Since I last posted, I have been hard at work on writing and on my health.
First, the fun stuff. My collection of short stories entitled Tangled, will be available soon. It is a collection that is years in the making, has gone through various titles, has been cut down, expanded, cut down, expanded but has come together as a project that I feel proud of and I hope more importantly, is enjoyed by those who read it. Putting that on your radar for now. Watch this space! More details to follow soon, possibly even a taster.
So now health. Yea, well.
Shortly before my last post I had to go see a specialist about my cholesterol and triglyceride levels and although still in an exploratory/ diagnostic phase; I was told in no uncertain terms that I needed to make some major lifestyle changes if I wanted to be here a bit longer and the thing is, I do. I am only 40 for starters and I intend to be here for as long as I can because hubby is not getting away that easy. I also have a lot more life to live.
Enter, cutting down on all things that I love like cheese, pizza, red meat and wine. I've had to incorporate exercise into my daily routine and the big one; quitting smoking. I made the decision to quit cold turkey.
Today is day 66 of no cigarettes and as of yet, no slip up.
Hold the applause.
I titled this post "This Is Not A Public Service Announcement" for a reason. I have chosen to give up for a specific health reason and what the implications are if I didn't. Anyone who knows me will remember hearing the words, "my mother did not raise a quitter" more than once. Believe me, I intended on smoking till the very end. In fact, I fucking love smoking. I also should add that I do not have an issue with anyone who smokes. I have absolutely no intention of being THAT quitter. You know the type, I don't need to say who they are.
Quitting is hard. Simple.
If you Google articles on quitting smoking you come up with a load of "benefits." What I wasn't prepared for was how it would affect me as I went into withdrawal. My sister said I should write about my experience which I think was her way of saying stop whining to me. She's never been a smoker and I think if you have never smoked you will never understand how hard it is to quit. I took her advice anyway because she is right, writing always helps me. So here are five aspects of quitting that I was not prepared for.
1. Smoker's flu: Nothing like feeling you are on death's door with a flu during a fucking heat wave. Only to find out that yes, your body mimics flu like symptons as it purges itself.
2. Bleeding gums: So yea, as your gums heal from the years of smoking, they bleed more. That was a fun visit to the dentist.
3. Stress: In recent years I had been the type of smoker who could go days without a cigarette so I thought, okay I can do this no issue. What I hadn't thought about was how I used cigarettes to cope with stress. Something pissed me off, I'll have a fag. There you go. Nope not anymore. I am exploring new ways of dealing with stressful situations. So far, herbal teas, just walking away from my desk help and I am now meditating twice a day. I have found as well that a piece of dark chocolate is pretty effective which is good since I am not allowed milk chocolate anymore. Dark chocolate is also good for the heart.
4. Heavy drinking: I find that this is harder and not as much fun without a cigarette. The more I drink, the likelihood of cravings arising and so as a result I just can't drink as much as I did two months ago. This is of course verges on the benefit side of things but it does mean that in these early days, I am not as social as I used to be. Mind you, my snarky comments on Facebook typically made when drunk are at a minimum which is probably a good thing.
5. Senses: So my taste and smell are different now. Bad smells REALLY smell bad and I feel like with food, things taste a bit funnier. I would like to say it is my sense of taste and smell returning but seriously I started smoking 25 years ago, so it is more likely that they are building from scratch at this point. At present, any body odour is magnified which is not pleasant.
I could go on about the positive benefits like my skin looking healthier (it is) but to be honest, you can Google those articles and ultimately for me, the main benefit is life. Still, I am owning my right to whinge here so that is what I am doing.
I mark each day on the calendar as if I were counting the days of my incarceration because each day counts. Also, it provides me with a visual and that helps me. It reminds me what quitting look likes. It also means I don't take for granted how hard quitting is.
I have agonised about making this information public because I don't want to be that sanctimonious holier than thou prick who quit smoking. To my smoking friends, smoke em if you got em. My journey is my journey. I quit, you didn't. I'll still go out with you for a fag, I'll just stand there for the conversation.
For anyone thinking or needing to quit, I won't lie. It's fucking hard. That is what to expect. Expect that some days will be easier than others. In terms of my own experience, I have found acupuncture to be beneficial and marking each 30 days with a treat to yourself. I went to the spa Tuesday and it was heaven. Yes I realise that it was on the 64th day not the 60th but I was ill last week.
Apart from that, the only words I can offer are: It's fucking hard but not impossible with the right motivation.
So I leave you with this article on "Stairway to Heaven" because (1) I like to keep my Soundboard somewhat musical as you know (2) it reminded me when I was younger I found that "Comfortably Numb" was the perfect length of a Camel Light, but only a Camel Light, not a Marlboro Light. Weird huh?
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John Lugo-Trebble considers this more of a space to engage personal reflections and memories with connections to music and film.