Monday, May 2, 2011

Smoking is a Bitch!

I'm nothing but a big quitter after all

So I have something completely unrelated to caps, tg or anything else that I talk about here.  I smoke.  I smoke a lot.  I was up to 2 packs a day.

A little history.  Both of my parents smoked.  I may have taken a puff of their cigarettes once or twice in my life, but as a boy I never thought I would become a smoker.  My first real foray into smoking came on my 24th birthday.  A friend of mine (who was 20 at the time) wanted to take me out on an excursion for my birthday.  Being that he couldn't legaly drink, we decided to head over to Canada.  Not only could he drink there, but we could get our hands on some real cuban cigars (by the way... we got fakes and they were nasty).  In that one drunken night I figured out that I REALLY liked cigars.  As I had been around smokers my entire life I just assumed that you would inhale the smoke into your lungs.

From that point on, and have been an on again off again cigar smoker.   There really isn't anything as cool, relaxing, sexy, refreshing and tasty as hanging out in a cigar bar for a few hours while smoking a big fat churchill. It takes a few hours to smoke it, so it gives you plenty of time to really sit back and relax.

Well my buddy and I ended up moving to Chicago upon graduation. I kept my cigar habit and in fact enhanced it there.  There are plenty of wonderful cigar shops in Chicago.  But over the year we spent there, I started to feel a stronger and stronger urge to smoke.  I had some crap job, and took my first 'smoke' break while working there.  I headed outside, lit up a cigar, took a few dozen puffs, and then set the cigar down to die out, figuring I would grab it up on my way home (the damn thing cost like $10, and I had no intention of leaving it there after only a few puffs taken).  Sadly someone took it.  There were bums a plenty down there, and I'm sure finding a fairly expensive cigar with only a few puffs taken out of it was a real find.

So the next day I went to the cigar shop and bought a pack of quality cigarillos.  If you don't know what a cigarillo is, think of a hand wrapped cigar, but cigarette size.  Some cheap ones would be swisher sweets.  The ones I bought were really nice.  They burned a little hotter than a regular cigar, but didn't take a couple hours to smoke.  They still took longer than a 15 minute smoke break though, so I felt that I was wasting money.  So after that pack was gone, I went down to the cigar shop and explained what I liked, and the time frame I had to smoke.  He recommended a premium cigarette.  I believe I bought a pack of 'Davidoff Magnums'.  These were very harsh when compared against a fine cigar, or a good cigarillo... but a hell of a lot better than your average cigarette.  At twice the price of regular cigarettes, they were rather expensive.

I would still buy cigars to smoke at home, but I always had a pack of Magnums to smoke while at work. If I had to place a time on when my cigarette addiction started, this would have to be it.  This was January of 1999.  It may have only been 2 or 3 cigarettes a day to start, but it grew.  Smoking cigars was expensive, and as expensive as the Magnums were, they were a hell of a lot less expensive than a fine cigar.... but only on a 1:1 basis.  By the time I moved away from Chicago I was smoking at least 10 Magnums a day.  And on the trip home itself I ran out and really wanted one... so I stopped at a gas station and bought a pack of Winstons.  At this time Winston was advertising itself as the 'No Additive' cigarette.  It tasted like crap... but it satisfied my need for a cig, and cost me next to nothing (when compared to Magnums and Cigars).

Within a month of moving I was up to a pack of Winstons a day.  I decided that I was now a smoker, and as such should try to do this as cheaply as possible, so I started buying them by the carton.  A few months later that was a run on Winstons, so I bought the closest I could get... Camels.  Since then I have smoked Camels as my brand of cigarettes.

I still had it in my head that I could quit... I just didn't want to.  I didn't even think of it as 'quiting' as I wasn't 'addicted'.  But a few years later when I tried to prove my point to a friend that I could go a day without a cig... I failed  I couldn't do it.  Within a few hours of my last cig, I was desperate for one.

