I had flicked the “last” butt out of the window on a number of previous occasions but was enticed by the ‘just one’ cigarette that led to two and three and five and oh well – failed! This time was different, I had come to realize that the addiction was in total contrast to everything I stood for and it was time for it to go. the journey from Sandton to Monks Cowl in the Drakensberg Mountains was not so bad but by the time we arrived I noticed that I was agitated. We recall now an incident where while having a quick camping dinner of bread and soup my daughter asked me to throw her another piece of bread. I literally threw it at her.
Next morning I found myself in a state of deep sorrow and remember lying down outside on a blanket, in a fetal position, crying for the loss of my best friend – nicotine – Can you imagine! What we humans can get up to. My daughters and their friend raced up the mountain while I walked with slow deliberate steps on the low ground. I just could not climb those mountains without gasping for breath and frankly I was suffering enough.
I had mustard seeds plastered onto my ear, strategically placed on acupuncture points to massage when the craving ran through my body like a never ending wave. I had homeopathic drops to calm me. This was hell. As the days passed nothing changed. I was coping with the change of habit in not having to take the cigarettes with me everywhere i went, and not having that stick in my hand, but the craving was awful. At the first opportunity to get to shops I bought a bag (I mean a bag and not a packet) of chocolate filled toffees – the real chewy kind. I wasn’t even a sweet eater but remember eating them one after another until my tongue burnt from the sugar.
Three weeks later we returned home and I realized I had not smoked for 21 days, something I had not done in 25 years! I knew I was not out of the woods. This was a daily, actually sometimes an hourly commitment. I had been 52kg for so many years. As I watched my eating habits changing to accommodate the anxiety of not having a cigarette I also watched the kilos adding to my body weight. I would get up from the dinner table and do what I had not done ever – cut a slice of Michael’s home made potato yeast bread, pile it with jam and then top it off with loads of fresh whilte cream! I deserved it! I had to celebrate another day that I had not smoked.
I recall feeling only what I could describe as a ‘skrik’ in my solar plexus that would last for a minute or so. I would breath deeply and wait for it to leave. Slowly it would dissipate till the next one. Finally, one day, 6 months after I had stopped smoking I realized that I had done it, I had lost my nicotine friend and gained 10 kilos in weight. It was time for reflection and plans for the future. I decided that I would not go on ‘diet’ but would simply shift my dietary habits to slowly move the weight down knowing that I would probably never be 52 kg again as the nicotine had quite clearly been speeding up my metabolism.
I knew I was just one cigarette away from 20 a day everyday.
As time passed I lost 6 of the 10kg as planned and now 20 years later enjoy the ability to climb stairs and hills without gasping for breath, in the middle of the night I now reach out for my mobile phone instead of a cigarette, smelling with disgust the revolting smell of smokers after they have just smoked a cigarette and know that i too smelt like that. I enjoy the daily gratitude that somewhere deep inside I found the courage and determination to quit.
Over 4000 chemical compounds are created by burning a cigarette – 69 of those chemicals are known to cause cancer! If you want to continue smoking at least have the courage to spend an hour with someone with lung cancer or emphysema to find out how they are enjoying life.
Knowing what I know now, when I look back on life, one of the few regrets I have is smoking in the presence of my children. If you or someone close to you is still smoking, help them find the courage to quit. Finally, kiss a non- smoker and taste the difference.
Read Part One -Quit smoking or….. Heard it all? Hear this!