Saturday, September 13, 2014

Ex Smokers and Snacking

I'm not normally a chewing gum fan, and despite my efforts to switch to it I'm sure I'm going to balloon out before I finish this process.

I'm eating a large amount of almonds and chilli peas together with moderate amounts of cashew nuts and then there's the occasional chocolate biscuits straight from the freezer. None of these are new to me, but I've sure ramped up my consumption. Dark chocolate TimTams is one of the two types of chocolate biscuits I keep in the freezer (The other being Select brand Chocolate Mint Creams). Love them ice cold.

What's everyone else on Quit-line doing snackwise?

Once the weather clears up a little I think I'll ramp up the exercise. Even a bit more cycling would help.

I've walked two of the last three "Round the bays", maybe this time I'll be able to jog it.

An earlier version of this posting was originally published on Quit line on Saturday 13 September 2014.

Normal brain dysfunction restored

OK, not quite true.

I am having early migraine symptoms today. I get them from time-to-time so it's not unexpected I should get one during the quitting process. I've never been sure what triggers them, but I know stress can speed the process up.

Something is still playing havoc with my sleep processes. I went to bed 9:30 PM, slept to 1 AM, got back to sleep about 2:30, slept to about 7:30 didn't want to get up so I dozed off and on until a little before 10:30 AM. I don't feel quite as zapped as I have the last few days, but I also don't feel completely rested. I'm pinning it on the Champix, but it could be anything.

I'm definitely staying home today. Catch up on some of the comedy TV stuff I recorded during the week and wasn't in the mood to watch.

So far I haven't had any cravings today. It's only day 8 so I know it's just my brain being subtle while getting ready for a guerrilla attack on my common-sense. I'm hoping to defeat whatever is coming mostly by being in a place where it would be impossible to get a cigarette.

Take that you 1.5 kilos of ugly wrinkled grey matter :)

So far I'm not seeing the migraine as abnormal, just annoying. So far I've just had a few lots of "sparkles" so I know it's hovering in the background, I just wish it would hit and clear itself out my system for a month or two.

[[Updates 13 October
  • The migraine hasn't really kicked in so it's now a month overdue. They'd been getting progressively more frequent and stronger for a few years so here's hoping.
  • This tiredness hung around for over a month before mysteriously vanishing. Tessa's started a couple of days after me & ended about the same time. I have no proof what was behind it, but I suspect that Champix & quitting may have played their part in making it worse.]]

An earlier version of this posting was originally published on Quit line on Saturday 13 September 2014.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Vogonity: Resistance is futile. Day 7 non-smoking.

Somebody once said of me "doesn't suffer fools gladly, or at all if he can help it".

My vegan brother's in town from the UK at the moment. We wanted to meet for lunch. I suggested Newmarket where I work at noon. This was too early for him and too hard to get to. He wanted to go to Burger Fuel (I never knew they did vegan food) at 1. The nearest Burger Fuel's in Parnell so we compromised, Parnell 12:30.

12 sharp my phone rings. It's the brother. He's in Newmarket and doesn't know how to get to Parnell. I ask him where is. He can't give a clear explanation or street names and eventually advances he's outside a pub called The Lumsden.

"OK, wait there I'm 2 minutes walk away".

On one hand, he's lived overseas for 20 years, but he grew up in this town. We used to go swimming at the Newmarket pool. Which reminds me, he's training for a triathlon. He wanted to swim some laps. Standing outside the Newmarket pool he asks how to get to the tepid baths. I showed him the pool through the window.

Seven days of not smoking and Champix or not, my tolerance levels are down, after turning up where I suggested at the time I suggested both of which were impossible, I had little left.

We got down to Parnell and he had his vegan burger, while I had a Bastard burger with added Stilton (Blue cheese) sauce. What can I say? I would happily have gone to a vegetarian restaurant, but I'm not going into a burger place this week and not having my favourite from their menu.

I know that vegans won't eat honey; I took great delight teasing him that logically they also shouldn't eat fruits and vegetables pollinated by domesticated bees.

P.S. I know my brother isn't a fool. He did his doctorate in artificial intelligence; based on today it could have been a useful prosthetic for him.

An earlier version of this posting was originally published on Quit line on Friday 12 September 2014.

Champix side-effects?

