Kicked the habit with an e-cigarette

Friday, June 28, 2013
   
I quit smoking when I moved to the UK, mainly because I promised my husband I would.  I did it for him, but not because I wanted to.  I enjoyed smoking.  I missed it, but quit successfully for many years until I went through a stressful time and started again.  My relapse lasted over a year.  The whole time, I was ashamed of myself.  I hated the smell.  I hated how I felt, I hated the health risks and I hated my lack of willpower.
     I've known a few people who have tried e-cigarettes.  I was a skeptic.  I thought it was going from one habit to another.  The people I knew that tried it, always had it and were constantly sucking on it.  It seemed to me they were more addicted to it then they were cigarettes.  I don't know any smokers that constantly had a cigarette in their hand.
     Then in January, I saw a piece about it on the BBC News.  I watched with interest thinking they were going to say that they have found it to be harmful.  What they said was quite the opposite.  They said that if every smoker switched to e-cigarettes, the lives saved every year would be astronomical.  This got my attention.  I went straight online to order one and try it myself.
     The e-cigarette works like this: In one end there's liquid nicotine and in the other is a battery and an atomiser. When you suck on it, the liquid nicotine is vaporised and absorbed through the mouth and what looks like smoke is actually just water vapour.  Because there is no tobacco in e-cigarettes, there is no tar and it's the tar in ordinary cigarettes that kills.
I started with a throw away e-cigarette and found it to taste like chemicals and a lot of work (you had to suck quite hard to get anything from it).  It wasn't satisfying me and I found myself going back to cigarettes.
Then I remembered there was a local shop that just sold one line of them with an extensive range of rechargeable e-cigarettes and they came in all kinds of strengths and flavors.  The line is called Totally Wicked (which is available in the UK, US & Europe) and since buying a starter pack, over six months ago, I never smoked another cigarette.

     I should point out that the starter packs come with a very high content of nicotine. I was lucky to have a salesperson that was kind enough to switch it for the lowest available instead of the highest.  If I had started out with the highest, I might have become one of those people constantly smoking it because Nicotine is so addictive.  When I was smoking, I smoked cigarettes with a very low nicotine content so when I switched to the e-cigarette, I was careful about trying to match the dose.
     I hate the taste of cigarettes (sounds ridiculous doesn't it?), but because I was trying to mimic smoking, I chose the tobacco flavor anyway (of Totally Wicked's Titan fluid).  The flavor is lovely and tastes more of chocolate than tobacco.  The salesperson recommend starting with mixing menthol with it initially to give that 'back of the throat hit' you get with cigarettes.  I added a little for the first day or two and then stopped once I got used to the feel of the e-cigarette.
     If you are reading this and thinking of trying e-cigarettes to quit smoking, here is my recommendation - Go without a cigarette for a day or two first.  If you go from cigarette to e-cigarette, you will feel disappointed, but if you're dying for a smoke and inhale an e-cigarette, you are much more likely to be satisfied with it.  It will feel like smoking.
     I use my e-cigarette on a pretty regular basis (some days more than others).  I do not smoke it in public although it's totally legal to do so. There is no horrible smell, no bad taste and no health risks that are associated with the tar in tobacco products and that's not mentioning the fraction of what it costs compared to cigarettes.
     I now am back to being one of those ex-smokers that hates the smell of smoke and can't stand to be around smokers.  I can also say without a doubt that I will never go back to cigarettes.  I enjoy my e-cigarette and don't miss cigarettes one bit.



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Crazy!

Monday, June 24, 2013
Would you believe that in the last dew days, I have been approached by two different US production companies asking me if I'd be interested in doing a TV show on American expats?  Both found me through this blog!  It's crazy!  I didn't think too many people read my blog!  Unfortunately, one was about American expats with businesses and the other was looking for people who have bought a house in the last year.  I don't qualify for either.  I told them that if they ever want to do a show about an stay at home mom expat  who nearly nine years on, still struggles to fit in socially and would like nothing more than to move back to the US - I'm their girl!

