Monday, May 29, 2006

Week seven and I'm feeling rather odd.

My patches are now ridiculously small. There are only four more to slap on. I do get a bit of a reaction from them on my skin so I'm looking forward to being free of them.

The Bank Holiday has vanished in a weird haze. R was working all day yesterday and I was messing around with the Linux system I had installed on the computer. Today has been pretty much the same except R has been catching up on sleep.

All this sobriety and lack of fags is doing me in. Listless, that's the word...listless. I just don't feel myself anymore.

The Quit-o-meter reads:

1m 2w 6d 03:10 smoke-free, 1,254 cigs not smoked, £145.46 saved, 4d
08:30 life saved 1,256,325 blahs blahhed

Thursday, May 25, 2006

I decided to pop into the grandly named "Waterloo Centre" to check out options for the PC yesterday and today.

It's just a basement hidden from public view that is rented out to various Russian businesses such as hairdressers, gherkin purveyors and the like. It used to be where the apparently Chinese Mr B, the dodgy (but extremely good) computer man used to run his shop. Mr B moved on to other things (prison?) and was replaced by someone else who I only briefly saw but who R did business with. He has now been succeeded by V who, surprise surprise, seems to be Russian. Computer talk can be pretty incomprehensible at the best of times but I think V and I reached new depths of incomprehension.

It wasn't so much a language thing as a brain thing. He seemed to take the second third of one of my sentences and mix it with the first third of the next sentence and chuck in a whole load from somewhere else. I left feeling totally confused.

Despite that I took the machine round to his stall at R's prompting this lunch time. I'll probably pick it up on Saturday and find he has converted it into a vacuum cleaner that sings.

Tomorrow I progress to Step 3 of my treatment. This is the nicotine absorption equivilant of getting into a lift with someone who smoked a cigar at breakfast.

It looks like I might be having my second test a bit earlier that originally planned. Which can mean only one thing- beer.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Well Blow me down.

This is my first blog brought direct to you from the world of Linux. Amazingly I don't have Linux installed on my machine, yet, I am running everything off a CD. The image was created using GIMP and I composed the text on Gedit.

So far I have found it very user friendly. If you like messing around with programmes why don't you go an extra step and mess around with an OS without really messing around i.e. installing the thing? You can download the Live CD or get it sent to you free of charge. In fact they send you five so if any one wants to play and is going to see me soon don't bother sending off as I can probably sort you out. Let me know.

I'm sending R out to get me another hard drive so I can install it on this machine. It'll give me something to do over the dry spell.

(I’m now back on XP in order to post this blog. I haven’t looked at connecting to the net yet on Ubuntu. One feature Ubuntu (and other Linux?) has that is an improvement over XP is the windows management tool. The focus shifts to whichever window the mouse is over. Have you ever gone back to your browser only to find you have to click on it before you can use your scroll wheel? It’s not a problem with Linux. It also gets the active window to jump to the top and you can do a double-click to maximise/unmaximise rather than try to land your mouse on a tiny little square symbol in the corner.)

I wasn't going to write about this but about Allen Carr however I seem to have got distracted by IT. I'll get round to it some day.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

I have been so distracted with the drinking ban and liver anxiety that I missed a little milestone that I was going to mention. The Quit-o-meter passed the 1000 cigarettes not smoked mark the other day.

It now reads:

1m 1w 5d 15:17 smoke-free, 1,073 cigs not smoked, £124.47 saved, 3d 17:25 life saved

Using my calculation of ten minutes per cigarette that makes 6.9 days of time that would have been devoted to rolling up and consuming my cigarettes have been used doing something else.

Something else I have been able to do with my spare time is worry about my health – my rashes and itches have gone into overdrive since my last meeting with the Doc.

Despite that I was able to have an enjoyable lunch over in Greenwich today. I was invited over by the Redsticks to join them and PW and K. It was in a pub which was a bit of a challenge. It wasn’t avoiding alcohol which was the challenge but working out what you can drink more than one of without feeling sick.

Luckily PW and K were also packing in cigarettes and favoured the nicotine lozenge over the patch. They have been off for over 6 months.

