My Dirty Little (Stinking) Secret

/ Wednesday, 22 February 2012 / Health

OK, enough is enough, time to let the cat out of the bag. I’ve been hiding something for nearly 2 years now pretending that it doesn’t exist only trying to fool myself. Now I’m going to let it all out, using the internet as a permanent record to my word – something I can go back to, and have dangle over my head if I decide to fall yet again.  In the past 33 years of my life I’ve had a few struggles, notably with being excessive. One of my partners in life said that there was no dimmer switch for me, either off – on – or I blew a breaker – Truth to that. I embraced and devoured things like alcohol, drugs like it was going out of style, and when I decided enough was enough, I stepped back and changed the way I carried on. Now, a little sinister habit has been holding me back which sort of goes against any sort of reasoning for someone who’s cycling around the world. I’m a smoker!

I wasn’t actually at the start of the trip, although I’ve dabbled back and forth with smoking cigarettes, cloves, cigars, and even rolling my own tobacco since at least my mid teens. I quit smoking anything well before I set out to ride around the world and did a pretty good job at keeping myself away, knowing the health effects, the sky rocketing cost, the smell that goes along with it, and the idiocy that goes along with sticking a piece of paper in your mouth willfully poisoning yourself. It actually started back up June 21, 2010 when I had arrived in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. I suppose a couple weeks on your own dealing with the thousands of bugs, solitary thoughts and bison pushed me over the edge where I let my guard down and started again, thinking that it would be a temporary thing.

It was, until the next one, and I told myself I wouldn’t buy any packages, just maybe throw someone 25cents here and there along my travels, using it like some sort of ‘reward’ for cycling 100km in some sort of sick and twisted way. That only lasted so long until I migrated to buying cheap packages in Ontario at the low cost of $4, soon to be smoking full time, a whole package a day!  Of course I abstained off and on for a while when I stopped, but started right back up again when I left Canada into the USA. I suppose using the crutch as a way to offset time while riding (yes, I’d smoke while riding, even while climbing a hill!) or to offset any fears I may have about being in foreign places/people situations kept the habit up. Although in the back of my head I’d make a point that it was time to give it all up. This went on over and over again while I would quit for a day, and go right back to it seemingly unaffected by the health issues it was causing to me. I was still able to pull off 150km a day, the money issue didn’t phase me, self righteous of being able to “do whatever I wanted to do, without no one telling me otherwise” and it persisted.

Worse, At night while reading in a tent, I’d fire  up a smoke inside, thankfully not causing any melting or fires of the delicate fabric. I can’t say the same about my clothes, holes in the pants, shirts, from being careless along the way. I fully expected by the time I got to Africa I would have kicked it, but instead I lasted a few days getting sucked in by the ridiculously priced cancer sticks, being able to buy a package for less than $1 in most places.

Anyways, fast forward to my time in Lusaka. Enough is enough, I’ve been sitting here for a while preparing for the next leg of the journey, and while relaxing I also spend half of my time focusing on personal growth wanting to achieve specific goals to add a small bit of structure to this seemingly open ended trip around the world – So I told myself I’m going to quit this stuff once and for all. And I did. How can I ride around wanting to encourage people to be healthy, take control of their life while I hang a cigarette out of my mouth? Don’t I realize that my voice is getting scratchy and crackly from inhaling all the toxins on a regular basis? I can’t imagine what a parent must think when their child asks them what I am up to. How about the smell of my body especially after not showering or doing laundry for 7 days at a time? Enough is enough.

I find it ridiculous that I tried to pretend that it wasn’t happening, and trying to keep it quiet like a lost family secret due to the awareness that it’s a ridiculous thing to be doing while riding my bicycle around the world. I’m not suffering from any side effects from quitting (now on 5 days) – I don’t walk around itching to get a smoke, nor am I becoming short,cross, or anxious over the lack of the drug in my body – It’s just a way to pass the time in my mind I’ve figured. The challenge now is to not go back. So – here I am announcing this to the entire world that I will no longer do this – and if I ever do end up doing it again, my word will mean nothing.  I take my reputation pretty seriously, so that should be sufficient enough. There will be no excuses, stories as to why I started again, and I’ll be honest over the fact if I have ever had one again. Ahh, voicing your inconsistencies to the internet – will it work?

Anwyays, for a reminder – here’s what happens when you quit smoking within..

20 minutesYour blood pressure, pulse rate, and the temperature of your hands and feet will all return to normal.
8 hoursRemaining nicotine in your bloodstream will have fallen to 6.25% of normal peak daily levels, a 93.25% reduction.
12 hoursYour blood oxygen level will have increased to normal and carbon monoxide levels will have dropped to normal.
24 hoursAnxieties peak in intensity and within two weeks should return to near pre-cessation levels.
48 hoursDamaged nerve endings have started to regrow and your sense of smell and taste are beginning to return to normal. Cessation anger and irritability peaks.
72 hoursYour entire body will test 100% nicotine-free and over 90% of all nicotine metabolites (the chemicals it breaks down into) will now have passed from your body via your urine. Symptoms of chemical withdrawal have peaked in intensity, including restlessness. The number of cue induced crave episodes experienced during any quitting day will peak for the “average” ex-user. Lung bronchial tubes leading to air sacs (alveoli) are beginning to relax in recovering smokers. Breathing is becoming easier and the lungs functional abilities are starting to increase.
5 – 8 daysThe “average” ex-smoker will encounter an “average” of three cue induced crave episodes per day. Although we may not be “average” and although serious cessation time distortion can make minutes feel like hours, it is unlikely that any single episode will last longer than 3 minutes. Keep a clock handy and time them.
10 daysThe “average ex-user is down to encountering less than two crave episodes per day, each less than 3 minutes.
10 days to 2 weeksRecovery has likely progressed to the point where your addiction is no longer doing the talking. Blood circulation in our gums and teeth are now similar to that of a non-user.
21 daysBrain acetylcholine receptor counts up-regulated in response to nicotine’s presence have now down-regulated and receptor binding has returned to levels seen in the brains of non-smokers.
2 weeks to 3 mlonthsYour heart attack risk has started to drop. Your lung function is beginning to improve
3 weeks to 3 monthsYour circulation has substantially improved. Walking has become easier. Your chronic cough, if any, has likely disappeared.
1 to 9 monthsAny smoking related sinus congestion, fatigue or shortness of breath have decreased. Cilia have regrown in your lungs thereby increasing their ability to handle mucus, keep your lungs clean, and reduce infections. Your body’s overall energy has increased.
1 yearYour excess risk of coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke has dropped to less than half that of a smoker.
5 to 15 yearsYour risk of stroke has declined to that of a non-smoker.
10 yearsYour risk of being diagnosed with lung cancer is between 30% and 50% of that for a continuing smoker. Risk of death from lung cancer has declined by almost half if you were an average smoker (one pack per day). Your risk of pancreatic cancer has declined to that of a never-smoker, while risk of cancer of the mouth, throat and esophagus has also declined.
13 yearsYour risk of smoking induced tooth loss has declined to that of a never-smoker.
15 yearsYour risk of coronary heart disease is now that of a person who has never smoked.

