The Only Way I Was Able To Stop Smoking

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. 



  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 3,392


    Great story!! And with a lot of humor, thank you.
    I quit many years ago by timing myself and by laying out so many cigs a day, that was all I could have. It worked for me.
    Last year I had to go cold turkey on some of my meds and that was nothing compared to quitting smoking! lol


  • Thank you, memerainbolt. Thankyouverymuch. 

    Belated congrats on your quitting! I know people who quit the way you described but I was never able to do it that way. 

    I've always heard people say that quitting smoking was the hardest thing they've ever done. It's scary to think about quitting because of all the horror stories out there, but it looks to me that the Internet makes so many forums, support groups and facts available to the average Joe that they kinda take at least a little bit of the "scary" out of it. 

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  • During the first week or so of my quit I felt like the devil himself had made it a personal goal of his to get me smoking again. I've beaten him into submission though. 

    With a baseball bat. 

    In the first few days after I quit I was constantly ciphering about my smoking habit to figure out exactly what I was up against and how difficult it was going to be to break it. Never mind the addiction to nicotine, which would be bad enough by itself, but I finally started to really think about the other triggers and habits that would work against me far longer than the nicotine would last in my bloodstream. Could that be the meaning behind the "you gotta have a plan" phrase that the quit-smoking sites are always talking about? I didn't have time to make any plans for this quit. I jumped into the deep end of the pool and hoped I'd somehow be able to keep my head above water until I could somehow struggle to the shallow end where my feet could reach bottom. 

    Somewhere during that time I stumbled upon this line of reasoning... Smoking 20 cigarettes a day is 140 cigarettes per week, 600 cigarettes a month, and 7,300 cigarettes each year. I've been smoking 48 years and one pack a day is a realistic average over that time. Check my math, but that's 350,400 cigarettes throughout my lifetime, and even at 30 cents a pack that's a pretty good chunk of change. 

    So this is where my mind took me... 

    I figured I would have difficulty with triggers such as coffee when I first wake up, iced tea while sitting on the porch, after meals, while driving my pickup from point a to point b, and how many other triggers I didn't even know yet, but for one thing I would bend my arm ... and I'm making the following number up but it's a fair number ... at least four times per cigarette to take each drag and finish each ciggie, so multiplying 350,400 x 4 = 1,401,600. Having bent my arm 1,401,600 times while smoking was a true habit I would have to be aware of, and I realized it would take more than a few days to break that association with something I'd done for nearly half a century. 

    So stay with me here... 

    I also realized that every time I quit smoking I've never reached for a pack of cigarettes that wasn't there... not even once... because I knew every second of every day I didn't have any. I desperately wanted a cigarette and thinking about not having one didn't help me not want one. I told my mind "What we have here is failure to communicate." 

    Here's my accidental solution... 

    What got me over that hump was the purchase of a vape stick (not cigarette shaped) with no-nicotine juice. I decided $20.00 for a vape stick and $5.00 each for three small containers of different flavored liquids was far less expensive than the $200.00 I would have spent on sickerettes. As an added bonus, a month after I started using the vape stick, I don't even use it anymore. Turns out I had used the vape stick as a temporary crutch and when I no longer needed the crutch, being able to stand on my own, I stopped using it. 

    Wasn't planned that way but it certainly worked out to my benefit. 

    I've seen lots and lots of quotes and read lots and lots of comments over the years about quitting cigarettes, but none have really stayed with me until this last quit. Some of you may have already seen the following three statements but they were new to me and have stayed in my mind during the worse part of my nicotine withdrawal: 

    "N.O.P.E. = Not One Puff, Ever" 

    "If you think you're miserable because you don't have a cigarette remember you'll be even more miserable if you DO have one"

    "If you have one cigarette you'll be back where you started, and that place where you started was desperately wishing you were where you are today"

    Each person will take their own route to get to where they want to be, and I think most everyone can agree that what works for one person will not work for everyone. On the other hand, it could be beneficial for each of us to pass along methods that worked for us. 

    Can I get an amen?

  • Hey, alliecat, it's been two full months and, whether real or imagined, I STILL have the bad taste factor. 

  • December 2, 2017 to February 2, 2018. Today ends my second calendar month of no smoking. In the past 62 days I have personally saved 1,240 cigarettes from incineration. For those who are mathematically challenged or just don't care enough to figger the numbers up, that's 62 packs of sickerettes I've not smoked. Absolutely astonishes me.

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  • February 6, 2018.

    I'm in no danger of falling off the wagon but want to pass along that I could "smell" cigarettes all day yesterday. All. Fricking. Day. I could still smell 'em when I went to bed. 

    We live in the country so it ain't like I got a second-hand whiff from someone who walked past our house while smoking or anything like that... and they'd have to have been smoking on the porch all day long anyhow. Now it's the start of a new day and I've got that odor again. I know it's in my head but jeez.... it's so real. 

