Days Without a Cigarette: 24.66597222
Days Without Nicotine: 0
Dollars Saved: $72.25
Time Saved: 34 hours, 56 minutes
I got a tough lesson today in just how little progress I’ve really made.
They say these patches are water proof and that you can wear them overnight and they’ll stick. And sometimes they’re right. But other times they’re not. And I worry a lot about the patches popping off overnight because they’re really dangerous for my cats. The amount of nicotine on even a used patch is plenty to make a cat deathly ill, and I’ve got one that just eats just about any damn piece of trash he can get his paws on.
Now, you have to move your patch around day to day. According to the instructions, you shouldn’t put a nicotine patch back on the same part of your skin for at least seven days. That means that sometimes it’s on my shoulder, sometimes my bicep, sometimes my back. And along the way, I’ve learned which of those places it tends to stick to overnight and which ones it doesn’t. When it’s on one of those spots that isn’t as easy to cling to, I generally take it off overnight. Which is what I did last night.
Technically, you’re not supposed to do that. That being said, a lot of people get really fucked up dreams when they wear a nicotine patch overnight, so even in the little booklet that comes with the patches, it allows for this. It recommends that you leave them on overnight if you can so you don’t wake up dying for a cigarette, but it does concede that if you want, you can take it off overnight.
So when I got up this morning to do my normal morning routine, I just forgot about the damn thing. Normally yesterday’s patch is still hanging off of me somewhere as a reminder, but it wasn’t there today. So I just finished my ablutions and headed to work, and I didn’t even realize I’d forgotten it until eleven o’clock.
At that point, I had a ‘well fuck it’ attitude. I was feeling fine and I had been all morning. I was actually pretty proud of myself. I’d gone almost twelve hours without nicotine at all. And if I could do that, maybe I didn’t really need the patches anymore. Hell, maybe I could save myself the eighty bucks it would cost me to get the rest of the way through their recommended program.
Well, as it happens, that was stupid. And I realized just how stupid it was a couple hours later when a very slight frustration snowballed into apoplectic fury in the blink of an eye and I found myself shouting into an empty room when the microphone wasn’t even on.
I realized right away that I’d made a mistake, so I hauled ass down stairs and slapped on a patch. About thirty minutes later, the anger and frustration started to ebb and I was able to move on and get back to work.
Up until that moment, I thought I was already through the hard part. I knew that at some point I’d stop using the patches and have to go through an additional trial, but I assumed that one would be far easier than the transition away from the psychological habit. And based on my experience today, I’m pretty sure that’s wrong. I’m pretty sure the hardest part is still in the future.
Of course, the nicotine patches account for that. It’s a stair step program that weans you off if you do it right. Starting on Thursday of this week I’m scheduled to start using a smaller patch for two weeks, then an even smaller one for two weeks. By then, hopefully the transition will be significantly easier than what I experienced today. But even significantly easier could still be really fucking hard.
To be clear, if I hadn’t had the patch, I doubt I’d have made it through the afternoon without throwing in the towel and lighting up. Not to shit on what I’ve done so far too thoroughly, but I haven’t quit using nicotine and I haven’t quit smoking, I’ve just quit smoking nicotine. And as herculean as that’s seemed from the inside, it’s really not very much. It’s certainly not the same as quitting.
I’ve joked about how I need to add a little more suspense to this blog. But I think today’s lesson is that I’ve gotten too damn cocky and I need to recognize that the finish line isn’t right around the corner. I need to treat these patches like antibiotics.
All that being said, I did go fourteen hours without nicotine today. Mistake or no, it’s still an accomplishment.