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The latest update as of January 11, 2003

My name is Bob... and I'm a Smoke-A-Holic

To those who have never been cigarette (or other tobacco) smokers, or have been "clean" for a long time, the following "confession" may seem like something to file under "so what?"

To me, it's one of the biggest battles I'll ever fight and absolutely crucial to me continuing in drag racing and moving towards the goals I've set for myself. Now does this all start to make sense?

Please bear with me for the next while as I fight the nasty NicoDemon and vanquish him forever. And just think of all the shiny new parts I can buy with the $5000 a year I'll be saving on cigarettes.

The following is my first posting on a self-help group's website.

I'll make this first post fairly short and (hopefully) to the point. I've been a heavy smoker for 35 years now, starting full-time at 17, and never making a serious attempt to quit during all those years. For the past five years the damage caused by smoking has been gradually building up and it's now to the point where I'm worried about just how much has been done and how much longer I can expect to live.

My parents were both moderately heavy smokers, both started smoking during World War II and they stopped in their late 50's. Unfortunately, my father was suffering from congestive heart failure at that time and passed away due to it in 1997. My mother was during well for two years after that, but she's been diagnosed with emphysema and is unable to do many of the things she used to. It's not to the oxygen tank stage yet, but she's on two inhalers and often has trouble talking for extended periods.

Last month it finally started to creep into my consciousness that if I wanted to continue enjoying life and work toward some of the goals I've set for myself, that quitting smoking was going to have to be at the top of the "to-do" list. To keep the timing simple (and allow me to smoke a few hundred more cigarettes), I decided on January 1, 2003 as the Q-date.

Life went on, the ashtrays filled up, the calendar moved forward and suddenly it was two days before New Year's. Hmm, how many cigarettes will it take to get me through to New Year's? How am I going to be able to quit? In the back of my mind I'd decided on trying Zyban/Wellbutrin as an aid, and not going for the patches.

All my well-meaning friends offered their suggestions about how to handle it, and some have been successful at beating the addiction, but none of their ideas appealed to me more than Zyban and cold turkey. Went to the walk-in clinic up the street on the afternoon of December 31 (look up PRO-crastinator in the dictionary and there's my picture) and asked the first available doctor for a Zyban prescription.

Then the first flaw in my "plan" became apparent. After asking the usual questions to see if I was a good candidate for the medication, the doctor said that I'd have to be taking it for at least 4 - 5 days before it would have much effect and be of much assistance in quitting. Hmm... and I was planning to quit in less than 10 hours.

Not wanting to delay the inevitable any longer than I already had, I pressed on with my quit plan, taking the first Zyban tablet that afternoon and continuing to smoke as usual through the evening. I'd decided to smoke every cigarette that I had left and then toss out everything connected to smoking when the last one was finished. The ashtrays, lighters, matches, etc. Only problem was that by 1:00 am I was just too tired to stay awake any longer and there was still ONE cigarette left....

Big decision time (actually a very minor one, but to someone ready to quit a 35-year addiction it sure seemed like a big one at the time): do I toss this last cig or smoke it? Slept on the decision and awoke New Year's Day ready to quit. After a few minutes of staring at the almost empty package, decided to light the cigarette, smoke it and visualize it being the last time that I'd ever do such a thing.

That was just over 10 days ago... and since then that is the last contact I've had with nicotine. There were two 21mg patches and two packs of 4mg nicorette gum in the medicine cabinet but I'd made a decision not to use them (and that was before I started reading all the literature about the pitfalls of NRT - Nicotine Replacement Therapy) and yesterday finally threw them in the garbage without ever touching them.

After five days I stepped up the Zyban dosage from 150mg once a day to the recommended 150mg twice a day and haven't experienced any serious side effects yet. A few changes in my sleep patterns (no problem getting to sleep - but waking up waaaay too early many days) and some flatulence (but that may be partly a result of a radically changed - in the healthy direction - diet).

At this point I've tried very hard to avoid situations that I associate with smoking; even talking on the telephone gets problematic after about 10 minutes (used to nearly chain-smoke when on the phone). Driving to the supermarket has been a bit of a tester too (but I've made it a point to never go into the stores where I used to buy cigaretttes).

The big hurdle to get over will be going back to work in a few days. While at home I've been able to keep busy with many small tasks and haven't really felt any serious urges to smoke, but at work I will be around some people who still smoke (it's not allowed inside the workplace, thankfully) and exposed to the presssures of my job, which may be a test of my willpower.

May be a test? In retrospect that may prove to be one of the biggest understatements I've ever made. But for now, the mantra is: NOT ONE PUFF... ever. And I intend to stick to that convicition... forever. One puff and I'll be hooked again and looking at an even grimmer future than I'm destined for already.

But I'm focused entirely on positive thoughts and will continue to do so one day at a time for the rest of my life. That's all for now. I'm planning to update this post/diary on a regular basis but work and other obligations may limit this to once a week or so. Or perhaps it may be daily.

The score so far: 10 days, 1 hour, 34 minutes; 332 cigarettes not smoked; over $150 CDN saved. My name is Bob, I'm 52 years old, live in North Vancouver, BC, Canada. And I'm a smokeaholic.

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