Diary of a Quitter

It is the end of day one, and my one-woman battle to quit smoking is in full effect. “If you have no cigarettes around you, then you can’t reach for one and smoke it,” said

It is the end of day one, and my one-woman battle to quit smoking is in full effect. “If you have no cigarettes around you, then you can’t reach for one and smoke it,” said Dr. Phil, a man I am not embarrassed to admit I watch on television. Yeah, I know that sounds like obvious advice, but you might be surprised how many people keep a pack around “just in case.”

Since I feel like I am being scrutinized by readers, I decided to flush my remaining cigarettes down the toilet last night in order to avoid any slip-ups. And I did flush all but one, because I wanted to smoke that one this morning. So I dramatically and ceremoniously smoked that last cigarette this morning at 11 a.m. while sitting in my pajamas.

“If a person has smoked regularly for a few weeks or longer and abruptly stops using tobacco or greatly reduces the amount smoked, withdrawal symptoms will occur,” said the American Cancer Society’s Guide to Quitting. “Symptoms usually start within a few hours of the last cigarette and peak about two to three days later.”

Some of the most common symptoms are irritability and feelings of frustration and anger. I had a pretty busy day planned today and really didn’t think about smoking at all until about 3 p.m. I would like to take this time to apologize to most people I came in contact with, especially after 3 p.m.

From that time until now, I think it is fair to admit I have been a raging witch. Victims of this side effect have thus far included my mother, one professor, my little sister and pretty much anyone who sat near me in class. I tried to suppress the anger by eating about two bags of hard candy, but I’m still pretty irritable, and now I have sore teeth.

For those of you who don’t smoke, I can see how these symptoms might sound extreme, or even stupid. I would like to reiterate what was printed last week: nicotine has been found to be just as addictive as heroin and cocaine. It is not just a mental addiction, it is physical. My body is aching right now, and it has only been a little over 12 hours.

I have already questioned why I’m doing this about 10 times. I just had to turn off a movie I was watching because the characters were smoking. I came close to tears about two hours ago when I panicked and realized the Rite Aid down the street was closed and, unless I wanted to start knocking on random neighbors doors for cigarettes, I was out of luck for the night.

So I did what I could, which was drink water, breathe deep and hope the panic would pass – which it eventually did. I went back to my handy Web sites, namely the American Cancer Society and the American Lung Association, and came across a little timetable.

In 1988, The U.S. Surgeon General’s Report described the effects of quitting smoking within the first 24 hours. They are as follows:

  • 20 minutes after quitting: Your blood pressure drops to a level close to that before the last cigarette. The temperature of your hands and feet increases to normal.
  • 8 hours after quitting: The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
  • 24 hours after quitting: Your chance of a heart attack decreases.

    So maybe I haven’t changed the color of my lungs from black to pink just yet, but these few bullets have managed to put me in a surprisingly better mood for now. I have made it through my first day of quitting, and now all I have to worry about it tomorrow. Stay tuned, because I have the unfortunate feeling that it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

    Michelle Nicoletto can be reached at mnic@temple.edu

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