My New Best Worst Friend

pfizer_champix_packungMeet my new best worst friend.  Now I realize this post has little to nothing to do with gardening, but there are some fires you walk through in your life that just beg to be shared.  If not a single soul reads this post, I’ll still feel better for the writing of it.

I’m going to try to quit smoking.  Again.  Yes, I’ve made many half-hearted attempts in the past, once even going as long as three months before picking it up again.  I’ve tried patches, gum, and other nicotine delivery products.  They helped, but the thing that was missing was desire — the motivation that comes with making up your mind that you want to be rid of the nasty habit once and for all.  It’s easy enough to say it, but you have to really want it.  Those of you who have never smoked will not understand that — those of you who do, or who have in the past, will.

While discussing this with my doctor, he mentioned a somewhat new medication that’s available that many of his patients have found very helpful.  It’s called Champix (varenicline tartrate) here in Canada and Europe, Chantix in the US.  Quite different from other medications that have been offered in the past, Champix actually works on the “addiction center” of the brain to lessen cravings and also provides a barrier to nicotine receptors so that less amounts of nicotine are absorbed.  The photo (from google images) shows the starter kit that you use for the first two weeks (while still smoking) to ease this medication into your system.  According to directions, at some point in the week of blue tablets, you choose a date and stop.  That date is Thursday, November 27, for me.  From then on, you don’t smoke and you stay on the med for 3-6 months.  Luckily, my prescription drug plan covers the cost as the first three months would come to about $260 — still cheaper than buying cigarettes, of course.

The medication is not without side effects, and I’ve experienced some or most of them in varying degrees.  The majority of them, however, are mild and annoying, not horribly unpleasant.  It can cause nausea and vomiting, but the pharmacist pointed out that taking the tablets with meals would help that.  Which it had, until this morning.  I downed my first dose of the day with a coffee today and have been paying for it ever since.  A slice of toast has helped somewhat, but you can bet I won’t be doing that again, shall we say.  I haven’t had morning sickness for 25 years!  But I’ll even put up with that, if that’s what it takes.  This attempt at quitting feels like do-or-die to me.  I mean, if this doesn’t work, then I don’t know what would.

I’ve questioned the wisdom of trying to quit with the holiday season upon us, and all the excitement and stress that it can bring.  But then I thought, no…what better time to quit?  This a gift to myself!  You can’t quit for anyone else, though it’s important to have the support of family and friends.  Like losing weight or getting sober, it’s something that has to come from within, something you have to decide you want for yourself.

So, we’ll see how it goes. So, here’s to being smoke-free!  Does anyone else have any experience with Champix/Chantix they’d care to share?

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30 thoughts on “My New Best Worst Friend

  1. I need to quit myself Nancy. Let us know how well it works, this might be a good option for me. Quitting cold turkey is not! ;)

  2. I gave up on Feb 14th 2006, and haven’t looked back, so wish you lots of Luck, cause I know the first few weeks are hard.

    You are right though, if your hearts not in it, nothing will help, you have to want to do it for yourself.

    Go to it!

    x

  3. Go for it, Nancy!
    Your story is close to home (as I smoke), not something I normally let anyone know. Your experience is helpful for me as I need to do this, and you have inspired me. And that is a gift, too.
    Thanks, Nancy
    Philip

  4. Crikey – a few smokers coming out of the woodwork then.

    Nancy – good luck, I know how hard it is – and I am thinking about giving up too, but not quite ready for the leap yet.
    Keep us posted
    K.

  5. Hi Nancy, you are brave to show this personal side to the public, but of course the garden bloggers are the nicest group of people anywhere and will be supportive all the way. I smoked in high school, everyone did, it was cool. When I started dating the Financier we both smoked. Then he quit when the person sitting next to him on an airplane asked him not to light up! A long time ago, obviously. He stopped and wouldn’t let me smoke in his apartment. Well okay then, I quit too. More than thirty five years ago. I am so glad that you really really want this for yourself and wish you luck with the new champix friend of yours. We want you to be healthy.
    Frances

  6. Just wanted to say, “Go Nancy go!” Perhaps writing about it and having a cheering squad will help you along.

    Nausea and vomiting…ugh. Between my three pregnancies I spent about two years of my life throwing up or feeling like I was going to. I don’t wish that on anyone. I hope the side effects go away very quickly!

  7. All the best with it Nancy. I gave up smoking 15 years ago and have never looked back. I can even enjoy the odd cigar now without feeling compelled to have to continually light up again.

    It’s a tough road but sooooooo worth it…

  8. Nancy, my Nancy. I’ve never smoked but only because I’m a creature of habit and love to blow smoke rings so I just never started. That you are doing this – this stopping – and so publicly reminds me just how strong and brave you are. We’ve got your back – lean on us. We’re here for you with “love and negotion.”