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40 Effed Up Things About Being 40...

Friday, June 14, 2013
  In yesterday's post I wrote about an article I've recently read titled, '40 Effed Up Things About Being 40'  That article has inspired me to compile my own list...

1.  There are a few kids in my son's class that have moms that I'm pretty sure are young enough to be my child.  In theory, this means I am old enough to have a 5-year-old grandchild!
2.  Store clerks have started calling me 'Ma'am'.
3.  I have been known to look up young, good-looking actors on the internet to see if they are old enough for me to find attractive or if I should be ashamed of myself (I have a comfort zone of about 25).
4.  Sometimes when I get dressed I worry I'm too old to wear what I've put on and that people might think to themselves, 'Does she really think she can pull that off?'
5.  I sometimes pass up sex because I'm just too tired.
6.  I recently saw Union J (a boy band for all you oldies) on a morning cooking show and thought they were One Direction (another more famous boy band).  I was so sure they were One Direction, that I told my husband that who ever wrote the TV listing was going to be in a lot of trouble!
7.  I watch morning cooking shows.
8.  If I get pulled over by a police officer, I'm pretty sure I'm going to get a ticket instead of just a smile and a warning like I used to.
9.  More times than not, I don't recognize the celebrities in entertainment magazines or top 40 music videos.
10.  When shopping in trendy stores, I find it very difficult to find something to buy because most of the cloths on display were in style when I was in high school.
11.  I'm pretty certain I'm never going to have a completely flat stomach ever again (without coming down with some very serious illness I'd rather not have).
12.  Flirting would probably no longer get me discounts or freebies.
13.  I think I may be middle aged, but my mind won't let me think about it long enough to know for sure.
14.  I sometimes pass up sex because I'm just too tired.
15.  I have to wear my glasses to read and sometimes to even watch TV.  Today, I had to put them on to pull out a gray hair!
16.  I think I'm old enough to be a cougar.
17.  I hardly recognize any boy from school I'm Facebook friends with (probably because they are no longer boys - they are middle aged men).
18.  Teenagers annoy me.
19.  I no longer feel comfortable wearing a bikini in public.
20.  I'm starting to wax more and more facial hair than ever before and starting to worry I'll be one of those olive skinned old ladies that have beards.
21.  I'd like to have another baby, but I'm just too old, too fat and too tired to get pregnant again.
22.  I sometimes pass up sex because I'm just too tired.
23. I actually own more than one 'Spanx' type item.
24.  I've started buying shoes for comfort rather than sex appeal (much to the dismay of both my stilettos and my husband).
25.  I secretly do a little happy dance in my head when a young guy checks me out (which is not very often).
26.  Going out without makeup is no longer an option (not that I ever did).
27.  I'm pretty sure my days of mini skirts and low rise jeans are over (as I haven't worn either in years).
28.  If I go a couple of weeks without working out, I gain 20 lbs (What the F is that all about?) and in the last few years I've lost and gained the same 20 lbs about a million times! When I was young, I ate massive amounts of food, had an office job, didn't workout a day in my life and never went over a size six!
29.  I miss my 20 year old ass.
30.  I miss my 30 year old ass.
31.  I find it very depressing that one day, I will miss my 40 year old ass.
32.  I sometimes pass up sex because I'm just too tired.
33.   I buy makeup that is designed to give you a youthful appearance and yet all the makeup in the world will not cover the dark circles under my eyes or make me look less tired.
34.  Doctors have started telling me 'It comes with age.'
35.  The me in my head is always a little bit surprised by the me in the mirror (oh and I think I may be morphing into my mother).
36.  I no longer find the term 'MILF' offensive.  If I'm honest, I'd probably find it flattering.
37.  I wish I had known when I was young that I was beautiful.
38.  I fall asleep on the couch before 11PM a lot.
39.  I have serious memory issues.   I actually have one of those pill boxes with the days of the week on it because I often forget if I took my meds or not. I forget where I put things, I forget if I did things I was meaning to do, hell, I forget most of my first marriage!  People joke that I've blocked it out which is ridiculous.  It wasn't that bad.  If I was going to choose to block out a relationship, it wouldn't be that one! 
40.  The most effed up thing about writing a list of effed up things about being forty is that I'm actually 41 and considered OVER 40!




