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Day Six, Seven and Eight

Wow, yesterday was tough, the toughest day so far, I now understand how people struggle to give up, if it was like that every day I think maybe I would have crumbled. The taste in my mouth, the feeling in my bones, the head pounding and the irritability all took its toll, but I prevailed. After the hell of a day that Saturday was, Sunday came and went without a whisper. I wasn’t so shocked to be honest as I often go through a Sunday without a smoke and if I do partake it is usually just a single cig after my Sunday roast. Monday also wasn’t too stressful and then today… today I actually felt like a non-smoker. I didn’t get any strong urges, didn’t forget I was not smoking, didn’t crave a cig with my 7.30 brew. I certainly am not counting any chickens as yet but I can’t imagine it getting any more difficult now. Surely I have gone through the worst of it? I will be devastated if I smoke again now after not having one for over a week.

Day Five

Firstly may I apologise for all of my bravado and swagger in my first 4 days. Today has been a shocker! The day started well with an 8.30am appointment in the hairdressers, which again kind of distracted me from the usual ceremonial early morning stogie. I had it beat, this is easy, occupy your time in alternative past times, no sweat!

I then trekked up to my pals who needed advice on his damp patches, I kid you not! Followed by a visit to my mums, which I knew would give me the nicotine injection I may have needed. Mum is a heavy ish smoker and walking into her house could easily set me back a day or two due to the inhalation of cigarette toxins upon crossing the threshold of her abode. I only stayed for an hour or so as my daughter Ella was in need of her mid-day nap.

Upon arriving home I suddenly started to deteriorate. My saliva glands went into overdrive; I had a cramping ‘hungry’ feeling in my stomach, so I fed myself. My chest tightened. My head developed an ache. I longed for a cigarette. The worst was still to come.

I had arranged to meet with Stevie for a few beers in the arvo, and I can swear that not a second passed without needing a smoke. I must have looked totally vacant as Ste was chatting to me. We then went up to the Hunters for a couple with Matt and I confessed that I wasn’t handling this as well as I had previously claimed. If it wasn’t for Jenny supporting me now I would gladly have given in and had a smoke; that would be so easy and make me feel so much better. I would however, have let myself down, and Jen, and Ella. I know that in the long run I will be so pleased if I can kick this habit!

I now understand why it is so hard to give up smoking. It isn’t the mental issues anymore, it is the physical. I never even contemplated that as I was never a heavy smoker. As I write this at 19.28 on Saturday evening I could murder a cig! Here’s hoping that this is as bad as it gets. First bad day nearly done… 

Day Four

Friday, the start of the weekend and what would typically be the time when I indulge in more than my customary intake of cigarettes. Another early start with an event at the Reebok Stadium kicking off the day and a break from the usual ritual with no 7.30 brew without smoke, which is good for my current ambition. Getting stuck in the rush-hour commute on the M62 however wasn’t conducive to a stress free start, with a clapped out Princess Ambassador putting paid to any form of free flowing traffic, which is habitually the case for a Friday morning. It was a cold morning and lugging a load of marketing gear, from the wrong car park around the stadium and up 3 flights of stairs with a blistering cold wind chilling me to the bone wasn’t a gratifying experience. A nice hot coffee in the Platinum Suite overlooking the Bolton Wanderers football pitch followed. I had suddenly started to feel a bit rough. I slight sore throat and funny taste in my mouth; it was like the disease was trying to escape. It didn’t last, another couple of brews and I was fine. The event finished and I headed off to my 3pm meeting at Salford Arts Theatre in the company of Hazel Blears and a MacDonalds en-route was my treat. Salty fries led to me really wanting a post fast-food cig, again I didn’t, I couldn’t, I had only a fiver which was spent on my Maccy’s and I had forgotten my wallet, so I couldn’t give in even if I had wanted!

Another working day done and no smokes had. I have just finished my Chinese in front of the tellybox and the soaps, and yes, I could do with a smoke but it’s not a massive inconvenience. If this is as bad as it gets, then I am sure I will be fine. It does help having the support of Jenny, encouraging me every step of the way, however she is scared of mentioning it in case she is reminding me of the fact that I am trying to stop smoking, or rather receiving the response ‘shit, I had forgot about it until you reminded me!!’ Day 4 – Done, nearly!

Day Three

Today started and ended wanting a smoke. My 7.30 was missed immensely. My coffee was drunk at my desk whilst conversing about my mission with my colleague Cath. Feeling extremely proud I filled her in on my progress to date. I then reached into my drawer to grab a cig and…. Woooaaahhhh! Old habits die hard I suppose! Only 5 seconds before, I was bragging about how well I was coping and then finished the conversation attempting to revert back to the norm! It’s a ritual, one that I have done all my adult life, for longer than I haven’t, and one that I had kind of expected not so long ago to carry on with for ever.

As a builder on site I have always had a smoke with my morning brew and this habit has carried on into my role now. And, being honest, it is a really enjoyable part of my day. Peace, quiet, a smoke with a brew, on my own, collecting my thoughts and setting myself up for the day and planning my movements. It certainly isn’t a social smoke as I would get slightly miffed if somebody should do more than say ‘good morning’ and feel the need to join me. Thankfully I don’t think I have ever been rude enough to express those thoughts to anyone who did feel the need to accompany me on my pre 8am smoke. I am also finding it difficult to decide whether to write in the past or present tense so I am not expecting to win any academic writing awards and am purposely writing as it comes! Was a smoker, am a smoker. Am I still a smoker or not?

