Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Live Free, Part Three

Eight Weeks Five Days

I had promised a while back to update you on the laser therapy I did to quit smoking. Unfortunately, with lovey wonder kitty's surgery and subsequent passing, I wasn't really in the mood to write. But I tell ya there was something else that I wasn't in the mood for: smoking.

I remember that when I smoked, as a tragedy or crisis arose, the first thing I went for was a cigarette. Zanzibar's nursing, the planning, the driving to the veterinary cancer treatment center in Newburgh, the surgery, having to take her back to my vet in Brooklyn for emergency fluids, the worrying, the watching her go into respiratory distress in the middle of the night, and ultimately, making the decision to put her to sleep and being with her at the end, was probably the worse sequence of events I've had to deal with. In fact, compared to other crappy things that have happened in my life, this was right up there with being born.

Through it all, I did not smoke.

But I digress.

When last I spoke about Freedom Quit Smoking Laser Therapy, I was sitting in the waiting room comtemplating bolting for the door. Instead, I let my laser acupuncture therapist, Paula, lead me into the back, through a door off of the larger room where I had my initial intake.

In the back, there was a hallway and about six doors each leading to a small treatment room. The treatment room had a comfy reclining chair, a small flatscreech T.V., a DVD player and the laser equipment. I was given a pair of "infrared" glasses to put on, to protect my eyes from the laser light.

A number of sarcastic things were going through my head, but I decided to suspend the evil voices and just sit back and take the therapy seriously. In fact, I realized that I would only get out of this therapy as much as I put into it, so instead of ridiculing it or poopooing it or thinking that it was just not going to work, I decided to remember that I had paid good money for this and it was going to work.... because it had to work. I HAD to quit smoking and this method, which would help going cold turkey easier, was the method I chose, and I was behind it... at least 90%.

The laser therapist was very friendly and explained what the laser's purpose was and how she was going to use it. So, with the funny glasses on, I sat there while Paula used the laser to hit specific points on my hands, face and head while I watched a video of crashing waves and seascapes narrated by a woman with a great voice. The woman told me basically that I was now free from smoking, and I wish I could remember what else she said, but truthfully, whatever it was made me feel darn good about the decision I had made to quit smoking once and for all.
I had at least one issue with something said on the video, but I forgot to write it down and now can't remember what it was. Shoot me.

Once the treatment was over, Paula let me sit for a few moments to relax. As I was leaving, I received some vitamin supplements, vanilla car freshener to get the smell of cigarettes out of my non-existent car, a very useful wristband with "Freedom" printed on it, some printed material, and a most helpful item, a booklet compiled from a series of lectures given by a man named Joel Spitzer and entitled "Never Take Another Puff." Also a VERY useful phrase that one must repeat over and over and over again for the rest of an ex-smoker's entire life.


No, seriously, never. Can I say it again? NEVER. One puff, and it's back to square one, a pack of cigs. Hey, I'm an addict, plain and simple. If I smoke one, I'll smoke a million of them.

Anyway, this posting has gotten a little long, but I want to finish by writing what I wrote down in my journal directly after the treatment over a quesadilla and a beer in a Mexican restaurant down the street from the Center in Royal Oak (though I wish I had written down the thing that I had a problem with from the video... hmm, go figure...):

"Though initially skeptical, I must say that 30 minutes on [from the laser session] and sitting in the smoking section (the non-smoking section I originally asked for was too exposed and in a too crowded area, and I wanted to sit a little more isolated, you know, where the smokers are :) ), and while I'm sitting here in the smoking section, I really have no desire to smoke. My right hand is pulsing (the hand I usually smoke with), though who knows what that is from, maybe the laser has caused the nerves in my hand to go all haywacky. But, so far, so good. I don't want to smoke. And the smell of smoke around me... hmmm... nope, still don't want to smoke. Maybe this is gonna work after all."

In my opinion, laser therapy is not necessarily the thing that "makes" you quit smoking. What it does do is release happy endorphins to help you get over the initial hump: the point between the last cigarette and the end of the withdrawal period, which is no more than seven days, and which is usually the hardest. Trust me, I've quit cold turkey before, and the first seven days are hell! After that, the physical withdrawal pressure is over, you haven't killed anyone because all those happy endorphins are helping you feel content and it's behavior modification after that.

Lastly, one of the things that Joel Spitzer writes in his "Never Take Another Puff," is that there will always be stressful and crisis moments. There will always be times when things get too rough. Smoking doesn't help the situation, as it may momentarily 'help,' but ultimately it robs the smoker of something more important than the cigarette, it robs the smoker of his life.

Anyway, good luck to all of us, and I wanted to say hello to any visitors from the Freedom Quit Smoking Laser Therapy site.

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