Sunday, March 09, 2008

Where have all the cowboys gone?

This post is incredibly personal. If you don't want to know more of me than crazy mushing antics or unfounded rants, then stop reading now.
I started smoking at the age of 13. My sister and a friend down the road introduced me to the seductive and bad-ass world of cigarettes. We were rebels. Sneaking ciggies from friends' parents, finding the biggest butts in the ashtray and running off to puff our brains out. In high school, there was a clan that would gather between classes to smoke. My friend's brother bought me my first full pack of Du Maurier Lights. They stayed under the mattress of my bed forever. I contemplated taking the plunge. Diving into the world of 'my own packs.' I took that step and now, 17 years later, I still smoke. I don't know if any of those girls still do. In Whitehorse, I would hide it. I was the sports editor and would interview and photograph svelte athletes on a daily basis. How could I have any credibility if they saw me puffing away. So, even driving around town I was very aware about who might see me. My parents don't smoke and my father has been the biggest advocate of me quitting. A few years ago he said he would no longer accept Christmas or birthday gifts until I quit. That would be his gift. But no matter how much he pleaded, I still couldn't even begin to imagine quitting. Smoking is the ultimate addiction. It puts you in a strangle hold in so many different ways. Nicotine, tar and all the other carcinogens are just one facet. The physical act, the habit, the routine, nay ritual. I like it. I like smoking. I don't like the discerning looks, the cost or the stench, but I like how it makes feel. I need it.
But, now, after 17 years, I'm quitting. I have to. It's too hard. It's too much.
The final straw was a couple nights ago. I've been sick for about a week now and the other night I left work early because I was coughing so hard I kept throwing up. On the drive home, face still burning, lungs on fire, I lit up. I felt so disgusting and helpless. I knew then that it was time to say goodbye, once and for all, to my stinky lover.
This morning I called the Alaska Tobacco Control Alliance. They set me up with a quit coach. I'm going to buy some nicotine gum and hopefully that's all I will need. The problem is, I'm still so unsure about quitting. How will I have coffee in the morning? I sit on the porch with the dogs, smoking and drinking coffee. Or beer. How can I go out for beer and not smoke? I realize that this huge step will take some adjustments in regard to my other vices as well and that scares the crap out of me. Can I do this?
I have to.
I don't want to die.
I need support from you. And posting this, for the world to see, is a commitment in itself.


BarefootBeat said...

Good Luck. I began smoking at age 14. My beginnings mirrored yours. At the age of 22 I quit for the last time. It was hard and I had to stop going places that encouraged me to smoke.
I love that I quit.I love my health, and the fact I don't smell, and the money I save. There are still certain places and times that I think....this moment would be perfect with a cigarette.....but I don't smoke. I think you can quit.

Alaskan Dave Down Under said...

Good on ya, mate! I know you can quit.

Short aside: my dad quit cold turkey after 20 years of unfiltered Lucky Strikes. This was in 1976 and he hasn't touched one since and the old fart is still around!

Personal note: don't go to places that remind you of smoking (can be hard in Squarebanks!). I never smoked (cigarettes), but when I smell them I think "gosh a beer would be nice" (bars and cigs, ya know!).

You can do it!

Anonymous said...

Way to go Jill!


Anonymous said...

Jill it"Gran I was so glad to read your Blog.You can do it , if Joe can do it cold turkey you can but if you need help take it.Think of the money you will save put it in a pot and buy yourself some thing you want. I will say a prayer for you Love Gran.

Erin Alaska said...

Hang in there, be tough and quit!! My husband's mom and my grandma both died of lung cancer. Horrible way to go. It's never too late to quit, your lungs will regenerate themselves. Load up on as much calcium tablets as FDA approved (this helps with your system rebuild). You will have healthy lungs, fresh skin, hair and nails before you know it. My husband still chews Copenhagen pouches and has vowed to quit before the Juneau move in May. If you can make it 21 days without the cigs then they say you are no longer addicted. Good job just taking the plunge. Keep us posted.
Juneau Eco Mommie-Erin
p.s. thanks for all the cabin info, my husband wants to give your friend Olaf a call when we are closer to the build.

Anonymous said...

It's really freaking hard. I think it was Mark Twain who said "To cease smoking is the easiest thing I ever did. I ought to know because I've done it a thousand times." Do I ever know what he meant. I have been playing tug-o-war with the cancer sticks for at least 15 years. I'll smoke for a year, quit for a year, smoke for 6 months quit for 4 know how it is. At the moment I am on the "not smoking" side of the rope but it is hard. Good luck to you, I'll be rooting for you.

Coldfoot said...

I smoked for ten years then quit for ten years. I started smoking again about a year ago. I've been trying on and off to quit for the last year.

Perhaps we could make some wager? First person to pick up a cigarette.....

Marty b said...

Hang in there as long as you can. If (when) you fall off the wagon, climb right back on even if you have to throw away a mostly full pack the next morning. It can be done! But it isn't easy.

I kicked the cancer sticks after smoking for 55 years and four serious attempts a decade apart. I cut down to ten cigs a day for several years and then finally was able to halt it altogether. Two years later, I still have moments when the idea appeals because like you, I enjoyed it, liked the taste, enjoyed the motions and it relaxed me. Now, for the first time, the scent of stale tobacco on my clothes after bowling offends my nostrils. Maybe that is progress.

Just know that a lot of ex-smokers and active smokers are pulling for you. You have the grit, you prove that every day pursuing the life style you have chosen, so convince yourself "I Can Do It!".

Marty b

Unthawed Alaskan said...

It isn't easy, just stick to it. Perhaps you should give yourself a challenge? Perhaps you can quit smoking so you can run the Equinox Marathon?

Good job on the quit. If I can help, give me a call.

Allmycke said...

I quit after 35+ years of smoking. Over the years I have tried quitting umpteen times but started again umpteen times +1 until I got a prescription for champix. I had decided to give it one last try and started taking the pills when I was all by myself during one week last summer. For the first little while I kept on smoking occasionally, but within a few weeks the smell and taste became more and more vile to me.
About 3 months after quitting, I got a first indication that I had lung cancer and was operated on at the beginning of December.
On Wednesday this week I go for my third post-op chemo to increase my chance of long-term survival. I am SO glad I quit when I did!
You've taken the first really good steps on the road to becoming an ex-smoker and I wish you all the luck!

Mary said...

I will NOT let you smoke anymore when you are with me. I know it seems hard, because it has become such an ingrained habit, but it can be done.

I quit about 6 months after I moved to Fairbanks. It wasn't easy, but I have faith that you are strong enough to do it. Look at all the other stuff you do!! You can conquer tobacco...

KD said...

i'm proud of you, jillybean. it's like you're all growed up or something. p.s. i'm pregnant.

Brown Eyed Girl said...

You can do this Jill - Shaun, Mikey and I all have faith in you to see this through! You've already made a huge leap by contacting a coach. You can do it!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Jill. You can do it.
Love Mere xo

Anonymous said...

Dear Jillian,

If you start smoking again, I will personally fly (OK, hitch) up to Alaska and kick your sorry ass.

OK, I won't kick your ass. I'll probably just point and laugh.

But it will be SO worth it. 'Cause you'll be smoking again. And I'll have laughed. Yeah. Yeah, that's it.

Sincerely yours,


Heather, aka: Mum said...

It'll be 2 years on May 10th that I quit!! Acupuncture & a good man helped but, in the end, it was ME! I did it!!

I'm thinking that the sleddogs even love the fact that I don't light up anymore in the kennel or on a run & the house dogs won't die of second hand smoke!!!!
Not that I know you
but hay...Good on ya :)