13 comments

  1. Peter , France
    February 22nd, 2012

    Must say, glad you’ re back. Must say this was such a funny thing to read though! All the mindgames about smoking, quitting, reward etc. etc. etc.and etc.
    I went trough this myself, then quit , now 3 months ago. Sideeffects? not really, not more money in my wallet, less coffee yes, less standing outside in the cold smoking ( we do not smoke inside here!)
    Less smell of cigarettes in clothes hair etc. Less interuptions while I am doing something.
    The best thing so far is though that it is nice to know that health is restoring itself. A nice thought!

    Anyway, why do you want to quit? What Is The Point??? Remember: ” I smoke, therefore I Am”
    Or if you want to, ” i quit, therefore etc.”

    Let me quote a line of your post:”and I’ll be honest over the fact if I have ever had one again.”
    Ha Dave, Being honest about a future ‘crime’ where you are the only victim…preparing the field? Honesty is not Everything! Have a cigg (your last!) and think about it! In the mean time, keep on posting! Good luck.

    Peter France


  2. February 22nd, 2012

    Interesting . I always understood that cigarrettes is one of the most addictive “things”. YOu dont sound like it is so hard to stop. But maygbe because you are so excessive.


    • February 22nd, 2012

      I understand that as well – Certainly they had me by their clutches, but I suppose its all how you present yourself to the situation and want to beat the dirty things. I’m glad I’m out for good, it was a rollercoaster and I think I simply brushed off the bad effects by “living my dream”. My dream is to not get sucked into anything anymore other than my own ideals and thoughts.


  3. ben
    February 22nd, 2012

    Well its cheeper then BC Bud


  4. Sean
    February 24th, 2012

    It’s all how your body reacts with anything toxic.
    My grandfather smoked for 70 years and died of unrelated causes.
    My mom’s been smoking for 50 years…very healthy girl.
    My aunt smoked for 30 years. Quit. 5 years later died of lung cancer.


    • February 24th, 2012

      I fully agree – Sean you know a bit of of whats been put into my body, look at me I’ve only lost parts of my hair and sanity!


  5. Shelagh Conroy
    February 29th, 2012

    I applaud your desire to rid your body of toxins and I wish you luck in your endevour. So glad to see that you are posting again, I missed reading them!


  6. March 1st, 2012

    You cycle (smoking that is ) routine mirrors my own to a tee ! it’s uncanny. After quitting 2 years earlier and cycling through Rio – an American offered me a smoke. All other times I would have declined, but In my ultimate wisdom I thought I was smarter than Nicotine. I wanted to prove to myself I could smoke a stick without getting dizzy or noxious. I didn’t and felt nothing either way. Well – it is now 2 years since that trip and I’m smoking and smoking and smoking … still have to find that original trigger that worked so well 4 years ago …. KEEP IT UP BUDDY !!


  7. Wendell
    March 31st, 2012

    Nice to see all is well…its funny how at times im sitting at my desk and look up and see your smiling mug from your business card and I get to catch up and see whats going on….

    As for the smoking part, its about time….there are plenty of disgusting habits…thats a big one and great to hear you are kicking it!

    anyways, get your ass back on your bike as your posts are way more interesting when your riding!

    Wendell


  8. Basar from Istanbul
    June 7th, 2012

    Hi Dave,

    How are you holding up? It’s been almost 4 months since you have posted this, so give us an update. I quit smoking about 2 months ago and it feels awesome knowing that I no longer am a smoker but at the same time, it’s just so damn hard to not think about it when I am having some booze. Hopefully you haven’t picked up the habit again! Take care and stay safe/healthy! :)

    Basar


    • June 12th, 2012

      Basar! I have to shamefully say I failed again and now back at it – but in the next few days determined to kick it again. Something about Mozambique made me pick it up again and in full force making up for lost time – It’s a silly habit and I’m feeling the effects again – Just have to clear my headspace and reset a few things to go at it again – You are right, beer goes well with it, major trigger!


      • Basar from Istanbul
        July 6th, 2012

        Hey it’s alright :) At least you are not a couch potato… think about it :)

        How do African cigarettes taste? Better/worse? Also, as I saw this 20 days late, you must have kicked it again. Give us an update!


  9. Carl Valero
    February 16th, 2013

    “willfully poisoning yourself”
    That’s what I came to understand about smoking before stopping 16 years ago.


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