Nearly 50 years ago I started with nicotine as a 10 to 11 year old child. My friends and I would hawk cigarettes from the parents who smoked. After school we would sneak down under the bridge by our catholic grade school and light up. I am not sure if we inhaled, but it set the coarse for the future.
By my sophomore year in high school I was a full pledge smoker. It was so crazy and ironic I was a good high school swimmer and after practice or before boarding a bus traveling to a meet I would light up. By my senior year I was smoking 15 to 20 cigarettes a day.
Off to college and I kept smoking. I entered an aviation program and use to fly a 150 Cessna’s with a cigarette hanging out of my mouth. Hey, these little planes had ashtrays in them and they cost $12.50 per hour to fly including fuel. How very stupid.
During my college years I gave up swimming and started weight lifting. During my college weight lifting I became very health conscious and began scrutinizing my food intake and became known as a health freak. But all the time I smoked and knew it was bad for me but I didn’t want to stop.
After college I took up running. I would run 5 miles a day 5 days a week but I kept on smoking. Yes, I was a smoking runner. Wow how stupid. All of this physical activity keeping myself fit but kept on smoking. Here is a real kicker; a few years after college I married a marathon runner. My wife graduated with a master’s in the physiology of exercise. She was an above average runner, placed 87 among the women in her first NY Marathon. Needless to say I was so ashamed of my nicotine addition I became what is know as a closet smoker, just like a ninja dipper.
Fast, forward 10 years and our first child was born. By this time I had become a closet smoker supreme, only a few people knew that I was a smoker. Still I knew how very bad it was but didn’t think I could stop. However, when our first baby arrived I took one look at that child and vowed to stop smoking. I wanted that baby to have a dad around and not be taken away by cancer or some other nicotine induced disease I did stop smoking and was successful but fast forward another 10 year and I was on nicotine again.
The insidious drug came at me so slow I didn’t realize I was being taken. My new use started with an occasional cigar. After dinner with my friends we would have a cigar and a glass of cognac. Then I started buying an occasional cigar and smoking with friends. That lead to buying boxes but it was deemed an outside sport so I just started chewing them all the time. After a few years it looked stupid walking around chewing an unlit stub, I created a new method of intake. I started cutting the cigars into wafers with a cutter and popping them into my mouth. I would chop up an entire cigar and save the hosts in a container. This nicotine intake method worked well until I started having the inside mucus tissue in my mouth slough off. A visit to several oral surgeons and a trip to Mayo Clinic proved I didn’t have cancer. A close call, I gave it a rest let myself heal and then continued.
Realizing tobacco was harmful I was positive I would get some form of cancer. So creatively I switched to nicotine gum. It’s like I didn’t want to admit that nicotine gum was harmful. All nicotine use constricts every part of you circulatory system. Nicotine use thickens blood and causes it to become sticky which taxes the ticker. Linings of your blood vessels become damaged allowing fat deposits to adhere and causes arteriosclerosis. Nicotine can greatly cause your cholesterol levels to rise. This is really cool so even if you are young person you can start damaging your heart right away. Gee wouldn’t nicotine be worth a stroke; perhaps only your penis will droop instead of slurred speech or a jacked up mouth.
Chewing nicotine gum all day long makes your jaw sore and it to irritates your mouth. To get a better fix I started eating Copenhagen. No reason to spit right? Right, just eat the stuff. Feeling ashamed and sheepish I was a ninja dipper eater supreme. Nobody could tell I had that stuff in my mouth, well perhaps when it slobbered out of the front of my teeth. The buzz from Copenhagen in the morning was tremendous. Give me a cup of coffee and I was in heaven. Heaven didn’t last all that long as I started having complication due to nicotine ingestion.
Nicotine started to irritate my bladder. It caused me to urinate 20 times a day or more. I went back to the clinic but I was too ashamed to tell them I was a nicotine addict. So my bladder was treated in the blind, everything thing worked really great. I had a procedure on my bladder, after which I couldn’t void for several months due to a complication. I exercise religiously see how you get along with a tube in your penis and a bag tied to your leg. Finally the catheter was removed then for the next six weeks I had the pleasure of self-catheterization twice a day. Try inserting an 18-inch tube up your penis twice daily. Still want to keep dipping? This trauma was totally self-induced, how stupid? I began researching the effects of use and withdrawal from nicotine. I made my mind up to quit because I knew the consequences of continued nicotine consumption. Enter KTC.org the groups and wonderful support offered.
I can’t tell you how many packages of nicotine gum or cans of Copenhagen I have tossed only to retrieve them the next day. But quit I did 100 days ago and I plan to stay quit and you can to. Make no mistake, when you first quit, you are going to go through a degree of pain and suffering. Nicotine is one of the most addictive substances on the planet. Nicotine has a huge influence on your body and when you stop your body revolts and it wants you to feed it. You don’t have to feed your body nicotine you have a choice.
Fortunately I started feeling better in a few short weeks. Soon my body’s metabolism starting returning to normal. My appetite did increase dramatically but I reasoned trading food for nicotine was an acceptable transaction. The first 50 days I gained 7 pounds. I’m holding my weight steady and eating habits have returned to near normal for me. After 3 weeks of nicotine abstinence, cravings subsided substantially. At day 100 I have virtually no cravings. I have had three nightmares in which I caved and they were real and terrifying.
When you are using nicotine it’s very difficult to imagine not getting your next fix. You may be thinking about quitting and say to yourself no way I can stop for today let alone for the rest of my life. I just can’t imagine a day without. Just stop for the day don’t think about the long term just today. At some point in your future the need the cravings will go away. You can laugh at yourself and say, “How stupid was that?”
I have spent hours reading posts on this site, gleaming the knowledge and support the great quitter here have graciously given. Quitting is simply but perhaps not always easy. Cancer and all of the associated disease brought on by nicotine use are underhanded. You will never know if the last dip of worm dirt is the one infusion that trips your cells into dividing and starting your cancer.
Post roll today so you can say no just until tomorrow. Post tomorrow so you can have the privilege to say no another day.
The world is full of quitters, be one.