My Dirty Little (Stinking) Secret
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 minutes||Your blood pressure, pulse rate, and the temperature of your hands and feet will all return to normal.|
|8 hours||Remaining nicotine in your bloodstream will have fallen to 6.25% of normal peak daily levels, a 93.25% reduction.|
|12 hours||Your blood oxygen level will have increased to normal and carbon monoxide levels will have dropped to normal.|
|24 hours||Anxieties peak in intensity and within two weeks should return to near pre-cessation levels.|
|48 hours||Damaged 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 hours||Your 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 days||The “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 days||The “average ex-user is down to encountering less than two crave episodes per day, each less than 3 minutes.|
|10 days to 2 weeks||Recovery 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 days||Brain 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 mlonths||Your heart attack risk has started to drop. Your lung function is beginning to improve|
|3 weeks to 3 months||Your circulation has substantially improved. Walking has become easier. Your chronic cough, if any, has likely disappeared.|
|1 to 9 months||Any 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 year||Your excess risk of coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke has dropped to less than half that of a smoker.|
|5 to 15 years||Your risk of stroke has declined to that of a non-smoker.|
|10 years||Your 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 years||Your risk of smoking induced tooth loss has declined to that of a never-smoker.|
|15 years||Your risk of coronary heart disease is now that of a person who has never smoked.|