The Good, Bad and Ugly

Hello, WordPress community!   You thought I died, right?  Santa arrived early at my house and I’m the proud owner of a new computer with Windows 8 – more about that later (and less on the endless gripes I have regarding it, because, after all, I do love you guys!)

So much has happened since my dear old, 6 year computer crashed, I could keep you reading for 3 days straight – alas, I’ll try to keep it short-n-sweet, and fill you in.

Because of the roller coaster ride of the past few weeks, I thought I’d split out my update into Categories…

The Good

I have a computer – as an early Christmas gift from my ex-hubbie.   Remember when I told you there are many reasons I still love that man?   Remember when I poured out my heartache at my perception of betrayal?  Yeah…. He’s human, but he is still, so often, my knight in shining armor.

Jerusalem Artichokes are in the ground – right on the west side of the house, which was slated for Cottage Herb Garden.   I kept trying to figure out where to put them, and then realized, they are the perfect answer for protection from summer sun and leaving western wall open for radiant heat in winter and so, I have perennial beds outside my kitchen door.

Soon after getting my new computer, I awoke one day to sub-zero temps and pain – spent the morning plotting out my garden beds and have the plans all ready to follow, as infrastructure for the east side is done…. Finally….   West side of my 4 lot place is slated for cultivation in 2015 – –

The fescue grass planted this year is still green and beautiful – without water since September and no mowing.   Excited to plant more in non-garden areas next spring.   This year’s work will result in 2/3rd’s less mowing/weeding come next summer.

Fence has been put up to expand Oakley’s room thanks to the generous help of a dear, dear friend.   Fence post driving is hard work for me and I got 4 posts a day done, with 10-day rest periods in between! LOL  Thanks, Dick!   Never could have done it without you!

I”m no longer “Unemployed”

First, I was invited to a community weekly dinner that is primarily attended by retired senior citizens – then I’m asked if I would be interested in cleaning up after said weekly dinner each week – 1 hour/week @ $10/hr.

Then, the local library advertised for a part-time aide (10 hours a week/ 2 hours a day) – I applied, interviewed and did my skills test.   I got the call offering me the job.   I was ecstatic!   Me, working in a primary source of information and getting to help others in their quest for knowledge – Could anything be more perfect?!?

On a side note, a weight I had been unconsciously carrying fell away when I received the call.   Until I got the job offer, I didn’t even realize that behind my angst over, “Will I ever be well enough to return to work?” lay the even deeper anxiety, “Will anyone ever want to hire me again?”

One week at the library and wouldn’t ya know, a friend who is as passionate about nutrition and locavorism as I am, decided to buy the local cafe and offered me a part-time job.   Actually, she asked me some questions, I asked if I could help, offered to work more hours than God placed in a week when she said, “Yes”, and got the response:

“I would love to have you there everyday, but I do not want to be the cause of you having a set-back in your health.   I’m thinking 3-4 shifts a week, (four hours) and we’ll play it by ear on how you get along.”

So, between the three, Local Jobs, I will soon be employed 27 hours a week by folks who appreciate what I have to offer and who often take the time to look out for my health better than I do….

Which I consider a success – if I can’t learn to put myself first, at least I’m learning to form relationships with people who know that about me and look out for me, even when I don’t do it for myself.

A quick blessing on all those wonderful folks, in person and online, who are so good to me.  (blessings for those who cause me pain is in the Bad/Ugly sections – sorry, a leopard doesn’t change it’s spots overnight….)

My family decided to buy a washer/dryer combo for me as a Christmas gift.   While I love my Wonder Washer, the joint pain in my hands left me unenthused over wringing out heavyweight clothes once I no longer had my Spin Dryer to do it for me.  I’m over the moon at having a modern day laundering mechanism again.   Will report on my new tool as soon as I have a month’s worth of electric and water bills to report on – cuz you know, some things aren’t a bargain, even if you get them for free….   LOL  My Dad listed horses as one of these items….though he got me one, anyways…

I woke up today, totally pain free.   I’ve been trying different things and have been struggling since the pneumonia in September.   How apropo that I awoke, at last, to pain-free living on Thanksgiving.

