How I Finally Quit Smoking When Nothing Else Worked
Instead of talking about Sacramento real estate today, I would like to share with you how I finally quit smoking when nothing else worked. People who know me today are often astonished to learn that I once smoked cigarettes. They do not know I was addicted to smoking for 45 years. Had gone through many attempts to quit, and nothing ever stuck. I always broke down and lit up.
Sometimes, the time between not smoking and smoking was a few weeks; other times a few months. But I always wanted a cigarette. And let’s just say I struggle with saying no to my desires.
How I Got Started Smoking Cigarettes
Diane, my best friend in eighth grade, handed me a cigarette at age 13. We wanted to be “cool kids.” I practiced smoking in the mirror, inhaling smoke up my nose. Blowing smoke rings. Both of my parents at that time smoked brands without filters, like Lucky Strikes.
Only in desperation would I snatch a few cigarettes from them. Instead, it made more sense to swipe a handful of coins off my mother’s dresser to buy my own. Not one of my proudest memories.
Almost everybody I hung out with smoked Old Gold or Marlboros. It was only in my later years that I chose Parliaments as my cigarette of choice. That was a more glamorous brand because your lips barely touch the filter.
Crazy Ways I Previously Tried to Quit Smoking
Along the way I tried Nicotine patches but that wasn’t enough. I tried hypnosis, which did not work on me. Went through Chinese acupuncture with needles stuck in my stomach and head. Lasted without a cigarette for maybe 24 hours. As a last resort, I signed up at a seminar to have drugs shot into a vein in my neck. Don’t even recall what that process was called but it also did not work.
At one point, I even tried a prescription for Chantix, a powerful anti-depressant drug, which produced nightmares and made me sick to my stomach.
Visit to U. C. Davis Med Center for Lung Testing Changed My Life
During late spring of 2010, my doctor suggested I go to U. C. Davis Medical Center for lung capacity testing. Just to determine how damaged my lungs were, not necessarily to quit smoking when nothing else worked. I met with a nurse named Adam, and I remember his name because that’s my husband’s name. He was extremely patient, kind, informative and understanding, very non-judgmental.
Part of the tests involved blowing into tubes and trying to extract every last breath. It was a long process, at least half a day at U. C. Davis Medical Center. Adam also made me laugh.
Then he spent a long time explaining to me the results of the tests. Didn’t this guy have some place to be?? Almost no doctors or nurses have spent a lot of time explaining test results to me or answering questions because everybody needs to adhere to a demanding schedule. But Adam took the time. He explained I once had millions of alveoli in my body, which are tiny air sacs at the end of tiny branches of air tubes in the lungs. Upon inhaling, the alveoli allow oxygen to enter the bloodstream and alveoli also expel carbon dioxide upon exhaling.
Simply put, smoking a cigarette kills alveoli.
Adam said my tests showed if I continued to smoke, my alveoli will continue to die. How long can I continue to smoke before it reaches the danger zone, I asked. I mean, if I had another 10 years, hallelujah, I’d keep smoking. Rats. Adam didn’t say anything. He just smiled and said we all have to make our own decisions.
The First Step to Quit Smoking
I don’t recall if it was that night or a few nights later, but I do know what happened shortly thereafter when I went out on my back deck to smoke a cigarette. Lit up, inhaled. Stood there with a cigarette between fingers, watching smoke curl into the air. Out loud I said to nobody but myself: Why am I killing my alveoli? Why am I harming myself? I have the power to stop. Yet, I am smoking.
My one-sided conversation ended by pronouncing out loud this has got to stop. Yes, I really do need to make myself a priority and start taking better care of my health.
That was the main secret to finally quit smoking when nothing else worked but there is a lot more to this story. Yes, first you need to really commit and be dedicated to stopping. The other times I tried to quit, I wasn’t quite so motivated. So, maybe it would help you, dear reader, to have tests done at U. C. Davis Medical Center; although, I hear Adam has retired.
His positive attitude and wealth of information was really instrumental for me.
