happy Checking in.....

I have now been smoke free for 121 days - that's four months!


I have no news yet as I have not yet had my biopsy done.  Decided to wait  until I get back from my trip to Venice, Italy.  Lots of people think I'm nuts to wait and they may be right, but if I am dealing with something bad, this may be my last chance to enjoy a trip to my favorite city in the world, where I am renting an apartment for six weeks this spring, as I did last summer.  To get there I'm taking a 13 day cruise from Miami, Florida to Rome, passing through the Azores and Spain along the way.


I have now saved almost enough from not smoking to pay for my solo room!!


I don't much think about smoking anymore.  I have decided to leave New Mexico so I'm putting my house on the market. Not sure if I will go to California (the San Francisco Bay Area where I used to live) when I return and be checked out at Stanford, or if I will go in the other direction to Raleigh, North Carolina and be checked out at Duke University.   Will decide that when I return in June, depending on whether or not my house has sold while I am gone.


I've come to accept I may get a diagnosis that I have something serious wrong, but if so, I am ready to deal with whatever I have to deal with.  But it could turn out that by the time I get back, the problem will have resolved on its own and the lymph node could have shrunk.  Will just have to wait and see.  Until then, I am eating healthy, losing weight, taking my blood pressure meds with good effect, and maintaining a positive attitude.


I hope all of you out there who are quitting stick with it!  Good luck to all of you, you can do it!!!!


happy Hitting Level 20

I saw that today I hit level 20, which is three months of being smoke-free.  I have pretty much accepted that this time I've done it - really and truly done it.


If I am lucky enough to get through this second cancer scare with a clean bill of health, I will be ever so grateful.  All I can say is that if I haven't started again with all the stressors that I've had in my life since November 1st, I'm confident there isn't anything that can happen that will make me light up again. 


The first month is the toughest, but once you get past that, you know that cravings will come, but they go just as easily and YOU CAN resist them.  Success builds confidence.   


Sending out positive thoughts to all you "quitters" out there!  You can do it....just believe in  yourself and stick to your plan.



sad Feeling Nervous

Tomorrow I have a doctor's appointment to get the results of my breast ultrasound.  It was done because I showed enlarged lymph nodes on my mammogram.


Of course, I'm nervous and scared about what the results will be.


Waiting is hard, but there is part of me that doesn't want to show up for the appointment because I don't want to hear bad news!  Like my sister always says, "Denial, not just a river in Egypt!"  


It could be that the enlarged nodes were just from fighting off an infection. But it could also be a sign of something more serious, like cancer.


I have a family history of breast cancer. Of course being a smoker for so many years made me a higher risk not only for breast cancer, but all kinds of other cancers.


I'm trying to stay busy and not get too wound up, but the closer I get to the time when I get the results, the more nervous I'm feeling.



Thanks so much to you, Dan, for sending me a personal message of support after my last post.  It helps so much to know people are thinking of me.  It makes me feel less alone dealing with the fear.




sad Stressing

None of you who might be reading this know me, but I would appreciate it if you would keep me in your thoughts.


There were two findings on my last mamogram that needed to be followed up with a breast ultrasound.  I won't get the results for another week, but something the technician said to me has me worried.  When I asked when I could expect to get the results, she said that the radiologist would take 2-3 days to read the ultrasound, and that "most likely" I would need to make an appointment with my primary care provider to get the results.


That was not the case with the mammogram results - I just got a phone call telling me they saw some things that they wanted to follow up with an ultrasound.  Having to go in to get my results seemed like a rather ominous thing .


I'm really scared right now - no, make that terrified - and I have an entire week to worry before I know what, if anything, I have to be worried about.


So, for those of you who pray, I would appreciate it if you would say a prayer for me.  For those of you who don't pray, just put out some good thoughts for me that everything is okay.


What does this have to do with smoking? Well, part of the reason I'm worried is because smoking increases your chances of getting a lot of different kinds of cancer.  At this point, having already quit, it seems kind of a stupid thing to have smoked for as long as I did - what did it get me except a reason to be even more scared.


So if you haven't quit - think of how you will feel if you find out that smoking contributed to a serious health problem. Quit now before that happens.  And if you have quit, stay quit!


Nothing insures that a person won't get cancer even if they don't smoke and never did, but why do something that increases your chances?  It's just not worth it.


Thanks to all of you who do keep me in your thoughts - I very much appreciate it.



happy Happy Birthday To Me!

