On June 4th of this year I quit smoking cigarettes after 30 years of practicing the habit to perfection. I literally had not lived as an adult with cigarettes. To be honest, I wasn’t particularly thrilled with quitting either. I didn’t finally quit because I realized the health risk as I’d been a nurse for almost as long as I’d smoked. I didn’t stop because it was interfering with my exercise routines as I’d grown used to limiting strenuous cardiovascular efforts. I didn’t even stop for vanity and the knowledge that the habit would age me faster than a tanning bed. I hoped to rely on my family’s lucking genes in that respect.
No, I stopped because the premium cigarettes that I enjoyed in greater than a-pack-a-day increments had grown more expensive than a moderate heroin habit and almost as politically incorrect to practice in public.
So, I actually planned my quit months in advance. First, with the help of my significant other, we turned a regular exercise program into a semi-religious one. And yes, that took months because for whatever reason psychologists want to cite, it’s a damn bit harder to establish a healthy habit than it is to establish an unhealthy one.
While all this was going on, I contacted my insurance company and had them honor that promise that they made for the commercial but didn’t think anyone would really call them on: that is, I had them sign me up for a smoking cessation program based upon nicotine patches that they would provide at no cost to me.
Six to eight weeks before “D-Day,” I restarted a generic version of Wellbutrin, an antidepressant medication I’d taken in the past. More recently, it has also been marketed as Zyban, an anti-smoking aid. It didn’t help me quit smoking when I’d first used it, but then again, I’d never tried.
A month before I planned to stop, I spoke with my physician about my concerns and the very deep dependence I had upon nicotine. He kindly provided me with a common anti-anxiety medication, Xanax, to take if I felt a cigarette tantrum coming on once I quit.
And then the day of reckoning arrived. Again, I’d planned ahead to ensure that I had an extra-long “weekend” without any employment or social obligations. I smoked my last cigarette without any particular ceremony, took two Xanax, and went to bed for three days. When I finally got up, went to the gym, returned home and showered, I used Wintergreen Life Savers and Cookies ‘N Cream Ice Cream Sandwiches for my oral fixations.
And I just dug in my heels, mentally calculating how much money I’d saved day by day until finally the impossible happened and I went an entire day without even thinking about a cigarette. I also used the telephone support advisor with the company my insurance company had set me up with.
To have made it as long as I have is amazing to people who have known me forever, and always with a cigarette in my hand. Well, now they can know me with a little more cash in my pocket. According to my calculations, I’ve saved $2000 as of today.