Since then I have tried to quit many times.  Most attempts last all of a few hours.  Once I quit for three days, but it was REALLY hard.  I wanted a cigarette every minute of every day.  I may have been working, eating, playing or any number of other things, but during that entire time I was NOT SMOKING.  This isn't just a passive act like going several hours with not eating... it was very active as I wanted to smoke, and was denying myself that want/need.  So at 8am I was checking my email, and NOT SMOKING.  At 8:30am I was playing a game and NOT SMOKING.  At 10am I was working and NOT SMOKING.  At Noon I was eating lunch and NOT SMOKING.  NOT SMOKING was on my mind every single minute.  After three days I caved and smoked.  And that one cigarette didn't ease the want/need at all, so I followed it up with another.  And another.  The quitting had failed.

My best quit attempt was in 2008.  I don't remember what spurred me on, but I decided to quit.  I laid down the pack of smokes (there were still 5 or so in the pack) and started quitting.  As expected in about an hour I wanted another.  That want was just like the three day quit.. it was with me every minute of every day.  But after the third day something happeend... it became easier.  It wasn't easy by any stretch of the imagination, but it was easier.  And it continued to get easier.  After three weeks I was tentatively beginning to celebrate.  I had QUIT smoking.  I wasn't spending every minute NOT SMOKING.  The urge still popped up a lot, but I could wait each one out.

After a month I was hanging out with a friend and we got drunk at the bar.  I asked him for a cig as I really liked smoking and drinking (reminded me of all those evening spent in cigar bars).  That one cigarette damned me.  The urge came back in an hour but was just as powerful as it had been when I first laid down the pack.  I had just thrown away the past month of not smoking and was starting over.  This was also the week of a friends wedding that I presided over.  The new stronger urges and the nervousness from performing a wedding ceremony got together and just overwhelmed me.  When I got home from the wedding I was a pack a day smoker again.

Since then I have made a few attempts to quit, but never made it more than a few hours. It seems sad really... when I am working in an area where I can't smoke, I can go between 6 and 8 hours without a cigarette with no problem.  But my mind is occupied, I am unable to simply light up when I want, and I know that when I'm done working, I can go out and have one.  But as soon as I tell myself that I can't have another... EVER.... then the urge strikes me hard.

That takes me up to now.   Now I'm going back to school to work in the health field.  My job will land me working in a hospital. Most hospitals have been smoke free for sometime, but they are now going further.  Several local hospitals have started the process of not hiring smokers.  This isn't a yes/no question on the application.. they do a blood test.  If they find nicotine in your system, they won't hire you.  They are even making this apply to current workers (of course giving them time to quit before fully enforcing the policy).  So when I graduate this December, I NEED to be smoke free unless I want to throw away the last 3 years of school.  And to add a little fuel to the fire, my college campus is going smoke free in the fall.  They won't even allow you to go out to your car and smoke.

So... I am trying to quit again.  On April 21st I smoked my 'last' cigarette.  And on April 22nd, I smoked another one.  I have only had one success at quiting cold turkey (quitting for the month), and one partial success (quitting for the three days).  That is hardly a winning record when compared to the dozens of failed attempts.

So I am taking a new approach.  My goal is to be cigarette free by August 15, 2011. That is two weeks before I begin classes for the fall semester. In April I was smoking two packs a day.  Instead of quitting cold turkey, I am going to try and reduce my way down to zero.  To help me do that I am trying to remove cigarettes from my every day activites.  I will not smoke inside the house, and I will not smoke while driving.  When I want to smoke, I make a record of it, then go outside and smoke.

I am running with two short term goals right now:  1) Smoke less than 10 cigarettes a day and 2) go at least one hour between cigarettes.  Hopefully this will get a little easier, as right now I am wanting a smoke after about 30 minutes.  So for 30 minutes I am again NOT SMOKING.   And I try to stretch it out so that I can go 1 and a half or two outs with out smoking.  As I move along through the summer I will reduce the number of cigarettes a day, and lengthen the time between cigarettes. Hopefully this will work out, and I'll be smoke free by the time school picks back up.  If not, then I will need to move onto chemical assistance.  The patch, the gum, the electronic cigarette..... but while all of these things 'help' to quit, I can't be on them when looking for a job, as they all are just alternate nicotine delivery methods.