The Bad

I had huge set-backs in my health after the pneumonia fiasco – another bout with it, then an abscess that had to be sliced and drained.   This time, I didn’t wait until it spread to hell and gone, so the slice and dice did not include gauze packing in the amount of a trip to the moon and back.

(See?  I’m learning – should have put this one in the Good section….) 

AND, if you are pro-active and go to the doctor early enough, without a designated driver, they can do local numbing shots, instead of saying, “Either you call someone to pick you up and we’ll put you under or you cuss while we slice – – ”   I was very grateful to get this taken care of without having to bite-a-bullet.

Then, the lovely return of neck/back pain that preceded my stroke back in 2011.

(Which sent me into a gale of emotional storms, praying that I could live at least until my son graduates from high school). 

This latest set-back confused and bemused me….   But it also stretched my horizons in my learning and what to do for myself.   Can’t say that I regret the new information I now know, but Lord, someday I would like to learn this stuff an easier way.

Windows 8 – I gave it 10 days before I whispered even one word to the outside world about not liking it.   As much as I embrace change as an offensive player in so many venues of life, I admit to being a defense player when it comes to computers and software – I get tired of learning new stuff all the time to perform the same old functions.

I’ve engaged in learning about Open Source Options for what all I do and am preparing to take the dive on eradicating Bill Gates from my computer – – which means, if I mess it up, you may not hear from me for another long period…..again….

The first week of working at the library coincided with my new-found activities of volunteering at a local food bank.   Which I  found when I asked if I could trade work for food when my wall furnace started lagging on lighting and then turned into a flame-thrower.

Acutally, if I hadn’t been worried about killing us all in the middle of the night, the wall-furnace-turned-flame-thrower was kinda cool to watch – a long hiss, followed by a mini-explosion and blue-gold light bursting from the wall – – alas, I’m a parent and have to be responsible – I got it fixed…using my grocery budget….

The gals who run the food bank are awesome.  And they seem happy to have manual labor show up regularly – They helped me out during a hard month and I get to help with the food bank garden next year!  Yay!

(This, too, should be in good, as should everything in this post, but, it still confounds me that I must learn the Good by experiencing the Bad – – Have you seen “Life of Pi?” yet – No?   Okay, watch it and you’ll ask why I’m still separating things out into Categories, even after having this epiphany….)

By week’s end, I was exhausted and I had momentary doubts about my ability to rejoin the world.   But I took self-care seriously during the weekend and, quite frankly, basked in the glow of working for/with people who know my health history and actually give a damn about it…  A new concept and this last part should be in the Good, but I trust you to understand.

An elderly man, who knows me because I went to school with his sons, attended one of the community dinners.  Here’s his line of interrogation (aka small chit-chat that small communities engage in) that sent me racing for my self-tranquilizers of choice – (nicotine)  I do not hold him personally responsible – I’m willing to give him the benefit of doubt – but no kidding, how can anyone hit everyone of my triggers in less than 3 minutes?  Seriously!

“Who was your dad?  Oh, I knew him – but I didn’t recognize you – you’ve changed!” (Yeah, bozo, I still have about 30 lbs to lose to get to my pre-stroke/pre-thyroid weight)

“How many kids do you have?   Didn’t you have a boy shortly after you graduated?” (Yes, yes, my oldest son, who you knew, is dead – here’s how he died – yes, what a shock and shame, thank you for bringing it up)

“So, where’s your husband?” (Far away, separate household – yes, yes, he decided on a different path for his life that didn’t include us – but, thankfully, this has not left me hot-to-trot or any other stories you have about divorced females and their rampaging sex drives – you’re safe, cuz if I never have to deal with a man again, I’ll thank God for eternity.)

“My son got a job and they’re paying him $18.50 an hour – I’m happy for him, but you kids are entitled and ask for too much” (Okay, if I strip you of everything you own other than the clothes on your back, I’d like to see you survive on minimum wage and do ya know, I was earning $18/hour as a no-degree, straight out of highschool, unskilled temp in 1988, less than 50 miles from where we are sitting – in the face of high unemployment, employers will pay whatever they damn well please and if you gripe they can find a dozen others who would just love to work for peanuts.)

