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Signs of success lighting up quitter

Brad Poole has been smoking since he was 11.

Brad Poole has been smoking since he was 11.

Name: Brad Poole

Age: 44

Occupation: News reporter

Height: 5 feet 10

Weight: 155

Date you started the program: Dec. 7

Health/fitness goal: Quit smoking

Day 1: There’s a knot in my stomach, and by noon, I am chewing the inside of my lips to shreds. I almost have a headache. This generally sucks quite a bit today, but I can already breathe better and talk without clearing my throat. The nicotine patch (21 milligrams per day) seems to be taking the edge off. I’m not nearly as close to slapping a stranger as I thought I would be.

Day 2: Not smoking with morning coffee is rough. I am edgy, and I have a headache pretty much all day. The nicotine patch is leaving a circular, fiery red welt on my arm. It is very itchy. I think about smoking several times per hour. Well-wishers in and out of the office help a lot – thanks for the encouragement. I shun the patch at bedtime to avoid spots. I go to sleep feeling pretty confident.

Day 3: Daytime is fine with no nicotine patch (other than a slight headache again all day), but I cave after my second giant can of Foster’s lager in the evening. I smoke four cigarettes – my only slip to date – then feel very guilty. Quitter tip: If you’re going to drink a few beers with friends two days after you quit smoking, go to a restaurant where you can’t smoke.

Day 4: A lower-dose nicotine patch (14 mg per day) seems better. My headache is gone, and I feel less edgy. Hard to tell if it’s less nicotine or just getting used to not smoking. I play golf and do not smoke – a “huge” accomplishment, according to my wife. I have to agree. Golf kept me occupied for six hours.

Day 5: I now have three circular rashes from nicotine patches. I’m afraid to stop using them and afraid to leave them in one spot. By next week, I will have red spots everywhere. Quitter tip: Spend a lot of time on the Internet. There are lots of tips and health info available – and browsing keeps your mind occupied.

Day 6: I am still antsy, but Captain Morgan Tattoo rum keeps me calm in the evening. Most experts I found advise not drinking while you quit. Nonsense, I say. It works for me. Quitter tip: Rip out some drywall. It keeps you busy, and it feels good to hit something with a hammer.

Day 7: I have saved $45.15 so far. I have not smoked 206 cigarettes. Damn. I am not smoking a LOT. Since I quit, 8,438 people have died in the U.S. from smoking. I feel like I am over a hump of some sort. I am beginning to see myself as a nonsmoker. Stay tuned …

Check out the musings of a quitter, including tips and links to smoking information and statistics, at the Tucson Citizen quitter’s blog.



● Tell everyone you are quitting.

● Lay out a week’s worth of cigarettes and look at them. If you smoke like I did, it’s a lot.

● Put the money you would have spent on cigarettes in a jar every day so you can see it. After a week or two, buy yourself something.

● Don’t quit forever, just quit for one day. Then quit for another day, then another . . .

● If you crave a cigarette, tell yourself to wait 10 minutes. This is often enough to get past rough spots.

● Take a walk. Ride a bike. Lift weights. Have sex. Exercise can take your mind off smoking and generally make you feel better. It also releases endorphins, brain chemicals that make you happy.

Sources: American Cancer Society; Pima County Health Department; B. Poole

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