plain expending all this mental energy for the illusion of comfort is bloody exhausting.
A somewhat welcome side effect to withdrawal is this over-abundance of nervous energy, and it’s turned me into the Joker!  Mildly amusing things have become laugh-out-louders, & actual funny thing have become a 5 minuter howl-at-the-mooner.  The latest episode of Family Guy was good, nothing especially new or fresh, their standard fare really; but holy shit did I ever laugh.  At episodes end I felt great from the endorphin release.  It’s a bit uncomfortable, this energy is a bit overwhelming, I think I just need more outlets for it than just laughing my ass off.
Then there’s the singing, & I don’t know even where this is coming from.  It’s a very rare occasion that I just burst into song.  A line here & there, maybe, but I’ve been going off on some right wacky solfeggios.  There’s no direction either, I go between opera & death metal & old-timey commercials & some weird cross between Katy Perry & Lady Gaga [I really don’t know how to do a girls voice, I can hear it in my head, but I’d need it played back to get the gist of what it sounds like]… the upper-register Bee Gees stuff freaks me out even as I’m doing it.  The cats are just as perplexed as I am, their ears constantly readjusting like malfunctioning satellite dishes, as if to figure out what in tarnation is going on!
There is one question that’s been eating at me though:  When is it over?  How long until I level out into a new normalcy?  What should I be doing to further bolster my resolve against unseen/ unknown future temptations?  Well, I guess that’s 3 questions, but it all revolves around the same issue.  A lot of the reason that I’m consistently contemplating this is that I’m not willing to make this an AA kind of deal.  I am NOT going to spend the rest of my days lamenting the time I spent smoking.  No calling on a higher power, me & God will sort our shit out later.  No admitting that I’m powerless; if anything, the last 2 days have illustrated that not only do I have a “will”, but it’s a lot more powerful than I [or anyone who knows me] would’ve guessed.  I just want to be done with it, & move on. 
Maybe a fraction of my problem is that I don’t have anywhere to move on to.  It’s not like I decided to quit, because I want to be an astronaut, or volunteer at the Heart & Lung Foundation, or work at a gas refinery, or anywhere else that smoking is forbidden. No, my reasons have nothing to do with the future… and this uncertainty plagues my unconscious.  There are a lot of things that I know I should be doing, and even more that I could be doing.  At this point, the only thing that is a certainty is that I’ve got my eyes on the prize & I really don’t care how long it takes… as long as it’s sooner, rather than later! More tomorrow…

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Stog Log – Day 2

Well, I’ve gone an entire day without a cigarette; 31 hours actually, but I don’t think that quantifying the chronology is going to be in any way beneficial.  If I’m calculating the time that’s passed from my last smoke, I’m inadvertently counting down the hours to my next smoke.  I thought, or more accurately I hoped, that by this point my cravings would’ve somewhat subsided.  Maybe this is going to be one of those cases where “it gets worse before it gets better”.
I’ve been using the patch to get me through this first phase, but I’m starting to doubt its legitimacy as a smoking cessation device.  A friend of mine gave me 7 patches, so I assumed that this would be sufficient to get me through the first week.  I briefly read the packet that stated the percentage of nicotine in each patch, but this statistic didn’t really mean anything to me, so I just ignored it.  I was going to slap one on every morning upon waking… then I came up with an alternative plan. 
As a fairly heavy smoker, I’d cook back about 40 or 50 stogs a day, so at first I knew I’d want the patches closer together than 24 hours.  I know there’s an equation [probably calculus] that can churn this formula out better than doing it one at a time, but I sucked at calculus in school, so I’m not about to re-learn it just for this one calculation.  Anyway, it goes like this: 1-14-16-20-26-34-44, this is the hourly interval between patches.  On Day 1 I’d put one on at 7AM & 9PM, Day 2 at 1PM, Day 3 at 9AM, Day 4 at 11AM, Day 5 at 9PM, Day 6 [skip], Day 7 at 5PM. 
I’m still doubtful if using the patch is advantageous or detrimental.  Perhaps I’d be smashing up my apartment at this point, were it not for the patches.  Conversely, will I be worse off for using it by week’s end?  Will this week’s efforts be for naught?  I’ve still got the actual drug coursing through my body, so technically I’ve not truly quit.  Sure I’m weaning myself off of the physical act/ritual of lighting up, but is this comparable to going from snorting to injecting other drugs?  I’m going to stick to my original plan, but I’m beginning to distrust its validity.
I don’t know if this is the best way to go about it, but as I’ve identified smoking as the greatest evil in my life in need of exorcism, I’ve decided to let all other self-regulated indulgences go free & run as rampant as they will.  Essentially, as long as I’m not smoking, I’m free to do anything else.  I know I need to reign in my coffee consumption, on a day where I have no prior obligations; I can knock back up to 2.5 pots of coffee, going between the computer & the TV all day.  As the day progresses, I’ll make each consecutive pot weaker & weaker, but 15-18 straight hours of caffeine intake is certainly not a healthy practice.  Still, I’ll deal with the figuring out of my coffee conundrum when I’m out of the tobacco forest. 
While I come from a long line of serious nap-takers, I absolutely loathe falling asleep mid-day.  Taking a nap means not sleeping at night.  I can’t stand lying in bed while the brain-circus hits full-tilt & dredges up every single doubt, what if & I-should-have scenario that I really don’t need to contemplate at 2AM.  At this point I can’t afford to care when or if I sleep.  In a sense, sleeping for the entire week would suit me just fine.  I had a 3.5 hr nap yesterday, & still got a good 6 hrs last night.  So, screw it, I’ll deal with sleep regulation later. 
One of my New Year’s resolutions was to start eating at predetermined designated times.  I’ve not exactly kept it, but by 9AM I usually have a bowl of porage in me… not today though.  I am genuinely concerned that I’m going to replace cigarettes with food.  Before I started smoking I had an almost insatiable appetite, my uncle used to joke, “It’s like throwing food down a well”.  According to a height-weight index I read, I should weigh about 175 lbs at 5’11.5” [71.5 in].  I’m currently 200 lbs, & I’m not exactly rockin’ an athletic figure, not even a sweet ‘80’s wrestling physique – a la Kevin Sullivan.  Will I be 240+ by New Year’s Eve?  Geez, that Homeresque!  I’m not exactly pleased with my current body, but I definitely do not relish turning into a full on Pail-O-Shit!  But, until the day comes where I’m not reaching for a stog… the world is my buffet.
Again, “Do or do not, there is no try” is still the motto.  I’m not trying anything; I’m done with smoking for real… for good… forever… for life.  I can’t wait for it all to be a great big joke, but until then it’s as serious as another heart attack!  More tomorrow…