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An Alaskan miracle…. maybe now its my turn?

November 2, 2017

….it was another Saturday in the far North of Alaska and my friend Rose and I were heading down the mountain to a neighbors home. During the summer months we regularly drove down to drink coffee and catch up on what happened over the past week, but this week it would be different. My neighbor Vicky who had been a smoker for many decades told us she has quit smoking! Now I know Vicky, like myself, has smoked since in our teens and to have stopped in what seemed to me to be just a week was akin to a miracle of Alaskan proportions.

Later over the coffee she told us she has been on a new drug called Chantix for a little over three weeks and has been gradually cutting back the number of cigarettes she smoked each day until just a few days previous she stopped completely. I was both amazed and interested in finding out about this miracle drug but when I spoke to my doctor later in Fairbanks he told me about the cost and side effects of depression and suicide and that gave me some concern. Facing the coming long dark winter I often found myself not suicidal but at times definitely depressed, so I put off trying the medication.

Now decades later coughing more and more each year I decided to once again ask my doctor what can he do to help me stop smoking. My doctor here in Texas suggested the same drug Chantix as being the best available to aid in quitting. However after doing some online research of Chantix user groups I found the same troubling comments referring to depression and suicide when you stopped taking the drug. Now those of you who have followed my blog on WordPress know, during my time as a guide in Alaska, I have danced with bears and faced off with ravenous wolf packs so it may surprise you that I am a bit intimidated about taking this drug.

I have set a starting date of November 6th but am very apprehensive about putting that first pill in my mouth. I know full well what a battle it was to overcome my addictions back in the 60’s and also know that I still feel depressed at the loss of my home in Alaska, so I wonder if it is the right time to take on a powerful drug like Chantix even if it does result in my not smoking any more. So I have decided to put this request for help out there.

If you or someone you know has taken Chantix
or even if you just have an opinion
please write to me
and help me make the right decision.

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22 Comments leave one →
  1. November 2, 2017 4:33 pm

    Always nice to read YOU! I am sorry that you had to leave Alaska. That had to be very painful…I am sorry for your loss. Almost every single anti-depressant has the possible side effects of suicidal tendencies. Nowadays, I think it doesn’t matter what you take—there are possible side-effects. YOU matter! Your words matter! I hope you can find what you need to help yourself. Blessings to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • November 3, 2017 9:54 am

      Thanks Jane for taking the time to comment and offer your support.
      You are correct even my heart medications come with a warning about side effects, but this is the first with a psychological side effect and though having ones organs not work properly is a way of life at 71…. the thought of loosing control of my mind is not a pleasant thought.

      Like

  2. Mike Hohmann permalink
    November 2, 2017 4:54 pm

    Do you really want to quit smoking, Pete? I mean, REALLY? If so ,try Chantix. If it gives you problems, stop taking it… and just quit smoking! If you really want to, just do it! You’re coughing… that’s a bad sign… you can do it, if you really want to. I smoked for 25 yrs and picked up a cough. I’d stop smoking and the cough would go away… then I’d start smoking again and the cough returned… multiple times I went through this exercise. Then I quit for good! Cold Turkey! Although about 10 yrs ago I started smoking an occasional cigar, but don’t inhale it. Maybe 15-20 per year. The cough has never returned and I’ll soon be 71. Haven’t had a cigarette in about 28 yrs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • November 3, 2017 9:59 am

      “Just do it” like the old Nike commercial says is an admirable accomplishment. I have tried many times to go cold turkey with the same result and i want this attempt to last. You are right in asking if I “really want to quit smoking”, after all at 71 what could the cigarettes do to me. But even though it is late in life if I want to make a good attempt at returning to Alaska I must improve my body so as to handle the rigors that sent me packing a year ago. Thank for taking the time to make an encouraging comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. November 2, 2017 6:06 pm

    RIGHT On Pete!! The sooner you can quit the sooner you’ll begin to see improvement in your coughing, breathing and energy. I’ve seen the ads for Chantix and it sounds as though while said side effects do occur they do not effect everyone. Let’s face it, smoking is a ‘deep’ addiction and one that’s so very difficult to break. It insidiously works its way into all facets of one’s life; pretty soon you smoke when you are under stress, with your morning coffee, after sex, after a big meal…you know the list as well as I do. I so hope Chantix works for you; I finally quit cold turkey, after so many attempts I couldn’t count them all, and it was one of the most difficult things I ever did. Like you, I started smoking in junior high because it was the ‘cool’ thing to do and was saddled with the habit for 26 years. I would echo what Mike was sharing; no drug or treatment program will ‘make’ you stop smoking. To be successful you must truly want to quit. It’s akin to ‘knowing’ something emotionally and spiritually as versed with knowing it intellectually. You really have to be dedicated to giving up the nasty habit. Just think; if you could save what you’re now spending on the ole coffin nails every month you’d most likely be able to afford the rent on a reasonable place up here. I’m behind ya all the way, Pete, and will do anything I can to assist!

