Real life part three: pushing the limits

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Heather Norris
  • 52nd Fighter Wing
I heard it takes two weeks to break a habit. I am proud to report that I have crossed that threshold. The knee-jerk reactions of reaching for a cigarette that I experienced the first few weeks have passed. The hard part is over, right?

Smoke-free week three and four: It is vacation time, and one trans-Atlantic flight is coming up. Travel can be stressful, and I fear it may be too easy to fall back to my crutch of smoking. To prepare, I make my weekly phone call to the American Lung Association Tobacco Cessation hotline. After that, I stop by the Health and Wellness Center for the mandatory monthly check-in required for my prescription refill. I definitely do not want to run out of my medication while visiting the family.

Scapegoating lost baggage is not my style, and I am still not confident enough in myself to say I have beaten this addiction completely, so I pack my medication securely in my carry-on, and I am on my way. After many setbacks, such as no space-available military flights following the Haitian earthquake, mechanical failures on a paid-for commercial flight out of Frankfurt, Germany, and a complete engine failure on my almost-missed connecting flight, I am finally home.

Being home brings new challenges I have not prepared for and feel I am out of my element. My normal routine, support system and day-to-day activities are not in place. Spending time with my father may be a challenge since he has been a smoker for as long as I can remember. Will I fall back to smoking while spending quality time together? Relaxing with my brother and friends is a complete reversal compared to my crowd in Germany, as all my friends at home smoke. Is it too soon to place all these stressors on myself? The anxiety begins.

Return from leave: There are no exciting details during the trip back, and I pull through vacation with no problems to report. Despite my nervousness from all the stressors, I do not smoke. I am not sure if the prescription medication or my own dedication is the key to my success, but either way, I will take this one as a victory and a step toward my goal to remain smoke-free. I begin to believe that nothing can stop me now.

This is the third in a series of articles featuring Staff Sgt. Heather Norris and her efforts to quit smoking.