I've been going to bed and sleep a couple of hours early all week, yet I feel really tired. I did have a couple of broken nights but most nights I've slept through.

I've searched for this symptom related to Champix, and the people I've found who report it are experiencing vivid dreams and/or insomnia which I am not getting.

Today's my seventh day off the cigarettes, so I'm sticking with the Champix no matter what, but I could do with a bit more energy.

Fatigue", "exhaustion", "washed out" ... definitely. I just hope I can manage with it.

"Dizzy" - possibly what I experienced as mild nausea my first few days on Champix. Largely passed now.

"Basically a zombie with the munchies for a good 3 months" - Yikes. I've got the munchies, I hope I can avoid the other part, but if you see me wandering around saying "Brains ... brains .... brains" run :).

An earlier version of this posting was originally published on Quit line on Friday 12 September 2014.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Day 6. Getting more normal

I had my first noticeable health / fitness benefit today. While I was cycling to work I realised that I had been working the gears so I was changing up earlier and changing down later; meaning I was putting more energy into the ride ... all this without noticing I was working harder.

Back at work today after yesterday's stress attack, things seemed a lot easier than they have been all week.

I decided to venture further afield at lunch time than early in the week and went down to Passion Food at the Newmarket Plaza food court for a crispy skin pork with chili. I won't say I have this a lot, but when I front up at this Chinese food stand and hand over $10, no words are required.

I'd been avoiding this food court as it's right next door to the tofu shop where I'd often bought cigarettes. I did look in the door of the tofu shop as I left, but I was thinking of buying some biscuits or sweets.

Mid afternoon I needed something: Some nameless, unspecified, nebulous, thing. I decided to head down to the local convenience store for a large V and a packet of sugar-free gum. I'm not normally a gum chewer, and with Champix, nicotine gum isn't a good idea, but I wanted to be doing something with my mouth that didn't involve calories.

Know what you mean. For me it's almonds and nuts .. I like the chewable vice.

Stick with the patches, they get you through breaking the smoking habit, then when you come off them you'll still get the nicotine withdrawal, but hopefully you will have broken the link from the nicotine to the smoking habit. ... At least that's the theory as someone once explained it to me.

When we know how easily we'd weaken and go back, it's best to deliver ourselves from evil and lead not into temptation

An earlier version of this posting was originally published on Quit line on Tuesday 11 September 2014.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Triggers Non smoking night 5

Tessa and I went out for a pizza at the Ponsonby International food court and then on to Circus Circus in Mt Eden for coffee. They are both regular haunts of ours and the first time we've been since I quit.

It was really quite weird as at several points on the trip I felt a strong desire to smoke. The desire was much stronger than the desires I've been having for the last couple of days. I thought about this and realised that these were at places where previously I would have lit-up. Getting out of the car, leaving the food court, etc.

I never realised that I was so predictable as to where I lit up while travelling around. I'm hoping that these were places where I nearly always lit up, as I've already worked out that the desire to smoke associated with a place seems to reduce much faster when I (nearly) always lit up there.

It felt good to be back at Circus Circus. I begged off with a weak excuse at the weekend as I did not wish to go anywhere I might feel strong temptation with a tobacco pusher nearby.

One lucky thing for me is that I haven't smoked inside for well over 10 years, so computer, TV, etc aren't associated with smoking (Except some ad breaks where I'd rush outside).

There's a guy I have worked with for 14 years who hasn't smoked since before I met him. To this day he often carries a pen outside and mock puffs on it when he needs a stress break. He refers to the smoking pen as a "kuglescriber".

I won't suggest putting anything in your mouth while doing "big toilet", but about 20 years ago when a club I belonged to banned smoking in the toilets, I remember this elderly lady saying "I can't understand how men can smoke in the toilet" ... to which I replied "It's a gender differences, when men urinate, our mouths aren't involved" and wandered off before she had a reply.

An earlier version of this posting was originally published on Quit line on Monday 10 September 2014.

Stress Leave, Non-smoking day 5

I didn't sleep well last night at least in part because I was still stewed up about my mother's comments on Sunday.

I also had two other extra stress creating things today, including a complaint I made to the building manager about rats in the ceiling, and how I think they are getting there (don't ask, she was horrified).