    Liked by 1 person

    • November 3, 2017 1:11 pm

      Thanks for your kind and encouraging words Bill. However if one were totally emotionally committed I would think ‘cold turkey’ would be the way to go. I have personally seen the power this drug has on those who ‘want’ to quit but, like myself, lack a little something in the fortitude department. I believe that if I start taking the drug I will quit and be better able to handle life back in Alaska… I just don’t want to lift the lid on Pandora’s box.

      Like

  4. November 3, 2017 4:09 am

    All you need to really stop smoking is that strong determination, and all those drugs that “claim” to help you quit, are just placebos, what’s more important, is you, making up your mind to quit, and just do it a day at a time, like the 12-step program for addicts…

    Liked by 1 person

    • November 3, 2017 1:17 pm

      Thanks for the encouragement… I do however have to respectfully disagree with you about the effectiveness of Chantix. It literally is a mind altering drug that effects the brain receptors that create the need for nicotine, and as I wrote in the posting I have seen it work first hand. I do concur with you, again first hand knowledge, about how bad smoking is for me and pray that this time I can kick the addiction.

      Like

  5. November 3, 2017 4:09 am

    and, i do hope you succeed in quitting, because smoking IS bad for you…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. November 3, 2017 8:56 am

    Hey Pete. They are much more than Placebos. They are a very strong medication that does help but as anything else has side effects. I was a smoker for 20 odd years and second time around used Chantix, AND I had the exact same concerns you do. I was worried about my moods. After being on it for several weeks I never found it affected my moods by made me ill. However, at that point I had already cut down on my smoking. So I stopped taking the pill and the side effects went away almost immediately AND since I had already started to quit smoking I continued with shear will power. That will power is important. You seen to have it.
    The freedom from all the woo’s of smoking such as coughing, illness’, huge money investment as well as time investment, it was all worth it to be free.
    Good luck my friend.
    BTW, Ever thought of the patch?

    Liked by 1 person

    • November 3, 2017 1:23 pm

      Michael your first hand knowledge of dealing with Chantix gives me strength to start the program. I can deal with the other side effects in fact because of some of my heart medication’s I have a couple unpleasant ones that I live with right now. You give me more credit than I deserve about having the strength… there are times I am strong and times I lack that backbone but I hope this time I overcome my addiction and maybe next year on the way back home I can stop off and visit with you (smoke free).

      Liked by 1 person

      • November 3, 2017 2:32 pm

        Ohh I like the sounds of smoke free. I just got back from visiting a smoker friend. I so enjoy being around friends HOWEVER, I hate that I reak of a cigarette after. First thing I do when I get home is change and bag my clothes until laundry day.
        BTW, just wanting to stop is pretty much strength in itself. You are showing resolve. Not only that you should have the goal of returning to Alaska and your objective. That will help immensely.

        Like

      • November 3, 2017 2:35 pm

        Ohh one more thing.. The physical addiction only last three days. The physiological addiction is the one that makes it so hard. So having goals to fill that ” void” left by cigarettes is super important. ALASKA HERE YOU COME!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Del permalink
    November 3, 2017 1:35 pm

    Yes Pete I smoked ( sometimes 3 packs a day) since I was 15 and quit when we had our son…. He is 29 now… Best thing I could have done for all of us…. And Like Mike I just quit cold turkey… It was a challenge for about a week but it was really easy for me i guess… If you really want to quit in my opinion you should just quit… F the drugs…. I just hate funding the big pharm! I know you can do it Pete!!!! Go for it!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • November 4, 2017 11:42 am

      Thanks for the encouragement Del but after many attempts to quit I know that this is one addiction that is worse, for me, than drugs. Having come out of the service with a drug problem and fighting it for five years I did overcome that one, but no matter what I have done in the past I just could not beat the ‘butts’. I haven’t decided to take the drug yet but feel I may need the extra help in the coming struggle.

      Like

  8. Jon permalink
    November 4, 2017 8:54 pm

    Pete, my Dad was a life-long smoker of Camels (& later Camel filters). In his later years, he would cough for 20 minutes or so every night after he went to sleep. He quit once for 2 weeks but started back up.
    Finally, he quit & carried the pack in his shirt pocket for 2 weeks before throwing them in the furnace. DONE!!!!!!

