Nicotine No More

April 17, 2019

 

It’s been a month since I’ve had a cigarette. A week and a half since I’ve had some nicotine. I have gained five pounds. My diet has gone to shit. I have craved nothing but sweets and fried food and have given into most of those cravings.

 

I have tried to balance that out a bit. I eat really well in the morning and for lunch. Then for dinner, all bets are off. I can’t help myself. I have no control. There’s nobody here to monitor me. I have nobody to check my impulses. I feel guilty but I do it anyway.

 

It’s spring break. I’ve made a bargain with myself. Once I’m back on my school schedule, next week, I’ll be back on my diet schedule. It makes more sense. I do much better with a schedule. Sleep wise, eating wise, everything wise. I need structure. Once that structure is gone, I fall flat on my face.

 

I was doing great on my diet when I had the schedule to follow. Once I had to fill in the blanks and follow my own schedule, I started getting lazy. I cut in too many free days. I started eating out more and more.

 

The biggest adjustment was the cigarettes. The first two weeks without the smokes wasn’t bad but I was on the patch. In fact, my gym participation increased a lot and I was feeling good. It was when I decreased the nicotine and then went off the nicotine completely that’s when the diet failed me and I lost all hope.

 

I was reading that nicotine is just as addictive as heroin. The receptors in the brain that causes the pleasure of taking heroin and being on heroin are the same for nicotine. In a PET scan, the same receptors light up the brain when addicts take hits of heroin and nicotine after having a period of abstinence.

 

The crazy thing is, when I look back, I’ve always been a smoker. I’ve just not been a heavy smoker until recent years. I’ve smoked on and off since high school. Some throughout college. Some while teaching. There are long stretches of when I didn’t smoke at all. But in the last 4-5 years I started smoking pretty heavy. When I got sick, I started smoking heavy, a pack to a half a pack a day.

 

It became my crutch. Something to pass the time. Something to get me through the next hour of the pain that was my life. As little bit of comfort, in the hell I was going through.

 

It also gave me routine. Something I desperately needed. Cigarettes were a part of my daily routine.

 

I would get up. Make coffee. I would have a cup of coffee and smoke 2-3 cigarettes with each cup of coffee. I would have 3-4 cups of coffee each morning depending on what time I got up.

 

Then, on my way to work, I would have a cigarette once I hit Decatur Blvd in the truck. That would last me until I got to Rancho and Lone Mtn. Then, I’d go to Starbucks drive through. I’d get my coffee. Light up another one on my way to school out of the drive through.

 

During 1st period, I had a break at school. I would take a break and drive around the school and smoke a cigarette. Then at lunch, before I ate, if I ate, I would smoke another. Then at the end of the day during 6th period, I got another break and I would smoke another cigarette.

 

That would be my day at work.

 

I would drop my niece off and then light up another one on the way home.

 

Once home, I would sit in my spot in the garage and have another cigarette before going into the house to make dinner. While dinner was cooking, I’d go back out to the garage and smoke again.

 

Then of course, the after dinner smoke. I’d have one or two. Depending on what was going on. Sometimes, one of my boys would also be smoking so we would be sitting around and socializing so we would all be smoking. So one cig lead to two after an hour or so.

 

Right as I started to get sleepy, I would go out to the garage and have a final puff. Sometimes it would be a whole cigarette, sometimes just a puff or even a half. Depended on how fucked up I was from my medication.

 

During the night, if I couldn’t sleep, I would go out and smoke a cigarette. I’d finish the one I’d started or start a whole new one. I’d go back to bed like nothing had happened. Keeping a steady stream of nicotine in my system.

 

Then, I’d wake up and start the day over all over again.

 

Removing the cigarette routine has been a challenge this month. I miss my garage time. I don’t play my games on my phone like I used to. That was also what I would do in the garage whilst I smoked and drank my coffee for hours on end. I have found other ways to fill the gaps in my morning. I listen to Daily TV Mass in the mornings now. That keeps me occupied.

 

I go for walks at work. I find busy work for me to do. I plan and plan. I have lesson plans for next school year done through Christmas 2019.

 

I know the weight will come off with a little bit of exercise, and now that I have stopped smoking, I might even be able to start running again. That was one of my goals in stopping the smoking. I wanted to start running again. I don’t know that I want to run another half marathon but I’d like to be able to run 3 miles and not die. I’d like to be able to enjoy my runs. I’d like to do it in a timely manner, too.

 

All these things will happen in time. In one month, I have stopped smoking. That is one transformation. In another month, there will be another transformation. I cannot wait to see what that will be.

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