Colitis and Cigarettes: Part 2

Part 2: The 'Yes I Can' Plan

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Charms blow pops, photo courtesy of Toshimasa Ishibashi, CC BY 2.0 Charms blow pops, photo courtesy of Toshimasa Ishibashi, CC BY 2.0This is Part 2 of a three-part story of colitis and cigarettes. Read Part 1.

The previous time I’d tried to quit smoking, I woke up the next morning freaking out and panicking at the thought of it. I ended up chain-smoking four cigarettes on the drive to work to prove to myself that I wasn’t quitting, hoping to settle my mind a bit. Of course it had the opposite effect, on account of the extreme dose of nicotine I gave myself in the process. That brought a convincing end to a cessation that lasted all of about nine hours. So, based on that experience, I was convinced that if I could quit for a whole day I could quit forever.

When we finally decided to quit, my wife and I went in for a consultation with a specialist. The counselor talked over the options and strategies with us, one of which included a prescription drug reputed to take away the irritability and jitters for the first few weeks. I am not much of a pill-popper so I was pooh-poohing the idea. But then midway through the conversation our advisor realized it wasn’t just me who planned to quit.

“Wait, you mean you guys are both planning to quit? At the same time?”
“Yes.”
“And you live together?”
“Yes.”
“Ohhh, trust me, you definitely want the drugs.”

We laughed… and complied. It actually worked pretty well but I never liked being on the medication, so I took it for only half the allotted time. I’m convinced what helped the most were the Charms Blow Pops I found in the grocery store bulk aisle. I bought a five-pound bag on day one, and went back for several refills over the following weeks. By the end of the first day I could get down to the gum center in about seven seconds flat. I liked the white stick and fiddling with it in my fingers; it helped me to wean myself off the fidgety fixation of handling a cigarette. And it was also helpful to have something stimulating my taste buds. Sour Apple was the best for that.

Aside from the initial period of un-training the instinct to reach for a smoke, quitting was actually a relief. I’d been living my entire life around smoking. Every significant event was marked by lighting up: Getting up. Finishing a shower. Finishing breakfast. Starting the drive to work. Approaching the end of my drive to work. Break time. Pre-lunch. After-lunch. At the end of projects. After-work. The drive home. The arrival home—absolutely everything was preceded and punctuated by a cigarette.

I had tried to cut down many times. But, strange as it may seem, quitting was actually easier. While trying to cut down on smoking, the burden of constant questioning was unbearable. How many should I have in a day? How many is too many? How long should I wait between? How long has it been since my last one? Is it time yet? How long until the next one? Under what conditions would I be allowed to cheat? Is this one of those occasions? It went on and on. The relentless series of decisions was maddening. But I hadn’t anticipated the remarkable relief of quitting… while quitting, I could just answer all of those queries with “I don’t smoke anymore.” It definitely wasn’t easy, but having that simple, decisive response to all of those questions was quite liberating.

And now, as I look back and see it from the outside, I can’t believe my life so revolved around smoking. Plus, I must have stunk like smoke all the time. And how could I have smoked constantly in our house—with guests over? Wow. People never complained but they must have hated it. (Apologies to you all!) Frankly, it all seems a little surreal. 

To be continued...

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Tags: Narratives , Relationships , Tips ('How-Tos')

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About the Author

Andrew Tubesing is an acclaimed advocate and humorist on the subject of inflammatory bowel disease.

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