“Why aren’t you volunteering at the local Thrift Store?” (Because I only have so much energy in a day – because I volunteer for the local booster club, because I offer low cost websites/hosting for small businesses and don’t charge them for extra work I do,  because I chose to volunteer at the food bank – because I’m on a limited income and creating my own garden and home grown food seems a priority for me, because I give something, everyday, for free to someone else, even when I don’t know how I’m going to pay my own water bill….)

Now, the reason I shared this with you is this conversation took place in under 5 minutes – and sent me into such a whirlwind of emotions (anger, mostly) that I excused myself and went home to have a cigarette (which I had been weaning myself back off of, since falling off the non-smoking wagon this fall)

I sat at home, ingesting higher levels of nicotine than I’ve used in over 3 years, and wondered if I’ll ever be fit for polite society again.   We all have our blind spots.   We all live with a perception of the world that may not be true for someone else.

But, DAMN, if it isn’t hard remembering that when someone is pushing your buttons.

This is included in Bad section because I see how intolerant I’ve become by being a semi-hermit and not having to deal with a wide-range of personalities on a day-to-day basis.

The Ugly

Inheritances Update – All my added chapters and the formatting of the entire manuscript managed to get corrupted during my “Save” and “Backup” operations of my writing.  I managed to retrieve my text file, but only the back-up from late July.

(See?!?  See how long I babied my old computer along… sigh… the greatest gift of life is learning to Let Go.)

One beta-reader returned my pre-computer-crash printed manuscript marked with  front page notation, “Compelling and beautiful –  Rework structure as fiction – story engaging, but not a non-fiction How-To.”

Ill health, damaged files and feedback indicating change needed – all combined-  induced me to return the ‘pre-order’ sale funds to those who supported Inheritances, with a promise of a free copy once it was actually done.    I haven’t had responses from you two, so please, let me know if you got the PayPal refund and if you’re mad at me forever or not….

This is in Ugly, because I let customers down – had I not put Inheritances up for sale prior to it’s release, this would be listed under “Bad, but Doable” – Alas, someday, Inheritances will be born – I will not, however, again try to Induce Labor by putting a work up for Advance Copy Sale – too many bad things happen when I try that route.

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So there it is – a nearly 2,500 word treatise to catch up since I’ve been gone – and I didn’t even include it all…

But I’ve missed you – I’ve missed writing – I’ve missed all of it –

And just as soon as the manure is spread on garden beds, home-made Christmas presents are done and I’ve adjusted to working for someone else several hours a day, I shall return with my shorter, more subject restricted posts….

Until then, may you and yours be comfortable, fed and happy!   Whatever holidays you celebrate during this time of year, I wish you the brightest of them.

Until We Meet Again….

xoxoxoxo

Confessions of a Smoker, Part Deux

Last fall, a bout of flu turned pneumonia, followed by a nice case of pleurisy (mistakenly diagnosed as a ‘rib out of place’ and ‘strained sternum area’ by the grand gods in white, aka MD’s) resulted in chest, rib and back pain of various intensity levels everyday for the following year.

Needless to say, I dinked around for quite awhile, thinking perhaps all the coughing had injured my torso muscles and ligaments, and not-so-patiently waited for the injured areas to heal.   I can report there is simply nothing you do that does not require using the muscles in your chest, rib and/or mid-back area.   Honest!   Even sleeping in one position for too long caused the ‘pain’ to pool to one area, which meant not only was I in pain, but also sleep deprived.

(Me sleep deprived is akin to Bandits on Tequila – -I tend to want to raid the village, steal the women and rape the horses)

So in November 2010 – a full year after the worst of the pneumonia was over, 3 x-rays and 4 blood tests later – I go back to my acupuncturist and inform her I’ve waited long enough, nothing I’ve done is ending the pain, medical science says nothing is wrong and can she please fix me? (Please don’t ask why I didn’t go earlier – it’s a long and complicated story…mainly centering around my tendency to be stubborn.)

Ten treatments later, I was doing much better; however, it became very obvious that my chest pain intensity was directly linked to my smoking.    Something had to go and I realized the cigs were it.

