Many women light up their first cigarette in school, I know that’s when I had my first – It was behind the smokers hut in comprehensive school with 3 other girls from my class. I’m not sure what prompted it, perhaps it was the need to feel ‘cool’ or ‘grown-up’, when I was growing up, smoking was a lot different to what it is now.
Back then, you could smoke anywhere! If you smoked at work, you just had an ash-tray on your desk; you didn’t need to nip outside for a quick cigarette break, as the office was just full of smokers. My sister, my mother smoked and my father smoked, there was no social pressure to ‘not smoke’ so it’s not hard to see why I took it up.
35 years on, I’ve seen the effects of traditional cigarettes remove loved ones from the earth, all too early, and after much pressure from Roman, it felt like the right time to quit.
Fortunately, I’m surrounded by a whole host of smoking cessation devices right here in the office, so I was hoping that making the switch would be easy – how I was wrong. Even with e-cigarettes, you still need willpower. If you don’t want to stop smoking, then there’s nothing in this world that will make you, without willpower you will almost certainly fail, every-time.
I was on the fence, I wanted to quit but I enjoy smoking. I enjoy a cigarette with a glass of red wine and often use smoking breaks as a short mental break from life. It’s ironic to write that, by taking 10 minutes to have a cigarette I thought I was helping my mental health, however what I didn’t consider is that while I was doing this, it was also affecting my overall health.
Let’s go back to Day 1. Roman had recommended I start on a Vapour VL5, which is one of our disposable e-cigs. It lasts around as long as 20 regular cigarettes, so should have lasted me around 3 days. I kicked off on the Monday after taking my last packet and covering them in Tomato Ketchup (I remember the ‘Men Behaving Badly’ episode and it always made me chuckle, so I wanted to do this for myself too).
I started with a tobacco VL5 in 20mg, within around 3 hours I was craving a cigarette – great start. I wasn’t getting the flavour that I wanted from the tobacco cigalike, it tasted a little too strong for my palette. I smoked Silk Cut, which are quite a mild cigarette, so Roman grabbed be an 18mg Menthol which was far easier to take pulls on. I made it through the rest of the day, which I didn’t feel was that much of an achievement, I’m busy answering customer support enquiries most of the day, so I don’t actually get that much time to nip out for a quick break in-between. The real test came when I’d left work and gone home. I feel like there’s probably lots of different ways to ‘cope’ with quitting smoking, but for me, the main thing that worked was to keep busy. I went home and immediately tackled a huge pile of ironing and put some loud music on my wireless speaker. Within a couple of hours, the huge pile was done and I found myself at a bit of a loose end, craving a cigarette.
I sat down on the sofa, pulled out my trusty VL5 that’d helped me through the day and took a few puffs. I smoke outdoors when I’m at home, as there’s nothing worse than yellow stained curtains and aged paint, so it felt a little strange to smoke inside my house – for continuity and to get that short ‘mental break’ we’d talked about before, I went outside to use my VL5 e-cig and immediately felt more ‘normal’.
I managed to make it through the soaps and was ready for a good nights sleep, or so I thought.
After a long soak, I was just about to climb into bed when I started getting a pretty nasty headache – I’m pretty sure it was my body telling me that it was missing something that it’d had for almost 35 years. I don’t normally suffer headaches (apart from those caused by my daughter), so when they come on I’m not that well equipped to cope with them. Luckily, like most households in the UK, we have a pretty well stocked medicine cupboard, so after searching round for a few minutes I’d found some fast-relief painkillers and put them to work before putting my head down.
Overall, I felt pretty proud of myself. This was my first day in almost 35 years without a cigarette, OK, I’d used an e-cig, but as we well know, thanks to the plethora of research out there – e-cigs are a much safer alternative to smoking. so I still maintained that I was proud of myself and had a great nights sleep.
The first week felt like the longest, so I’m going to split this series of posts up in to my daily experience, then go weekly once we hit weeks 2-6 which was where I started seeing some pretty major benefits. Spoiler alert – one of them was that my purse was much heavier.
Stay tuned for the next post, where I’ll tell you about my journey in greater detail.
[UPDATE – Read Part 2]