Monday, March 26, 2012

I Wish I Could Say That Everyone is Wrong

I’m not sure I believe in an addictive personality. But if they exist, I think I have one.  Then, I’m addicted to many things, or think I am. Hugs, contact, sex, manners, a particular someone, a modicum of behaviour, dogs…cigarettes.

I started smoking when I was 14 years old. Sneaking a Viscount filter down my bra before going riding with girls I no longer see. I was at a school for a single term while we were relocating (story of my life).  We’d ride across highways into the bush, down to a stream at the end of Loyalty Road in North Rocks. Let the horse splash in the creek, sit and talk as girls do about boys and horses and life as we knew it. "Have one" said my friend Kate, and eager for acceptance of new friends in a new state, I complied.  “Do the draw back.”

I gasped slightly at the burn. No cough, no choke. Had that happened I might have decided it was disgusting and stopped but I didn’t. I took to it like a fish to water. From then, sneaking behind the girl’s toilets at school. Stuffing the packet of 10 (when you could buy them) into my shirt. I remember my mother saying to me one day when I came back after only leaving the house for five minutes, “Forgotten your cigarettes?” Yes the jig was up. But that was the 70s and even into the 80’s smoking was acceptable, affordable.

I remember sitting at my desk at work. The whole office smoked. Inside! Inconceivable in this day and age.  Strangely, I gave up during each pregnancy but the best cigarette? Truly the finest fag…was the one I had after the delivery of each baby.  Well that and a cup of tea.

The most reminiscent times of my life included coffee with my mum…and cigarettes. Coffee with my dad…and cigarettes. Despite the health warnings, my peak flow is huge. I have good lungs.
My mother, a nurse, used to say that smokers recovered from surgery better because they were literally gasping for a gasper which made them mobile and travel up to the roof garden for a ciggie. Mobility after surgery being the first step to recovery.

Then the nanny state took over. Passive smoking became a bigger issue than climate change. Banned in the workplace, banned in restaurants, banned in pubs and clubs that didn’t have an ‘ostracism’ room with smacked up aircon and extractor fans, banned in sports arenas…BANNED. And me and the other pariahs of society banned with them.

Now, the only place I can smoke is in my own home or a narrow range of restaurants that have a ‘designated area’ for we nurrel indulgents. My kids hate it. My friends hate it. My in-laws hate it and worry for my welfare. But for years it gave me solace. Like a dummy to a toddler, that cool draw and burn provided comfort. I hate to admit it, but it is my crutch. I like it.

Smoking is supposed to affect your sense of taste and smell yet my sense of smell is acute. As is that of a couple of other smokers I know. If my sense of taste is affected…I don’t really want to taste ‘better’ since resisting life’s gastronomic pleasures is already a challenge. But I am sick of being relegated to the corner so to speak and I’m sure I can no longer afford to do it.

What changed? Well there’s the price. Here they cost around $18-$20 per pack of 25.  The disapproving looks. The inability to socialise and having to get up, go out and mingle with the other 'lepers' in the beer garden. And, support of my darling Skyman who's tried so often, for so long and failed. Perhaps we can support each other.

 So…this week, I’m down to about six a day. By the weekend hopefully 2 and by next Monday? Well I can’t promise but I can’t afford it. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like it. So wish me luck. But seriously, if you’ve never smoked, don’t bother with platitudes. If you have and managed to give up…fantastic, I applaud you. The real reason....I want to travel, hike, walk, manage steps and mountains without being out of breath. I want to shame someone 20 years my junior with good health and verve. I don't want anyone to say (as I've heard) "My God there's nothing worse than an old woman smoking..."

Could be an empty promise. Could be an extra $400 a month on my credit debt.
Here goes…..


oceangirl said...

My Uncle quit smoking just like that after smoking all his life. When asked why, he said it was too inconvenient.

If I say, you can do it!, will that be okay Baino.

Brian Miller said...

not easy to do...but def a great improvement on health...i imagine you can do it baino

Alan Burnett said...

I have made a promise to myself (and everyone else who will listed) that I will start smoking my pipe again when I reach the age of 90. It gives me a reason to live a long life for.

Tom said...

why hasn't someone invented a nice healthy seaweed smoke yet?

