11 days without a cigarette and I’m changing. Things are happening to me. Really, I did not expect this!
It’s Friday 10th June. I stopped smoking a week last Monday… and stopping smoking just hasn’t stopped giving!
OK, let’s start with the worst gift: cravings. When I’ve gone cold turkey before, the cravings came with a vengeance. An itch under my tongue which crept down my throat; a tingling in my fingers; pent up energy which made it impossible to stop moving, stop fidgeting, stop tapping stop pacing the room; an inability to concentrate on anything… anything… apart from smoking. I was safe in the knowledge that all my problems would go away with one deep, warm suck on a cigarette.
Now, though, I’ve been shocked by how easy it’s been. I’ve wanted a cigarette – loads of times – but each time I’ve used the inhalator and, after a few puffs on that, I’ve been fine. Lots of timesI’ve had a niggling feeling and I kind of know what it is, but it’s something I can control and I can be in charge of. Much of it, once I was about a week in, was habit: tea’ll be ready in 5 minutes so I’ll have a fag… Oh no I won’t; it’s break time so I’d best have a fag… Oops. This leads to stranger things like, how do you time things if you don’t smoke? Seriously, spaghetti is done to a T if you put it into boiling water, get out knives, forks and plates, and have a fag; who knows how long that is in real time?
When you moot stopping smoking, people will tell you that you’ll get your taste buds back. I thought, What a load of crap! I can taste things just fine. It turns out that I really couldn’t.
Sharon prepared an absolutely delicious chicken casserole; it’s a dish we’ve had often and I’ve always enjoyed it. On Monday, though, it tasted very different. I really liked it but I asked Sharon why the chicken tasted different – had we got better quality fowl from the butcher rather than the regular supermarket fare, or was this slightly past its prime and was on the turn? Nope! This is, apparently, what chicken tastes like. Wow! I liked chicken before, but I love it now. It got even better on Tuesday when, for lunch, I had homemade roast chicken and humus sandwiches: it was the BEST sandwich I’ve ever had in my life. I couldn’t believe the variety, intensity and deliciousness of the flavours, right down to the sweet, malty baps.
Sharon was first to comment on her sense of smell getting stronger, but mine began to return soon after and, of all the things stopping smoking’s given me so far, smelling stuff’s been the most mixed bag.
Thinking back, my sense of smell must’ve been returning for a few days. I remember wondering why the woods smelled more during a couple of dog walks through the weekend. I could smell the decaying leaves and rotting vegetation far more than usual. (Neither of which are badsmells in the woods, just noticeable.) I wondered if this was a particularly spring smell as the leaves which fell in autumn had been preserved by the cold and, now, the sun and warmth were making the leaves decay rapidly and pungently. I wondered why I’d never noticed the smell so much in previous springs, but the thought hat stopping smoking would have such a profound effect, or that smoking had rendered me all but anosmic, never crossed my mind.
Sharon started me thinking about the connection, though, when she said she was noticing much more the smell of the house. Please believe me, it’s not awful and we don’t live in filth, but as the smell of smoke inside depreciates, it is replaced… mainly by the dog. I think that Jess, our Staffy, may well begin to try and get us back on the fags ASAP as she doesn’t enjoy bathing and I can’t see us allowing her to go her usual 2-3 weeks without a bath if that’s the stink she gives off.
The thing that brought it home to me, though, was a smell produced much, much closer to home: farting. I’m a normal guy in the botty-burp department, insofar as I take a great interest in my own offerings, without it becoming some sort of fetish. Volume, force and pungency are significant, and should be commented on if there are people around, or noted through internal monologue if not. But, this week, my trumps have all smelled. All of them! Now I don’t keep a log (not anymore) but I’m sure that when I smoked, every single one of my emissions didn’t smell. So, wether a lack of carbon dioxide increases my methane production, or my sense of smell is returning. I’m assuming it’s the latter. This is a good thing as it shows my body’s becoming healthier and healthier. However, I now have to think back to all those times I was relieved when I’d got away with a cheeky parp, and realise that my companion was simply being polite. How many times have I given a cheeky grin at getting away with a surreptitious chuff when, in reality, my companion’s eyes were watering as their British stiff upper lip trembled under the weight of my gaseous gift? Then, with a shudder, it hit me: forget the past; I would have to completely rethink my covert pooping skills. Hurumph – that’s hours of time to be devoted to planning, testing and reflecting. On the upside, curry, chilli and beans would form the better part of my diet for the next few days so that I would have the oomph to try out my sphincter-related musings.
I’d expected nervous energy, but thought that any increase in vigour would dissipate after the first few days. That hasn’t happened; quite the opposite, in fact.
I’ve definitely been eating more and I knew that I’d have more energy just from the jitters caused by quitting, so I was really pleased when I saw that my school for this half-term has a gym just next door. I’ve started going and, in my first week, have been three times – that’s twice more than I’ve been in the preceding three months. At the gym, it felt so different. Whilst I get just as knackered as before, it’s a different knackered. Previously, my runs became walks as my lungs burned and my throat seared as I tried to drag in oxygen through every orifice. Now, though, it was my legs and stamina which give in before the panting forces me to slow down. It feels great to not gasp for air (or not gasp quite as hard as I’m used to), and each session has felt much better because I know it’s my muscles which are being pushed to their limits rather than just my lungs being pushed to bursting
When I get home, too, I still have energy. Every night of the week, Sharon and I have taken the dog to the woods; a 4 mile treat she gets, usually, two or three times a week if she’s ucky – normally, it’s a short trip down to the field at the bottom of the road and a walk of, maybe, a mile in total. Then, three times, we’ve still had energy so, instead of collapsing on the sofa to watch whatever, we’ve blown the dust of the Wii and got in a few games of tennis, bowling and golf.
In short, I feel great!
The final gift came after 4 or 5 days, and is the most disgusting of gifts…
Although I’d smoked for years and years, I never really had a smoker’s cough, though, occasionally, I had to clear my lungs of a bit of coal dust. For a couple of days, though, I got a cough… and it was gross. In Them & [uz], Tony Harrison writes of having to hawk up
and spit out, and that’s just what I had to do. When you stop smoking, all the shit you breathe in whilst telling yourself it’s not really there, or just ignore, begins to work itself out. At first, it’s a faintly unpleasant yellow gel. Then the gel gets lumps. Then coughing a vomiting bouncy balls become one and the same as huge plasticy blobs travel out of your lungs and plop themselves unpleasantly on your tongue, giving you a great reminder about why you’ve quit.
Then it gets gross.
But, it soon subsides and the manky slimeballs you’ve coughed up for a couple of days serve as a great reminder as to why you’re quitting. Plus, it makes people reading you’re blog go Eeeurrgghhhhh.