Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Smoking out the desire to Smoke

As a boy I used a glass of milk and Tea was never my choice till Grade 10.
As a trainee in a factory, I got introduced to Tea. Tea was something that I never liked but it got into the system and became a part of it. Coffee creeped in too but my fav has always been a glass of Cocoa all these years. I find that these beverages are taken by many, few take it to a degree of addiction that they cannot do without many a cups. 
On the flipside I have a friend, who still does not take any of the caffeine drinks, perfectly pure! Perfectly sane and in control of his body and mind. He should, as he is a surgeon. (Note that this article is written by a 50+ year old who has observed the after effects over time. My friend is not perfectly a Vandame, but he is close. I know, there are many such and I see few of them as good runners during marathons.)
Let me now get into worse evils. I feel, I should spell out this darker secret in my life for benefit to others, who it might help.
 At 18, after I started earning, I started with occasional Beer, then graduated to Gin and later to Whiskey. Fortunately, drink habits depended on Money and I did not have too many till mid 40s.
A change of Job and I got into Smoking..Occasional 2 per day..Sometimes 3. I was very sure that it does not hurt. I do not remember how and when I got into more but..I did. More addiction is NEVER as per plan. Humans tend to slip away. 
It had gone upto 5 cigs everyday..occasionally more. I have smoked for 14 years and it may have done damage that I never cared about. 
But then, in the company where I work, many VPs and directors suddenly stopped smoking. When I was dillydallying with the idea, a DVP mentioned to me that I may realize the side effects later, not now..but perhaps after 50s.

A car accident gave me the needed jolt. I had survived so far, in spite of all the wrongs I did to my Body,by grace of god. 
Yet it had not salvaged me and I continued my abuse. I lost control of my car on a straight road! Much worse, I could have done away with my entire family at the cost of my negligence.
I gave up smoking after that day. God wants me to live and prosper. What right do I have to damage my body? My reflexes have died over the years. If others have faith in me, I need to rejuvenate myself so that the faith is intact. I will not be a rock climber again, as I live with a Frozen shoulder.
But I may be able to be a better runner perhaps, where lungs are everything.
Giving up is not easy and it brings in reactions. The first 3 days were toughest. My wife was supportive and another friend who gave up a year, before me were the people I looked up to. The effort was earnest. With my age, I knew exactly what goes wrong with the body. My Boss had mentioned drooling, saliva dripping in sleep etc very graphically and I respect his age for telling it much ahead, before I age. I was aware of my loss of control and slowdown of reaction.

When one decides to give up, the sole drive/ determination is from within self. No amount of external advice helps. It has to be a self suggestion. You must be a super hero to yourself. There are no awards or merit certs here. A cleanup drive will show you the light , with time.

You can give up right now, if you make up your mind DO NOT take a stepped approach to give up. It has high failure rate. 
The key things that helped.
  • I joined a no-smoking forum. It helped me count days I did without smoke. (I gave up counting after 6 months as I had no desire to blacken my lungs again. Passive smoke became a irritation.)
  • When irritated or a desire for smoke, I chewed ajwain to clear my tongue OR Ate a chocolate
  • Climbed the stairs of my office. Counted the repeatitions
  • Went out in the traffic for a walk where my mind would be distracted.
  • Most imp: Be with people who do not Smoke. Look around for role models. There are MANY.
  • Reward yourself on achieving a milestone in your goal.
  • Be the superman. Be your own role model.
  • The time i spent in smoking was later spent in doing quick sketches. 'Create' something that you will look back upon. Create many such small things. These are actual wins that use the mind positively, rather than a drugged state of nothingness.
A couple of months later, you face the mirror which has a younger self, positive, determined who can do without and stay perfectly natural.
The real macho is the one who can face reality, forge a destiny by taking steps, in a positive state of mind.

A salute to all who quit and a challenge to others who want to make up their minds!

My Next challenge is quit drinks totally. I dare myself.