(PW maintains a little website and was able to explain a bit of HTML stuff to me. He assures me the title is old English for a little scamp or something but I’m not sure I believe him. He also told me a joke- there’s three balloons Mummy Balloon, Daddy Balloon and Kiddie Balloon and they all share the same bed. Kiddie wakes up in the night feeling a bit squashed by his two parents so he unties the end of Mummy Balloon and deflates her a bit to create a bit of space. He re-ties the knot. This isn’t enough to make him comfortable so he unties the Daddy Balloon’s knot and quietly deflates him a little bit too. He re-ties the knot. It’s better now for Kiddie Balloon but isn’t quite comfortable enough for him so he unties himself releases some air and re-ties himself and finally goes to sleep. Next morning at breakfast Daddy Balloon is looking decidedly angry as he says to Kiddie Balloon “I really wish I didn’t have to say this to you again. I hope you realise you’ve let yourself down, you’ve let your mother down, you’ve let me down…)

When I got home R told me that that she was going to give up alcohol for three months in sympathy with me.

“Don’t be silly darling I’m only giving up for two months”

“It’s alright because I’m not going to do it as seriously as you” she said with a straight face.

Is it harder to give up for three months unseriously than to give up seriously for two I wonder?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Oh what a wonderful world. Not. But then again…

Another visit to Dr SH this evening to discuss my blood test. “Nothing urgent” he wrote in the letter.

And in a way he’s right.

He did some jiggling on his PC and came up with some data that looked like an instruction on a Linux forum.

Amongst other things he thought my problem might be liver-related. He told me that I had to go for another test and once again I mustn’t drink before that test. In a month’s time. Also I must go for another test a month after that test. And no drink before that one either. That, as far as my maths tells me, is two months.

He had a very funny attitude this lad I can tell you. “Take your hands out of your pocket and stop mumbling” I felt like saying.

There was a bit too much snorting in derision and eyebrow-raising for my liking.

“Now you’re already trying to limit you’re units aren’t you? What is it? Yes 28 units (snort). I always say 21.”

“Well, son, if you google ‘units per week blokes alcohol get away with’ and look at Page 7 around the middle you’ll find an expert who says 28 units per week is acceptable. For a bloke. That is what I am.”

Eyebrow, eyebrow.

And then later he was discussing the tests and the restrictions that come with them.

“At least you’re not fat or I’ll have to …” (he started mumbling something.)

I thought it was illegal to use the word fat outside of cookery programmes. Nevertheless I leapt on this to mention my unrelated concern about my expanding waistline that had happened “SINCE… I… GAVE… UP… SMOKING”.

He fired an elastic band at the anatomy chart on the back of the door and, stifling a yawn, mumbled something like “that’s probably just your fatty liver”.

When I had processed what he had just said I felt slightly relieved. I’m not really putting on weight. I’ve just got a massive foie gras shoved up my jumper.

I’ve tried to develop a positive attitude over the years and giving up booze for two months will bring benefits. I can’t list them yet but I’m sure they exist. But I do feel that my medical treatment isn't taking account of the whole picture.

If Dr SH had said “I want you to stop drinking for two months and by no means are you to go into work during that time” I would be feeling a lot happier.

make out

make out
Originally uploaded by omegha.
These nicotine patches turn up everywhere.

The other day I found one stuck to my back. R then complained about the one stuck on the bottom of her foot.

Perhaps they should be worn on the forehead to alert society to the gallant efforts being made by the person to pack in fags.

I had a heap load to smoke in my dream last night. It's always very confusing smoking in your dreams, my dreams anyway, because you just find yourself having smoked without any preamble...

I knew I shouldn't be smoking and made plans to shove my large pouch of baccy under the pub bench I was sitting on. However I couldn't bring myself to waste the money. I woke before chucking it, again grateful it had only been a dream.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

(Photo-Thanks to _Eraserhead at Flickr)

Five weeks without a cigarette and I can add a couple of new events from the last few days to my “things I used to do with a cigarette but have now done without a cigarette” list.

On Friday I went around to my folks to celebrate my Dad’s Birthday. Fish Chips Champagne a Caged Dog and some Confused Members of the excellent Hospitality Club. Fun had by all, including the dog, and nil cigarettes smoked.

