Call me a quitter

No smoking! #3

I started smoking when I was 16.

I’ve tried to quit countless times, and I think my best stint at being an ex-smoker is almost two months. I say ‘ex’ instead of ‘non’ because from what I’ve heard and seen from others that have given up the fuming habit, it’s never a mistress you can truly forget you danced with.

I’ve tried inhalers, I’ve tried patches and gums. I’ve done the cold turkey, the daily affirmations, and the weaning process. I’ve read books and tried different diets. I consulted with my doctor, and that was the worst non-starter as he basically suggested prescription pill (an absolute last resort in my book) or all of the other things I’d already tried. I had hoped he would have had some better insights. To date non have really proven effective at culling my cravings or making me feel like I was doing any better than constantly struggling with severe homicidal urges. But I’ve gotten to the point where I have to do something about it. I feel terrible most of the time, I hate myself a little bit every time I light up, I hate the way I smell, and it’s put a strain on my relationship as well as my health. And with my nephew now in the picture, I don’t want him to associate me with the smell of smoke – which is why I try not to smoke when I see him. But it’d be a lot easier if I could just quit.

So, I felt I had few options left: Hypnosis or retrying one of the other routes available. Despite the mystical nerdism of Hypnosis, it’s one of those things I’m not sure I ‘buy’. It’s always seemed a bit new age and hokey. That, and the cost (Almost a thousand dollars) is prohibitive. That, and I don’t want to suddenly cluck like a chicken when the toaster dings. But there is now a far nerdier solution:

Getting shot with lasers.

It’s been on my radar for a few months, and I’ve been pretty excited about it. Some people are calling it a ‘magic bullet’, and it has a really high success rate. Most of the places offering it quote anywhere from 80% to 95% effectiveness. That, and with the price averaging about $300, it felt a lot safer to ‘try’.

To be honest, I raised my eyebrow when I first heard about it – but if the numbers are accurate, I had to try it. This is the basics of how it works:

Stimulation of auricular (ear) and acupuncture points promotes release of neurotransmitters (endorphins, serotonins, dopamine). The laser raises your endorphin levels that normally crash when you quit smoking creating cravings. Stimulation of auricular points may also change taste thresholds or the perceived taste of tobacco. The taste of smoke generally becomes less desirable and even objectionable, lowering the overall desire to continue smoking. Within 24 hours, your sense of taste and smell will change so you won’t want another cigarette and the nicotine will be cleared from your lungs.

So a few days ago, I made an appointment for after work today, and after filling out some forms and answering some questions, I jumped onto the bed and threw on some nifty goggles. My ‘clinician’ was a funnyish little man with a rotund belly, and a voice pitched that I mistook him for a woman on the phone. But he calmly and soothingly explained what each of the ‘pressure’ points would do after he referred to his ‘how-to’ chart (not confidence inspiring, mind you) – and shot me with lasers. Or made an object beep at me. For an hour.

I can’t say that I know it did anything. I felt warm and fuzzy while it was happening, and I’ve had some habitual moments in the intervening two hours where I’ve reached for my cigarettes, but I don’t really want one. I left the office with this real sense of euphoria, and confidence that I can kick this habit.

So far, I feel pretty good.

Day 91 - Sneezy Spy

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