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Forgetfulness comes in handy


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       Quick and dirty on how I quit smoking, cold turkey. Back story: I never smoked growing up, in fact I hated it!! Both parents smoked, and I never liked being around it!! Later, I used to play in bar bands, and so was exposed to it a good bit.  When I was in my early thirties, I got involved in an original metal band. The guitarist smoked like a damn locomotive, literally used to light one off the other. After a few weeks of being in our practice room with the top 3 feet of the air in the room filled with smoke, I finally, one night, asked him for a damn cigarette, and found that if I smoked, it was easier somehow to tolerate the smoke in the room. So that's how I started, WAY more than old enough to know better, but.... . At first it was a couple a day but you know how that goes...pretty soon it was a half a pack a day, and it stayed roughly there for years, even after the band broke up a few years later.  That was almost 30 years ago. 

     Fast Forward: 2019, Thailand.   My wife and I had bought a house in Khon Kaen, when I was offered a great position in BKK.  My wife was teaching at my daughter's school here (KK), so they couldn't come with me, so I moved down there and lived alone. Perfect environment for a lonely person to fill the time with cigs, beer and movies.  I know, I know...a LOT of guys, after a dozen years of marriage, would welcome the chance to live like a bachelor in Bangkok, but I was miserable and missed my family (especially my daughter) immensely. So I stayed in my room at night and just watched movies, drank my beer and smoked.  I would fly home to Khon Kaen usually once a month, or drive my truck back if I had a long weekend or semester break etc. 

     So, November 22, 2019, I flew home for the weekend again. Whenever I flew,  I would usually get to Don Meung early, and have a few smokes and beers out in the parking-lot that doubled as an unofficial smoking area. Well, this trip was the same. I had my smokes and beers, and had about half a pack left, and then went in to get ready to board. When I went through the bag-check, and had to empty my pockets,  I guess I put the pack in the bin.  I somehow forgot to retrieve it at the other end, but didn't notice it at the time. 

   So I flew home to Khon Kaen, had a snack with the family then we went to bed. The next day, after my coffee I was thinking about having a smoke, and went to get my pack. I couldn't find it, and then I realized I must have left it in the airport. I had been meaning to quit (again) for a long time, and had tried a time or two, but my job/living situation was giving me a good bit of stress and it was hard to quit solo.  But this time, since I was out of smokes, I figured it was the perfect time to quit. I decided to just say "Screw it! I'm quitting for real!...and I am NOT going to go to the store and buy another pack." So, basically the 23rd of November 2019 was the first day without the cigs.

      It was a little difficult for a few days, just behaviorally, not having that routine of smoking. I felt a little nervous, but it didn't last beyond the first week or so. I tried drinking a glass of water when I felt like a smoke, and that actually seemed to help. I'd also read that bananas seem to help some people (the potassium, maybe?) so I tried to make sure I kept some of those in the house.  The funny part was that I began seeing myself smoking in my dreams. (That ol' subconscious, tryin' to sabotage whatever we do...)  In many dreams, I would find myself in a 7-11, and buying a pack of smokes, or I would be outside and lighting one up. Then, still in the dream, I would feel bad that I'd fallen off the wagon and was smoking again. This seemed to kick my mind into a 'lighter level' of sleep (lucid dreaming) and then I would think, "No...I quit....and this is just a dream. I'm not really smoking!"  I could actually FEEL the rush of relief, even though I was only partially awake. But by then I would drift into consciousness, and replay the dream, just to keep that sense of relief that I had not given in. 

      So it's been since 23 Nov 2019, and I literally haven't touched a cig since. Not.....freaking......once.  I know myself too well, and I know that if I smoked ONE cig, I would find a way to justify to myself smoking more, and I'm not gonna throw away a year and a half of being smoke free.  Now I can go into a store and not even think about buying any. Sometimes I still get the urge, (like when I see someone light one up outside, or even on-screen) but I remember the feeling of having my lungs be full of phlegm, the coughing, etc. and I just use the amount of time I've been smoke-free as a mental-reinforcement and a reassurance to stay the course. My lungs feel better, and I breathe better, but I think I gave myself a mild case of emphysema, as I still sometimes get the slight wheezing/whistling noise in the lungs at night. I'd gotten my stupid ass up to a pack a day near the end, I wasn't exercising, as I was living in a hotel on a side soi off Sukhumvit 50, and it was impossible to get any walking done without breathing air that was damn near as bad as smoking, (not to mention the soi dogs). 

   The funny part was that my wife, several years ago, heard of some (Thai) guy who'd quit cold turkey and died of a heart attack a few days later. We had no idea of other related issues of his, he may have been at death's door anyway. So although she wanted me to quit, she was actually afraid of that happening to me.  But now she's glad I did. I'm hoping to see my daughter graduate HS (at least).

     Just thought I'd share that story, and the fact that if you really want to quit, you CAN!  Hell, if I smoked for 30 years and quit cold, anyone can. Especially with all the help and support (like this site) that is out there now.  Good luck!!

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