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See The Spector

Seeing the Light

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I want to use my Hall of Fame speech to tell you a little bit about my addiction, about my decision to quit, how I quit, and what I might have done differently if I had to do it over again. I will be sprinkling in quotes from other Hall of Famers throughout my speech (in italics) as a way of honoring those who blazed the trail for me. But first I do want to do a short dedication and say thank you to those on QSSN who helped me down the trail.

 

This 100 days quit is dedicated to Dr. Coleman J. Spector, DDS who is my oral surgeon. Yes my trip to go See The Spector changed my life and probably saved my life.

 

I want to thank my quit bro BLG who is the other half of the Angry Quitters – Sick of Slavery team. Having someone like you to call, text or message has been a huge reason why I made it through some of the tougher days. Thanks Brother!!

 

I also want to thank the many supporters that have joined us for roll call these past 100 days. They are: MacDanders, Duf, Chill, MCO, Mongrel, Dodowah, Lucky, jayst, Fish, NoMoreBear, ReDo, TR1960, 86Torker, Sweet Tony, Dave444, Rat, NMG, CraigMac, Jmuir, FES, Stockchart, bflem, Jeffrobd, and Johnny. A special extra shout out to Benpitt and Tiger Refuge who not only post support on our roll call almost every day, but who also join me in the Rage Room from time to time.

 

Finally I want to thank a couple of guys quitting solely on the Facebook QSSN page who regularly message support. Keep up the good work Ben and Tom!

My Life as a Dipper
The days of dipping in high school seemed so carefree and harmless. I would only have a couple of small dips per day when I was studying or trying to cut weight for wrestling, dip was under a buck per can, and a can would last a week. It was easy to sign that first contract in pencil with my new friend dip. College life brought more freedom, tougher coursework, and a lot of beer drinking. My friend dip wanted to renegotiate its contract with me. This new contract had to be signed in ink and demanded five of six small dips per day, many cans per week, and it had some fine print I never read. When I got my first “big boy” job, dip was right there to congratulate me, but of course a renegotiation of our contract was also requested. This time, dip was asking for larger more frequent dips and for a can a day commitment. Since I now had a real job, dip argued that I could afford it. There was also a lot of new fine print in the contract that was so small that I could not read it. Dip said not to worry about the fine print, and oh by the way this new contract had to be signed in blood. Yea you guessed it. I signed the damn contract. I had pretty much sold my soul.

 

Tobacco is the false friend who stabbed you in the back, robbed you, beat you, raped you, and left you for dead in a gutter on an unfamiliar street, in a country who's [sic] language you don't even speak. – JR January 8.2002

 

I hear a lot of the guys on this site describe themselves as ninja dippers (either they dipped when no one else was around or they were so discreet about it that no one knew they are dipping). For at least the last ten years of my 30+ years of dipping I have been the complete opposite of a ninja dipper, I was the 1/5 of a can of Timberwolf in my mouth for 15+ hours a day dipper. I dipped loud and proud and I dipped anywhere and everywhere. Not that I was ever rude about, but if other people didn’t like that I was dipping, then that was just tough shit, because nothing was coming between me and my dip (I was such an addicted asshole). It’s so freaking sad that in half the photos that were ever taken of me (unless they gave me warning) I look like Bubba from Forest Gump or one the Yanomami tribe (Google it or see the photo in the Rage Room). For the last several years of my addiction it was so bad that the only times during any given day that I did not have dip in my mouth were; meals, exercise and sex. And the sad part is that I rushed through all three of those things, just so I could put that poison crap back in my mouth as soon as possible (pathetic addict).

 

I could write volumes regaling stories of how pathetically addicted I was and how sometimes my compulsion to dip would own me, but one story says it all. There were six of us out for a business dinner at best steakhouse in Louisville. An agent I work with was buying the dinner and our mutual client was buying the wine – so I was being treated. The appetizers were wonderful, and then the $55 steaks arrived cooked to perfection. One of the clients is an oenophile and is treating us to $250 bottles of wine. When the meal ended I was stuffed with delicious food and amazing wine and jonesing for a dip. But some folks wanted coffee, so we had to stay at the table a while longer. And oh yes I did. This pathetic dipper loads up his lip (good three finger pinch) right at the table and then takes one of the empty bottles of wine from the table to use as my oversize spitter. As an addict I had hit rock freaking bottom.

