The Last Quit
It’s now Day Three—the day when whatever nicotine remains in my cells will disperse for good. Into the ether, just like that, without me doing anything more than no longer ingesting it. This is the day things will turn around and the cravings will become less.
It hasn’t been constant craving since Tuesday morning. No, it’s more often agonizing periods of intense cravings following meals, the desire for increasing numbers of Altoids, Tootsie Pops, and Twizzlers, which my wonderful wife made sure I had in abundance.
Bless her and keep her (away from me). I’m not reasonable right now. I’m no fun at all. I’m not very nice. I’m not at all approachable, complete with a scowl etched on my face. Life is harder right now without nicotine. This craving will pass.
Nicotine is so terribly addictive and I was first addicted in the womb by my mother, who didn’t know her smoking would affect her children and end her life. This cold-turkey cessation of regular infusions of nicotine is familiar, since I’ve done it many times. It makes me incredibly grumpy to not have it. But it’s a ridiculously stupid addiction, even among other addictions, like gambling. There is no real payoff in any addiction, but it’s a double loss with nicotine. It only seems to relax you because it eases withdraw symptoms, and it does not make my brain move more quickly. That’s a lie. I think.
I was not most recently a cigarette smoker, although I smoked cigarettes for 40-some years, I’d pick up a year or two when I would quit that nasty habit. But I’d inevitably go back, sooner or later. I picked up vaping and did that for about a decade. That was a really stupid, albeit less smelly, alternative to smoking. And there was no nasty butt to dispose of. But I got really tired of dealing with buying the components for vaping online, the batteries, the “juice” in ridiculous kid-friendly flavors like bubblegum or donut. Yuck.
Seeking an alternative to all that, I discovered what I called my Squirts. These were breath spray canisters containing nicotine, made by Nicorette. Not produced in this country, I would have to order them through eBay. They were more expensive than cigarettes or vaping. But there was virtually no smell (except mint), they were portable, and could be taken or used anywhere.
I had to always have enough on hand to forestall a glitch in the supply chain, and this was tricky, but I mastered it. Not once did I go without, even during the pandemic. Until I decided that when my current ones ran out, I would not order more.
Why now? Very simply, I’ve well and truly had enough of this stupid addiction. It is time to move forward and away from it. It belongs to earlier versions of me. But first, I’ve got to go through nicotine withdrawal—a sad, infuriating, and unreasonable three-day hellscape, and get on the other side of that. Outlast the cravings.
I promised my wife that I would be fit to be around after Day Three. However, I don’t feel too differently than I did yesterday on Day Two. I also woke up today at 5:00 a.m., something that only happens when I have an early morning flight—which is exceedingly rare.
Lovely, it’s 5:00 a.m.—more hours to fill without nicotine. Well, who’s got the last laugh? I picked a weekend with numerous activities—a boat ride with friends on Saturday, followed by a concert on Sunday, and lots of social interaction in between. Yoga and the gym as usual.
All I’m doing is showing up and living through the cravings. Those cravings are lessening in intensity. I can do this. Yes, I’ve done it numerous times already. But this time, I intend for this to be the last quit. I’m saying goodbye to this last iteration of nicotine, a toxic substance that has always been present in my system in one way or another. It has finally seemed to outstay its welcome, and for that I’m entirely grateful to usher it out the door. ▼
Beth Shockley is a retired senior writer/editor living in Dover with her wife and furbabies.