Thursday, August 20, 2009

Day #3: Guilty Pleasure

Even though my quit date isn't until 1 September, I feel guilty about continuing to smoke. It seems odd that as I tell people I'm quitting, I'm lighting up.

I'm in a better mood today. Champix lost its edge and the damned cigarettes were half-assed pleasurable again. I guess that's why the dosage doubles on day #4 and again on day #8.

According the product insert from Pfizer, the manufacturer of Champix, " is not known exactly how the drug works in people." [Leaving me to wonder if it is known how it works in rats--just kidding. Their wording sounded strange to me, though.]

"Champix," the brochure says, "does not contain nicotine, but it has been shown to affect the nicotine receptor that is thought to be most related to smoking acts like a weaker version of nicotine, and also blocks nicotine from getting to the receptor because it binds more tightly..."

I feel like I should be doing more than popping a pill. When I light up, I wish I'd resisted at least a little bit. I wish I'd kept up with my "Track a Pack" log--perhaps I am smoking less and don't know it. I've noticed my cigarettes often end up dead and only half-smoked in the ashtray. Yesterday, several times I paused in my websurfing, Twitter-learning, tweet-sending, and discovered my cigarette had gone out in my hand.

That NEVER used to happen! My cigarettes got smoked right down to the filter--every time without fail! After all, they cost way too much to waste!

Could it be this easy? Will I go to bed on September 1st and realize I didn't have a cigarette all day? Will there be no struggle? No pain? Will cigarettes just become unimportant to me?

It doesn't seem right that I don't have to pay with the agony of withdrawal for my sin of having smoked for thirty-odd years. Or, that I don't have to recommit to not smoking a hundred times each day, every time the Nicotine Demons whisper.

I'm taking a bit of a break from cyberspace to concentrate on a project. I thank you all for your support and when I come back, I'll update you on the joys of being a non-smoker.

Think of me on September 1st. I'll be thinking of you, and those thoughts will keep me strong!


The hero in my Back Tracker series struggles to quit smoking--a habit he picked up when working uncover with The Traz biker gang.

Eileen Schuh,
Canadian writer

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Day #2: Seeking Pleasure

Because one is supposed to go at least 10 days on Champix pills before quitting, I didn't think I'd notice anything the first day. Wrong! Two hours after taking the tablet, I felt light-headed. But much weirder than that, something was dreadfully wrong with my cigarettes. It was as though I was smoking those ultra-light-one-hundred-pinholes-in-the-filter cigarettes. It was like being a kid and sucking on a hollow reed. It was like an emptiness inside me.

For those who have never smoked, let me tell you what you've been missing, and what I'm now missing. Pleasure. Instant pleasure. Now, I would never have thought of the word 'pleasure' to describe why I smoked, but it's a word used in one of my quit-smoking brochures.

Anothe brochure explains it this way: "Within minutes of inhaling, nicotine goes to your brain and gives you a temporary 'high'. Over time, your brain starts to adjust and you may need more smoke to get the same effect. Eventually, your brain adjusts again and the nicotine no longer produces a high. It produces a feeling you think of as normal."

A 'high', 'pleasure', 'normal'... I liken it to the minor contentment one feels after satisfying his/her thirst with a glass of cold water.

Now imagine being very thirsty and drinking a glass of water and still feeling thirsty. And drinking another, and still feeling thirsty. Imagine the rising panic as each succeeding glass produces the same non-effect.

Yesterday and today, cigarette after cigarette, and no burst of subtle pleasure. I had planned activities like crocheting and gum chewing to stave off the desire to do something with my hands and to distract me from my cravings. They weren't designed to give me an instant five-minute normal 'high'. I can't think of anything besides a cigarette that will give me that. So, I light one more.

It does nothing for me. I am cranky. I am empty. I am seeking pleasure.

Eileen Schuh,
Canadian writer

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Demons will Die

It's day one. The first Champix pill has been swallowed. The 'Taking my Life Back from Tobacco' quit date has been set-- 1 September, 2009.

I have filled in the first line on my 'Track a Pack' chart--"Cigarette #1 Time? 1:45 pm. Reason? hungry and waiting for lunch to heat." I'm also nervous about announcing the quit date.

I delay posting to my blog. Eat lunch. Surf the web. "Cigarette #2 Time? 2:23 Reason? always have a puff after eating."

My daughter was disappointed I didn't start my prescription yesterday. However, I've learned there is a process that, if followed, substantially increases the chance of successfully kicking the nicotine habit. That process starts with identifying and confronting one's fears about quitting.

I had to feel I was prepared to handle withdrawal symptoms. I had to mentally reinforce my personal reasons for quitting. I had to plan activities to substitute for the pleasure of smoking. I had to understand why I smoked. I had to decide how I'd handle weight gain.

