One Hundred and Twenty

Today is a pretty big day for Cortney. If he were in some sort of program, he would probably get a pin of some sort. Today is Cortney’s 120th day as a non-smoker!

He knew for a long time that he should quit because it wasn’t good for him. When his dad got sick, it was even more obvious (without all the well-meaning, but somewhat annoying reminders from pretty much everyone that smoking is what made his dad sick.)

For anyone who has never had an addicition, it’s pretty hard to know what it’s like to have to give one up. They don’t call addictions “diseases” for nothing. Cortney started his battle with quitting over 4 years ago. He tried the drug Welbutrin (in fact, there is a funny story about how his room mate and I found the pills and thought he was depressed and play rock, paper, scissors to talk to him about it. I lost – that’s how I found out he was trying to quit smoking). Welbutrin worked great! He didnt’ even WANT to smoke, and because it is also an antidepresent, he had the side effect of feeling fantastic. Unfortunately, he is also allergic to it and broke out in hives all over his body.

After his dad died years later, he decided to give quitting another try. He tried numerous times on his own and realized that the addiction was much bigger than he was. So he went to the doctor and was prescribed the patch. The patch comes in three levels and is designed to give you a little bit of nicotine at a time. Level one made him uncontrolabley nausous. Level two made his left arm hurt. Level three gave him chest pains. The patch was thrown out.

More time went by and more people laid guilt trips on Cortney for still being a smoker, not realizing the personal anguish he was going through. He didn’t want to be a smoker. He wanted to give it up for a million reasons. Finally, through Cort’s cousin, I heard about a pill called Chantix that might be able to help him. After I mentioned it to him, he seemed interested. Then, before school was out for the summer, one of the custodians in my school (who smokes like a chimney), also told me how it was working for him and that it was covered by our insurance. Cortney went right to the doctor.

Chantix was different. It wasn’t like other products, it actually blocked the part of your brain that felt pleasure from smoking. It also comes with a sort of support team via a personal website. It keeps you motivated by telling you how much money you’ve saved by not smoking and by keeping the reason (that you choose and type in) for your quitting in front of you.

He started taking the pills before we went out to Montana, and while on the trip back – when he ran out of smokes – he decided to just not buy and more. That was the first week of July. He hasn’t bought any since. Not even once to cheat. Cortney kept taking his pills even though they had some uncomfortable side effects (weird dreams, nausea, etc.). and he also kept NOT smoking.

He has weened himself off the pills now and is still smoke-free. I am so proud of him. I know this has been a monkey on his back for a long time, and it must feel so great to not have to give in to that anymore.

So if you see Cort, give him a pat on the back to let him know how proud YOU are of him!

About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.