    Don't leave a comment because I'm NOT fishing for compliments or looking to get an "attaboy" or "hang in there" or "stay tough" or "I went through the same thing" or "don't give up" or anything like that: I'm just sayin' I'm going through a rough patch with totally unexpected phantom odors. 

    I've come too far to fail and will beat this. 

  • No odor of sickerettes during the past week. Still have the urge/desire to smoke, but the urge/desire isn't so strong that I'm considering actually and physically going to town to buy a pack. 

    The urge for a ciggie isn't upon me all day long but does rear it's ugly head a couple of times. Even though the desire is pretty strong it isn't nearly as insaney strong as it was the first couple of weeks. I take it that that means my mind is getting better at dealing with the urges. 

    I'm not in any danger of falling off the wagon. 

  • Had my first dream about smoking last night. I've read about people dreaming about smoking but thought I had somehow skipped that part. Nope. 

    When I woke up I was really bummed out because I thought I had smoked a ciggie and was also bummed because I was so quick to fire one up. When I woke it took me several seconds to realize it was only a dream and I hadn't actually smoked before going to bed last night.

    Now that I'm in the light of day all is well but good grief... what a fright.

  • Oh how I love your posts. Would like to hear how it’s going. I am thinking constantly about quitting. I’ve smoked for...35 years in one capacities or another. From a weekend closet smoker to a “bender” that would be a pack plus. My thoughts always go back to my neurosurgeon telling me before my cervical fusion that because I was a smoker, he would have to take bone from my hip instead of cadaver bone. It would heal better I suppose. Went through that painful nightmare and still suffer occasional pain five years later. NOW I’m looking at possible surgery again. That in addition to wanting to get rid of the nasty wet cough, constantly having URIs, and hating the smell...I need to desperately stop. Your posts are inspiring me. Would you be so kind to continue to journal your journey? It’s helpful for us, truly helpful! 

    Can you get an Amen???? Absolutely!


  • Thanks for your kind words Bbnpcfl.

    (EDITED TO ADD I didn't intend to hop up on a soapbox with my response and very nearly deleted this entire post because I felt like I did. I decided to go ahead and post it because this is only a random post and everyone is free to NOT read it. And why would someone with no intention of quitting even be reading through this particular section to begin with? I just started typing and let it all hang out, so here it is.)

    I'm still smoke and nicotine free. I had been using this forum as a place to write random stuff about my journey and thought few people (if any) would get any benefit from it. If someone is going to quit I think they will, and if someone is not going to quit then they won't. Reading stuff like this didn't do anything for me before I quit and I don't understand why someone with no intention of quitting would even bother to read this. Threads like this one were helpful for me only after I finally found my own motivation to quit.

    So today marks 116 days for me having no sickerettes and no nicotine. 116 days at one pack a day is 116 packs! That's 2,320 ciggies! I've also not spent $696.00 on 'em. That, interesting enough, almost pays for the new camera I just bought. Now that I think about it, another week of no smoking will pay for it in full.

    I'm finally getting to the point where I will, somewhere during the day, realize I haven't been thinking about cigarettes all day. This not smoking thing is so out of character for me. Now and again I still think I'd like to fire one up but it's much easier to disregard that thought these days because it's too crazy to consider. Smoking a cigarette sounds as unbelievable today as thinking about quitting a few short months ago did.

    But I've made it this far.

    I keep remembering the quotes I used in a prior post. They DO help me get through the rough patches:

    "N.O.P.E. = Not One Puff, Ever"

    "If you think you're miserable because you don't have a cigarette remember you'll be even more miserable if you DO have one"

    "If you have one cigarette you'll be back where you started, and that place where you started was desperately wishing you were where you are today"

    I've gone back to using the vape stick off and on, but it isn't every day and it's not more than two or three draws each time and I'm satisfied. At that rate there is absolutely no danger of me falling off the no-smoking wagon. I guess the vape stick has morphed into  my backup just-in-case pacifier.

    I don't believe there are any special words or methods that will convince a smoker to quit until that smoker makes his/her mind up that they are going to quit. They'll quit when they find their motivation. As I posted before, my motivation was pain. I wish my motivation would have been something like swimming, where I decided to quit because I didn't want to get my valuable cigarettes wet, but it is what it is.

    I've watched people unable to quit after they could barely walk because they couldn't catch their breath, and would often light up and smoke a cigarette while they stopped to catch their breath. I've watched people unable to quit after they started pulling a O2 tank behind them. I've seen people unable to quit when they couldn't smoke an entire cigarette because they couldn't catch their breath while smoking. I've seen people unable to quit when they could not eat a meal without stopping for a smoke break. I've seen people cry because they were literally sucking for breath and did not have enough strength to smoke that one last ciggie while waiting for an ambulance for a final trip to the hospital. One of my biggest fears was ending up like they did but I knew I was powerless to avoid that ending. THAT'S the power of nicotine.

    I'd still be smoking today if not for the orthopedic surgeon saying he would not do surgery if I was smoking. I know that's a sad statement but I also know it's true.

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