I'd have a much harder time quitting if I were to wait until I was writhing from the agony of withdrawal symptoms before dealing with these issues.

Prior to swallowing that first pill, before I set a quit date and made the announcement, I had to be committed to quitting--body, heart, mind, and soul. I had to be strong and optimistic.

Yesterday, I wasn't. Today--I am.

"Cigarette #3 Time? 3: 20 pm Reason? To celebrate the announcement of my quit date."

click 'comments' below my signature ine to leave your message of encouragement

Eileen Schuh,
Canadian writer

Monday, August 17, 2009

On Addiction...

A week ago I decided to quit smoking. Last Thursday, I filled my Champix prescription and on Friday, rifled through the bag of stop-smoking goodies that the doctor gave me. A toothbrush, a pack of gum, a toy...954 brochures. Yesterday, I opened the pharmacy bag and looked at the Champix pills.

This morning, I ripped the cellophane off a new pack of smokes, took a drag, and settled back to read the literature.

"Studies show," one pamphlet says, "that nicotine is as addictive as heroin or cocaine." I wonder if that tidbit of trivia is supposed to make me feel better or worse about my decision.

I'm relieved to discover that I'm not supposed to quit until 10 to 14 days into the pills. When I take the first dose, I'm to set my quit date and announce it to the world. In the meantime, I'm to do thinking exercises, write down why I smoke, why I want to quit, what the advantages are to each. How, through alternate means, I can achieve the advantages of smoking. (Advantages like relieving tension, waking up in the morning, feeling pleasure.)

I butt out, fill my coffee mug, and light another cigarette.

I come up with the idea of blogging a diary about my quitting efforts, like: 'Day #1: finally opened the Champix and swallowed the pill.' The catch is, I'm soon going on a three week vacation, far from any Internet connection. 'Perhaps,' I think to myself, 'I can delay quitting until I get back.'

I'm enough of a veteran quitter to know, however, that it isn't my muses whispering inspiration to me, it's the sinister chuckle of the nicotine demons...

Young people,if you are thinking of smoking or have started smoking, let me tell you about the Nicotine Demons. It's they who plant the idea in your brain that you're not addicted--you can quit anytime you want to. And when you decide to quit to prove your theory and find yourself lighting up yet one more, it's they who convince you that you didn't really want to quit and therefore, your theory about not being addicted is correct. You can quit anytime--provided you want to.

Yes, the Nicotine Demons. They cleverly disguise their voices as your own thoughts.

I re-read the brochure.... "Studies show that nicotine is as addictive as heroin or cocaine." How can that be? From what I know about those illicit drugs, they deliver a much more intense rush of pleasure than a simple cigarette. I can't see myself raising funds for cigarettes by becoming a prostitute or robbing little old ladies. I certainly wouldn't abandoned my children for the pleasure of a puff. On the other hand, cigarettes are legal and available. What if they weren't?

No, cigarettes don't give you a flush of pleasure. Don't deliver a 'high' to fly you over top of your troubles. Nicotine Demons work their magic in a much craftier manner than that.

In nature, two organisms that bind together for the mutual benefit of both (like lichen which is a fungi and algae), are considered to have a 'symbiotic' relationship. If one organism eventually kills the other, it's called a 'parasitic' relationship. Nicotine bears the face of a willing symbiotic partner--but it is actually a parasite.

The Nicotine Demons invite you to believe that you are in control, that nicotine is your willing slave. If you want to relax, a puff will help you relax. If you want to wake up, it will give you energy. If you want some alone time, it will join you as a silent partner. If you want to socialize, it will boost your partying skills. It will tell you, if you're old, that you look much younger with a cigarette in hand. If you're an adolescent, it will tell you a billow of blue smoke about your head makes you look strong and independent.

Nicotine has even been proven to ease depression. It's an all-purpose drug--except it will kill you in the end.

I finger the card of Champix pills. What if I slither into the blackness of depression? What if I gain weight? What if I don't succeed? What if....

I drop the pills back into the bag. I can't tell which thoughts are mine and which are the disguised voices of the demons.

Eileen Schuh,
Canadian writer

for more smoking trivia, visit my website

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

On a Cyberspace presence

About a month ago (July 9th to be exact) I posted my very first blog on 'Magic of the Muses'. I promised brilliance, smiles, warm hearts, and friendship. I'm hoping I've given you at least some of that. My other promise was that the blog would be the story of a writer's obsessive pursuit of her life-long dream of becoming a published novelist. So, how am I doing and where am I at?

The first chapter in that story (underwritten by my able publicist, Cheryl Kaye Tardiff) is about increasing my cyberspace presence. With the creation of 'Magic of the Muses', completion of my fantastic website, and acquisition of numerous Facebook friends, that first step is nearing completion.

