Tuesday, October 14, 2008

We are nonsmokers (and so can you!)

I was playing some more today. Check out my Meez. I saw Marty's over at his blog (his Meez is holding an Obama sign--cool!), and I thought I'd try it. What fun! I spent too much time getting myself all geared out, but it was fun. I'm pleased with my camo skirt, my gladiator sandals, and my Rock the Vote T-shirt--and the fishnet stockings! Those are a bunch of Elvises (Elvi?) in the background. I couldn't resist the pet penguin, either. (I collect penguin figurines.)

I promised to tell you about how we quit smoking. First, a little background: I'd smoked since college, Ken even longer, and we both LOVED to smoke. I found it relaxing and a great stress reliever, and it kept me quite thin. We had always agreed that when I quit working, we'd both stop smoking.

In March 2006, I caught a cold. As always, it moved down into my chest and I got bronchitis. This time, though, the cough never went away. In fact, it got worse and worse, so that I was getting up in the middle of the night and trying to hack up a lung for a half an hour. I was taking Sudafed and Mucinex to try and control the wheeziness and coughing. At work, if I started laughing about something, it would send me into a coughing fit--and you all know me...I love to laugh! It finally got so bad that Ken said, "You have GOT to go to the doctor." I knew he was right, and I made the appointment.

My doctor didn't think it sounded like I had pneumonia, and sent me for a chest X-ray and a bone density scan. (As a thin, white, female smoker, I was in the highest risk group for osteoporosis.) She also prescribed an Albuterol inhaler (used for asthma) to help with my wheeziness and breathing problems. They called me at work with the results of the X-ray and bone density scan. I had osteopenia, the precursor to osteoporosis, and I also had the beginning of emphysema. I was 44 years old at the time, and let me tell you...talk about a wake-up call!

Ken and I had a talk that night, and agreed that quitting wasn't going to wait until I stopped working. We weren't quite ready then, though--have I mentioned how much we enjoyed smoking? We had our yearly vegecation coming up that summer, and agreed we'd start our "program" after that. We smoked like chimneys when we were in Florida! Ha! When we got back, it was time to start. We both smoked a pack a day (20 cigs) and Kengineer came up with his 6-week plan.

First two weeks: cut down to 15 a day and begin modifying behaviors, i.e., stop smoking in the car

Second two weeks: down to 10 a day, stop smoking on breaks at work

Final two weeks: 5 a day, no smoking in the house

We were a little flexible with some of this, especially the last two weeks. I think we both smoked more than 5 a day, with the understanding that when the two weeks were up, we were stopping completely. We also had a cool, rainy snap that final week, so we smoked inside the house. I got an "assist" when my lab stopped allowing smoking indoors, so I had to go outside all the time. I still remember the day when it rained the whole work day, and I went the entire day at work without smoking! I was quite proud of myself, and that was the point when I really started to believe I could do it.

I only told a couple of people when we started, but when we stopped for good, I told everybody! I don't like to fail, and I figured that the more people I told, the more embarrassed I'd be if I started smoking again. I figure whatever motivates you and whatever works--do it! Everyone at work said that I didn't seem overly cranky or weird when I quit, so I was happy about that.

We were able to do it without drugs, hypnosis, or anything like that, but what worked for us might not work for everyone. Whatever it takes, I urge you to give it a try, before you get to the emphysema point. My doctor in Indianapolis was always urging me to quit, and said he'd do whatever he could to help me. He said that an important step is to understand what motivates you to smoke--is it the physical addiction of the nicotine, or the psychological addiction of the action? Mine was psychological, no doubt about it, and he said that for one of his patients, he prescribed Valium, because the risk of dependency on Valium was less than the risk of smoking. Wow. Of course, it didn't sink in for me until I got my diagnosis years later.