Anyway... I wanted to put this out there in the public realm.  I will share my successes here, as well as my failures.  For instance while writing this up I got a VERY strong urge to smoke, and had a cigarette (outside) after only 45 minutes.  So each day I'll get the information posted about how many cigarettes I had, and the average interval between them.  I don't know how I'll do it right yet.. I don't want a post a day about this, so I may just comment on this post every day.

I also wanted to put this up here as I think I came upon a correlation yesterday.   Since I have been trying to quit... I have had almost NO desire to create or even read caps.  I still roleplay over at DX on a daily basis, so its not like my TG fantasies are killed completely by not smoking.... but I just haven't felt the urge to create or read any caps.  Petra is next up on my list to cap, and if there is anyone that I find 'easy' to cap, its Petra... but I can't even get a scenario in my head that doesn't feel flat from the get go.  I've tried to make her one anyway.. figuring that once I got into it, I would just start to flow like normal.  But no beans.  I can't get a story that works for me, or find a picture that inspires anything.

I don't KNOW if quitting is the culprit for my lack of capping desire.  At this time last year, I had a huge dry spell that lasted for months and I was smoking like a fiend during that time.  It may just be some weired seasonal tg desire thing.  During the summer, I may just not be into capping.  I won't give up on it, and each day I'll try to cap or at least get back into reading caps.

The smoking data from May 1st is 10 cigarettes with an average interval of 1 hour and 53 minutes between smokes. I'd call that good, but I went to be a lot earlier than normal (probably cutting off two or three cigs), and the average is a little high because I worked in the morning which naturally extents the times.  If I take out the 'work smokes' I was a lot closer to a one hour average.


  1. OK this will sound silly but its the honest to god truth. You have two types of addiction to nicotine. You have the physical addiction that the body craves it. And you have the Psychological addiction that your subconscious wants it.

    My Dad tried to quit for twenty years. He would either cut down and could never get past a certain point or he would go cold turkey and get VERY mean a few days later before going back to the cigs.

    How he quit for good: He had to go into the hospital for a few weeks. By the time he had gotten out he was past the physical withdrawals of nicotine, then he could deal with the psychological ones.

    SO need to be in a situation where cigarettes are NOT available for two weeks. Maybe have someone tie you to a chair and keep you busy for that time, or go on a long camping trip away from everything until you need to shave your legs. Then you can go back home.

    Good luck.

  2. @Geofrey

    You don't sound silly at all. Cutting back is working against one addiction... the psychological addiction. It is removing it from my every day life and activities. But soon I will have to fight the physical addiction as well. This is my first time trying to cut back, so I'll have to see how it goes. Sadly I have a hard deadline if I want to work, so if this method doesn't prove successful I'll have to find one that does.

    And since I'm commenting, I'll update with today's cits. 11 cigs between 7am and 11:15pm. My average time between smokes today was 1 hour and 33 minutes.

  3. There's also an oral fixation about it as well speaking in a psych point of view. I know it's a damning thing for weight loss but try suckers, they helped me

  4. Caitlyn a thing that actually works is buying chewing gum, i know it's sound silly but medics would recommend it to you if asked, keeping your mouth fresh and occupied stop the addiction for a time (no more than a day you have to work it for that, but more than your 1h and 33min).

    I know i haven't tried smoking, but i will share a little story with you :3

    When i was 5 years old, i was with my dad in front of my house and i saw with a very big cigar, and i said to him:

    Dad i want to be like you, i want to have a big office and smoke those big cigars you try from time to time(i know it's weird but it's true >.>)when i grow up, the first thing my father did when i listen to a child ranting like that was putting that very big cigar in my mouth, of course a boy won't know how to smoke, so i ended swallowing the smoke and hated it to no end and being 22 years old to 23 this year, i can't say i hadn't the need nor the temptation to smoke and i can say that in the future i won't, whenever i enter a bar with people smoking (thanks the new law in Spain that doesn't allow that)i had to retreat because i find myself breathless, i have developed a hating for cigs and cigars so bad i find myself in that situation, not to say that my big brother all time smoker trying to get me a cigar in my mouth tried without no effect ^-^
    I'm supporting you all the way, i know you can do it Caitlyn
    Hugs and Kisses Alectra

  5. @Anonymous

    I do several things orally to keep occupied. For the most part if I just need something there I grab a mint (Altoids being my preferred brand). It not only gives me something to do, but it also gives me a fresh feeling.