Yesterday was my birthday.  I celebrated by taking a day tour down into Mexico to see Mata Ortiz and Paquime, where they have fantastic ruins of an ancient native Mexican population and locals have revived a pottery style lost for hundreds of years.   I bought myself quite a few presents when we visited the homes of local artists to buy goods directly from them.


Of the five people on the tour we took, I was the only one who is a former smoker.  It dawned on me during the day how different it was for me to go on this trip and not be constantly thinking about when I could "sneak off" for a smoke!  And how wonderful it was not to have to worry about smelling up the van when I got back inside with the others who were non-smokers. 


Being a smoker in a group of non-smokers always made me feel embarrassed and to be honest, somewhat defensive about having such an obnoxious habit.  Admitting to a non-smoker that I smoked was always a difficult task for me.


I was also aware of just how great it was to celebrate my birthday as a non-smoker this year. Definitely the best gift I could give myself.


Good luck to all you present and future non-smokers out there!



happy To Puff or Not to Puff, There's No Question!

I'm pretty happy today despite being in a lot of pain after having a root canal two days ago.  Why am I happy?


Because today I reached 70 smoke-free days! Think of it - ten weeks exactly of not smoking!


Or another way of saying it:


                      1,400 cigarettes I didn't smoke!


                       $400 I didn't waste on cigarettes!



And in just 20 more days, I'll reach my next milestone and be at level 20!!



I can't wait to be able to say I've been smoke-free for a year. I'm really happy that I finally did what I needed to do and stopped smoking.  I only wish I'd made the decision to do it a lot earlier.  But we can't go back, so I'm just going to keep going forward and celebrate each day that I'm free from all the things I hated about smoking.

indifferent Slot Machines and Cigarettes!

Okay, I will admit I love to spend some time with the one-armed bandits (slot machines).  I don't always go away a winner, but I have won a few large jackpots (one was over $8,000) and I usually manage to make my money last a few hours even when I lose.


Smoking and playing the slots was one of my favorite things to do, since casinos (in the USA at least) are one of the few places where you can still smoke in public.


I had to have a root canal done yesterday, and since there wasn't a dentist to do it here in the small New Mexico town in which I live, I traveled to Las Cruses to get it done.  Las Cruses is only 30 minutes from a small casino near El Paso, so after sitting in the dentist chair for an hour and a half, I treated myself to a trip to the casino to wait out the numbing medicine wearing off.


I was struck at how awful the cigarette smoke in the casino smelled to me.  Though I like the machines in the smoking part of the casino better, after a while I couldn't stand the smell when someone sat down next to me and lit up.  It made me remember when that was ME sitting there, puffing away, oblivious to how stinky those cigarettes really are.  It was only mildly tempting to be around so many smokers.  Mostly, I just found the smell very obnoxious.  I wonder if former smokers actually experience the smell more than non-smokers do?


I try very hard to watch myself if I feel judgmental about someone else smoking, and remember when I had the habit and how I felt when I was smoking - defensive, and "judged" by others who were non-smokers.  I try to think of them as non-smokers who just haven't quit yet! :-)



To everyone out there who is either trying to quit or has quit, be proud of yourself! Today is my 69th day, and I'm proud to be celebrating that!



happy Tackling the Next Challenge

As of today I've reached 67 days of being smoke-free. Since quitting, I've had a few hurdles thrown in my way, including:

Finding out my blood pressure was seriously elevated just three days after I quit


A cancer scare when my doctor said my thyroid was enlarged, and sent me for an ultrasound. (The result was normal, so that was a relief!)


Losing my job with a company I've worked for the last eight years.


My father's death on Christmas Eve.


An abnormal finding on my mammogram that needs to be followed up (it's probably nothing, but still a worry until I get results)


But despite all these hurdles, any one of which might have sent me reaching for a cigarette, I'm managed to stay smoke-free. Why?


Because I realize that smoking will not change any of those things for the better.  Smoking will only make things worse because not only will the bad thing still be there, but I'd be smoking again - another bad thing.


Do I ever wish I could have a cigarette? Yeah, now and then I do miss it.  Missing something is not going to kill me. But smoking could.


Now I've decided to move on to the next thing, which is tackling the challenge of losing weight.  I've not gained any weight since I quit - in fact, I've lost 10 pounds.


Since I'm not smoking, it is easier for me to start incorporating exercise into my life.  I've already been eating better and healthier, and have been using a great free on-line website to track my nutrition and calories.  It has really helped me to get a grip on the things I need to watch - sodium, cholesterol, etc.