Deciding to Quit
Quit now or quit at the urging of your oral surgeon. I did it the latter, you be smart and do the former. – JR April 17, 2002

 

I had been having some mouth issues for a while so my regular dentist sent me to an oral surgeon. It was a Thursday afternoon when I went to go See The Spector (Dr. Spector DDS – Oral Surgeon). My blood pressure is off the chart because I am so nervous. With a mirror in my hand and a bright light in the hand of The Spector, we began to examine my mouth together. Neither of us liked what we were seeing. Occasionally he would take the light out of my mouth and it would shine in the mirror that I was holding, and kind of blind me. The blinding light in the mirror had an eerie look, as it kinda looked like the light at the end of a tunnel. This light was not a ray of hope. Nope, it was an oncoming train. A speeding train of tooth loss and gum grafts at the very best and at the worse - squamous cell carcinoma.

 

I left Spector’s office in shock and headed for some time in the barber chair. Normally I would have a quick dip as I walked the 5 blocks to the barber, but on this day the can remained in my pocket. I grabbed a lollipop at the barbers, and as I sat in the chair getting clipped sucking on that lollipop, I made the decision quit dipping. When I left the barber, I went across the street to Walgreens and bought a big bag of lollipops and two boxes of nicotine gum. I went home and looked in the mirror. I was getting older and my gums were in bad shape, but at least my hair looked good (hehe). It was then that I gave myself the lecture of my life and the law was laid down. I said fine, if you need nicotine that badly, then I give you permission to be addicted to nicotine gum for the rest of your life. But you will never ever ever put tobacco in your mouth again. Do you hear me you selfish self-destructive addict? Yes, I heard myself loud and clear and Day 1 was born.

 

Someday, you will regret not quitting. Don't pass up that golden moment, when you are ready to quit… – olywa mike March 18, 2002

So I had my lollipops and nic gum, but I had no idea what the hell I was doing or what I was in for. I knew I needed help, and fast. I had found a couple of other sites on the internet geared for people trying to quit smokeless tobacco, and started reading some articles and posts. It’s weird how constantly reading what others went through in quitting helped me get through the first couple of days. I did come to realize that my use of NRT was against the “rules” of these other quit sites and I was not welcome in their quit groups or chat areas. Thank God I went back to my search results and found QSSN. It was exactly what I needed, and I joined my quit group on the 4th day of my quit.

My use of NRT
I am not an advocate for NRT and I don’t necessarily recommend its use as a quit aid. That being said I am unapologetic about using for the first part of my quit. My goal was to quit using tobacco – PERIOD!!! I was up front about my NRT use with my quit brother, but other than that I never really brought it up. I think everyone is a little different in the way they want to approach their quit, and I will support the cold turkey quitters and those wearing a patch on their arms with equal enthusiasm. Do I think NRT helped me? I’m not really sure. Maybe for the first week or so, but in general I found nic gum to be quite unsatisfying. Right after my second week of using the gum, I just found that I wanted it less and less. Quite by accident, I missed having a piece in the morning one day, so I had my first piece of the day in the afternoon. The same thing happened the next day. The third day of that week my first piece of nic gum was after the evening meal. The forth day I made it almost until bed time. On day 22 of my quit I just stopped using nic gum altogether.

 

However, whatever it takes to quit you should be willing to do. Beat this addiction FIRST, then worry about gum, patches, fake dip, etc. As long as there is no snuff in your mouth, you will be on the road to beating the addiction. No one here thinks any less of you if you use quit aids, and there are no special prizes for quitters that went cold turkey. 100 days is 100 days. Just quit. – Trying July 15, 2002

 

What I Would Have Done Differently

 

Timing: Timing is everything, and my timing for quitting dip sucked big time. Yes I decided to quit dip as a spur-of-the-moment decision two days after my father’ funeral. Yep I buried my dad, and decided to give up a 35-year habit two days later. Not a wise choice, as I had no idea the grief that I was feeling over the loss of my dad could be eclipsed tenfold by the grief of the loss of my “best friend” (dip) (see below for more on grief). My second error in timing was launching my quit on December 1st as the stressful holiday season was approaching and the days were the shortest - bringing on the seasonal depression. I weaned myself off of NRT on the 22nd of December so I timed a perfect nic withdrawal right at Christmas with the families. OH YEA, then I messed it up even more by planning a dream vacation to Easter Island with my significant other in mid January. Nothing like going halfway around the world to one of the most beautiful places on earth just to be an angry irritable son of a bitch (sorry mom). I know that timing is often used as an excuse not to quit (i.e. things are just too hectic for me to quit right now). However, one should be conscious that making too many major life changes at one time is not a good idea either.

