As some may know, I have decided to try and quit smoking cigarettes . . . again. It has been about a week without smoking one, and I feel great . . . I think. Since I am using nicoderm patches, I have not completely kicked the habit because my body is still ingesting and metabolizing nicotine. But, Rome was not built in a day.
Getting my smoke on:
Believe it or not, I was an exception to the rule in starting this habit. Most studies have shown that if a person does not start smoking cigarettes by time they are 18 years old, they probably will not start. However, I started smoking three months before my 21st birthday. So how did this happen?
During my 3rd year of college, I did a semester abroad in Ecuador, which was a very smoker-friendly country to say the least. Since we were told the best way to learn Spanish and to integrate into the country’s culture was through frequent interactions with our host families. I lucked out because two of my host siblings were around the same age as I was so they introduced me to Quito’s club scene really fast. You know, someone would ask if I wanted a cigarette and I would decline. However, some folks would take it as if I was acting holier than thou. After a few times, I was like: f*ck it, why not have a cigarette while hanging out? Then one cig became two, two cigs became four, and so forth. I figured that I would stop smoking upon returning to the US for a couple of reasons:
- Cigarettes were (and are) more expensive in the US. I think a pack of Marlboros in Ecuador were about $1.50 compared to $4 in VA and $6ish in NYC.
- Neither my hometown & college friends or most of my family members smoked. I was actually a bit of a pariah to some of my friends when I came back to the States as a smoker.
It seemed like a good plan, EXCEPT I was going to participate in an undergraduate summer research program at NYU right after my study abroad program. You know, NYC = party city. Long story, long. During that summer program, I transitioned from a social smoker to a regular smoker. Then, during my 4th year in college, I associated smoking with stress relief, and that sealed my fate as a hardcore smoker. Also, I had to take a quite a few courses that I “missed” while in Ecuador; take the General and Mol. and Cell Bio GREs; and apply and interview for doctoral programs. To be quite frank, nicotine and caffeine pills is what got me through my senior year. INTENSITY TO THE MAX!
Cancer Researcher and Smoker
Then in graduate school smoking just became part of my daily routine. I found a group of smokers in my incoming class, and we would plan to have meet-and-greet cigarettes and coffee throughout the day. Also, my dissertation lab was full of folks from Spain, who ALWAYS smoked. I think they smoked more than conducting experiments. DAMN, I MISS THE EARLY 2000s. After doing certain types of experiments – have a smoke. After long meetings with my advisor – have a smoke. (Before and) after my thesis committee meetings – have a smoke. After intense ass lectures (especially Virology and Structural Biology) – have smoke.
Ok, you are in a molecular oncology and immunology doctoral program, but you smoke. My excuse: it’s “fine” to smoke because my work focuses on blood cancers. I could not use that excuse as a post doc, because I used mouse models to study oral cancers caused by drinking AND smoking. I’m a disaster.
Why quit now?
Recently, I found that the number of cigarettes that I smoke has drastically increased during the pandemic. Plus, I have been smoking more out of boredom than anything else. Yes, I have the standard post-meal, post-poop, post-exercise, post-bullsh*t meetings, post-drama cigarettes, etc. But, boredom definitely has taken the lead nowadays. One day, I had two cigarettes within 30 minutes while watching 90 Day Fiance just because I could. It’s not like the show is THAT dramatic or interesting.
The other thing that has been annoying me with smoking is the cost. Y’all know that I’m cheap. Right now, I probably spend anywhere from $2,080 to $3,328 a year on smokes. I think I am going to deposit the weekly amount that I would spend on smokes into a new Paypal account. The hubby and I would like to travel to Italy next year for Eurovision 2022. Perhaps, the $2K to $3K can get us a couple of dinners and sambuca in Italy.
Also, it is no secret that I have less years on this Earth in front of me than behind. As I enter a new century of life, I really should try to make more healthy decisions. Actually, this should have been the first reason to quit. 😉
Running and smoking:
Many would ask how can you be a runner and a smoker. I think this juxtaposition happened because I had been a smoker for about nine years before making long-distance running a hobby. Long-time followers of this blog know that typically upload my post-NYC marathon medal pictures with a damn cigarette dangling out of my mouth.
Well, to be perfectly honest. Knowing that I had a pack of smokes waiting for me at the finish line is what got me through the last 5-8 miles of my NYC marathon adventures. That also goes for my marathon training long runs. Hey, at least I never left a marathon or half-marathon course to buy a pack of smokes. I have SOME standards. 😉
That’s my story
Well, this was week one . . . we’ll see how the rest will go. Instead of providing weekly updates, I’ll do more milestone updates. I guess that I’ll write the next one in 30 days . . . well technically 23 day to celebrate the 1st month.