Stress is part of life.  I accept that I can't change some things that happen, but I can do my very best to handle it in a healthy way.


My motto is "There's a lot of excuses for smoking, but never a good reason!" :-)

indifferent New Year's Resolutions

Today is the last day of 2012.  All over the world, millions of people are resolving to quit smoking as of midnight and start the new year out as a non-smoker. Many will not make it through the first day.  Others will succumb in less than a week. But there WILL be those who actually do it - who quit smoking and stay quit.


Luckily for me, I quit two months ago, and I am looking forward to spending my first year as a non-smoker in 2013.


How did I do it?  Well, how I did it might not be the way that others will do it, but there here are two things that made a difference for me:



1)  Mental preparation. 


This means spending enough time thinking about the "why" of  quitting.  We all know the standard reasons for quitting - to have better health, to save money, to smell better to others, etc.  


I believe it's important to personalize those reasons even further.  If your goal is to have better health, make it more specific.  "Why" do you want to be healthier?  Do you have a child, or a grandchild you want to live to see grow up?  Do you want to be able to climb two flights of stairs without getting out of breath?  What specifically do you want to improve about your health, and what is motivating you to want to make that change?  Really think about your reasons.  I believe that until you have compelling reasons to quit, reasons that are going to be more compelling than the urges and cravings you will get, it is going to be very difficult to quit smoking.  So the mental preparation of examining your reasons and coming up with very concrete, specific and tangible ones is crucial to your success.


For me, my motivation was to stop  feeling like crap.  I was tired of coughing up a big wad of nasty each morning, tired of laughing hard and having it turn into a coughing fit, and tired of getting out of breath with the smallest amount of exertion.  I also wanted to lose weight, but smoking held me back from exercising, and I know that just cutting calories without exercise doesn't work for me.  Quitting is the first step on my way to feeling better.  After just two months of being quit, I'm no longer coughing up stuff first thing in the morning, and I am now walking two miles every other day.  Those were my motivators. What are yours?


2) A well thought out strategy:


 Decide ahead of time on your strategy for quitting.  Are you going to go cold turkey? Are you going to cut down over a period of time before quitting? Are you going to use aids like gum or ecigarettes? 


How are you going to handle urges and cravings when they come?  How will you deal with friends or relatives who still smoke?  What are you going to do when someone offers you a cigarette?   How will you keep yourself motivated?  Have you built in rewards for yourself?  Where will you find support when you are in need of it?


I decided to set a date a couple of months before I actually quit, and to cut down over that period of time, and then go cold turkey.  I have described the method I used in other posts.  That may not be the way you want to go, but however you choose to do it, be sure you have thought out your strategy ahead of time.


This site is a great way to address mental preparation and strategy.  If you resolved to quit on NYE and had a lapse, don't give up.  Go back and address your motivation and your plan, and try again.  It is well-known that most people who quit successfully had to make more than one try before they finally did it.  


Don't give up hope - you can do it. Don't quit until you have quit!!! :-)


indifferent Driving

Today I drove about 120 miles round trip and visited Silver City, a nearby town that has many more trees than where I live.  I am a transplanted Californian who has only lived in New Mexico for a little over a year.  The area in which I live is arid desert, with little vegetation, so I find myself missing greenery.


It wasn't until just now that I realized that I never even thought about smoking while I was on my long drive.  The car is definitely a place where I would formerly have been lighting up.  It is amazing to me that after just two months of being smoke free, I didn't get a craving while driving. 


I do still get the occassional craving, but I find I am able to ignore it until it goes away and it's not all that bad.  I suspect it will get even easier as time goes on.


New Years Eve is coming up soon, so I expect there will be lots of new members here who have resolved to quit.   So if you're new here, and reading this journal, I hope this will be an encouragement to you.  The first few days are the biggest challenge, but it does get easier. 


Just remember "one day at a time". Work on getting through each craving without caving in to temptation, and eventually you'll see hours turn into days, days into weeks, weeks into months, and months into years.  But don't worry about that at the start....just stay with it in the moment!


Good luck to all!

sad Two Months

While I'm happy that I passed my two month milestone today, I am feeling a bit sad due to news I got about the recent death of a work colleague who was only 53.  She was not a smoker, and I don't know anything about the cause of her death other than it was from a serious illness.  A reminder that every day should be a day we are grateful to be here.

sad Temptation Resisted

My father, who was 83,  passed away on Christmas Eve.