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I’ve smoked for over 25 years.   During that time, I successfully ‘quit’ twice – once for 6 months and once for 3 months.    Once with gum and once with the patch.    The stresses of divorce, illness & surgeries derailed those attempts.

Subsequent attempts to quit resulted in horrific nightmares (patch induced), as well as SBS – (Screaming Bitch Syndrome) and NSCS (Non-Stop Cussing Syndrome).   Life was sheer hell and let’s face it, you can only say “I’m sorry” to your spouse and kids so many times before they are begging you to “please start smoking again.”

I will say that while divorce from hubby #1 resulted in a return to smoking, Hubby #2 did not divorce me when I was trying to quit.   See?  Miracles do still happen.

Given the miserable results of the last four attempts, I again researched the various options for quitting.

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Before listing the quit smoking choices,  I wish to pen a line to the various authors of such articles as “The Top 5 Quit Smoking Tips” and “10 Ways to Beat the Quitting Smoking Blues”:

After reading your list of helpful hints for quitting smoking, I will say you obviously aren’t a smoker, never have been a smoker and apparently decided to write about how to quit anyways.   Exercise, eating nuts and raisins as snacks and drinking lots of water are all fine ideas, but They Don’t Do Shit for someone who uses nicotine and alone time in the garage to tranquilize and distract themselves from the stress of their life.    Please write your next article on something you actually know about.

Okay, I feel better – now on to the real options available:

  • Nicotine Gum – makes my mouth sore and as expensive as smoking
  • Nicotine Patches – induce horrific nightmares and as expensive as smoking
  • Cold Turkey – induces SBS, NSCS and thoughts of suicide – not an option
  • Pharmaceutical Prescription Help – May cause aggression, depression, thoughts of suicide – also not an option
  • E-Cigarette – Immediately cut out the harmful effects of inhaling burning tobacco, slowly step down nicotine levels while weaning yourself away from other portions of the habit. Cheaper than cigarettes after initial investment in batteries, chargers, etc.

I’m sure you know which one I picked.

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Before I share how the first month went, some facts to keep in mind:

  • I switched to organically grown, additive-free tobacco cigarettes flavored with mint instead of menthol approximately 5 years ago.
  • I will smoke even when very ill (I smoked while passing kidney stones, 2 hours after major surgery while sitting in a wheelchair in the parking garage and even discovered how to shallowly inhale so I could smoke while in the throes of pneumonia – face it, I’m a Dedicated Smoker)
  • I do not smoke in my house.  And will only smoke in the car with the windows down – even if it is 30 below with white-out conditions
  • If I feel good and can keep to my ‘want-to-do’ schedule, I smoke between 10 and 15 cigarettes a day – If I don’t feel well enough to be up doing things, I can quickly move to a pack or more a day.
  • My usual expenditure on cigarettes per month ranges between $120 and $160 per month (face it, if it says “organic” or “additive free” you’re immediately going to pay more.) If I’m going to quit smoking, I wish to also have the financial benefits of doing so.  And sooner than 3-6 months from now.
  • Most nutritionists advise menthol is more addictive than nicotine – My experience supports this, as I can chain smoke five regular cigarettes and still be dying for a mint/menthol one.

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*Please note I’m sharing with you not only the mistakes I made, but also links to information and the companies I have ordered from – if you decide this may be for you, please visit E-Cigarette Forum and read, bunches, before ordering.  Trust me, you’ll get great information as well as the bonus of coupon codes for various suppliers if you do decide to order!

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12/26/10 – Google search “e-cig”: Look at first 10 links.   Decide to order starter kit from Primevapor, because they use USA sourced and made vegetable glycerin (VG) for carrier agent rather than propylene glycol (PG).

(I choose to use VG based liquids as they adhere to my ideals regarding nutrition, sustainability, etc.   If I chose to, I could make vegetable glycerin in my own kitchen with locally available materials.  This may or may not be important to you.)