The real test was to come later in the evening. It was my director’s penultimate day at work; drinks and food on the Quays were on the agenda. I had the full support of my colleagues and it was lovely of my director to say that smoking didn’t suit me; well I took it as a compliment! After a couple of glasses of vino and some fine Italian food I could have easily succumbed to temptation, I possibly would have if I was journeying home on my own and had available a Benson, luckily neither was the case. On arriving home I downed another glass of vino after celebrating some good news and still abstained. Another day done, good boy Steven!

Day Two

Last night I actually found another 2 cigarettes – aarrgghh!! I have kept them rather than throw them. Jenny insisted that I filed them in the B.I.N. I informed her that it was me giving up and I would decide if they were binned or not. They are still in the cupboard and will remain there! I have no intention of smoking them and may get rid shortly, again, my decision. I am not sure as to why I have kept them, comfort again maybe?

As predicted, my 7.30 this morning was quite tough, but it wasn’t Armageddon as I had expected. I have had a couple of ginger biscuits and chewing gums in place of a cig. Luckily it’s been a really busy day so I haven’t had time to think about a smoke really. If this is as bad as it gets I then will breeze through this. I have had cravings often but that’s all they are. It doesn’t feel like my world is falling apart by having zero intake of nicotine, it is more like taking away an enjoyable habit for example, not going to the football on a Saturday for no reason! I had a glass of wine with my tea this evening and thought that would spark off a few cravings, it did, but again, nothing I can’t handle. Don’t see what all the fuss is about!! Bring on day 3!!

Day One

OK, so first thing is first, I need to confess, I actually had 2 cigarettes left rather than the one which I declared yesterday. I found this additional solitary cigarette resting in the cupboard as I cleared away the empty 200 deck. Did I throw it away or give myself a stay of execution for a further few hours? I chose the latter, it was the least I could do for myself.

My 7.30 this morning went down a treat with my coffee; I then spent the morning debating with myself as to when to ignite my ultimate burn. Knowing that I had that cig in my drawer was something of a comfort and I knew that once it was gone, it was gone forever. Saying that, I was similarly looking forward to it being over, my days of a smoker that is, and the idea of becoming a non-smoker was in itself an alluring prospect.

My final pull of my final stogie came at around 1.30pm. I was with my colleague, Steve, who had earlier admitted that he also was in the market to join the non-smokers club. I encouraged him to join me and he agreed so my final smoke was also Steve’s – good luck Steve! As I toked away I thought of being sat in the back garden in the summer with a cool beer and not being able to enjoy a smoke. I thought of my 7.30 coffee and cig, my post-tea smoke and my weekend smokes at the football. This is going to be hard, I enjoy a smoke, not many, I never have been a heavy smoker, but the ones that I do/did have I enjoyed. I then thought of the crap that I was actually inhaling, the money it was costing me, the unsocial aspects, the role model I would be giving to my children and the health implications. The positives of not smoking far out-weighed the positives of smoking.

So how has it been since my last smoke? Not an issue really, I could have had one after tea; I had a crunch corner instead. I need to be careful that I don’t pile the weight on so after a 3 month lay-off from the gym I intend to get back there this week.

Tomorrow morning is going to be the killer!!

Time To Give Up

So the time has come to give up smoking. I have now smoked since I was 15 which equates to 20 years, approximately 36500 cigarettes and about £15k in hard earned cash. In that time, only the odd bout of illness has prevented me from smoking every day. I am not the heaviest of smokers and rarely smoke more than 5 or 6 a day, apart from when I am indulging in an alcoholic beverage, or two.

So why do I want to give up? Well, it’s easy really, I don’t want to be a hypocrite. How can I preach to my children and expect them not to smoke when I smoke myself? I don’t really have an argument. To be honest I don’t smoke in front of them, but that is no excuse to carry on.

When did I decide to give up? It was the 20th December 2013, on the 2nd day of my Christmas holiday in Lanzarote. I bought 200 Benson Silver and declared that these would be the last cigarettes I ever bought or smoked… After smoking my penultimate cig just after my tea about half an hour ago I now have one remaining, which I intend to smoke at approx 7.30am in the morning, stood in the smoking shelter at work with my first coffee of the day.

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How do I expect this to go? I haven’t got a clue to be honest. I have never tried to quit before, my excuse always being that I only smoke a minimal amount so never felt the need to give up. A feeble excuse really, but one I have stuck with and convinced myself that I had no reason to pack in this filthy habit. I am hoping that come my birthday in May I will be able to class myself a fully fledged non-smoker and have no urge at all to smoke. I also expect to be the worst ex-smoker ever and complain at everybody who lights up in my company… I will be pleased if I get to this point, extremely!

What do I expect to be the most difficult part of giving up? There are 3 smokes that I enjoy and are like a ritual to me… my first of the day at work with my brew, my post-tea cig in the evening and my numerous smokes with a beer or wine.

Why am I sharing this experience? A few reasons really. Mainly due to the fact that if I have declared it, it makes it harder to go back on. Maybe a bit of moral support. And hopefully encourage others to join in and share their ‘giving up experiences’. So if you feel like joining in please comment and let me know how you are doing.

I am going ‘Cold Turkey’ and using willpower alone as I believe it is mind over matter – if I want to give up I will, and no electronic cigarette, chewing gum or patch is coming anywhere near me.

So my plan is to use this blog as my ‘giving up’ diary and will visit this every day for the foreseeable, until I have no urge to smoke at all, watch this space…!