    I appreciate your attempt to help, but chewing gum doesn't help me. It was one of the first things I tried many years ago. I don't like gum, and I don't like constantly chewing on something like that. And I don't mean the smoking cessation gums, I mean any gums. I just don't like them.

    My numbers for May 2nd ended up as 12 cigs wtih an average wait of 1 hour and 32 minutes. Today I am sitting at 9 cigs, with an average of 1 hour and 20 minutes between smokes. Being only 8pm (nearly so) I will probably end up wtih at least 2 more cigs, if not three.

  6. Caitlyn, I know exactly what you are going through. This book helped me stop:

    Especially if you want to quit without thinking you are being deprived. Hugs, Paci

  7. Altoids are good but think about the repitition(?) that you have when smoking a cigarette. That's why I suggested suckers:D

  8. @Paci

    I appreciate the book suggestion. I may pick it up soon... to bad its not avaialble on Kindle, otherwise I would be reading it now!


    I see what you are saying about the oral stimulation. In all honesty I don't have much of an oral fixation on the cigs. Most of the part I miss is the breathing. That slow deep breath in, hold for a few seconds, and then a long slow breath out. After about 45 minutes without a cit (when the want for a cig gets particularly strong) I find myself breathing just like that, and it helps the most. I look at suckers or candies like I do gum.. I really don't like the feel of them in my mouth, and end up chewing them up and swallowing them quickly. I can do that with altoids and get the fresh breath to go with it.

  9. Stats for May 4:

    14 Cigs
    1 hour 24 minute average wait between.

    I'm not to worred about the number of cigs I had. I woke up around 6:30am, and was up until after 3:00am. So its was a long day. The lag, I'm still trying to get up over an hour and a half without doing something that gives me an unfair time boos (heading out of the house for 3 hours without the smokes... work).

    Some things I've noticed. I find it harder to 'wait' between smokes in the morning. Morning waits are 40 minutes, an hour, and hour and 10 minutes... while evening waits are an hour and a half, or 2 hours. And I knew it would be hard to give up the 'after meal' cig. But after dinner I not only have an after meal cig, but another an hour later. Its like a single cig doesn't cut it after dinner.

  10. Stats for May 5:

    7 Cigs
    1 hour 40 minutes.

    The number of cigs looks impressive, but I'll point to the update I wrote yesterday... I'm not worried about the number. Yesterday I wasn't up all that long (9am until midnight). But the 1 hour 40 minutes is a little WOOT worthy.

  11. Stats for May 6:

    14 Cigs
    1 hour 21 minutes.

    Opportunity trumps desire. I desire to not smoke, but as I was cleaning some garbage out of the car at the gas station, I came upon a pack with two cigerattes in it. Long story short, I smoked both while driving to my next destination. Within 15 minutes of each other. I killed my average, and ruined my mood for the rest of the fucking day.

    There really isn't a slap in the face quite like an example of how weak you are against an addiction.

  12. May 8:

    11 Cigs
    1 Hour 42 Minutes

    New week, new plan. Well its not new, but an extention of what I'm able to do now. My first two smokes of the day will average one hour. I hvae a real problem getting that first cig out to an hour, so if its early, won't cry about it, it just pushed out the second cig further.

    After that, I go 2 hours for the next cig. Each cig I add 15 minutes to. This is a firmer goal than simply trying to extend my average time. For example my first cig this morning was 7am. I got up at 6:15, so that was 45 minutes. My next cit was at 8:15, averaging out to a 1 hour wait. Next was 2 hours later, at 10:15am. Next will be at 12:30.