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It comes with age...

Thursday, June 13, 2013
     I don't like my last post being one of those woe is me posts so I needed to find a new topic quickly.  Yesterday, a friend shared an article with me that was titled '40 Effed up things about being 40'  It started out with the author going to the drug store to buy her first pair of reading glasses.  She compared herself to a teenager going to buy their first box of condoms (brilliant).  When she went to make the purchase the cashier told her that their mom wore those.  Needless to say, she was mortified.
     I can relate to moments like these that hit you like a ton of bricks.  When it suddenly dawns on you that although in your head you are still kinda youthful, you most certainly are no longer considered young!
     In the last several months I have been to the doctor about some new medical issues.  As someone with a chronic illness, it's sometimes difficult to decipher which symptoms are related to the illness and which aren't. The first thing was lumps I've developed in my thighs.  Not huge, but big enough to notice.  I got worried and thought I should get them checked out.  The doctor examined me and told me it was nothing to worry about.  It was just a bit of fibrous tissue that comes with age. 'Huh', I thought. 'Comes with age?' That's a first.
     The next time I saw the doctor was for pain in my knees.  I have arthritis in my knees and have always known that, but the pain has gotten worse.  My joints have also started making noises when going up and down the stairs.  He asked, 'What kind of noises?'  I told him squishing noises (unable to find a better word).  'Squishing noises?' he repeated.  I went over to a step he had in his office (I'm assuming it's there to help children or very short people get up and down from his exam table) and started stepping on and off of it saying, 'Do you hear it?'  The doctor said he heard it and told me, 'It's nothing to worry about, it comes with age.'  It comes with age?? This is the second time in so many months I've heard that!  Seriously, we're there already?  He gave me a referral for a knee specialist for the pain and sent me on my way.
     I went to see the knee specialist a few weeks later to go over an MRI scan they sent me for.  He confirmed arthritis (big surprise there).  I asked him why the pain as gotten worse.  I asked if there is more degeneration in the joint than before.  He told me no.  He asked if I work out.  I told him I did.  He gave me a piece of paper to give at the desk on my way out.  I asked, 'But Doctor, I don't understand, why has it gotten worse?' He replied, 'It just comes with age I'm afraid.' Then to add insult to injury, I handed in  the paper at the desk on the way out and in return, I was given knee supports I have to wear when I workout!  All I can say is that I'm so glad I work out at home and not at the gym because these supports are far from stylish!  It comes with age... Really?



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Not feeling well

I haven't been feeling well for the last week or so. Just in case you aren't aware, I have an illness called Ankylosing Spondilitis. It's  a chronic inflammatory disease which also a form of arthritis (although it doesn't just effect the joints). I've had it for many years now, but only got the diagnosis about 5 years ago. I'm on regular medication for it which  helps with inflammation as well as the pain. As my meds can cause stomach problems (like ulcers), I also have to take something to help with counteract that. 
A few weeks ago, I went to the doctor with a new symptom that they thought was a side effect of my stomach meds and gave me something else. A week later, my stomach was on fire. I went back to the doctor and was told to stop taking the meds for my AS until my stomach healed. That was a week ago and I am not coping well. The pain and fatigue are is awful. I have no idea how I lived like this before I started taking AS meds. 
I have a bad shoulder that since I stopped taking the meds, has become a whole arm problem (I guess the meds masked a lot of the pain). I can hardly use my right arm. My knees burn, my neck keeps getting painfully stuck when I turn my head and its stiff which is also causing headaches and that's not even touching on the back pain which is worse than all of it combined. I feel like I'm 80. 
I'm still trying to function normally with everyday activities (housework, cooking and bathing my son) and on Tuesday, I even went into my son's class (I'm a class mom), but the last couple of days I've had to rest in between tasks. Today I'm resting, but I've had enough. I called the doctor and asked for my old stomach meds and a lower dose of my AS medication. I just can't do this anymore and have decided to risk more stomach problems. 
My doctor (who was amazing)  left the practice and the doctors they have filling in until they replace him are apparently useless. I wonder if my doctor would have had me suffering like this or if he would have had a better replacement medication that would not have caused my stomach problems in the first place. I'm stuck in the hands of random doctors I don't know and don't trust and I'm so very frustrated. So when I called today and spoke to another random doctor, I didn't explain. I just asked for the meds I wanted. Now I just have to hope they will call them in to the pharmacy in time for me to have them today. If the stomach problems come back, I'll go back to see someone else, but I just can't suffer mine this anymore. 