I can honestly say that there are moments that I miss them, and think, "I'd like to sit down with a smoke right now," but it's a matter of a split second, and then I move on. I've had an occasional puff of the rare cigar that Ken smokes (a couple a year, tops), but I haven't picked up a cigarette since Aug. 5, 2006. I'd probably get such a head rush that I'd just keel over! I put on about 10 pounds, but maybe a year later, lost 5 of them. I'll take a 5 pound weight gain! I haven't had to use my inhaler for months now, and the last time I got a cold...it stayed in my head and was gone after a couple of days. It had been years since that had happened! I think that one of the reasons we were successful was because we did it together--when I first met Ken, he had just quit smoking...but I was smoking, and he picked up the habit again. I think it would be really hard to try to quit if your spouse didn't do it with you. Deb, on whose site I mentioned I saw the Quitmeter, wrote that she got a lot of support from Quitnet.com. I know, without a doubt, that there are lots of people out there trying to quit, too, but there are just as many "cheerleaders" that will help anyone who wants to try. Like I said, if any of you guys want to try, don't hesitate to email me for support.

I can't begin to tell you how much better I feel, and I want everyone to experience that. I also think of the times we sat here with the kids, just puffing away, and how awful that must have been for them. Sheeba was around it even more, and that couldn't have been healthy for his little kitty lungs. Everything about quitting is good, except for that one little thing: that psychological imprint that makes you remember how enjoyable it was. My Mom had always told me that she knows how strong-willed I am, and she knows that I would never let something like a stupid little cigarette get the best of me! I always said that I'd quit when I was ready, and when I was finally ready, it was a great feeling to know that I had the willpower and strength to beat it. It CAN be done--you just have to want it enough.

And if that isn't convincing enough, take another look at that Quitmeter up at the top...the part about how much money we've saved.


  1. That's awesome you guys were able to quit. I know so many people who have tried, but just couldn't quite break the habit. My mom is one, though she has mercifully cut back alot. The money you both have saved can fund a trip to Hawaii or something. Ya'll deserve a reward this accomplishment.

  2. Thanks for sharing your story. I'm so glad that the plan worked for you and Ken. I have one sister that smokes, and I can't really imagine her giving up now. She has tried many times, but I don't think she wants it bad enough. She's a nervous person anyway, and smoking is her stress valve. I really worry about her. I wish she'd try Chantix, but the trouble with trying a medication for her is that she wants it to do ALL the work, and it's just not going to happen.

  3. Beth, I am so proud of you & Ken! I know it was so hard & at times I know it's still hard. We lost my FIL on August 13, 2007 to Small Cell Lung cancer, & for those you who don't know this is the smoker's cancer. We miss him so much....I just wish that he had of quit before it got the best of him...it was terrible!


  4. Yea for us. I am glad we did it as well :o)

  5. Good job on quitting smoking!!!
    It will be easier with time.
    I quit a 2 pk a day habit 8 years ago...never ever think about them anymore and I never get headaches and sinus problems like I use to.
    The patch helped with the withdrawal alot. I don't think I could have done it without them.
    The last time was the 3rd time I had quit, but it has been the longest.
    You can do it too!

  6. Hi Beth,
    Good for you for quitting. I was lucky enough never to have started, but I've seen how difficult it is to stop. Oh, and great Meez ... I especially like the Elvis background. Very cool!

  7. One of the hardest addictions to give up....bravo,to you both!

  8. that was a good way to do it Beth! kind of like behavior modification! I never smoked so I never had to deal with quitting; losing weight I do know how to do that quite well, LOL


  9. Terrific of you for sharing your story. I hope it helps someone quit or at least plant the seed.
    Hugs, Joyce

  10. For me cutting back never worked, it was like pulling off a bandaid S-L-O-W-L-Y. I quit cold turkey 24 hours before leaving for a trip to Disney, knowing I'd have little or no chance to sneak a smoke on the vacation (thanks to Disney's harsh no-smoking policies). It worked, but I put on 50 pounds.

    Ah, still better than hacking.


  11. Great story, Beth. It's a good thing you quit while you were still healthy enough to recover!I've never smoked, but remember how hard it was for my husband to quit. He finally found success with the self-hypnosis treatment. Took him about two weeks to get off the cigarettes, but he used the hypnosis for months after that whenever he felt the anxiety to light one up. THanks for your suggestion about adding video to our blogs... I'll give it a try one of these days.

