What keeps me quit?
For as long as I’ve chewed, I’ve wanted to quit. Looking back and thinking about how miserable of an existence that was is crazy. Holding onto a habit that I knew I didn’t want, and knew was terrible for my health, but continuing to do it and not being able to stop. Why did it take a terrible sore throat that scared the hell out of me to quit? Why couldn’t I have quit on my volition during one of the thousands of times I thought about it? I always told myself if you don’t quit now, something bad is going to happen to force you to quit, and sure enough, it got to that point. I guess you could categorize it as a “rock bottom” situation. I’m lucky though, after numerous doctor, dentist, and ENT visits, multiple types of scans and x-rays, everything seems to be ok.
(Inserted this after I was done writing: This is going to be long winded, but I haven’t shared these thoughts with many people and it feels great to let it all out on the keyboard. So, bear with me…)
On August 13th, 2021 I said that enough was enough. My throat was killing me, it felt like someone was standing on my neck, I could hardly swallow, and I was sick as a dog. I had been feeling like this for a couple of days prior. So quitting cold turkey on the 13th wasn’t necessarily difficult because I felt so terrible that the thought of putting chew in my mouth was repulsive…weird right? I thought so. Paranoia is kicking in big time. I made appointments with my doctor, my dentist, and an ENT. I made it in to see my doc on the 15th, the withdrawals were full blown, I was emotional, terrified, fully convinced that I would walk out of this doctor’s office with a terrible diagnosis. My doctor (now former) is a real winner. I get that we are living in a time of extra precautions and safety, but seriously, you are a doctor, I don’t feel good and I need help. This guy didn’t want to come near me, we literally could have just done this over the phone. I had to ask him to look at my throat, ask him to take my temperature, ask him to check my oxygen levels. He said my throat was red, but it was just viral and not to worry. “What about strep?” I asked. Yes, I had to ask. “It’s not strep, but let’s swab you for your peace of mind.” Ten minutes later…I have strep. On one hand this was good news, nothing serious, take some antibiotics and you’re better. I wish…
A week later, no relief. By now, I’ve been able to get into my dentist. Here is where I open up…this is not easy. I sat in his chair and struggled to get my words out because I was balling like a baby. This whole quit process brought on some of the strangest emotions, emotions that I have never felt before. Luckily, my dentist is a cool guy and was fully supportive of my situation. He said that he had seen many guys like me before, especially recently with the pandemic, lots of people are questioning their mortality and any little sensation can be worrisome. He does a full examination and says everything looks fine, wants to see me again in another two weeks just to double-check. This is supposed to be reassuring to me, but it’s not. Why can’t I trust my doctor who says everything is fine or the dentist? I’m literally thinking that mentally, something is wrong. I’m still terrified, still convinced that something serious is going on in my throat.
In an effort to spare you details of every medical visit I’ll summarize days 15ish to 75ish):
Three ENT visits, everything is ok
Another dentist visit (still looks good)
Scans complete, go over results with ENT, everything is fine, follow up in a month.
Neck CT scheduled. Results: TBD. ENT doesn’t think there is anything but says that it would put my mind at ease.
I’m ok, and I’m going to be ok. (I still feel a weird sensation in my throat sometimes. Has anyone else experienced this or am I just crazy?)
Up until about day 75 I was a worthless human being. I was not a husband to my wife and not a father to my daughters. I fell terribly behind at work and struggled with being the ‘man’ of my household. I was anxious, severely depressed, and terrified. I trusted no one, and was unable to accept the love and support that my family so desperately wanted to give me. I spent the majority of my time curled up in a ball, feeling sorry for myself. I started to wonder if I would ever feel better and question if I could ever return to a normal mental state. The only thing that kept me above water was knowing that I could check in with my KTC crew everyday and that @chris2alaska and others were checking in on me with their hysterical memes and motivating messages.
All of this for some dirt from a can that you put in your mouth? It’s just nicotine, why is my experience so terrible? Is everyone’s quit experience this bad? I’ve tried to stop asking myself these questions and just accept that it is what it is. I can’t continue to consume my thoughts with things that don’t matter. But I think I’ve chalked it up to a combination of, well obviously the physical and mental effects of quitting cold turkey combined with a history of anxiety that just exploded into a deep depression after quitting.
I realize that this HOF speech is probably not super motivating, and is really probably a downer, but it was important for me to get this out. Hopefully it will help others who might be experiencing something similar as well.
Mental health can be a real issue, and for me, chewing only made it worse.
So, what keeps me quit? Pretty simple, the thought of having to “quit” and go through this again is terrifying.
Stay Quit My Friends.