Sunday, October 9, 2011

Quitting smoking with Chantix, days 1-3

I picked up a pack of cigarettes again when my son was six weeks old. I quit breastfeeding so I could start smoking again. It's disgusting, I know. It's an addiction that rivals no other, because people don't DO heroin for over 20 years and live to tell about it. Living more than half your life with a cigarette dangling between your lips makes it really hard to stop, because you don't know what else to do with yourself.

I find myself now, 7 months later, smoking almost 2 packs a day, for lack of anything better to do. I took off school this semester, why? Apparently to sit home and smoke myself into oblivion, one would think. I see all of this. I'm knowledgable enough about my own welfare to realize what I'm doing to myself. My grandfather died of throat cancer, my other grandfather died of colon cancer, and my dad survived throat cancer with a tracheotomy. Despite having a wonderful opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom, I find myself spending the majority of my day sitting here on the porch, smoking. I've had enough.

I'd been waiting and waiting for our insurance to kick in so I could take a trip to my doctor and get back on Chantix, which I'd always fondly remembered to be a miracle drug after successfully quitting a few years ago with it, but now I find myself wondering if my memory hasn't been a little skewed. Here are my experiences this time around.

Day One: Friday. (One .5 mg pill) I went to my doctor's appointment at 9:30am, went to the pharmacy and filled my prescription, and took my first pill in the van on the way home, around 11am. I got home, relieved my mom who'd been here babysitting, put the groceries away, gave the baby a bottle, and put him down for his nap. I felt fine, no nausea, but I felt "mediciney." I could tell I'd taken something, and I'd describe it as more of a "fidgety" feeling.

I had a bagel for lunch and then decided to lay down since the baby was asleep.

Big mistake.

I laid down but couldn't fall asleep. It seemed like every time I'd begin to doze off, I'd hear something strange. The best I can come up with would be to describe them as "auditory hallunicinations." At one point, I thought I heard the screen door open on my porch, but when I concentrated on remembering the sound, it was different somehow. I'd thought I heard it "louder" than I would've if it had really opened. I chalked it up to my window air-conditioner and tried again to fall asleep. The next time it happened, I thought I heard myself inhale sharply, like a really loud GASP, but when I thought about it, I realized that the sound had come from somewhere over my shoulder. I'd also been awake the whole time, and I knew I hadn't gasped for any reason. It was at that point that I remembered the Chantix, and I put two and two together. The Chantix must somehow be contributing to my hearing things, because ordinarily, with an 8-month-old baby, I'm a terrific napper. I never have a hard time falling asleep, but sleep that day was no where in sight. I decided to just get up instead.

That night, I went to bed around 11pm, and STILL could not sleep. It was as if my ears were on steroids. I looked at the clock when my husband left the room after tucking me in, and it was 11:12pm. He said he was going to go smoke one more cigarette and then come to bed. I laid there with my eyes closed for what seemed like HOURS. I remember thinking that he must've found a movie to watch or something, because it seemed in my head that it was getting extremely late. I eventually fell asleep, and woke to the sound of said husband tiptoeing into the room to crawl in bed. I looked at the clock, expecting it to be well-past 1am, but it was 11:20pm. Only EIGHT MINUTES had passed. It was the most surreal feeling.

I woke off and on all night, the smallest sounds seeming to keep me up. I could hear my husband's breathing like it was being amplified inside my head. The last time I remember looking at the clock, it was 3am. When I woke at 7:30am to the sounds of the baby's chatter over the monitor, however, I felt completely rested.

Day Two: Saturday. (One .5 mg pill) After taking my morning dose of Chantix, I began to get very anxious. Both boys were home and were having just a regular Saturday, goofing around with Dad, but I didn't want them to be here. It was reminscent of the feeling in high school when you'd come home drunk or stoned and have to sneak it past your parents. I started getting really anxious about taking care of them. I felt like I didn't want the responsibility. Thankfully, I was able to call my mom and she said they could both go over there and spend the night. My husband was playing PS3 with our oldest, and I began packing the baby's diaper bag to get them ready to go, but no one else was really helping. I started getting agitated at everyone because I really just wanted the kids out of the house. I started feeling paranoia then, on top of the anxiety. This was not a good mix. Once my husband got it together and left to take the boys to Gramma's, I started feeling much more relaxed.

