For several years (more especially since the smoking ban) I have known that I ought to give up the evil weed. Not only has it become ever more anti-social but I know it is not doing my health any good. Increasingly I have been getting out of breath running around the stage and to and from dressing rooms.
So, using my enforced non-smoking stay in hospital as a springboard, I decided to try giving up. 10 days on patches under the influence of morphine and I was over the worst withdrawal symptoms.
On leaving hospital I signed up with the Government sponsored Quit Smoking Programme. They provided me with free patches for 14 weeks and any other support I asked for. But I didn't need any further help. I had my last cigarette on 29th October 2008. I remember the day because it was the day before I had my hip done.
So, 3 months on, how do I feel?
Well, I didn't get the expected coughing and clearing of built up tar etc in my lungs. I never got the cravings for cigarettes. I did get hunger pangs, but these were mainly that I needed something to occupy my mouth without ciggies.
The biggest change I have noticed is my senses of taste and smell. For the first time since I was 12 I can taste the true flavour of things, which has been a bit disconcerting in some cases. The first thing I noticed was coffee. It doesn't taste like coffee anymore, it tastes of something else completely.
And smells. I can suddenly smell things which I never realised had smells! And smells which I always thought were very minor background smells are now revealed as major odours. Toilets especially are very odorous, contrary to my previous experience. Some of it is so alien I sometimes feel tempted to start smoking again just so that all these tastes and smells can recede into the background again, where they have been for so many years.
I know that I am healthier and that my costumes no longer smell of smoke but I do miss some aspects of being a smoker. That said, I know I have done the right thing in giving up, if for no other reason than the money I am saving.
UPDATE - 11/11/11 It has now been 3 years since I kicked the weed. In that time I can honestly say I have felt no improvement in my health. However, the improvement to my bank balance is great!
31/1/12 - I recently had to have a battery of tests. One of them was a lung function test. I was expecting, after smoking since I was 12, to have very reduced lung capacity. I was very surprised to be told that the conditions of my lungs was compatible with a man only a year younger than me. Somehow I had managed to escape any damage over all those years. But then both my parents still smoke and are in their mid eighties.