12/30/10 – Place Order with Primevapor for 1 starter kit with 2 batteries, USB charger, wall charger and five menthol, 36 mg nicotine cartridges for $49.95.  Also order an additional six 5-cartridge packs in two other menthol/mint flavors and lower nicotine levels in hopes to have full first month supply.  (Because people vape differently, it’s hard to compare cartridges to packs of cigarettes – I used their estimate of one cartridge being equivalent to 2/3 a pack of cigs.)  Order total, $109.65.   I also vow not to exceed $140 budget for the month of January.

01/03/10, 11:10 a.m. – Receive order.   Would have received on Saturday, but for the holiday.   I’m all set to start vaping.  Batteries charged and I am vaping 2 minutes after opening my mail.  Taste is different, but so far, so good.

1:05 p.m. – Hubby says the exhale vapor reminds him of the smell of a cappuccino.  I smile and continue puffing in my warm, cozy living room.

1:12 p.m. – Have the urge to sit in the garage.   Don’t ask me why.   I associate smoking with the garage.  And having a ‘break’ –  Becoming very aware of all the different aspects of my smoking habit.

2:15 p.m. – Catch myself thinking, “Well, guess I’ll go to the garage and smoke before I start this project.”  Again aware of how much of my daily routines center around accommodating my smoking habit.

3:15 p.m. – Feeling a bit restless and scattered.   Not irritable and so far, no SBS or NSCS episodes – realize I’m having withdrawal symptoms related to sitting in the quiet, testosterone free garage.

Finish out the day with no real cigarette smoking (referred to as analogs by the vaping crowd)  I notice my chest and back pains are not at their usual evening levels.  Great!

01/04/10, 7:30 a.m. – awake to morning breath; however, my mouth does not feel as foul as usual.  Chest and back feel pretty good.  Have my e-cig with morning coffee.  Funny, coffee doesn’t taste as good as it used too.

10:15 – Gave in to the urge and sat in the garage while smoking my e-cig.   Funny – doesn’t have the same feel to it.  Plus, it’s damn cold in here.   Think I’m okay giving up my “office” in the garage.

1:35 – This is so infinitely cool!   I just did some database coding and wrote 3 articles – and didn’t have to leave my desk when the nicotine urge it!   I’m back to being productive once again!  Less than a day and the habit of garage sitting is broken.

3:15 p.m. – Feeling slightly nauseated.  Realized I’ve gone through 2 1/2 cartridges today – Since I can vape, anytime, anywhere, I start setting my phone timer to remind me, “I’m done” instead of continuously vaping while reading, doing computer work or watching TV.  That should take care of over-consumption of nicotine.

End of Day Two and I’m convinced that with tweaking, this way of kicking both the smoking and nicotine habit is a good one.

Days 3 – 16

Chest and back pain gone except when I really over-do. (lifting 5 gallon water jugs still causes some twinges.)

Sleeping much better and deeper.  Not sure if because of lowered pain levels or less carcinogens in my system, but deeply grateful.

Acupuncturist informs me my tongue looks much better (examining tongue for texture, color and coating is part of the diagnostic tools of Chinese Medicine)  I smile and say my mouth tastes better too!  Down to 1 treatment every 2 – 3 weeks, instead of once a week.   More money saved.

Hubby raves about how pleasant it is to ride in the car without either the smell of smoke or freezing from the open window.  Cleaned the car and threw away my cup-holder sized ashtray.

Due to increased health and no ‘garage breaks’ I’m getting more done in a day than I’ve been able to for a long time.

On the downside, my teeth and jaw hurt, because I’ve been ‘hands free vaping’ – face it, the battery and cartomizer are heavier than a analog – I quit doing that and teeth/jaw feel better within a day.  I also have been going through the cartridges faster than I thought I would.  Need to better monitor how long and often I’m vaping.

Day 17

9:15 a.m. – WTF!?!   I thought I had another full pack of cartridges!  I can’t be out!

What to do, what to do.    Hmmm…. I really liked the mint, low nicotine cartridges.   I have a bottle of essential peppermint oil in the cupboard.

11:20 a.m. – I purchase food grade vegetable glycerin and mixed with small amount of water and peppermint oil.    Reload empty cartridges after looking online at how to do.   WOW!  What a mint hit!  Fabulous.   I don’t need no stinking nicotine!  Amazing – I hit nicotine free much faster than I thought I would.