I took a two-hour nap and woke up feeling very refreshed at 3:15pm. I goofed around on the computer for a bit. I did realize that, even already, I wasn't smoking as much as I ordinarily do. The menthols were beginning to taste rather gross and plain. I zoned out a bit in the evening watching football, and I still felt heavily medicated. I ended up going to sleep at 9:12pm and slept all night. I did wake up around 4am very thirsty, and with a headache from being sort of dehydrated. At 6am, when the same thing happened, I did get up and have a few sips of water from the tap. I went back to bed for a while.

Day Three: Sunday. (One .5 mg pill) I woke up and the clock read 7:30am. Of this, I was absolutely certain. I figured that was as good a time as any to wake up, so I got out of bed, took my Chantix, and came out on the porch. I immediatly got nauseous. I guess I must've taken the Chantix on "too empty" of a stomach, so I wandered inside to grab a granola bar. This helped a bit, but the headache was horrible. I went back inside to get some water, took about ten sips, and staggered to the bathroom to throw up. I dry-heaved a bunch of times, and spit a lot, but I never did throw up. When I felt like I could move, I came back outside and sat down, only to start feeling really medicated and down. I didn't really know what I wanted to do. The computer wasn't cutting it. I didn't want to watch tv. I did, however, decide I wanted to take a bath. When I looked at the clock, I was freaked out to see it was 7:20am. My first thought was that the computer clock must be wrong, because I remembered the clock in the bedroom reading 7:30am when I got up, but when I double-checked it against my phone, it was right. It was really only 7:20am. Then I decided the clock in the bedroom must be the one that was wrong, but found out later that wasn't the case, either. I'm not sure what happened even now. Either the clock had said 7:03am when I got up, or I just totally imagined the 7:30am part, or maybe I was remembering the day before. I'm not sure.

I went in the bathroom and started filling the tub, and was immediately overwhelmed again by the urge to throw up. So there I was, naked as a jaybird, head over the toilet dry-heaving again, head pounding. I had my hands over my ears in a makeshift vice grip. I was a mess. The bath didn't help my headache, so I decided to go back to bed.

I laid in bed wide-awake, with my eyes closed. I thought to myself, "You know, a normal person would realize they aren't going to fall back to sleep and they'd just get up." But I thought back to myself, "Well, what does it matter? There's nothing to do anyway, and I'm not bothering anyone by laying here." So I laid there. Until 11am.

I got up at 11am (mind you, this is after going to bed at 9:12pm the night before), and took two Advil. My stomach had settled but my headache was still wide-open. At that point or shortly after, I swore off the Chantix. I'd decided that was it, I'd start the patch tomorrow and be done with this damn prescription.

But then I began feeling better, and once the headache wore off, I started thinking that maybe it was "my fault" for taking the Chantix on an empty stomach this morning, when I already HAD a headache to begin with from being dehydrated from sleeping so long. I started reconsidering my decision, and figured maybe I will give the Chantix one more try tomorrow. Maybe the bad experience I'm having so far comes from the fact that I'm just taking the one pill a day, so it's like a "drop in the bucket" each time I take it? Maybe when I'm taking two a day, I won't have the "peaks and valleys" effect that I'm having now? I don't know. I tried doing some research online, but I can't find much about this particular aspect of it. I know I'm not the only one having weird side-effects, but I don't know if it might be better when I start taking two, and I don't know if this medication is something it might take my body a few days to get used to. I just remember it working so well when I used it a few years ago. I don't understand why I'm having such a weird reaction this time?

Anyway, day four is tomorrow. I'll keep you posted.