Sunday 13 April 2008

Giving up Ciggies - The Start

Okey dokey gentle reader

I have been inspired by Wild Bill's brave post on his own trials and tribulations of a health kind to make a public record of a part of my own path to wellness. Perhaps it will be cathartic on the other hand it gives me just another excuse to bore the pants of yousens.

I was, as defined by the doctor, "a contented smoker" and yes, that was an accurate assessment of my habit. I can afford it and more importantly I enjoy it. Partaking of "the weed" has become a public statement of your "pariah" status and oddly there are time I rather like being a pariah. Smoking, first in Ireland and now in the UK, has become something you do that sets you apart from the rest of the world. Clusters of "those that smoulder" can be found (sometimes in very large numbers) standing out on the footpaths outside pubs and clubs all over the British Isles. It is actually (apart from when it is pissing from the heavens) become quite a convivial thing to do and the smoking ban has sort of backfired in this respect, rather than convince the smokers to stop it has reinforced the "specialness" of the habit.

Anyway I digress, like Bill, I had a meeting with the Doctor 18 months ago because I had had a psoriasis flare up. I hadn't been to the Dr for many years and he decided to give me the full work up and it transpired that my blood pressure was "of immediate concern". Pills followed as did exercise and relaxation techniques. Gradually I have returned to something resembling normal and the only blot on my copy book was my 20 a day habit formed over the last 30 years.

The doctor suggested I try the new drug on the block "champix" or to give it its proper name varenicline which i am told by the bumf " primarily in two ways. Firstly, it reduces the smoker's craving for nicotine by binding to nicotine receptors in the brain and reduces the symptoms of withdrawal. Secondly, it reduces the satisfaction a smoker receives when smoking a cigarette."

Now unlike the BP pills this was one I had to volunteer for and I dithered and fustered about, putting off making any decision one way or the other. Now the extended McDonagh Clan, nonsmokers every one, have been nagging me for YEARS to give up and I have resisted every plea with an ok ok next week... but then next week comes and goes and the status quo remains. So this had to be MY choice and one when made I couldn't really go back on.

I was at my 6 monthly cholesterol check (it was OK) when I heard myself saying "Alright lets have a go at this champix stuff..." My internal smoker gasped and screamed in my ear "WHAT THE F**K?" but the deed was done and I left the health center with a prescription.

I started the course on Wednesday just past and basically it is one pill a day for the first 3 days then two pills from then on. You continue to smoke, but set a date between days 8-14 to stop smoking all together .. My day is next Saturday (the 19th April).

I sort of hope that this starts a meme amongst youse that still shudder when anyone mentions airports and longhaul flights .. not because of the queues and baggage hassles.. but because of the fact that it will be a LONG time till the next time you can light up! Lets all blog about how shit we feel and how we long for a smoke ;)

BTW this champix stuff does seem to be working already. The gap between fags is noticeably longer and the 20 a day has twindled to 15 a day since Wednesday.



Lars Olufsen said...

I used this guy's method ...

Quit from one day to the next 2½ years ago.

It's hard for a few weeks, but not harder than everybody can do it if they want to.

The good thing about this method is, that it provides you some mental tools that makes the urge easy to control - and yeah, I do mean 'easy'.

Steve McDonagh said...


:) Thanks! and you have hit the nail on the head when you say "if you want to". I think that's what caused me to fail on previous attempts. I didn't really want to, I was doing in because others had nagged me into it or because I was "Guilted" into it when a chum gave up.

This time I think my head is in the right place :) time will tell.. and by this time next year I Mmight be able to afford a nice new shiny laptop and other wonderous gadgets :)


wild bill said...

Brave ? Ahhh no. Shall have to ask my doc on tuesday about this Champix stuff. Sounds good crack. The Nicotine patches are just a PITA - I cant find a hairless part of my body.. ;-)

---* Bill

Steve McDonagh said...

Brave yes .. we live in an increasingly Health conscious society. To be less than labels you as being..different and in many ways less than you should be. That and we celts are a macho bunch and being anything less than our heathen healthy warrior forebears is something that can be hard to admit to.

On Champix don't read the potential side effects bit on the instructions. Basically everything is a side effect including as far as I can see wanting to be an Orangeman and marching on the 12th of July. I have a dozen or so chums who have/are on it at the minute and none of them have shown any signs of wanting to be Paisley.

.o0(and how can constipation AND the shits be a side effect at the same time?)


David said...

Best of luck. I went cold turkey, 40 (yikes) ago. Had some really wierd dreams for a couple of years.

Remember, you only quit once!

Andre Guirard said...

> Remember, you only quit once!

Not according to Mark Twain...

Steve McDonagh said...

@David - Thanks.. i think i might need it :)

@andre -LOL I have a feeling if i Snack my way to smoke freedom I shall be needing another Twainism...
"A round man cannot be expected to fit in a square hole right away. He must have time to modify his shape."


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