December 2, 2017 I went cold turkey, but only because I felt like I was backed into a corner and didn't have a choice. I made it through because a surgeon said he would not do an operation on me if I had nicotine in my system. He actually gave me a nicotine test to make sure I was being honest when I said "I quit," but I passed it and have surgery scheduled for next week.
Nothing had worked for me down through the years, including gum, patches, dares, bets, prayers, self-shaming, love, health or money. Then along came Mr. Pain. Ah, yes. Mr. Pain. After 48 years of smoking I had finally found my motivation.
I did buy an inexpensive vape stick (with no nicotine juice) to take care of the hand-to-mouth-and-take-a-drag desire, but one month later I'm not using it at all. I credit that for helping me more than anything, especially in those circumstances where I would automatically fire up without thinking about it (like getting in my pickup truck). The cravings were insane.
I did a lot of things on the computer and lurked within several different quit smoking forums, searching for what to expect on whatever specific day I happened to be struggling through. I didn't care what to expect on the second or third month or a year down the road because I wasn't sure I'd make it that far. I typed up a storm while keeping a record of my journey. I made lengthy responses to posts I'd read through but never add them to the discussion because they were far too long. I was obsessed with finding out what I could expect tomorrow about cravings or anything related to smoking while at the same time prowling through forums about my specific back pain and the surgery others went through to get relief... or not. This post, by the way, will probably never be posted, but it's keeping my hands and mind busy.
I otherwise occupied my hands by munching on pumpkin seeds, peanuts, mixed nuts, raw veggies, apple-cranberry juice (I feel like it cleaned my mouth out and cut the smoker taste), orange juice , and water. Lots and lots of water. Iced tea and coffee were triggers, so I backed off (but didn't quit) those. I also had popcorn, chips and other snacks; tended to get the flavored kind like BBQ, Vinegar, and Dill. Those, again, to cut the taste in my mouth. And I brushed my teeth and/or used a shot of mouthwash now and again throughout the day. Brushing was more to cut the taste of wanting a cigarette than to keep my teeth clean after eating through the day.
I had very vivid and weird dreams too... and I mean WEIRD dreams. No nightmares, though, and none I can remember where I smoked in them. In fact I could hardly remember much more than how weird those dreams were, so they weren't "bad" dreams. They were just.... weird.
Throughout the day, both at home and at work, I kept smelling phantom cigarette smoke somewhere close by. We live in the country, so it wasn't like I was smelling smoke from a neighbor's back porch or someone walking past the house. I work in a prison and it's a smoke free environment, so imagine the looks I got every evening while trying to find a phantom smoker who wasn't there.
So if you're trying to quit smoking, don't stop trying. Steady as she goes. Keep driving, trucker. Don't give up the ship. Hang in there. Maybe compare it being on a diet; if you get bucked off the horse by eating a donut (or twelve), don't beat yourself up for it... jump back in the saddle and continue on your way. Keep trying. If you get lucky you'll find your motivation sooner rather than later.
I've always admired a quitter.