 I found out about it on Christmas day, while my sister and nephew, both smokers, were staying at my house for the holiday. Despite the temptation to do so,  I did not smoke.  I consider that a real accomplishment in the face of what was a very stressful time.

indifferent Christmas is coming...and so are my smoking relatives!

Taking a break from housework and prepping for company over the holidays. My sister and her son will come over on Christmas Eve to spend the night at my house.


Both are smokers.  But they are respectful of my choice to quit and won't try to tempt me.  But now that I'm not smoking, it's much more noticable to me how much time they spend smoking.


That got me to thinking about how much time I've spent in my life smoking. Of course many times smoking is almost an unconscious activity done while doing something else - for me it was reading and talking on the phone, or driving.  I actually notice I read less now that I'm not smoking...though I love to read! 


Smoking also seemed to function as an excuse to stop what I was doing and relax for a bit.  For instance, I'd be cleaning house, and then think, "Hey, I'm going to go outside and sit for a minute and have a cigarette."  Smoking was also the "go-to" activity when something stressful had happened.  It was an excuse to sit down and do nothing but smoke and process whatever was stressing me.


And most of all, I think smoking also gave me a reason to take some deep breaths. I know that sounds ridiculous, but really, think about it!! When you light up and take that first drag don't you always take a deeper breath than  you normally would? And doesn't it feel good?


I notice that if I have a craving and just sit and pretend I'm smoking, taking several really deep breaths and blowing them out as if I'm smoking, I get the same feeling I'd get when I smoked, and the craving would go away. Try it next time you have a craving and see if it works for you!


Wishing everyone a happy and smoke-free holiday!!!!!!!!



happy Closing in on 2 months

Today I hit 51 days of being smoke free.  Just another nine days and I will hit my 2 month milestone.  I'll get there before the end of the year.


I notice that I am coughing up small amounts of very dark phlegm the last few days, which I attribute to my lungs trying to clean out the junk still in there.  I have quit smoking in the past and was smoke free for a number of years, so I know that eventually that brown spotted phlegm will disappear.Looking forward to getting that "all clear" message.


My sister and her son, my nephew, are coming for Christmas and will spend Christmas Eve at my house.  Both are smokers so I'm preparing myself for dealing with the smell.  It is not tempting to smoke when they are around, but I do find the smell on them after they come in the house from smoking is really strong and very unpleasant.  I never want to be one of those fanatical ex-smokers who make those who are smoking feel bad about their habit. But I do find the smell gets to me now that I've been quit for nearly two months.


This will be the first year in a long time where I will celebrate the New Year without having to make a resolution to stop smoking - though I will make a resolution to stay stopped!  :-)


Also, in January I will turn 59. Being smoke free will be the greatest gift I can give myself.  Every day I recommit to not smoking, and every day it gets easier.


Wishing everyone a happy holiday season and a successful smoke-free 2013!!!

happy Even in my dreams

Last night I dreamed I found a pack of cigarettes.  I was tempted to smoke one, but decided against it, and dumped the cigarettes into the garbage disposal and ground them up.  I'm sure in real life this would be very bad for the garbage disposal unit, but the dream significance was not lost on me when I awoke.....cigarettes are "garbage" and I am disposing of them in my life.   But I will confess that I realized that if I had smoked in a dream, it wouldn't count, and I'd missed my chance... :-)


.It's nice to know I have internalized the desire not to smoke even in my dreams.  It  shows that I have kicked the habit both physically and mentally.


happy A message to those having trouble quitting

I see that a lot of folks here on this board are having trouble quitting and staying quit and I can certainly relate to that.  Everyone I know who has quit went through several false starts - including me.


I think the biggest thing that helped me to be successful this time was admitting to myself that smoking was no longer an option.


I have a friend who is five  years younger than me who now has such serious COPD that she is on oxygen and will probably need a lung transplant. She is only in her 50's.  She can no longer travel and stays home most of the time.  She went from being 5'10 and 125 pounds (approx 9 st)  to 290 pounds (almost 21 st) because she can't be active and because she is being treated with steroids.


I don't want this to happen to me - I am single and have no one to care for me if I get seriously debilitated.  I love to travel and would hate to be home-bound because I was tied to an oxygen tank.


Those of you who are young and still smoking may not have any kind of serious health problems for years to come. But believe me when I say that the day will come when you will look back and see that you have been smoking for 20, 30, or 40 years, and begin to see the consequences of that. You'll  wish that you had stuck to it when you tried to quit. Just think, if you really do it now, someday instead of having to admit to history of smoking for 40 years, you will be able to say you quit 30 years ago!


