Approximately 3 weeks ago I quit smoking.  I can’t say for sure when I quit because I was so sick with pneumonia I didn’t take notice of the date & it was during my only time off this year – the week between Christmas & New Years so I wasn’t paying close attention to any calendars.  I had worked extra time to earn this week off.  On Christmas Eve day I feel asleep in the afternoon for a nap & when I awoke my husband was coughing, choking & gasping with a bad cold.  He literally slept through the next 3 days, there was no gift exchange, no church on Christmas Eve, no Christmas dinner, nothing because he was sleeping off a cold.  On Boxing Day, I got sick & because I’ve had lung problems for many years, it went straight to my chest & turned into pneumonia.
As most smokers know, a little thing like a cold or pneumonia usually doesn’t keep us from smoking.  It can be 40 degrees below zero, with a wind chill making it feel like minus 52 degrees & we’ll still be huddling around the doors of our buildings having a smoke.  So, the day I got sick & at least 1 day after that, I continued to go out on our balcony & have a smoke.  It got to the point where I was not even inhaling the cigarette (because I couldn’t breathe) & only smoking (& I can’t believe I’m actually gonna say this) for the taste!  After a few times sitting in a lawn chair on our balcony pretending to smoke, I came to my senses & decided to try to skip a cigarette or 2 (if I could).  I settled into my recliner with my blankie, put on some Christmas movies & dozed my way off & on through the rest of the day.  The next day I decided to see if I could keep the non smoking going for a little longer (with the caveat in the back of my mind I could always have a cigarette if I really wanted to).  Sometime around New Year’s I realized I had already gone for a few days without a cigarette & maybe, just maybe I was going to quit smoking.  I had been mulling quitting smoking over in the back of my mind for about 6 months, with no definite plans for quitting.

I really didn’t say anything to anyone (even my husband who was still recuperating from his cold), I just didn’t go outside for a smoke.  When I returned to work on January 3, I tried not going outside at break time, but not going outside made me feel like I didn’t have my break & made me want a cigarette even more so I compromised & still went outside at break time with my smoking friends – I just didn’t have a smoke.  Of course they all eventually noticed & everyone encouraged me to keep quitting.  But I don’t think I had it in my head I was actually quitting until near the end of the second week of not smoking when I got hit by a huge craving for a cigarette.  Whoa – what prompted this?  So I went to the website “Alberta Quits” & started looking for some help.  On this website (which is not exclusively for Albertans –  on the forums you can connect with people from all over the world who have quit or are trying to quit), you can get expert advice about cravings & what to do with them, you can get support when you want to give up quitting & you can track your progress.  Every day for the first couple of weeks you get an email message reading something like this:

You have been smoke free for ___ days, you have not smoked ___ of cigarettes, you have saved $___.__, you have added ___ years/months/days to your life.

If you have a craving you’re having trouble with or are thinking about smoking again, you send a message to the Forum with the word Help as the subject & wait a couple of minutes, you will get people from all over the world sending you encouragement & advice to help you.  When you post a Help message, they ask you to hang on until you receive 3 replies (which takes no time at all, depending on the number of people on the site).  It was an interesting help for me.  I learned about the weather around the world every day as people joined in the forum, what other people were going through, how some people handled quitting, success stories & how people handled failing & starting again.

Now I am at approximately the 3 week mark without a cigarette.  I know I still have some hurdles to get over (Day 50, etc.), but I think I have quit smoking.   I’m not sure if this is a permanent thing or not, but I’m going to try to keep going as long as I can.  I can smell things (like a neighbor cooking curry) I couldn’t smell just a week ago; some foods taste different (read better) & I think I smell better.  I think if I am gentle with myself (& I don’t run out of pretzels & chocolate) I might make it this time.  Wish me luck!

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