Roy said...

I quit in 1999 after my second heart attack and the quintuple bypass that went with it. I haven't regretted it, especially when I look at the current cost of a pack. And I can still walk up the mountain without being too out of breath!

Don't Bug Me! said...

I was lucky - I felt really sick after my first and so I have never touched them since! But my dad died of lung cancer - so good luck to you Baino!

ellybabes said...

I quit nearly 2 years ago now. I read the Alan Carr book and found it really worked (previously hypnosis, patches, gum had all failed). It shouldn't cost any more than 2 packs of cigarettes, and really helps to get rid of the temptation. I knew I was serious when I woke up on my birthday and stopped smoking that day.

Janice said...

Oh, Baino,I DO wish you luck!

Kathy G said...

Good luck. I know some smokers who've given it up without much trouble, and others who just can't seem to do it.

River said...

I wish you luck with quitting. an incentive might be realising how awful your breath smells to those who don't smoke? I know I sound rude, but really, I've been caged at the checkout, unable to step away from someone who is in my face talking to me and their breath just reeks, of years worth of smokes, plus the one they just had before coming into the store. Some brands of cigarettes are worse than others for this.

Kath said...

Do it Baino, do it!

You've been bloody lucky with your health so far, so apart from financial incentives it's time to stop playing poker and quit.

One of my friends, Ray, died from lung cancer a few months ago. He was a smoker.

kj said...

do it hells. get yourself through 30 days of unbearable desire, and it 's likely you'll know you've come far enough not to let a good enough excuse make those 30 days null and void.

i smoked two packs a day and loved it. i can hear the rationalizations in this post: "i still smell, i still taste, my lung capacity is still good'.

not really. but you know what i think is the worse: the smell of cigarettes. on your clothes, in public, at work, it brands you in some not good way.

there will come a time when you will be shocked that you haven't thought about a cigarette for four hours. and that will be the beginning of knowing you can live without them.

you feel muddle headed when you quit. be prepared. research says the more $$ a person spends to quit, the higher the rate of success. so don't do it alone if you can't

i'm proud of you already. plus it's about time you blogged again so i'm glad to be here.

you and i are both addictive personalities. the jury's still out on you. me, oh shit.


Mim said...

I do hope you do it, I've lost two good friends to nasty ciggy related awful deaths. Happens without cigarettes too but seems rather roulette-ist to me,

my spousal unit quit 30 years ago thru sheer will power, but occasionally picks up a pack like he just wishes...

Good luck Hels -

PattiKen said...

You CAN do it. You are a strong woman. I quit after smoking 16 years. I credit being successful to two things. One was this set of filters I used to reduce the amount of smoke inhaled, sort of weaning myself off the nicotine. They looked like a cigarette holder. There were five of them, and you had to use each one for two weeks. Each had a successively larger hole in the side. As the hole got larger, the less smoke you inhaled. But what most made them effective was you had to clean them with a Q-tip. The brownish-black gunk inside (which I would have inhaled!) was thick, gooey stuff that smelled horrible. So disgusting, and very motivating to quit. Think about that smelly gunk every time you want to light up.

The other thing that made me quit was the guy who told me (in his superior I-never-smoked voice) 'You won't be able to do it." I said, "Oh yeah? WATCH me!" and I threw my beautiful leather cigarette case and lighter into the trash with great drama.

I also have a major addictive personality, and I liked smoking. If I could do it, I know you can. Do it for yourself, Hells.

Mrsupole said...

Years ago Hubby watched a special that aired about people who had tried to quit smoking. According to the special, the one group that was the most successful was the group who stopped by going "cold turkey" compared to others who had tried all kind of things. But they also said that the majority of those who went cold turkey had also sucked sour lemon drops whenever they got the urge for a smoke. Something about the sourness takes away the urge for the nicotine. Hubby tried it and quit. He has told others about this method and all who have tried it that we know of have also quit.

Each of them says the same thing as on the show, that something about sucking along with the sour taste would take away the sudden urge for nicotine. As near as I can remember it took each of them about two to three months of the lemon drops and then they lost all thoughts of needing a cigarette.