I think normally I would have soldiered on and gone to work but today I just couldn't cope. I phoned my boss, explained that for reasons I didn't want to give, but are unrelated to work, I was too stressed to work and asked for a day's annual leave at zero notice. Luckily he said "Yes" without argument.

I really hate to think how I would have got through the day if he'd said "No". I doubt I would have done any programming worth having.

I've spent most of the day writing a long letter to my mother about Sunday. Explaining how thrown I was by her dragging something up from 43 years ago and denying her allegations as to my responsibility (I don't think the facts themselves are greatly in dispute). I have no idea if I'll send it, but I think writing it helped me. It basically concluded "Yes I was nasty and cruel. I was a child, children often are nasty and cruel. In my child mind it wasn't even that, but of simple self defence. I was taking the only steps my child mind could think of to try and protect myself from your abdication of your responsibility as my parent to protect me and my brothers. Until Sunday I assumed that I had long since moved on. Your bringing it up brought back that feeling of betrayal you engendered in me. I can understand the guilt you must feel, and can see how you might wish to avoid it, but you must accept it if you are to be at peace with yourself."

I had mild desires for a cigarette early afternoon and then slightly stronger about ½ an hour ago (Which is why I'm writing this blog, now ... displacement). Despite the extra stress I didn't have as strong a desire as yesterday.

I did go out to my smoking spot on the back porch a couple of times. Not to smoke, just to stand and think.

Let's hope I sleep well tonight.

An earlier version of this posting was originally published on Quit line on Wednesday 10 September 2014.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Cravings Tuesday, Day 4

Cravings were less today, but still bad at times.

I'm still being very careful to avoid tobacco pushers. I feel less tempted to buy a packet, but it is definitely still quite strongly there, so avoiding their shops is a help.

About 11:30 AM I started to get strong cravings. By about 11:50 I decided I needed to go and get some food as a distraction. On my way to lunch I noticed several women smoking in Newmarket's Olympic Memorial Park. Weirdly I didn't notice any men. Yesterday I noticed the man at the panel beaters having a quick cigarette. He wasn't there today.

Today for lunch I grabbed a burger and chips from the Newmarket branch of Eden Kebabs then ate them in the memorial park. While I was there I watched a woman from Maori TV interview a man whose jacket said he was from the Maori sports foundation; it kept me from ogling the female smokers (Focussing on their cigarettes).

Going home was much easier tonight. I didn't get the shakes and I didn't have a strong compulsion to stop at the petrol station for a packet. My munchies weren't as bad, but I still have snacked quite a bit.

I will admit that if there had been a packet here, I would have smoked one(*) so I still don't trust myself, but I know I can avoid buying any and I don't intend being with any smokers for quite some time. Ex smokers are like alcoholics one drink and they are back into it, just one puff and we are hooked again.

Weirdly enough, I have effectively given up drinking ... I might have a couple of glasses of wine every few months ... but wasn't hooked, so it was easy. Smoking though ... a whole different story.

(*) "One, just one" ... how easy it is for us to lie to ourselves. Luckily I don't believe a word of it. That "Just one" is how I've gone back to smoking in the past. That plus how good that first cigarette feels. The trouble is it's a trap and this time I'm not falling into the trap.

An earlier version of this posting was originally published on Quit line on Tuesday 9 September 2014.

Goooooood Morning Smoke Freeeeeee!!!!!!!!

I slept well last night, As I thought, Sunday night was just an aberration.

The desires I have for cigarettes are even less than they were on previous mornings. I'm actually looking forward to work without the dread of cravings.

I actually woke up a couple of minutes before the alarm, but felt so cold I stayed in bed. Different to when I smoked as then I woke up, grabbed my jandals and dressing gown, and walked out to the back porch to light up.

Great, I can reward myself with sloth for giving up tobacco. LOL

A former girlfriend once said that I was amazing. I'd be snoring, give one snort, open my eyes, swing my legs out of bed and throw my dressing gown on as I walked out the door. I guess like cigarettes this is now a part of my past and not my present or future.

An earlier version of this posting was originally published on Quit line on Tuesday 9 September 2014.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Non-smoking day 3 Monday

I didn't sleep too well last night. I went to bed early and woke up a little before 2 AM with a full bladder. After dealing to that I couldn't settle and didn't get back to sleep until after 3:30 AM. I've heard this can be a side-effect of Champix, but think it was more stress related. Time will tell. When the alarm went I really wanted more sleep, but work summoned.