  9. Wow. I’m speechless. I never fail to be amazed…blown away…at the wonderful support I always, ALWAYS find here. I treasure your comments and understanding and promise I’ll keep you posted.

    You know, facing the prospect of tossing the cigarettes is exhilarating in some respects and terrifying in others. I’ve smoked for many years, well over half my life. I don’t (yet) have any serious health problems directly related to it, luckily, and I’d like to keep it that way. But still, I can close my eyes and see the steam rising off that first cup of coffee, and taste that first cigarette. It’s a bit like losing a good/bad/best/worst friend, I suppose. However, I have a plan…strategies. I think the trick is to create a new normal, for that first morning coffee and all those other trigger times.

    And I am determined. From experience, I know it’s hard work, but with friends like you all, I know I can do it. I am very touched and very grateful.

  10. Good luck, Nancy. I’m sure you can do it. You sound ready. Over the years, I’ve watched my mom and my sister try, fail, and ultimately succeed at quitting cigarettes, so I know how hard it is. But they were determined and did it, and so can you!

    Thanks for the encouragement, Pam — I so appreciate everyone’s personal experiences. I helps a lot!

  11. I’m rooting for you, Nancy! It sounds like you really ready, once and for all, so I’m sure you can do it. And saying it publicly has to do with accountability. That will help you, when you know everyone is in your corner and will be hoping to one day hear you say, “I quit! I really really quit!” And then we’ll also hear you talk about how glad you were that you did it.

    You go, girl! :-D

    I do know I will be glad, Kylee — free of the health risks, free of the smell, free of the expense…just think of all the plants I can buy. ;-) Thanks so much for your support!

  12. Nancy,

    I know you can do it Nancy…good luck and you know we are all here for you! I quit smoking over 31 years ago! The new med sounds like it is right on target! Gail

    Kudos to you, Gail, for having been smoke-free all these years! What an accomplishment. This med is amazing…I’ll post a better update after the weekend. Thanks so much, as always, for your support.

  13. Good for you, Nancy. Quitting smoking is a terribly difficult thing, I’ve been told, but it sounds like you really desire to do what is in your health’s best interest.

    Your idea of establishing a ‘new normal’ for yourself sounds cool.

    I enjoy your beautiful blog, including the parts, like this, where you digress from your usual themes. :)

    Thanks so much, Joyce. And I’m so pleased you enjoy your visits here. I thank you so much for the link you gave me, too. :)

  14. You can do it! Way to go!

    My dad managed to quit after a lifetime of smoking, and we are so grateful to him that he did.

    Keep it up, it will be well worth the effort. We are so looking forward to the day that you accomplish your goal.

    Jen

    Thank you so much, Jen! So far, so good. :)

  15. I am in the fifth week of taking Chantix. I stopped smoking (over a pack a day habit) within 6 days of starting the meds. I just didn’t have the desire to smoke! Yes, the stomach queasiness is aggravating, and I’m having weird, weird dreams, but I have NO desire to pick up a cigarette. It’s like a miracle. I can deal with a little nausea compared to those nicotine cravings constantly.

    Good luck to you. The path to health is within both our sights! YES!!!

    Bo, how wonderful!! Keep it up, friend!! I’m so pleased you shared this — I think the med is a miracle, too, as there really is NO desire to smoke. I mean, I don’t even think about it. I can put up with the queasiness, and even the vomiting occasionally, if I have to. I’m determined this time. Best of luck to you, too and thanks so much for your support — keep me posted on how you’re doing.

  16. My mom quit after 40 years of smoking. She just up and quit one day and then she became the authority on how bad it smelled. Funniest thing I’ve ever seen. I say she smoked 3 to 4 packs a day as did my dad. I live in tobacco USA–NC. So mom and dad practically had one lit all day.

    As a kid in tobacco land, I thought every adult smoked. My great aunt smoked until she was a 102 but she would harp on high fat foods. My oldest brother’s 1st wife was hoity toity and wouldn’t let her kids come to our house cause mom and dad smoked–but she ran off with another man. My lesson from that is —I’d rather live with a smoker than a cheater.

    My Dad smoked a pack a day until 8 years ago when he quit cold turkey. Unfortunately, he left it too late, like we do so many things, and suffered a stroke a couple years after he’d quit, and also discovered he had an aortic aneurysm that had to be repaired in a very risky surgery. About six months ago, he had to start using two different inhalers to halt the beginnings of emphysema. My Mom never smoked, but might as well have. I have no brothers or sisters, but most of my other relatives smoked as well.

    I tried to starve myself one time cause I thought I was too fat. That did more damage to me than growing up with parents who smoked. So Nancy–a person is not measured by each breath they breathe but what kind of imprint they leave on life—and you are leaving the most beautiful kind.

    What a lovely, lovely thing to say, Anna.

    I hope you do quit for you and us! I want to see you healthy for a long time.

