(President Barack Obama, U.S.A.)
The thought of indulging myself in a rewarding cigarette has crossed my mind probably a dozen times a day since I quit smoking on Feb. 5. Despite tempting thoughts - even though it’s not as difficult as others claim it to be - giving up the one thing I have loved since nearly six years is a good thing. I can’t wait for my lungs to repair, skin to flourish and say goodbye to stinking odors.
I was ambivalent about withdrawal symptoms. Going cold turkey as a heavy smoker raised the expectations (and probability!) of long and dreadful weeks to come. But in the end, I knew it was better for my asthma. Here’s a reminder for all my fellow asthmatics out there: smoking and asthma is a DEADLY combination. But whether you suffer from respiratory problems or not, quitting will give you the miracles of reduced coughing (better described as the sound of death) and increased activeness.
The wackiest thing I’ve experienced was a dream as vivid as the sky on a sunny day. I woke up completely distraught as I rarely remember my dreams ever and couldn’t distinguish reality from reverie. My dream went as follows:
“Along with a male friend, I sat in the first row at the VMA’s right in front of President Putin of Russia. He asks the audience a question and chooses me – me out of all people- to answer it. He relished my answer and I was the lucky one to sit next to him on the stage. Well, my friend sat in between us. Dazzled by his influence, I hardly grasped the reality of things. My friend is rebellious and ignites our downfall by pressing on Putin’s iPhone’s home screen button. No one expected what we saw next: a full nude Putin as his background. We were mesmerized. Before we could take a breath, he spotted our misunderstood motion and yelled, “TAKE THEM.” We had no chance and were trialed unfairly, persecuted and tortured gruesomely. Somehow we managed to escape, but outside I saw nothing but tanks looking for me. I was searching for hijab’s to be unrecognizable, but no success. Instead, I was running through alleyways hoping no one would spot me. Only then it came to me to call the Dutch embassy to come and save me.”
It’s the details that heightened all my senses and struck me the most. I found a reasonable explanation and get ready to drop your jaws friends: Dreams tend to be more vivid during withdrawal, especially when using nicotine patches according to a 2006 study in “Physiology & Behavior” investigating the effects of transdermal patches in people who were trying to quit smoking. Granted, I didn’t use these patches, yet the relationship exists.
I encourage people to smoke around me because catching a whiff of the nauseating smell reminds me to forget the fun and social aspects of the simple oral delight. Right next to my bed there’s a decorative ashtray that from now on will serve as an accessory obtained from overseas. My two duty-free cartons of cigarettes are still up for sale and lingering around my floor. When in need of a reward, I’ll treat myself to a new TV show (OK, that wasn’t enough, so hello new MAC lipstick). The only thing left to accomplish is replacing the emerging desire for a cigarette with another activity such as stretching. Establishing goals in a certain time frame can aid in giving the quitting process structure. So far, it has been moderately effective for me, especially because I haven’t eaten more or less than I did before. Good luck on your journey smokers, whenever yours might begin!
(Ernesto Che Guevara, Cuba)