Thursday, June 12, 2014

Many Ways To Commit Suicide, I was doing the Extended Version

This is the blog post that has been haunting me since I started writing about my personal journey of positive transformation. Regrets are something I don't have a lot of. Everything I have done in my life I would do again but in a healthier way. Never been a huge drinker. Drugs have never been a big thing for me either. I'm mumbling to stall so I don't have to tell you that I was addicted to cigarettes for 20 years. Little embarrassed that cigarettes controlled my life.  Jesus Christ cigarettes are expensive and possibly the most dangerous murderous things that are legal. Thinking back over the past 20 years I spent thousands of dollars on a horrible addiction. Blaming anyone but myself for having that nasty habit would be ridiculous. Smoking made me believe I looked cool and a little dangerous. Thought the girls around me were attracted to a man who smoked. Little did I know I just looked like an idiot and smelled horrible.

Parliaments were my huckleberry. Almost two packs a day. It was time to break up with Mr P-Funk. That's the cool name Parliament smokers called their cigarettes. P-Funk is a shorthand term for the repertoire and performers associated with George Clinton and the Parliament-Funkadelic collective and the distinctive style of funk music they performed (thank you Wikipedia). Cold Turkey worked once for me in my 20 years of smoking. "Worked" probably isn't the right word to use since I only stopped smoking for about 3 months. Using a e-cig helped me stop smoking for 30 days. Nothing truly helped me quit for good. I had noticed television commercials for Chantix, the stop smoking medicine prescribed by a doctor. Like all other pharmaceutical commercials the side effects disclaimer at the end of the commercial scared the BeJeezus out of me. According to the Chantix' website these are the possible side effects:

Some people have had changes in behavior, hostility, agitation, depressed mood, suicidal thoughts or actions while using CHANTIX to help them quit smoking. Some people had these symptoms when they began taking CHANTIX, and others developed them after several weeks of treatment or after stopping CHANTIX. If you, your family, or caregiver notice agitation, hostility, depression, or changes in behavior, thinking, or mood that are not typical for you, or you develop suicidal thoughts or actions, anxiety, panic, aggression, anger, mania, abnormal sensations, hallucinations, paranoia, or confusion, stop taking CHANTIX and call your doctor right away. Also tell your doctor about any history of depression or other mental health problems before taking CHANTIX, as these symptoms may worsen while taking CHANTIX.


When I see that a pill could cause "suicidal thoughts" it gets my attention and a big fat NOPE. My best friend had his doctor prescribe to him so I thought I'd sit back and see how it worked. He mentioned that it was giving him crazy vivid dreams but other than that he would forget to take the pills & eventually he stopped taking the pills altogether. Meanwhile I was still determined I would quit. Many times I would get a wild hair and proactively throw away a half packs of cigarettes proclaiming that I was done done done only to buy another pack two hours later. Struggling was full on but I knew something had to give. Either I go full throttle on quitting or give up and wait for the lung cancer to set full in. I needed to at least give Chantix a shot. In all actuality continuing to smoke cigarettes was basically committing long term suicide anyway. 
"Whoa, expensive." My first thoughts after arriving at CVS Pharmacy to pick up my Chantix. Insurance paid for nearly nothing. Some insurance programs, I've been told, will cover a lot of the cost. Unfortunately my insurance did not but after weighing the amount of money I have spent on cigarettes over 20 years the price didn't seem so bad anymore. The prescription cost me about $240 out of pocket for a month worth of medication. 
Started taking the meds the very next morning. One a day for the first week and I could continue to smoke. I didn't feel any different that first day. It was like I never took the pill but I still had hope. The second day I took the pill again in the morning and went on with my day. I was anticipating feeling different so I don't know if the light headiness I had later that afternoon was from the Chantix or just from another stressful work day. Took the third pill the next morning and noticed that my morning cigarette tasted slightly funny. Didn't taste as good as the night before. It was just a slight change. Throughout the day all of my cigarettes tasted different but not horrible enough that I didn't want to smoke. Day 4 was pretty much the same as day 3 with all of my cigarettes now tasting even worse. Day 4 consisted of smoking nearly half of what I had been smoking. There were no side effects kicking in. No noticeable changes except the taste of cigarettes was changing. No weird dreams or thoughts of killing myself so something was going right! 
Day 5. I will always remember day 5. This was the first day in 20 years that I did not want or crave a cigarette. I took my pill in the morning and continued my day without smoking once. When I say there was no craving I mean absolutely zero want for a cigarette. I felt amazing. To this day I have not smoked again but the Chantix journey would continue. You don't just stop taking it after you lose the cravings. It apparently needs to get deep into your system and that would take anywhere from 30 days to 6 months according to the doctor. 
On the 8th day is when the instructions say to start taking two pills, one in the morning and one before bed. Taking the pills now became fun for me because I realized they were working and I was having zero side effects. That was until the 9th night. Took my before bedtime pill and laid down for bed. I fell asleep easily but completely woke up at 3am. By completely woke up I mean wide eyed and bushy tailed, ready for the day. After laying in bed wide awake until 4am I finally got up and went through my morning routine, just 3 hours earlier than normal. The 10th night I was so sleepy at 7pm that I went to bed only to wake up at 11pm then 2am then 4am. Each time I woke up I felt like I was wide awake. Luckily I could fall back asleep a half hour or hour later. This sleeping pattern continued the 11th, 12th, 13th, and 14th night. My sleep was really being effected and it was starting to effect my work and personal life but I still wasn't smoking. It was a complete bitter sweet feeling. 
I'm not a doctor but I pulled a doctor making decision and decided that I would stop taking the pill before bedtime and only take the morning pill. I didn't want to start smoking again so I had to really manage this carefully. My plan worked. The weird sleep patterns stopped and I still wasn't craving any kind of cigarette. Another bonus is no other side effects were apparent. I had finally kicked this habit. I was going to win. 
Day 24 was the last day I took Chantix. I can't remember why I stopped taking the pills before I was supposed to but I did. Could of been that I was worried about the other side effects taking hold and I wanted to head them off at the pass before they attacked. So officially it took just over 3 weeks of Chantix to finally break free of one of the most disgusting and life consuming legal habits there is. 

My #LiveALittle lifestyle was really coming together. Healthy was a new word for me but I was doing it. Losing weight, eating better, exercising, getting out more, making new friends, and now no smoking. The world was mine. What was next? What mountain could I climb metaphorically? It was time to finally sit down and read something I'd been telling myself to read for a long time. I was officially ready to read the words of Grant Cardone. One of the most energizing, hard working, no excuses, not taking average as a lifestyle, 10X living son of a gun's working in the same industry as me that I have had the chance to meet.  I was ready to educate myself. 

What would Grant Cardone do?