    That takes care of my first problem area... the morning. My second problem area is after lunch and dinner. I fiend pretty bad there. So I'll try to stay on sched after meals, but not cry if I fall off the wagon. But after I fall, I continue the time progression. For instance say my next cig is 12:30. The next scheduled cig would be 2 hours and 30 minutes later... at 3:00. But if I eat lunch at 1, and have a cig at 1:15, I move push out the next cig to 2 hours and 45 minutes... or 5:00.

    Its a plan... I don't know if its right, but it should help out some.

  13. Caitlyn I feel for you. I was a light smoker for about a decade. I would smoke between 2 and 10 cigarettes a day, depending on the day and the things going on. I never really had a physical addiction to the smokes, it was the mental addiction that was tough for me to break.

    I know that puts me on thin ice for giving advice so I'm not really going to suggest too many things to try. I'm just going to commiserate with your situation and congratulate you on your determination. I know how tough it can be to quit smoking. Even the few smokes I had a day were something that I craved for the first month after I stopped. It was something to do in the quiet times, something to make the fun times a little better and something to burn off some steam when I was angry (pun kind of intended). I have to say that I am very happy that I have stopped, but I do still miss taking that deep breath and holding it in like you said.

    OK I'm sounding like an advocate and that is not my intention. I want to support your efforts to quit. I think it is a wonderful thing and I know that though you will feel worse at first, you will feel a LOT better once you have kicked the habit. And with the price of insurance and the taxes on cigarettes now, you will save a ton of money. My ex-smoked a lot and I figured out that if she and I hadn't smoked at all while we were married we would have had somewhere between $1,500 and $3,500 a year. That could have been 3 extra mortgage payments or a trip to Vegas or ComiCon or a new MacBook Pro a year. That's nothing to sneeze at.

    I can't really give you advice on how to quit. There are lots of things to try, you have to find one that works for you. Something I wanted to try, but found too late for me was a method suggested by this musician MC Frontalot. He writes nerd rap songs that are pretty funny and is heavily into geek culture. He came up with a D&D way to quit and lays it out here:

    That may or may not work for you, but I thought it might appeal to your geeky self and it couldn't hurt to see another perspective.

    Good luck and big hugs of support,

  14. @Petra

    Thanks for the encouragement. I have to admit I slipped pretty bad today. I had my 'new week' plan and failed miserably at it. 'Today' isn't over and I've already smoked 14 cigs with an average wait of 1 hour and 18 minutes.

    That MD Frontalot idea looks like it could be fun... but something he says at the end of rule 6 "fuck you, I do what I want" really comes into play for me. I've had some good laid plans that get fucked up when I decide to smoke. I can easily imagine rolling a 'saving' die, and then smoking anyway. I just need to get over the hump and get better at NOT smoking. I'm a very bad NON smoker. I also need to accept that even at this level today, I am still under half of what I was smoking jut a few weeks ago. That IS progress.

  15. The best way to quit is to figure out what actually works best for you. I know many people that have quit, and each person did it differently. There are so many levels to an addiction, that each of them needs to be taken care of before any long term goals can be reached. I think you are approaching it well, where you seem to have a good idea of what your weaknesses are.

  16. May 9:
    17 Cigs
    1 hour 14 minutes

    May 10:
    11 Cigs
    1 hour 23 minutes

  17. May 11:
    11 Cigs
    1 hour 36 minutes.

    the 'New Week Plan' did fizzle and die a painful death. But since Monday I've been trying to stick to the spirit of it. Allow myself 2 cigs in the morning, and allow myself a cig after a meal. Yesterday (may 11) was the first day I've been able to do that. I feel pretty good about it, mainly because it wasn't a herculean struggle to maintain a 2 hour wait. I may be progressing here. I'm staying with 2 hour waits, a couple in the morning, and 2 near meals (but still at least an hour between them).

  18. 5/18:
    11 Cigs
    1 hour 32 minuts
    (Its not an excuse, but I got some bad news and smoke several cigs in a short period of time, killing my average).