Next, I needed help. Motivation and commitment alone was not enough. I had failed so many other times. It has been more than 8 years since I finally quit smoking when nothing else worked. I’d say it has worked this time. Urges to smoke today do not exist.
How My 6-Month Program to Quit Smoking Worked
My method to finally quit smoking when nothing else worked involved combining programs, increasing the time frame, and lowering the dosage of drugs. All of my previous programs to quit smoking lasted a month or two at best. Decided that to permanently stop smoking, I needed to change my behavior over a much longer period of time.
Figured I would need 6 months.
I made an appointment with my doctor to discuss a new prescription for Chantix. The dosage for a 300-pound man was the same as prescribed for a 100-pound woman. That didn’t seem right to me. My doctor said it was all right to reduce the dosage, especially since I was shooting for a 6-month time period to stop smoking.
Besides, they would not give me more pills. Their guidelines suggested a shorter period of time.
Then I bought out the patches inventory from Walgreens over on Broadway by picking up enough boxes of the nicotine patches to last for 6 months. The maker of the patches recommends two weeks on the 21 MG, then two weeks on 14 MG. Followed by the last 2 weeks of 7 MG. Well, six weeks is not enough in my book. Nope, no way to cure a 45-year addiction within 6 weeks.
My preferred method, which I created to quit smoking:
- Two months on the 21 MG + low dose Chantix
- Two months on the 14 MG + low dose Chantix
- Two months on the 7 MG + low dose Chantix
While that might seem excessive to you, it worked for me. To ensure my success, I also cut up all of my Chantix pills into a quantity to last me for a period of time of 180 days. Probably cut the dosage into quarters. Did not experience any further nightmares or any time of adverse reaction to the medication.
By combining the two medications, it worked. Easy as could be. It worked on Day One all the way through Day 180. By the end of six months, I no longer had a desire to smoke. There were no withdrawal symptoms, none that I noticed, anyway. No pain. No regret. No failure.
The Nicotine Patches and Chantix combination over that 6-month period was enough for me to finally quit smoking when nothing else worked. Maybe this method, adjusting for your body weight and temperament, would work for you, too. Of course, check with your doctor.
Why Failure is a Welcome Opportunity
Just don’t give up. Something that has power over a person for 45 years can be stopped. People are all so wound up about failure — in life, in relationships, in business — yet few of us do anything perfectly the first time we try. You might find this hard to believe, but I paid 5 times in the 1970s to take my California real estate exam. Yes, I failed the test 4 times. Because I did not study.
Yup, I was ignorant and young enough to believe my years in title and escrow naturally prepared me for the California real estate exam. Which is why I sat for that exam 5 times. The last time, I studied. So, naturally, I passed. Point is: I did not give up.
Talking about failing, I’ve also been married 5 times. How many women do you know who have had 5 husbands, besides maybe a handful of celebrities? Actually, I don’t think anybody should get married before age 35. That’s just too young. You change too much over the years.
But I could have sworn off marriage all together after divorcing number 4. Until I met my present husband, and we’ve been together now 22 years, married for 19 years. Because I did not give up.
Failures simply put you one step closer to your goal of success.
Free Lung Screening Program at U. C. Davis
My doctor recently enrolled me in a special free program for lung cancer screening at U. C. Davis. It is for former smokers and present smokers. Once a year, candidates receive a free lung X-ray. And guess what? These 66-year-old lungs are in good shape. No evidence of cancer and not a lot of scarring. You need to be between the ages of 55 and 80. Smoked at least a pack a day for 30 years. Further, if a former smoker, to have quit within the past 15 years.
Although my qualifications put me at risk for lung cancer, the doctors say I’m at the extreme other end of patients they see.
That’s good news.
I stopped smoking on June 14, 2010. Flag Day. Also, it was the birthday of a friend who died from lung cancer. As of October 10, 2018, still smoke free. Honestly, I would not smoke again even if I knew I were dying tomorrow.
In conclusion, if I can do this, so can you. It starts with accepting responsibility by taking charge of your health. I hope the story of my journey will help you and those important to you.