Day 54 – Transitions and changes

I stepped down from 2nd stage patches of 14 mg to the 7 mg base, and now I know what I’m going to have to expect when I get off the patches altogether.

My metabolism kicked in high again, the first couple of days its like I’m 17 years old again, eating just about every half hour. I can devour a twelve inch loaded sub with double meat thats about six inches round in just under five minutes, then look at the desserts, then look back at the other subs again. I do realize that it’s just my body adjusting to the lower levels from the patch, but my wife is beginning to worry. Oh yeah, and I know there is going to be a bunch of recovering non-smokers who are going to hate me.

I haven’t gained a pound. If anything, I’ve lost a little bit of weight.

For those who have met me in person, know that I am not in exactly pumped up fashion. There is not much there for me to loose, and when I do notice, I wonder where the hell it came off of.

Maybe it has to do with the hunger suppressants inherent in cigarettes. Doctors in the 50’s used to prescribe cigarettes to women as a method of diet control. Nicotine does cause a body to emit an enzyme that tells it ‘done and full, no more food, thanks’. So with the lower levels, it just feels like I’m hungrier, wanting more to devour. Maybe it has something to do with the change of season. I notice now that people around me are snacking more themselves… busy little squirrels stuffing their faces with french fries and other potato snacks. Getting ready to put that little extra fat on for the winter season, survival of the species and all.

And with that new appetite and metabolism, comes lower blood sugar levels. I thought I was going to fall off of my office chair today, then I realized, it was 2:00 and I had not ate lunch. Not by my decision, there was 5 high priority tickets to take care of. So, I worked through them head spinning and all, then devoured my sandwiches in about 4 to 7 bites. Felt a lot better after that.

First couple of days on the patch, I also had headaches as well. Lack of food causing that? Possibly. Could also be all of those lovely cell receptors getting ready to shut down to ‘non-smoking’ levels. I’m definitely going to have to stock up on migraine medication once I am off the patches.

My body is not built for heavy labor… lower back problems, inherent bowel problems, hernias run in the family… or as I like to call it ‘My body is built for making love, not war.’ I do know though that after 3 weeks on the last patch cycle my body stabilized out and I was eating normally.

Dreams are still vivid and bizarre. Great source of stories, in one of them, I’m a ghost hunter. Funny part is, I’m the ghost during prohibition years, running through moonshine breweries and hunting some X-Files type monster. I’ll throw the idea into the story jar, not enough backstory to flesh out a full short story, and just flimsy enough to get thrown out anyways.

And then, there is the other things… more realizations for my recovery to ‘normal-hood’.

I am an addict, unlike some though, my choice drug is cigarettes. I can have a drink, and set it aside, then not have a single drop for months even years. Kurt Cobain smoked and did heroin, made him less of a musician? Thought he butchered Bowie on the unplugged album, and I you can hear him slurring, think he just got off a heroin nod before recording. I can still do my job even though I have not had one cigarette in 54 days.

I’ve read in medical journals that nicotine is a harder drug to quit than heroin. And I can believe it, it’s a comfortable hazy cloak of lies and deception, it’s built on false hopes and a subtle crutch. It infiltrates your being, and replaces your cells reactions… to everything. The pleasure response which is built into our DNA gets turned off, as the nicotine totally overrides it, those parts of your cells shut down, they aren’t needed. And that psychologically you begin to replace the normal parts of pleasure that your body can produce, with the nicotine happily soaking your cells. You are brainwashing your responses on a soulful and cellular level.

It is a hazy cloak of lies and deception, it also comes with a lovely blindfold of self denial. You stitch it together with lost moments of padding down your pockets for a lighter, feeling a bit of annoyance when you don’t have one with you. The voyeuristic glances to behind the counter, seeing if they have ‘your’ brand. The cloth of self assured thoughts, ‘It helps me relax’, ‘It gives me time to think’, and ‘I like it’. It wraps around you, permeates you, until it controls your behavior. Look at it this way, a dried plant leaf soaked in chemicals, cut up and put into a paper tube is going to determine how you are going to spend five minutes of your life. I’d rather be looking at something beautiful for those five minutes.

Another part of my recovery is that I’m speaking the truth more… maybe that’s from trying to dump all the self-lies that I was feeding myself while I was smoking. I know people who are in their 90’s who smoke, not one bit of cancer… I can just have one more, I can afford to quit later… they don’t have any definitive proof that smoking causes cancer… I can’t smoke in public, but millions of cars out there each day are pumping out more toxins in the air than my single cigarette… there was only one statement that subconsciously I was not lying to myself in the last couple of months before my quit started.

I don’t like to smoke.

It got to the point, where I recognized that I was feeding the habit and my bodies response to it. I became annoyed because the cig was overruling what I wanted to do. I had to smoke before I could go do those other things.

I began hating the smoking process, but the addiction told me that it was necessary.

So I stopped smoking and used the patch. At that time, it was just ‘okay, this is just another quit.’ and I’ll be back smoking within a month or so… but now, if I truly want to become more than an addict, I’ll have to do more.

This week I couldn’t stand to be at my desk at first coffee break, so I put jacket and Tilley hat on, and went outside. With all the smokers. I made sure I was not in their path of smoke, as I now can’t stand the smell and was joking around with them. Sun was good, was actually warm for once, I wasn’t working, it’s the middle of the week, all is good… then I caught my hand.

It was reaching into my jacket for my cigarette pack.

I physically was going through the motions.

I almost smacked my hand when I stopped, but I did the smart thing, I took my mind off of actually doing the physical motion and analyzed what the hell I was doing. I came to the realization that by proxy I wanted to be part of the group. All the other apes were throwing rocks, so I went and was going to throw one too. Is wanting to be part of a group more important than my own health? Hell no. I’ll try again later and be social with them later on.

This current stage of my quit is just a transition and change, with the onset of fall, there comes a lot of that reflected all around me. The oranges, yellows and browns of the leaves. Neighborhood children who were toddling around in cartoon clad clothing are now sporting acne and awkward prepubescent bodies. I notice there is more grey hair at my temples, there is more lines around my wife’s eyes.

It’s all about change, water becomes stagnant and not healthy if it does not flow. If I do not take the water of my own life and flow, I will become like a pool of standing water. In order to make the transition from smoker to non-smoker to ex smoker to ‘nothing related to smoker or non-smoker’, I must change.

This is my last quit, and I’m still here,

I have not smoked in one month, three weeks, one day, 13 hours, 18 minutes and 7 seconds.
I have not smoked 642 cigarettes, saving $282.77.
I have got an additional 2 days, 5 hours, 30 minutes of my life saved.

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