    10 cigs
    1 hour 45 minutes

  19. 5/21
    7 Cigs
    1 hour 40 minute average

  20. So I see where the problem is going to come in. The very first smokes of the day are INCREDIBLY hard to deny.

    Before quitting I would 'want' a cig every 15 minutes or so. I felt good when I denied myself one for 30 minutes. Now I 'want' one about every hour, and feel good when I can deny myself one for an extra hour (getting close to that 2 hour average).

    But in the morning, I want one about 15 minutes after I wake up. And that want cannot be pushed into the background. I'm fighting it after 30 minutes of being awake, and staring down the clock at 45 minutes. I feel lucky to get an hour, and many times cave in at 45 minutes. And it starts right back up... I can push the second cig out to an hour or an hour and 15 minutes. After those, I find it easy to get 2 hours and can go 3 hours without really noticing it (if I'm busy or occupied).

    So my biggest hurdle is going to be those first morning Cigs.

  21. 5/23
    8 Cigs
    1 hour 43 minutes

    9 Cigs
    2 hours 2 minutes

  22. 5/29
    9 Cigs
    2 hours 6 minutes

    15 Cigs
    1 hour 20 minutes
    Bad day, but it was memorial day and I didn't even really try to keep to a schedule.

  23. Caitlyn only really have two options...

    1. Go with another way to get the nicotine fix and throat hit... e.g. e-cigs, I recommend Totally Wicked, big surprise ;)

    2. Read the book on the Easy way to stop smoking, which encourages you to smoke while your are reading it. And unlock an insight that nicotine creates a 'generic deficit' which it then fulfills.

    Best of luck my friend.

  24. 5/31
    9 Cigs
    1 hour 35 minutes


    I appreciate the recommendations. The problem with alternative nicotine delivery systems is cost. sadly the least expensive method of quitting is cigs. I did get the book. I read the book. And while its an interesting read... it really didn't help. It gives a lot of good facts and figures, most of which I knew (not as specific as they point out, but still knew).

    And as much as I'm frustrated with the progress, I can look through this list (or the spreadsheet I keep) and see progress. Beyond falling down a few times (like 5/30 and 5/31) I am going further and further. Morning cigs are still VERY hard to get over, but I've taken my first cig from 45 minutes after I wake, to over an hour. My afternoon has stretched from 1 hour 30 minutes between cigs, to regularly over 2 hours.

    If I keep this progress up, by the end of June I should be able to move to a more strict system.... one or two in the morning, one after meals, and one or two before bed. Then its just a matter of eliminating some of those times. I still see completely quitting by the end of August as very doable.

  25. 6/2
    9 Cigs
    1 hour 33 minutes

    12 Cigs 1 hour 35 minutes

  26. Well, my smoking habits haven't changed much since my last update. I was averaging around 2 hours and finding it increasingly difficult to go past that mark. Sure, some days I got 2.5 or even 3 hours. But those 'highs' were almost always followed by a cig after an hour or hour and a half. I did an experiement the other day, where instead of going outside to smoke, I brought 2 cigarettes inside with me. I had one immediatly, but left the other one nearby to have whenever I wanted. Now understand that would generally mean lighting up about 15-30 minutes after I put out the last cig.

    Surprisingly it was an hour. I now have good proof that I have significantly reduced my desire for cigs. So I taking a step that I didn't expect to attempt until august. I am going to 'quit' today. I have about 5 cigs left in my pack outside on the patio. I will keep up my system (which means one in about 45 minutes, then the others in 2 hour increments.

    If I am thinking this through I should start 'quitting' at about 3:30 this afternoon. Now I'm putting those in quotes as I still have a full carton sitting in the freezer. I really don't know if I will have the willpower to really quit. I hope so, but I don't know.

    Hopefully I'll be able to report tomorrow that I've been without a cig for 24 hours. The real big mark will be three days. when I last 'quit' that was the time that the strong desires started to diminish. Wish me luck!

  27. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.