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It looks like we had a good time...

Sunday, June 2, 2013





















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Our Disaster of a Day!

My in-laws just left after a five day visit.  I don't mind it being a five day visit, but then again, five days of your house not being your own is always a bit unsettling and although I don't look forward to their departure when they are here, I can't say I'm sad to have things go back to normal.
As a treat for my son's birthday, we took him to the Museum of Natural History in London on Thursday.  He chose to go because we took him last year (he's been crazy about dinosaurs since he was three years old).  They give out adventure packs at the museum which consist of a back pack, safari hat, and binoculars with an adventure to follow during their visit.  The back pack has clues in it to solve a mystery.  Last year it had a dinosaur claw, a tooth and a sample of dinosaur skin he had to match up to one on display.  He had a great time solving the mystery and even remembered which dinosaur it ended up being.
Last year's trip was wonderful.  We walked right in, got him an explorer's pack and explored the entire museum (which is huge), got him a few gifts at the gift shop and went home happy after a very long day. This year was a very different experience.
- 10:30 AM We leave in the morning and head to the train station (train tickets are cheaper at non peak hours). Take a one and a half hour train journey into London.  Arrive in London, catch a cab and get stuck in traffic.
- 1:00 PM Arrive at the museum only to find there is over an hour wait to get in (which to a five year old is totally unacceptable).  Ask about fast track tickets and find out if we paid £20.00 and go to see a butterfly exhibit, we could go right into the museum (which is usually free).
- Pay only to find out we have to wait a half hour before we could go into the butterfly exhibit (luckily it stopped raining by then).  By 1:30, we still hadn't even gotten into the museum. Go through the butterfly exhibit (which was okay, but defiantly better than waiting on in a crowd for over an hour).
- 1:40 PM Finally get into the museum.  No adventure packs. My son cries.  They told us to try back in 45 minutes so we went to lunch.
- 2:20 PM Still haven't been anywhere near the dinosaur exhibit.  Get an adventure pack (for mammals as they have no dinosaur packs available). Head for the dinosaur exhibit only to find a huge line.  We go through the exhibit like a herd of cattle.  About half way through, my son has to take off the adventure pack  and starts to cry because it's so hot in there (At this point, if there was an escape route out of the crowd of people we were stuck in, I'm sure we would have run for it).  None of us enjoyed a moment of the exhibit.
- 3:45 PM We finally break free from the crowd.  I ask my son if he wants to go home because we all had enough.  We rush through the mammals to solve the mystery (it was a polar bear).  Return the adventure pack go to the gift shop and head back to the train station.
- 4:45 PM We are told we can't use our tickets to get on the train (as they are only good for non peak hours).  We have a choice of paying £60 to by new tickets or wait until 7:15 to use our tickets (which we paid £30 for). We pay £60.00.
- 5:15 PM We get on the train with standing room only.  My son starts crying because he's hungry.  No-one gives up their seat.
- 5:45 PM One seat opens up and my son has to sit on his grandmother's lap to eat his sandwich.
- 6:00 PM I get to sit down.
- 6:30 PM We all finally have a seat on the train (none of us sitting together). As you can imagine, by the time we got back, we were all pretty exhausted, grumpy and glad to put the disaster of a day behind us! Well the adults were because later that night, I put my son to bed and he told me he had a great day! Ahh, to be five!





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