Quitting smoking has changed my life, there’s no way around it. On one level, that change looks like a number of modest little adjustments. It begins in the morning, where my routine has become, well, gentile; rather than lighting up while the day’s first coffee is brewing, I now start things off with a mint tea. The aim is to break my longstanding associations.
Then I leave the house and I take a new route to work. On the advice of my pharmacist, Claudio, I’ve established a routine that doesn’t take me past the shop where I’ve been buying my cigarettes for years. I try to keep my mind on other things, like not getting lost on this unfamiliar journey.
But when you take them all together, these small steps make up the great leap of quitting an addiction to smoking.
Over the last week, these little tactics, combined with my Nicotine Replacement Products, have got me over the hump. I now classify myself, proudly, as a non-smoker. I appear to have left the cravings behind, besides the occasional, slightly odd yearning for a cigar. I paid a visit to Lloydspharmacy this morning and, after a conversation with my pharmacy assistant, we’ve agreed to reduce the amount of Nicotine in my patches from 25 milligrams to 15.
With this new confidence in my progress, I’ve decided to out myself. A Facebook status, linking to this blog, is the most popular that I’ve ever had. Perhaps you are a particularly prolific user of social media, but for me 38 comments conveying the congratulations of my friends was a great feeling.
Even better is not being left outside in the cold when I’m down at the pub. I’m not interested in making a big deal of quitting – I gave up smoking for myself and for my family – but there is a quiet kind of pride in the respect of my friends.
If I seem a little blithe about it all, it is worth stating that getting to this point – smoke – free, optimistic in my life as a quitter – was not easy. In the first few weeks I relapsed a handful of times. They were 7 cigarettes that I regret, mistakes that I have no intention of repeating. I see those cigarettes as a sign not of my weakness, but of the difficulties that face all smokers who make the bold decision to give up.
But it has been so worth it and, if I’m honest, I haven’t missed it as much as I thought I would – though that might be the nicotine patches talking. Being at the right place in my life has helped – the prospect of becoming a father can have that kind of life – altering influence – but so has the decision to quit with professional help. I’ve been in to Lloydspharmacy every week and the opportunity to catch up with a professional and to make alterations to my treatment has anchored my efforts.
I’ll report again next week which, with any luck, will be my last blog. When the process winds down, and I become cigarette and nicotine free, there won’t be much left to blog about. Strangely, I look forward to smoking being a topic on which I having nothing further to say.