Those of you who are more "mature" like me (meaning over 50 years young!) and have smoked for many years - it's not too late for us to reap the benefits of quitting! 


Becoming a non-smoker gives your body the opportunity to heal from the effects of smoking before a serious and irreversible health consequence occurs.  I already feel better. I'm going to spend the money I've saved on cigarettes to do something positive. I used to spend about $1,700 a year on smoking.  In ten years, that will be $17,000 I will have saved.  I'm looking forward to spending that money in a constructive way. 


I realize that quitting is tough to do. God knows I failed enough times myself when trying to quit. I totally understand the overwhelming urges that come with the addiction to nicotine.  But despite all the talk about how hard it is (and our own experience of how difficult it is) the fact remains that it is entirely possible to become a non-smoker for good.  If other people have done it, I know I can too.


For me, I think the biggest difference is that this time I have finally come to the point where my desire NOT to smoke is greater than my addiction.   Sure, it was tough to quit, but to be honest the toughest part for me was to really accept that I was going to give up cigarettes forever.  Once I truly committed to that idea, the rest was relatively easy.  


By "relatively" easy,  I just mean that it was entirely doable.....not painless of course, but it was a pain I could handle. 


For me, cutting down over an extended period of time (a couple of months) until I was down to just three smokes a day and using my "Clinton" technique (see my first entry in "About"), helped a lot. I really didn't experience much in the way of physical withdrawal. 


Over the first few weeks, when I missed the habitual actions of smoking (i.e., the action of bringing my hand to my mouth and inhaling deeply) I used an ecig that I'd emptied of the nicotine packet. Going through the motions of smoking after a meal or while talking on the telephone helped me to get over the hump when dealing with triggers. But eventually even that crutch became unnecessary. 


I no longer think about smoking at these trigger times.  Yes, occasionally I still get an urge, but those urges are easy to ignore. I've now  racked up so much time being free from cigarettes that giving up that accomplishment would be more painful that ignoring the urge until it goes away.


So for all you folks out there who are struggling to get past the first few hours or the first few days of being smoke free, I just want to assure you that you CAN be successful.    Stick with it and even if you fall off the wagon more than once, just keep getting on it again.  Good luck to all!

happy Things keep getting better

I have now been smoke-free for 47 days. What a great feeling to wake up and not immediately cough up something nasty looking!!


I love it that I can go without washing my hair every single day because of the smoke smell that would cling to it.


I love it that I can now honestly say I am not a smoker when seeking medical care or going to the dentist.


I love feeling like I can be active without getting short of breath.


I love seeing that quitting REALLY DOES make a difference, and that it only a relatively short amount of time, my body has healed from many of the bad effects of smoking.


I look forward to each new day being smoke free and knowing that I'll continue to improve.


happy The time does fly by....

Last summer I spent six weeks (42 days!!) in an apartment I rented in Venice, Italy.  It was a truly wonderful experience and I enjoyed every single day there.  Now that I have been smoke free for 46 days, I realized that I have not smoked for a longer time than I spent in Venice!!  It's good to have something to which I can compare my accomplishment.

happy Six Weeks - Whooo Hooo and Can I get a High Five!

Wow, it's already been six weeks since I had my last cigarette.  Hard to believe that much time has already passed.  I hardly ever think about smoking now - just once in a while I get that odd feeling like there is something I want to do, but it takes me a minute to realize it's a craving for a cigarette.  I just ignore it, and go about my business, and in a few minutes I've forgotten all about it.


My sense of smell is coming back.  The other day I had to be seated next to a man in a waiting room and he reeked - positively reeked - of cigarette smoke.  It smelled awful.  Another time a friend of mine who still smokes was out to lunch with me and and some other friends.  She had smoked half a cig and then saved the rest.  She laid it on the table right near me.  I had to ask her to move it because the smell of the cigarette was literally making me a little nauseated.  The smell was just awful. 


I suspect that not only is my sense of smell improved, yours truly smells a lot nicer as well!



happy Enrolled on Stop Smoking College's Quit Smoking Program

Member1168 enrolled on the free online quit smoking program provided by The Stop Smoking College.

They aim to kick their 20 a day habit by using the following methods:

  • cutting down then cold turkey

Their reasons for quitting include:

  • Better health
  • More money
  • To look and smell better
  • To improve their senses of smell and taste
  • To regain control of their life