FA Cup on telly round at Kev and Mrs T’s with Chadwick and a Brace of Danes. And if watching West Ham v Liverpool yesterday doesn’t qualify as a stressful moment I don’t know what does. Though the Hammers didn’t get their hands on the Cup they got something better I guess being co-authors of one of the best games of football many people can remember. It had everything apart from the referee getting sent off.

Here’s that list anyway:

Things I have done without having my usual cigarette/s

Morning Coffee

Go to Pub

Go to Coffee Bar

Go to Work

Eat Meal at Home

Eat Meal at Home with lashings of wine and bonhomie

Eat Meal at Restaurant

Celebrate Dad’s Birthday

Watch Football in Pub

Watch Football at Home

Watch Football at Someone Else’s Home

Watch Football at Football

Wait for a Train

Wait for a Bus

Wait for Something to Happen

Thing’s I have yet to do without my usual cigarettes.

Wild raucous orgy-type things late into the night


Eat meal at friend’s place

See a play (interval)

Swimming (after not during)

Swimming (during)

Weddings Funerals Bar Mitzvahs Rebirthings Partial Commitment Ceremonies and other drawn out happenings involving hanging around a lot and trying to remember so-and-so’s name.

Sunday morning inertia periods in someone else’s kitchen/patio/conservatory reading the Observer and failing to make any decisions until the sun vanishes beneath a huge grey cloud and it’s all too late to do anything else.

Finishing anything worthwhile.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The sugar thing is getting a bit crazy at the moment. And the general consumption of everything but tobacco is taking it's toll. The general trajectory of my stomach is outwards and forwards. Soon it will also be backwards. In the meantime my legs remain as they have always been. A crisis looms. Something's going to snap.

Having been introduced by readers to two blogs (SilverWanderer's and Herge’s Adventures of Kentron) in the last twenty four hours I was until a few minutes ago composing a learned article about the nature and future role of blogs. I gave up writing it but it can be summarised with three letters R.S.S.

If you don't know what it is don't worry. You're going to know if you want to know pretty soon. And if you don't want to know or find out that's just fine. Nothing to worry about. Nothing to worry about at all.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

A touch of the hard stuff for you this morning.

It was one of those mornings where my lungs have been feeling very bruised – it’s a kind of an arthritic feeling. Strange – I don’t get it everyday but there it is.

Of course concerns about your health are a main motivator for packing in fags. There is one site that uses that basic motivator to assist people to kick the habit ‘cold turkey’. I had a quick look in the first few days to give myself a bit of backbone and it was beneficial but I haven’t looked at it since.

I haven’t really made a final judgement of their methodology. Other people’s suffering could depress you and if the imagery is too hard people might just turn up their denial defences. It’s called WhyQuit and you can find it here.

Perhaps they should create a site for people who have developed an addiction to downloading. Having gone legit with Windows I downloaded the Internet Explorer 7 Beta – its quite a change and will require a bit of exploration but initially it looks good….only drawback is it doesn’t seem to work for more than five minutes without crashing. You can find out about it here.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Four weeks without a cigarette. Four weeks. That's almost a month.

I have been using the Niquitin QC Clear Step 2 patches since Friday morning. Up until then I had been receiving a 21mg dose of nicotine over a 24 hour period. This is now reduced by one third to 14mg over a 24 hour period. Step 3 reduces it further to 7mg.

I assumed this involved the young boffins down at the Patch Factory making a weaker potion.

I was wrong. The patches are simply smaller. By one third. (The retail price is the same.) Just as well I didn't get 18 hour patches, that presumably are even smaller, as things could get silly by the time I reach Step 3.

Can you imagine a cigarette company pulling the same trick though? “Same taste but a third less nicotine” and you find when you open the packet that they're tiddly little things? For the same price?

Though I have my doubts about the production methods used there could be good times ahead for the Patch Factory down in Brentford. If the Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt is correct and the pub ban will lead to a “Mass Quit” then there's going to be a big surge in prosperity down there.

And then, eight weeks later when everyone's finished their treatment, there's going to be mass redundancies.