  12. I quit August of '04 when I got pregnant with Jasmine. I always said I would quit but, like you, loved it far too much to stop. I also said I would never be a mother who smoked throughout her pregnancy, not only endangering my unborn child but also having them addicted to nicotine when they were born. I mean, she's going to cry enough, why give her another reason! My husband didn't quit for a year or two after that and he used the drug Chantix. (and then again this summer when he started up behind my back, he used Chantix) I quit immediately. Unfortunately for everyone around me, I was a TOTAL bitch for about a month. And none of my family, aside from my brother knew I was a smoker. They thought it was hormones. (I smoked for about ten years prior... hard to believe no one picked up on the signs but I guess you see what you want to) There are still days I REALLY miss it but would never go back to being a slave to an addiction. Those crisp cool days, I want a cigarette and some perfect summer days, with the windows down in the car. Some scientists say that cigarette's are more addictive than heroin but I find that a little far fetched. I don't think I could just up and quite doing a hardcore drug. And if it were easier to quit that than smoking, there wouldn't be so many people ruining their lives over a needle. Glad you guys went smoke free. I always encourage my smoker friends to quit and tell them, you know if I can do it, I KNOW you can do it. It's all about will power.

  13. Oh and I too, always felt guilty about subjecting my kitties to my smoke. I have a cat with asthma and I'll always wonder if I didn't cause it. Damn guilt

  14. Nice picture of the guy smoking all the cigs, talk about a head rush! Thank you for what you shared with me! I wish you a swell day!


  15. Great entry. I love your plan and glad that it worked.
    My mom died of lung cancer so I know what it can do to your body.
    But still my 3 sisters and my neice and nephew smoke. Go figure.

    I'm glad you quit and that we became friends!!!

  16. LOVELY story.
    Here is mine:
    i smoked for 8 yrs, loved it so much. On November 21, 1995, i went to the ER. I had bronchitis and pneumonia and was so damn sick i wanted to die. THAT BAD. They did a chest xray and the female doctor cornered me and read me the riot act....i was about 220 lbs at the time and age 27. She said i HAD to lose 80 lbs and quit smoking or i would eventually die. She spent an hour telling me how i would die.
    SO, COLD TURKEY, as soon as i left the ER, i never had another cigarette. COLD TURKEY. Imagine COLD TURKEY.
    My God....i thought for 2 wks i was going to die or sell my soul for one more puff. I got past it, never looked back and i can guarantee you i will never smoke again. I do not allow smoking in my cars or in my home and if someone HAS to smoke they have to walk to the end of my property and take the used butt with them. It is a foul, deadly, disgusting habit.
    You really did save your own life, Beth. XO

  17. P.S.

    Still working on that 80 lbs.....

  18. I experience almost everything you said about how you were coughing and each time you got sick it would go to your chest. I am now so winded and out of breath sometimes I get chest pains and think I am having a heart attack. I really do have to quit. I don't smoke in the house because of the animals and Doug and I don't smoke at the office so the days I work I don't smoke as much but I have been smoking for almost 30 years. I watched my grandma die of emphysema and it was horrible - but not horrible enough to make me quit.

    I am going to give it another go...maybe I'll succeed this time.

    Thanks for sharing your plan with us - and congrats on quitting!

  19. That is just wonderful that you were able to kick the habit. 20 cigs are in a pack ... and y'all did a pack a day?!? Wow, all that time that it took to smoke/smoke breaks, and all the distraction it provided.

    I've never smoked, so I have no way to understand it, but you have got to feel and think better without smoking. Good for Ken too!

  20. I quit cold turkey in 1989 after my dad's diagnosis of lung cancer. I began again in 1998, quit in 2002, started in 2004 (Paul deployed), quit for GOOD on July 26, 2006. I never smoked in the house or around the kids... mostly it was with my smoker friends while out at clubs (Paul doesn't smoke) or on my balcony. :) It does help to not be around other smokers... because for me it really was the social aspect of the whole thing.


I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you?