No smoke without fire

There is no smoke without fire. And I am not on fire. Therefore, I am not smoking.

So there you have it. Since 2nd December 2011, I have been a non-smoker.  Given that the second of December was six weeks and three days ago, I have reasonable confidence that I can now post something on my blog about quitting smoking without looking like a damn fool a short time later. Time will tell on that one, but I am already feeling not like a non-smoker, but like someone who doesn’t smoke – someone for whom smoking isn’t really an issue worth considering.

I had been thinking of quitting for a while, there were brief occasions where I realised that it genuinely wasn’t doing me any good – a short run for the bus would lead to a gasping minute where I thought my lungs would never be able to refill properly again for example. I was starting, particularly after a heavy night out, to get yellowy stains on my fingers, and the cough – oh the cough – the constant throat clearing and goo-spitting, it’s just not what you want. And, possibly most importantly, I was aware that about halfway through December it was my first anniversary of being a regular gym-goer. And as this milestone drew closer, I also became aware that I could probably achieve so much more if I didn’t smoke.
So how did I do it? By taking crazy brain pills. No cold turkey for me this time, on this, my momentous second attempt at quitting smoking. I’ve smoked for quite a large proportion of my life and I decided to do something weird for me – bite the bullet and ask for some help. I’ve seen a number of heavy, long term smokers quit in recent years using the pills, Champix, so I decided to go and see my doctor and give it a go.
It’s been a strange journey, for many reasons. Mainly that it was surprisingly quick. You start by taking part doses of the pills, moving up to a full dose after the first week. It is at this point that you are supposed to proper full on stop smoking. I took the first pill with a cold sense of dread that I was committing myself to never smoking again a week later, something which I didn’t really think I was prepared to achieve. I’ve always enjoyed smoking and (partially correctly) I thought I’d miss it. However, after a good solid drinking session and a tonne of cigarettes that evening, I woke up the next day, took my second quarter dose pill and realised I didn’t really fancy a smoke. I had a couple of attempts, devoted smoker that I am, and probably made it through about 1.5 roll ups in total. Day 3 and another quarter dose later I decided to have a go on the electric cigarette I had won a few weeks earlier and kept ready for ‘my quit’. I took two drags – the second one mainly being inspired by the novelty of it all, and that was it. The rest of the day I didn’t really fancy one – and then the next day when I vaguely thought of having a smoke it was just as easy to not bother as to have one.
And so it has been ever since. Gradually, over a few days, I upped the dosage to the full daily amount and at the same time the thoughts and fancies I was having about having ‘one last cigarette’ were feeling increasingly pointless. Now I just simply do not have any desire to smoke. Weird.
And I know you all want to know about the Champix side effects. Read a little bit around the web and it is terrifying, which is why I haven’t googled Champix in recent months. I have had two main side effects – nausea, usually around the morning, was prevelant in the first three or four weeks. I found that eating at the same time as having the morningly brain pill negated this to some extent. It was never so bad that I was actually sick. The second side effect is the fun one. You’ll see a lot of people writing about ‘weird’ or ‘vivid’ dreams. I’m not sure this is actually the case. I think for some reason Champix gives you the ability to remember your dreams a lot better. I’m certainly more aware of my dreams (although now I am 6 weeks into the programme this is subsiding) – and I wake up in the night a lot more, I think because of my dreams.  I can still remember dreams clearly now that I had before Christmas! For me, this is very odd – I can remember about 4 dreams from my whole life before these last few weeks. I never generally remember any given dream for more than a day or two, if at all. I thought at first that I was having more dreams which were bad or negative or scary in some way, but that isn’t the case any more. However, on average I am not waking up as much or remembering as many dreams per night, so I don’t think there’s anything proven there.


Bestselling author and freelance drinks writer. Champion of pubs and breweries. Occasional printmaker.

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