Not one for the amateur investor.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

It was R's turn to visit the Doctor's today. Apparently she's been told to lay off the housework for the foreseeable future. I have appealed.

Apart from that things are looking good in this wonderful democracy of ours. I had my penultimate meeting with Mr K the Chemist today. He was back to his chipper old self but was going a bit heavy on the pro-government propaganda – all very suspicious given today's elections.

“How long have you been off smoking now?”

“Three weeks four days and about two hours.”

“Ah well that's good. According to the government you've already given up.”

I was a bit confused by the original question – I thought the whole thing was a carefully timed course of treatment and he had a huge sheet of paper with all my notes right in front of him, so why was he checking how long I'd been off the cigarettes? Perhaps I should have answered “Two days” and seen what he said. (Not a good idea when you're trapped in the Anusol chair. He might have thwacked me with some latex gloves for being impertinent or something.)

As for the fact that the government had designated me a non-smoker? I might write something about that when I've completely recovered.

“So I suppose you approve of the measures to ban smoking in pubs?” he said later. This was getting a bit menacing now. Sweat began to break out on my forehead.

“Well, er, my thoughts on this, er, have moved towards a more, um, positive stance.”

He seemed to swallow it.

“Vee vill zee” he said. “Get up! You are free to go!”

“We” had already decided that I should start to go on the lower strength patches (there are three strengths of nicotine patch used in the course: Stage One, Stage Two and Ultra Lights.)

He thought giving up smoking was "all very psychological" and started sounding off like one of Richard and Judy's guests. This was an improvement on the Commissar routine. He gave me a month's supply – three weeks on Stage Two and one week on the Menthols.

I realised this was the last time I would be handing him any money. I could tell by the vacant look in his eye that he had realised it too.

“ I come in again?” I asked “Do I come in a month”

“Oh...yes...come in...come in...why not?...let me know how you're getting on...yes...let me know....well...goodbye Erik”

“Well...goodbye Mr K...goodbye.”

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Ouch! A lot of pain yesterday in various guises.

Went to see Sister C the practice nurse in the Rubber Room to have my blood test done. She did the business whilst I concentrated, in between winces, on a box of Multi-Flavoureds. Felt a bit like a Pete Doherty fan with all the tourniquet stuff.

Then two cups of coffee. The first from the Casse Crout in Lower Marsh London SE1 (I hope you're reading this) served a cappuccino that was so bad I had to discard it after a few sips. I couldn't even bring myself to donate it to a dosser it was so bad. This is the first time ever in my entire life a coffee has been so disappointing it hasn't been worth the effort carrying it around. I take emergency action and veer off to Waterloo Station where there is a Starbucks glowing with American know-how. I get one and it was better but still not very good. Not very good at all. Perhaps the no-almond syrup cafe isn't so bad. But there isn't time before going in to work and I've already spent a fiver on what would have cost me fifty pence at home. So I pootle off to the office with my Grande Caramel Cappuccino with Chocolate, Cinnamon and Vanilla topping.

The office is fine except I am suffering from post Bank Holiday Blues, a zombie-like condition. I only walk up the stairs twice. I try to rinse my Starbucks mug out and badly scald my hand under the boiling water dispenser in the hot point at work. I squeal and blaspheme a bit and make a mental note to sue the Department.

I spend most of the day soothing my hand under a cold water tap.

Then its off to the Market Porter to meet R as we are going to the play-off semi-finals. The Porter really annoys me – first the barman tries to fob me off with a pint so bad its almost a comedy sketch and then, when he finally grows up, he replaces it with a pint of Sussex when I asked for a Summer Ale. I feel disinclined to give them any publicity, at least accurate publicity.

R calms me down and we head off to the play-offs where we get beaten 2-1 by Fisher Athletic . Ho-hum.

This is my second blog composed on the Writer programme from OpenOffice and it's ok. It loses the spacing between paragraphs though when I paste into the blogger website which is a bit of a nuisance.

My dream-world cigarette consumption has increased rapidly – I must be on a packet a night by now. In the real world things are going better.

3w 3d 03:11 smoke-free, 604 cigs not smoked, £70.06 saved, 2d 02:20 life saved