3:15 p.m. – Sort of edgy.  Maybe I wasn’t quite ready to go nicotine free.  But not too bad – maybe I can wait it out.  Probably hitting me worse, because the first few days I was actually getting more nicotine than with cigs.  Think I’ll wait it out.  Besides, no one locally sells the e-liquid for refilling my cartridges.

7:15 p.m. – Really Edgy.   Hubby and son are purposefully doing things to irritate me, even when I’ve informed them that I’m feeling the effects of nicotine withdrawal.  I live with sadists.   I’m going to bed.  Surely it will be better tomorrow.

Day 18

5:30 a.m. – Puff, Puff, Puff – Yup, lots of mint flavor, still no stinkin’ nicotine.    Google search says the worst should be over in 24 – 36 hours.   So I’ll wait it out. “Menthol is more addictive than nicotine” my arse…

7:30 a.m. – Thank gawd my family is at work and school.   If they were here, I’d have to hit them.

9:30 a.m. – Why is it we never got a cat to kick?

9:33 a.m. – Why did I ever think I wanted to make bread from scratch?   What the HELL is wrong with this stupid oven!   It’s broken….Just F***in Great!  Oh, wait, I forgot to hit ‘Start’….okay, it’s working.  But Still, It Could Have Been Broken…..

9:47 a.m. – As soon as I’m done in the kitchen, I think I’ll go to bed and sleep through the rest of the withdrawal phase.

10:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. – Can’t sleep, all documentaries and cartoons are stupid, tried 4 books and one lecture series – the authors/teachers are all a bunch of idiots!  Just why did I think embroidering and quilting was so great?  Great way to injure your fingers….

(I could go on for about 17 more paragraphs, but I’m sure you get the idea – I managed to try to ride it out through day 19 – in the end for my own sanity and the safety of my family, I went and bought 1 pack of my organic, mint cigs.   Which tasted like crap.   Three puffs at a time provided enough nicotine to keep me from being edgy.

I repeat, cigarettes taste terrible and my garage is cold and depressing.)

Days 20 – 35

Finally found a store 30 miles away that had a limited selection of e-juice (PG based, not VG and about 5 times the cost of online choices) – the only menthol one they had was low nicotine levels.   I purchased the one 3ml bottle they had available with menthol and a bottle of camel flavored PG juice (also low nicotine) for $12, mixed them together and added a drop of peppermint oil laced VG to stretch it further.    Chest hurting somewhat and after researching different options available for e-liquid, refill options, etc., I learned peppermint oil isn’t water soluble, so basically, I’ve been coating my lungs with oil,  there is such a thing as ‘oil pneumonia’ and ain’t it interesting the things I do to myself when experimenting without proper research…

I limp through the rest of the month with my mix of e-liquid and the occasional analog, determined not to steal from other portions of my financial budget to enhance my ‘nicotine habit’ budget.  In the end, I spent $137.97 on e-cig supplies and regular cigs (5 packs, compared to the previously consumed 30 – 40 packs per month) before my full months supply order of e-juice arrived on February 3.

I’ll also note that mid-month, one of my batteries quit working two puffs after being on the charger all night.   Checked the FAQ’s and sent an email to Prime Vapor, asking what else I should try, or if I should just chuck it and order a new one.   (batteries should last between 2 and 3 months, before needing replacing).  They reply once in awhile there are defective batteries and promptly mailed me out a new one, free of charge.   Very impressed with their customer service!

So far, I’ve spent $38.75 on nicotine habit expenditures for this month of February.   (30 ml of menthol e-juice with nicotine and 5 blank cartridges purposely made for refilling.) If my calculations are correct, this will be the total I spend this month.  If they aren’t, I’ll be sure to post an update.