 

Advanced Preparation: Preparation is key!!! My quit was pretty much: FIRE, Ready, Aim. I liked dipping (or at least my addiction led me to believe I did) so had never really wanted to quit before. Sure maybe I thought that I should quit, but I had never made any steps towards actually quitting since I really did not want to quit. So here it is a Thursday afternoon and for the first time in my life the “brass ring of quitness” comes into view and it’s within my reach. I grab that brass ring and pull with all my might, and I have done it – I have quit dip. Great, I have quit, so now what do I do? I have no idea. Wish I would have read Bluesman’s articIe before I pulled the trigger.

 

You must be willing to do literally ANYTHING to free your mind! In my case, the "do anything" approach has meant using herbal chews, chewing gum, hard candies, Altoids, prayer, eating snacks, taking walks, drinking water, working out, jogging, leaving work early, changing my routines, drinking more coffee, going to church in the middle of the day, and spending hours reading and posting on this website. If you need nicotine supplements (gum or patch) or an anti-depressant prescription, then go get them, right now. In fact, have everything ready on Day -1, so that you have these things ready when you need them. And tell everyone about your decision and your commitment. "Burn every boat," so to speak, so that you cannot break your commitment without embarrassment, without publicly admitting failure, and without swallowing your pride. Make it more difficult to cave that to remain true to your commitment (see "do anything" above). In fact, invest so much time and effort into your commitment that you absolutely HAVE to stick it out. Every step away from a prison cell is a step towards freedom. – Bluesman 2002

Being Prepared for the Grief: I was totally and wholly unprepared for the grief and mourning over the major life change of giving up dip. I was ready for withdrawal symptoms, but the feelings of grief and mourning over the loss of dip were/are so overwhelming that I will post a separate rant about it in the Rage Room. But for right now, I will tell you that only the death of my dog can compare with the emotional pain and sense of loss that I felt with giving up dip. Yes, I grieved immensely for my father, but in reality, dad and I talked a couple of times a month on the phone and saw each other a couple of times a year. My dog was always by my side for 13 years and was my constant companion, and when he died it was like having part of my heart ripped out. Likewise dip was my constant companion for 30 years and was my “best friend” who went everywhere and did everything with me (addiction messes with your mind so much that you think a can of poison is your best friend). When I quit dip, it felt like my best friend had died. I thought I was the only one feeling a sense of mourning and grief over the loss of dip, but I would come to find out that it is way more common with smokeless quitters than one would think. It’s OK to grieve. A major part of our lives (dip) is gone forever (died). We just need to remember that our association with dip had to die, or that we were going to die from our association with dip.

 

The emotional or daily life aspect of dipping was harder for me than any physical symptoms. Hell at one point I felt like I was mourning the death of a friend, literally. What I was really mourning was the fact that I had attached dipping to so many good memories that dipping itself had become my emotional tie in to the past, and THAT'S what was bullshit. – Tiger Refuge May 16, 2013

Being Prepared for How Long the Irritability and Depression Might Last: I must say that I was also totally unprepared for how long it can take for the brain to “heal” itself after years and years of nicotine abuse. I was not prepared for the depression and I was not prepared for the irritability, short temperedness, and rage to continue for so long. It was only by reading so many posts on this site from other quitters and by reading some posts on smoking cessation sites that I began to realize that it could be a very long road to full recovery. Everyone’s quit and everyone’s brain is different. For some, they all good after a couple of months, but for others it can take years to feel close to “normal” again. I suspect that I am one of those people for whom it will take a longer time to fully heal. Just knowing that is half battle. So, I will acknowledge that my brain chemistry is still messed up, I will not set arbitrary timelines for my recovery, and I will keep my chin up and not use any tobacco products One Day at a Time.

 

After a few days of hell, a few months of being a miserable prick and a few years of regular cravings I am finally coming out on the other side. I tell you all, find support, kick it completely and hold on. You will come through it. Do not get caught comparing your quit to others. When at 100 or 200 days people told me they really were not struggling anymore I wanted to punch them in the face. For me, it did not let go quickly, but it is now [at 1,000 days]. I have a dear friend on this site who past 1,000 days is still struggling like I was 200 days ago. I called her yesterday to tell her to have hope. We have lamented to each other so many times “why isn’t this easy yet? I hope the fact I am finally getting there can be an inspiration that hope springs eternal. – Tamado September 2007

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed.

 

Regards,
Bruce

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