Has it helped my career? If measured by publishing contracts or calls from agents, the honest answer would be 'no.' However, it's been my experience that few efforts in life produce immediate rewards. Something worth having, is worth working for.

In the writing and publishing industry, there are opposing views on the usefulness of cyberspace as a marketing tool. It's been said that publishers and editors are not carousing the web looking for talent. That is probably true. It is also true, however, that as in any profession, networking is a prelude to success.

The old adage, 'It's not what you know, but who you know,' still holds true in today's high-tech world. Any kind of networking not only establishes contacts, but is also a rich source of information, opinion, and feedback.

As well, by promoting myself in cyberspace, I'm cultivating a potential readership base to which I can market my books when that time arrives--a fact that will undoubtedly appeal to agents and publishers. I'm advertising, displaying my talent, arousing curiosity, getting my name out there. I am no longer a closet writer with lonely dreams. I am now a personable someone with a smile who has cool stories to tell (and sell)to the world. I'm arousing curiosity, displaying my talent, inviting the world to share my dream.

While a cyberspace presence may never totally replace personal networking, it's a valuable resource for connecting with many more people than even the most seasoned traveller could hope to meet.

I have found my cyberspace friends to be a great source of friendship, information, and inspiration. And, sometimes, they are also very well connected.

Eileen Schuh,
Canadian writer

Friday, August 7, 2009

Some tips for my fans

Thank you all for your tremendous interest in my website, my blog, and my career! I enjoy your feedback immensely!

For those unfamiliar with finding their way around web pages and blogs, I'll highlight some of the user-friendly features of my cyberspace sites.

If you run your cursor over text highlighted in green and click, you will be taken to the page, site, article, or link that you clicked on. The 'back' arrow on your browser will return you to the page you left.

Under some of my postings, like my blog posts and my "Did you know..." posts, you will see "comment" in small,green letters. If you click on the word 'comment' you can read comments left by others. If you scroll to the bottom of the comments, you will find a place where you can enter your own comment.

To sign my guestbook on my website, click on 'Guestbook'. If you scroll to the bottom of the postings by other guests, you will find a place to enter your own comments. When it asks you to fill in 'author's name' that is your name and it will appear with your message. Once your message is posted, you can't delete it or change it. However, I can. If you click on "contact Eileen" you can send me an email, say hello to me, and ask me to edit your post.

I invite you to return often to my sites, as I frequently add new material and my visitors are always leaving new comments and messages.

Thank you all for your support!

Eileen Schuh,
Canadian writer

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Several people I had the pleasure of meeting when I was in Newfoundland for my daughter's wedding have recently become my friends on Facebook. Their faces and names stirred warm memories of my visit to 'The Rock'. I clearly remember their welcoming buffet of traditional dishes (like bakeapple pie)and the performance by the 'mummers'.

In one of my Back Tracker novels, a unique Newfoundland phrase provides my heroine with a vital clue.

For a bit more Newfoundland trivia, check out Did you know. . . on my website.

Eileen Schuh,
Canadian writer

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Empty Eyes

I had several requests for a followup to my article, "I met a man with empty eyes." I have now posted one on my website.

Take a peek.
Empty eyes, Empty heart

Eileen Schuh,
Canadian writer

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

On Magic...

For those of you patiently waiting for my promised followup to my blog on it is, and it's all about magic. Forget David Copperfield, Kreskin, Houdini--mere illusionists. Once you know how their tricks are done, the magic vanishes. Harry Potter--fictional.

I'm talking about REAL magic. The kind of magic that, the more you know about it, the deeper is your wonder.

Consider the carrot seed.* Have you ever seen one? Dried up, tiny--almost microscopic. Lifeless, it would seem. Yet that seed takes the sunshine, earth, and rain and turns itself into a delicious, colourful, healthy, crunchy carrot. In that dried up speck is not only all the information needed to grow a carrot, but all the labour needed to make it happen.

A carrot--enabling you to imbibe the sunshine, taste the rain, and become a part of the vibrant world in which you live. Can it get much more magical than that?

Consider the elusive origins of your thoughts and inspiration. Magic.

Contemplate your night dreams. How is it possible to be surprised by your own dreams? How it is that you don't know what will happen next, what's behind the closed door, what words will next be spoken? How is it that you don't know how your own dream will end?

From where do the characters in your dreams come? Complete with bodies and faces and voices and personalities. Strangers--doing things you've never seen done, asking questions you've never asked, giving answers you did not know. Magic.

Wonder about rainbows, and sunlight, radio waves, and love. Cherish your own origin.

Believe in magic...

Eileen Schuh,
Canadian writer

*When the heroine in my Back Tracker series, a young genius and an atheist, is dealt a tragic blow, she finds solace in her memory of Grandma Buckhold's lesson on the magical carrot seed. More info on this series is posted on my website. The Back Tracker Series