Friday, October 8, 2010

Slow burn: the last chapter

Persistence, in my experience, has always been a reliable substitute for confidence and inspiration. It pays off big on the short odds when the timing is just right--and timing is everything, as we have all heard a million freaking times since leaving the cradle.

So what’s the point, that all clich├ęs are true? Yeah, probably. I don’t know that I had a point, except that after many failed attempts to quit the devil leaf this year, I started a tobacco treatment plan on August 2nd, and as of August 18th, I have been smoke-free. I was such a hard case, a two-pack-a-day smoker. How did I do it?

Chantix, mostly. And a single counseling session with Holly, a tobacco treatment specialist who was trained at the Mayo Clinic. I was allowed to smoke for the first two weeks on Chantix while preparing myself for quit day—the 15th day—in various ways that resonated personally. There wasn’t really much I needed to do except move the ashtray out of my office and onto the back deck. The drug itself made the cigarettes taste bitter and unappealing, rendering the whole experience less satisfying with each passing day. I stopped smoking on day 13, two days before my official quit day.

Shortly after quitting, I stopped taking Chantix. As effective as it was, the side effects made it impossible for me to stay with it for the additional 90 days recommended by the treatment program. My moods see-sawed, I slept through most of the afternoon each day, nighttimes were continuous roller coaster rides of absurd, manic dreams followed by hours of wakefulness, and I developed chest pain that turned out to be a new symptom of the acid reflux I had earlier gotten under control with Prilosec. Who would want to keep that up?

Nowadays I have slight cravings for a cigarette, but they are passing thoughts from which I can easily distract myself. With food. I have gained eight pounds since August. My size tens are beginning to grumble under my widening girth. But I just tell my mouthy vanity to put a lid on it for the time being. If I gain 100 pounds, that, according to modern medicine, would justify going back to tobacco. The health risks caused by extreme obesity would somewhat outweigh the risks caused by cigarette smoking.

So, whenever my nicotine-deprived brain nudges me for a drag, I appeal not to God’s grace but to the infinite wisdom of science: “Just 72 pounds to go, genius. . .”


  1. Outstanding!!

    determination wins again.

  2. Kim,

    Congrats---Keep it up. My mom had great success with Chantix.

    And welcome back to the web. Good to see you writing again!