Before I started this programme I tried to work out where my big risks were. Work is one of the big ones. I knew I needed to give up late on Friday so I could have two full days smoke-free before next being at work. Even so, I have a fairly intense and mentally demanding job so I saw my first smoke-free working day as a huge risk.

It was weird. I seem to have already adjusted to not stepping outside for that first smoke of the day; but when I left home for the bike ride to work I instinctively patted my jacket pockets for my cigarettes. (Yes, I used to smoke while riding my push-bike. If you work in the Parnell, Newmarket ares you may have just sussed who I am).

Starting the work day without a quick puff just before going in wasn't too bad. I've deliberately decided not to tell anyone without a "need to know" about my giving up. My workmates don't need to know. If they notice they notice, but I'm not bringing the matter up. A couple of times during the day when I would have taken a quick smoke break wasn't too bad either. I just reminded myself I wasn't smoking. I actually went to my designated smoking area for a minute or so ... mainly to get out of the air conditioning and computer whirr.

Lunch time was tough. I went to a nearby lunch-bar for a sandwich and chips. I chose this lunch bar today because I knew that I wouldn't walk past a place that sells cigarettes. On the way back to work, eating lunch as I walked I started thinking about the closest places that sell cigarettes. I ended up deciding that the closest one required walking past work ... so as soon as I got to work I raced inside and started back into work a little earlier than scheduled.

If I can play mind games to try and trick myself into visiting tobacco pushers, I can certainly play mind games to stop myself.

This afternoon was also tough. Mostly because the work I was doing required only very small amounts of action by me and large amounts of waiting for the computer to install new software. Time I could spend thinking about you-know-what.

I was reasonably well in control, and didn't get back to mentally triangulating tobacco pushers.

Riding home was tough. Tough, tough, tough. I was physically shaking, almost begging myself to stop at the Mobil petrol station 500 metres from home and buy a packet. A little voice was saying "Just smoke one and throw the rest of the pack away". No, I was strong, I resisted.

Then I went to my local dairy for a loaf of bread. The lady there asked if I wanted any cigarettes. She's the first I've told I'm giving up, she wished me luck. I ended up buying a packet of chili peas, to give a lower calorie alternate to the sugar snacks and nuts.

For about the first hour I was munching and wanting that cigarette. It's abated now. I know I shouldn't let myself substitute junk-food for the cigarettes; but right now I'm adding "long term" to that.

It's 7PM and I'm feeling pretty good.

3 days clean!

 An earlier version of this posting was originally published on Quit line on Monday 8 September 2014.

Non-smoking days 1 and 2

After smoking since 1976 I finally gave up on Saturday the 6th September 2014. Friday night was day 7 of my Champix and Saturday was going to be day 8 so I used up all my remaining cigarettes and went to bed in a cigarette free house.

I know it was a cigarette free house. I searched the place top-to-bottom to see if any cigarettes or tobacco would turn up. Nothing, nil, Nada. Sometimes I told myself I'd destroy any cigarettes I found, sometimes I was more honest and admitted to myself that this destruction would involve burning them, one-at-a-time.

Saturday was rough. Every time I walked by the back door I wanted to step out and light up (For over 10 years I've always smoked outside). I know if I'd had any I would have lit up. I refused to leave the house.

Several times I felt desperate for a smoke. I ended up hitting the sweets, biscuits, cashews, peanuts, and almonds pretty hard.

I also spent a few hours napping during the day.

Sunday was a little better still wanted a smoke but I felt that as long as I avoided any place I could buy tobacco I could make it. I was still getting the cravings a little (October note: How naive, they weren't little yet, just less than Saturday's).

I had to go other to my mother's as, after I decided my quit date, after I started taking Champix, Ross, my brother in the UK decided to make a flying visit. I needed to set up a room for him to stay in.

Weirdly enough my mother decided to tackle me about an old disagreement circa 1972. I was too stressed to be nice so I wasn't impressed.

Didn't sleep too well. Went to bed early and woke up a little before 2 AM. Couldn't settle and didn't get back to sleep until after 3AM Monday 8th. I've found that writing it up helped me tonight. Writing is cathartic or something ... not that I'm a Cathar ... LOL

An earlier version of this posting was originally published on Quit line on Monday 8 September 2014.