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During my first month, there were many aspects of my smoking/nicotine habit that I became aware of and some which really surprised me.  Here’s the highlights:

  • I vaped in public places and only once did someone call me on it – when I showed  him I was not ‘smoking’ he immediately apologized and then spent the next 15 minutes asking me questions, as he was a smoker and thinking about switching to the e-cig too.  No other “You Can’t Smoke In Here” incidents happened.   Which surprised me – are folks ‘entrained’ to identify smokers from the smell rather than seeing a cloud of vapor?
  • I realized the years of being a social pariah has taken its toll on me.  It took nearly two weeks of vaping in front of  my family, friends and in public places before I lost the feelings of unease and fear of conflict.   Years of both well-intentioned as well as cruel, unsolicited advice and opinions regarding the smoking habit had put me on the defensive much more than I ever realized.

While I’ve been fully aware the “No Smoking Campaigners” chose to pursue their objectives via a moral war, rather than legislation, I was not fully aware of how emotionally affected I had been by the social stigma  of my habit.

  • While being a smoker is not socially acceptable – it does appear that being a nicotine addict is all right, as long as you don’t get your nicotine from cigarettes.  There are so many “good for you” comments regarding me not smoking, that I wonder how the No-Smoking Fanatics managed to miss educating their followers about nicotine addiction.    Those close to me know my ultimate goal of being nicotine free and have been very supportive.

Casual acquaintances  and complete strangers seem completely oblivious to anything other than the fact that I’m not polluting their air with second hand smoke.   I still am amazed at how total strangers will walk up and comment on my habit (either smoking or vaping) and offer their judgments on the former and congratulations on the latter.   I do not approach the morbidly obese and chastise, nor the healthy looking and congratulate; The socially-acceptable behaviors surrounding the smoking issue still confuses me…

  • I found out there are those who choose to vape using zero nicotine, flavored juices – the varieties available will boggle your mind!   Cherry cola, fudge brownie, cinnamon roll, bubblegum… the list is durn near endless.  For me, once I’ve eased myself off nicotine, I doubt I’ll vape at all.   My first month’s experience has proven to me I’ve broken most of the other habits associated with smoking (sitting in the garage, puffing on something, the sensation of inhaling,  taking a break from work, relaxing, etc.)  – I smoke and vape for the nicotine at this point.
  • Me on no nicotine results in a mentally scattered and disorganized feeling at best, uncontrolled irritation and anger at worst – also a feeling that everything is going wrong.  I hope that with a gradual lessening of nicotine levels, I will be able to both physiologically and emotionally adjust to these withdrawal side effects with less trauma and angst.  I’ll report when I have better data…

As for what I wished I had known before that I know now:

  • 1 ml of e-liquid is equivalent to 1 pack of cigarettes – depending on the company, you can order e-liquid in a variety of nicotine levels, usually with 36 mg at the high end and 6 mg at the low end.
  • If you vape in places/situations you can’t or won’t smoke, unless you’re diligent, you will vape more (and hence, increase your nicotine intake levels) than you smoked.   Be mindful of how much you are vaping so you don’t unintentionally increase your nicotine consumption, rather than decreasing it.
  • Purchasing a starter kit is great to get started with the ‘supplies’ you need for vaping; however, in the long run, utilizing blank cartridges and refilling your own, as well as purchasing your e-liquid in 30 ml or larger sizes is the cost effective way to vape.
  • There are stores in the Colorado Springs/Woodland Park area that carry e-cig supplies – the costs are equivalent to or more expensive than purchasing regular cigarettes.  If you view vaping as a ‘cost-effective’ alternative, best order your supplies online.

As for the companies I’ve ordered with, I can report I’m very pleased with all three – order processing time, shipping time and customer service and response times all have restored my confidence that good customer service does still exist.   Here’s the links to those I’ve done business with:

Primevapor

Nhaler

InnoVapor

While each of these have great FAQ and informational pages, I again urge you to also utilize the E-Cigarette Forum if you wish to learn more about vaping.   After my initial (and very shallowly done) research and order, I found loads of information at this site that I wished I knew before I started this adventure.

While the jury still seems to be out on whether vaping is a quit smoking solution, I can say that though I’m not nicotine free, I’m very happy to be smoke-free.   The benefits I’ve experienced from vaping are wonderful and even if I never make it all the way to zero-nicotine, I’d still be happy with both the cost and quality of life improvements I’ve experienced from switching.