Well, it's day 5. The majority of the "wandering around aimlessly while waiting for a merciless craving to just die during a period of time where I talk to myself thanking all that is holy my kids are at school" -style desires have passed. That is a good thing. I'm chewing plenty of gum and eating sunflower seeds and drinking a ton of water. That's also a good thing. The place where that left me today is somewhere where I was keenly aware of how much work my jaw was doing today... Chewing gum has both sides of my face feeling like I've laughed too hard for too long, but just not in a good way. It was in a worried way, which didn't come with the associated adrenaline rush that normally comes with laughter. The cinnamon/mint/fruit/whatever else I could find gum that I rotated through so as to not get bored with a perticular flavor has all the taste buds on my tongue inflamed. My teeth are sore. In general, my face hurts. it hurts all the way up to my ears. Unexplained earaches, coincidentally, are a sign of mouth cancer. I learned this today. And knowing, my friends, is half the battle.
My wife can't possibly understand, but she tries to console me when I tell her that a part of me thinks that it's too late and that the damage has been done. She, as I've mentioned before, is a nurse and shines a light around my face hole and tells me that I'm being paranoid. That's it's the nic-bitch calling. "If the damage is done, what's the point, right? Just go ahead and cave cause there's nothing that's gonna stop this train from rolling." I glad to say that I didn't cave today. I'm not going to cave tomorrow. As for the day after that, I can't really say. But these next two are mine. That's the mentality. Get through today by whatever means possible and have a positive outlook on tomorrow. Except for the cancer, that is. Hard to be positive about that.
I'm not sure why I'm fixated on it today, but I've thought about it a lot. I've felt the inside of my cheek more today that I have in my life. That may be due to the fact that there's not a fat pinch of Skoal Straight in there blocking me from doing so, but it didn't happen last week when I started my quit. The chips and salsa I ate made cuts. I feel those. The gum I'm chewing all day sometimes leads me to bite my lip/cheek/tongue that feel a lot like "Raised red/white bumps that won't go away." from the What-Does-Oral-Cancer-Look-Like Google search. Maybe I'm just facing my mortality for one of the first times in my life and it's all kind of coming together in one monster experience. Some of it is good. Some is bad. But it's my life. It's my quit. If I end up with cancer, there's nothing I can do about my exposure up to now, but there is something I can do about my continued exposure, and that, my friends, is the point of this entry. Water under the bridge. Move forward. Always forward.
I'm going to feel the fight with cravings for the rest of my life. I've read entries from guys who's quit is 1000 days strong who said that today, for them, was like day 2. They couldn't explain why today of all days set them off, but it did. They took to the website to read HOF speeches from guys who just hit the 100-day mark for inspiration and strength. Odd, huh? 1000 days experience without the monkey and it's still there, waiting for a chance to pounce. Up until now, I've entertained the thought of still being able to have cigars with the guys I was deployed with whenever we get back together. Probably not gonna happen. There's one guy that doesn't smoke, but it's because he doesn't like to...not because he can't let himself have a single slip or else falling off the wagon again. I fall more in that latter category. One pinch away from a can-a-day habit. That will still probably be true for me at 1000 days. It's just that much a part of me for that long.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm trying to not think about it, but I am making checkups to have it looked at. I was never worried about a mouth sore after a particularly heavy dip weekend fishing cause the coming week would allow it time to heal. I'm trying to keep that mentality, but have it come from a healthier place now. Trying to not be a hypochondriac, but still know the signs and symptoms I should be aware of that I've purposefully kept my head in the sand about up to this point in my life. Just because I may have it, it doesn't mean that I do. Just because I've increased my exposure immeasurably, it sure as hell doesn't mean that my quit isn't worth doing. Take care of the things I can have an effect on and let the rest roll on. It's nice to be able to write it all down...It helps me to compartmentalize it like that.