    I’m sorry to say my dad got really sick from it—and mom did too—but she got smart and quit so the affects could be reversed. She lived another 30 years longer than she was suppose to all because she quit.

    I’m so glad your Mom quit soon enough to be able to reduce the effects of her smoking.

    But she was so funny! She couldn’t stand the smell of it after a year being off. We still have smoking in restaurants down here. She would be so vocal about it and complain away. I’ve heard others say that too. You might decide geraniums stink—oh no!, that would not be good.

    Geraniums stink? Never! Sacrilege. :-) I do know what your mother means, though. On the many occasions that I’ve quit for a few days, by day 4 or 5 I can’t believe what jackets and sweaters and such smell like! It is gross. You don’t notice it while you’re smoking, but I always think, is this what this smells like to everyone else? Yuck!

    Good luck! Lots of folks in my family stopped and you can too!

    Thanks for the support Anna, dear friend.

  17. I am a former chimney that consumed 80 cigarettes a day! I quit cold turkey 29 years ago. When I’m through with something, I’m through! I have no experience with anything other than doing it that way, but I do know breaking that habit was the best thing I ever did. It was not easy the first couple of weeks, but I just started thinking of myself as a non smoker and knew I would never do it again. I have never even touched a cigarette in all these years. Good luck. If you make up your mind that you are non smoker, you’ll be one!
    Aiyana

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience — and kudos for staying free for all this time! You’re absolutely right that the psychological aspect of quitting is definitely the most important part to have well in hand.

  18. Good luck! I too quit about 11 yrs ago cold turkey. The key to stay quitting is not having a single puff afterwards, not one. Just a puff can start you all over again.

    Oh yes, I learned that the hard way. :) I’ve tried cold turkey and found the physical side effects so unpleasant, I couldn’t do it. The Champix (CDN)/Chantix (US) is a wonder. Kudos to you for doing SO well!

  19. oh, Nancy, another thing we share! hmm… i guess i shouldn’t be so happy, as smoking is not positive in any way… but it makes me all eager to read of your determination as i’m gathering just that at the moment: the gargantuan amount of determination it takes to stop.
    i hope you’ll keep us posted on this non-gardening subject… especially i’m very, very, very curious about these tablets. have never heard of them before!
    you go, girl!!!

    I’m actually pleased we share this — just think: if I can do this, then you most certainly can as well when you’ve made up your mind you really, REALLY want to. I’d certainly be right there, cheering you on! So far, so good with two days in. I’ll write another update after the weekend. Thanks for the encouragement. (Here’s a link to Chantix which will tell you all about it.:)

  20. Hi, Nancy, Good for you. Just think of how those plants and flowers are going to smell once you reclaim full capacity smelling!! :) You will be so glad you did. Also–have you thought about using acupuncture to help you through this? I have never smoked but I’ve heard stories of people who quit smoking simply through acupuncture treatments. I’m guessing it would supplement and support your drug treatments–and they could probably even decrease those icky side effects. Keep us posted.
    I’m going to visualize that this is no longer part of your life.
    History.Gone. Forever. Big hug. Kathryn xoxo

    Kathryn, thank you so much. So far, so good! The Champix is amazing – combined with an eagerness to quit, I don’t see how you could fail with it. Of course, it’s only two days in, but I hardly give them a second thought! The nausea/vomiting continues to be an issue, but I’m finding ways to minimize that as well. I refuse to give it up. :) Thanks so much for your good wishes!

  21. Hi Nancy,
    That was a fantastic post, all the best to you!
    I’m a journalism student in Halifax, writing a story about quitting smoking (deadline in 3 hours, eek). Would you mind terribly if I quoted your blog?
    Hope your first two days sans-smokes went well!
    Leilani

    Hi Leilani — best of luck with your paper. I hope this reaches you in time for your deadline. You may use any part of this post as a reference, or in any way you feel may be helpful. Dal is my ex-husband’s alma mater (Phys. Ed.) As for the non-smoking, so far, so good!

  22. Wow, am I behind in reading your posts, Nancy! But I just had to leave a comment. I wish you all the best of luck in this; I have tried and tried to quit (yes, many of us still in the closet are coming out, I see). I really, really want to live to see my grandchildren grow up and see my great-grandchildren. But with all that motivation, it’s still hard to stop those cravings. I have enough stomach problems that I don’t think I want to add to them, but I guess I have to decide which is the lesser of two evils.
    Please let us know how this works out…I really, truly wish you success.

  23. Good for you, Nancy. I think it’s a great strategy sharing this with your blog friends, because, as you say, their support is amazing.
    I smoked a little in my late teens and early twenties (as Frances said..everyone did!) but quit when I was pregnant with our first child.
    I have confidence that this time will be your success story as you have just the right mindset.
    Wishing you the very best of luck with this Christmas present to yourself!
    I wish our youngest daughter could find that same desire. She’s tried and failed several times.

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