    A little humor here. Dad used to keep a carton of Camels in the glovebox of his pickup. Yours truly would sneak a pack out once in awhile to “enjoy”. Then I would complain to my buddies that “I just couldn’t quit.”
    The quit began the night Dad came out to the garage to see what I was doing. Air full of smoke he asked me “Whataya doin’?” “Nuthin” You’re smoking aren’t you?” “Don’t ever let your Mother catch you doing that!”
    End of my smoking career, although I will have one about once a year.

    So you can do it. Just like loosing weight which I need to do. You can try all the weight loss plans in the world, but if it’s not in your head, the weight most likely will come back.

    Good luck & God bless your smoke-free life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • November 6, 2017 11:47 am

      Thanks for the support Jon.
      I always thought you gain weight when you quit smoking something I definately don’t need. But today is day one of the battle and we will see how it goes.

      Liked by 1 person

      • November 6, 2017 1:26 pm

        Hi Pete.

        As far as weight gain goes, it is fairly easy to not gain weight as long as you are prepared. The biggest reason people gain weight is all that extra time you will have is now filled with putting other things into you mouth. If you figure ten minutes a smoke every half hour, well that is a lot of extra time you will gain each day. One physiological part of addiction is to find something to pass that boredom. You will need to find something to fill this time. I’m not talking about taking up a sport or doing any one thing for an extra long period each day. Although that is a great idea but you will need to find something on a more micro level. You will need to find something to fill that time and PUT something into your mouth and hands. A lot of people like sunflower seeds. That is what I used and really did fill in time and kept my mouth and hands busy. Ashtrays become nut trays. Some people like to chew on toothpicks ( vapes, which I am not sure are not un-harmful in themselves) or other small things or chew on things. Don’t recommend gun since it’s not very good for you and does little to keep your hands busy.

        I’m sure you already have, however going into quieting with foreknowledge of what your body does or needs during the process is so helpful, at least it was for me. . Of Course NOTHING replaces the desire to be smoke free or the determination to return to Alaska a much healthier person is tantamount to anything else.

        Here is a thread I found: https://www.quitsmokingmessageboard.com/index.php?/topic/43601-beware-of-the-void/
        I quickly looked over it and seems to be helpful with some good ideas.

        Personally, I found two things that were super helpful. On the physical realm of things I found having lots of sunflower seeds and sometimes unsalted peanuts IN the shells for my mouth and hands. On a metaphysical realm I found meditation was super helpful for my mind and heart.( remember we are much more than just flesh and bones, always have to keep heart mind and soul to keep it all balanced) Calling on your higher power is really going to help . I also found letting people know. It sort of made me accountable. Didn’t want to lose face so knowing people knew and were cheering me on was super just another small trick in the bag.
        BTW, those really close to you, let them know you will be a moody jackass for the first few weeks and ask for forgiveness for any stupid things you say before hand. Most people will understand.

        So with Champix it changes things psychologically so things might be different for you Pete. I used it myself but felt the physical side affect of feeling nauseous all the time not worth continuing

        Again, Good luck Pete.. And remember that like anything else in life failure IS always an option. It just means the next time around you are better prepared to understand what brought you down the first time and will help getting back on the horse. Failure can be turned on its head.

        Like

  9. Jennifer Wolfenden permalink
    November 5, 2017 3:51 pm

    I don’t know anyone that has taken that drugbut I will say this: I just lost my brother in June due to lung cancer. He was 61. My sister who will be turning 60 in December she just got diagnosed with lung cancer and while they haven’t figured out the full course of action yet, we do know she’s going to lose part of her lung. I lost my dad to COPD back in 92. Please please please just quit smoking. If not for yourself please do so for all that love you. I think the benefits of this drug may outweigh the side effects overall.

    Liked by 1 person

    • November 6, 2017 11:52 am

      Thanks Jennifer……
      your words will be taken to heart. I am holding off for a few days on the drug and have started today to cut my smoking in half almost the same plan as with the drug. If by weeks end everything is going well I’ll start the drug because next week I have to again cut the number of cigarettes in half that I smoked this week, again thanks for your comments.

      Like

  10. November 11, 2017 8:05 pm

    Reblogged this on My Underwood Typewriter.

    Like

  11. Nancy B. permalink
    November 15, 2017 3:07 pm

    Hoping you are on Chantix now and doing well. I took Chantix several years ago after smoking approximately 20 years. I followed the directions, and, actually smoked a pack and a half on the day before my “quit day”. I never smoked another cigarette after that or since. Besides, I really enjoyed the vivid dreams that Chantix provided every night. almost like watching a movie. My husband and I both had the dreams, but that was the only side effect. I have a friend, who takes an anti-depressant, who could not handle Chantix, but that is the only sort of person that I personally know that did not do well with the drug. Yes, I had a weight gain after I quit smoking. But, my doctor says I’m much better off not smoking than being skinny. So, – there you go – there’s my testimonial.

    Like

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