I too believe that you will succeed, but if not then we will be there too. It is not a lot different then trying to lose weight, well except you do have to eat to survive. Just saying I think even though we may not be smokers that we do understand how hard it can be to quit.

Here's hoping your bank account rises immensely.

God bless.

Karen Sagovac said...

OK I know I'm not allowed to comment, being a non-smoker and all, but does being a dark chocoholic and a 2-coffee-a-day-or-I'll-completely-lose-it person count? If so than I am in the league of almost sort of sympathising but definitely not completely understanding what you're going through. I'm definitely there for you though if you need someone to cheer you up, have a coffee with or share some dark choc and jelly snakes.
Are you going to write about your journey? Could make a good supportive read for other people doing the same.
PS. Really think the lemon sucking thing in the comment above is worth a try. We have lots of lemons and limes on the trees... xo

Karen Sagovac said...

Forgot to add... this post is such an honest account of how a smoker becomes a smoker. It was really interesting to read and can't wait to read the next post... I'm wishing that eventually there will be a happy ending?!
PS. Don't like books with unhappy endings...

nick said...

Good luck with the quitting. As you know I've never smoked so I have no advice to give. All I can say is that my father, who smoked about 10 a day, gave up just like that after he had a stroke at 55.

It's a real ding-dong, the smoking thing. Smokers hate the "nanny state" and having to smoke out of doors. Non-smokers like me love being able to go into a public building and breathe freely instead of suffocating. There's no way of bridging the divide.

VE said...

Funny...I've never even tried a cigarette. No appeal whatsoever for me.

Oh...and you'd better check out my last post...I'm headin' down under. Well, not as far down as where you are but stil...

Sandy Kessler said...

It's a slipper slope, they are relaxing, make us take time etc but hellaciously bad for us and expensive. I do think when one smokes it affects every fiber f us .

Pam said...

So hard to give up when you're not sick, and enjoying smoking. I gave up when I had strep throat or quinsy, where even just trying to swallow was very painful. Husband gave up after a heart scare.
Good luck Helen - admirable that you are even thinking about giving up,so keep going.
Someone once said to put the old cigarette butts in a jar and smell it when tempted to restart smoking. I ended up with my hand caught in the jar trying to retrieve a longish butt. Wish someone had told me about the lemon drops - a much better look!

Kris said...

Very late in on this one, but I hope that you can manage it. There are a lot of good reasons to kick the habit, and they seem to grow as the years roll by!

Good luck!

California Girl said...

I hear ya! Have heard it said it's best not to say you're quitting but rather "I am only smoking __# today...or I am not smoking today" taking it one day at a time.

Miss me?

Carolina said...

I've never smoked. Ever. So the only thing I can say is: good luck!!!!!! (added just a couple of !!!'s to show that I mean it). Oh, and 'you can do it' sounds really good too I think. So: you can do it!!!!!

nick said...

So how's it going, Ms Helen? Have you and the fags parted company yet?

Gledwood said...

I remember first trying rocket leaves in my 20s and them tasting quite strong... but now they taste far weaker (and nicer); I was wondering whether my smoking habit had anything to do with that...

... what on earth has happened to Bimbimbie's blog? First it vanishes, then reappears "invited readers only"... could you ask her for an invitation from me, if you remember?... cheers Dears

Pearl said...

Good luck. As the old saying goes, "Quitting smoking is easy - I do it all the time."


Jay at The Depp Effect said...

Best of luck, Baino!

As a lifelong non-smoker (and someone who is adversely affected by second-hand smoke) I resent the fact that a whole section of the population has had its individual right to choose eroded by the nanny state.

In England there is even a move to try to get it made illegal to smoke in your own car, for heaven's sake. And forget your super-ventilated, extractor fan rooms - THOSE aren't allowed either. You can't even choose to open a smokers only club, because even THAT isn't legal.

Second hand smoke makes me cough and wheeze and it burns my lungs, but there really should be places people who want to smoke could go and I could choose NOT to go. As things are, they've simply moved the problem outside. I have to run the gauntlet of people smoking outside shops and offices, on the pavement where I walk.

It's a lose-lose situation as far as I can see .. except for the government who don't really want to stop people smoking because they'd lose a helluva lot of revenue!

God save us from do-gooders!