It's been two months and a couple of days. My lungs feel great, I have more energy, and I'm a fat pig.
I tried my first cig when I was 11, and by the time I was in my mid teens I was on a regular 20 to 30 a day, maintaining that habit all the way through my 20's, 30's and 40's. I loved everything about the habit, and my peer group were willing conspirators, which made it virtually impossible for any one of us to pack it in, even if we really wanted to.
The usual crowd would be in the pub, puffing away and as I found out on the couple of times I tried to abstain, a few pints and a lot of laughter and I was taking the cigarettes offered, promising myself I'd have another go at packing it in the following week.
Two years ago, I started sounding like someone tuning a piano when I lay in bed at night, trying to get to sleep.
Coincidentally, I had just started to pay attention to the outflow of money that the habit was causing, following several government tax hikes on cigarettes, taking the price for a pack up to around £6 ($8?).
10 packs a week was costing me £60, which was the equivalent of £3000 a year. I would have to earn around £4500 gross to put that net amount into my pocket, and now it was affecting my health.
I wheezed my way through another week of smoking, hoping it would go away (the thought of giving up my beloved smoking still overruled logic and economics) but finally had a quiet word with myself and purchased a large pack of nicotine patches.
What followed was roughly six weeks of insomnia, mild and severe headaches, the constant munchies and boring TV as I avoided the temptations in the pub.
After three weeks of patches I cut out nicotine altogether and because I'd put on eight pounds I took to walking for an hour each evening, gradually increasing the speed until I ended up jogging most of the way. The first time I actually ran for any length of time, I ended up being sick in a hedgerow, I was that unfit.
I have amazed myself that I have actually persevered this time. I thought it would never happen.
It is now nineteen months since I touched a cigarette, and worked out the other day that I have saved at least £5000, some of which went to pay for the tablet that I am now using to post this blurb.
I no longer play tunes when I breathe, I no longer even think about cigarettes as a part of my day, let alone crave one. The smell of smoke doesn't bother me too much, but the smell of a smoker does, when someone wafts past me in the supermarket etc, after they've just stubbed one out. Yuck.
One thing I would say to you Lash, regarding your superb effort and achievement so far, and that is to focus in on how ridiculous the whole smoking thing is......cost, smell, health risks...you name it....
If you really focus on the negative side of the habit and never let your guard down, one day you will suddenly realise that you haven't even thought about cigarettes for weeks.
Well done, and well done to all of us who've succeeded.
I'm still ten pounds heavier though......(waddles off to raid the fridge)