Even though I promised my editor I would report every instance of cheating, I am not totally convinced a couple of puffs on day two really constitute cheating. I am looking at it as a mere glance backwards as I take my first steps away from cigarettes forever.
OK, so I’m kidding myself. I bummed a cigarette the other morning, took two puffs and threw it out because I felt bad – literally. I thought I was going to puke. I even threw it in a puddle so I wouldn’t pick it up again.
So, what has led me to become so anxious so quickly? After all, it is only day two and I was already taking measures to make sure I don’t pick up cigarettes off the ground. I do believe this desperate state can be traced back to the night before when, expecting a good seven hours of sleep, I only managed about four.
The three hours I was robbed of were lost to the consistent night sweats and insomnia; I woke up all sweaty and in dire need of a cigarette at least 10 times before the sun came up.
One of the biggest problems I had today was following the rule of “avoid people and places where you are tempted to smoke.” For me, that would be every place on campus. While waiting for the shuttle today someone actually had the gall to smoke in the enclosed waiting area! Even I wouldn’t do that when I was smoking. I quickly went outside and popped some gum.
Another health problem, besides the sleeplessness, has been headaches throughout the day. According to my research, the consensus is that drinking lots of water is the key to curing these headaches, and since caffeine often triggers smoking, it is all the more reason to stick to water. I have also read that exercise may help these headaches. Truthfully, I am so tired and still so irritable that exercise is the last thing on my mind. I want to sleep for three days and wake up without any withdrawal symptoms.
That’s not going to happen, so I’m resigned to surfing the Internet until I get sleepy. While browsing the Web, I did come across www.gottaquit.com, a good site on quitting tips and plans, among other things. My new favorite page is the cigarette calculator; apparently, in less than four years of smoking I have spent $3,139 on cigarettes. Yeah, I’d say that’s depressing enough to get me through the night.
One day has passed since I decided to quit, and more markers have been reached. After almost 88 hours an ex-smoker’s nerve endings adjust to the absence of nicotine and the ability to taste and smell begin to return, according to the surgeon general.
As a sufferer of instant gratification – I want what I want now – these immediate effects of quitting are a pretty good disincentive. With smoking, achieving my short-term reward was as simple as lighting up. But I have also heard the best things in life, like getting healthy, are worth the wait. So even though my mind has been telling me I want just one more, simply the act of writing this piece has convinced me, at least for the rest of the night that my mind and body have been through too much in these first two days to start smoking again.
Michelle Nicoletto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.