Ok, so I missed my brain. A lot. You know that the space above your shoulders is in dire straits when you actually feel smarter on diphenhydramine, the active antihistamine ingredient in Benadryl.
I had called my partner from LA a few nights ago, in a blubbering messy mental and emotional pretzel, powerless and helpless, at my wit’s end but not willing to give up.
I yammered on about how I missed my brain, how I felt so much less intelligent, like I had been juggling my mental marbles on fumes and then suddenly dropped them all at once.
In what can only be described as an act of true love, my partner uttered words I never thought I’d ever hear him say:
“Well, maybe you should go back to what you were doing, and come down slowly.”
Knowing how much he had hated the very thought of my involvement with kreteks, I knew it must have dang near killed him to say that. He must have really felt for me.
I really appreciated his consideration and selfless love.
But I wanted to let him know how dedicated I was (am) to this journey, and I had come so far already that I did not want to turn back. I didn’t want to take any steps backward. I didn’t want to throw in any towels or experience failure or even admit any defeat.
Because as defeated as my soul had felt, and as hard as it was grieving for the loss of my cognition, I had not yet failed. There was no defeat to admit. I might not have been strong, but I was still standing. And I wasn’t about to lie down.
But that didn’t change the fact that I needed something. I needed help. I pled with him to help me.
I gave him an assignment: to look up everything he could find about acupuncture points, Traditional Chinese Medicine herbal formulas, energy medicine, anything he could find.
It also helped that I was attending a conference in which the theme was centered on…
Unfortunately, the presentations did not delve into topics like nicotine or the sudden cessation thereof.
What to do?
I had been considering the whole “vaping” thing. Here was a way for me to get my brain boosted without the hassles and hazards of tobacco, of which kreteks are 60% (the other 40% is clove).
I thought, wonderful! No having to wash my hands all the time, no staining of tissues (epidermal or dental), and no chest mucus. No hypoxia, either, I don’t think.
Win-win? Could I really have my cake and eat it too? How awesome is that?
I knew vaping wouldn’t come without hazards and hassles of its own.
First, it’s not as simple as taking a stick out of a package and lighting one end. There are supplies involved. Some parts of the vaporizer will need replacing in time. There’s maintenance. There’s the operation of the device. You actually have to charge it (there’s a battery inside), and you have to keep an eye on the battery status. There’s fluid, which comes in different flavors and different nicotine strengths. The device only holds so much at one time, which means you’re refilling it fairly often.
And of course, the fluid itself–there are many different types, not all of which are created equal. Some can be very natural and organic, while others can carry many of the same health risks as actual smoking. That can become an issue.
And using the vaporizer is different than actual kreteks, too. The inhalation is different. The hand position is different. It’s a bulkier device that won’t sit between two fingers. There are buttons to push at certain times, sequences of movements to coordinate. And lest we forget, I’m not the most coordinated individual.
Screw it; I’m going to try, I thought.
My first foray consisted of walking a mile east from my hotel a couple nights ago, into a fairly seedy part of Los Angeles. The older man of Arabic descent was not particularly helpful. But I managed to score a bottom-of-the-line doohickey and oil for $23 total and grab a couple good hits before the sucker inexplicably gave out on me.
Screw it, I thought again. I will try again when I get home.
I talked it over with my partner that night, and, totally on-board, he vowed to help me.
Today over lunch, he had clearly taken it upon himself to search for vape shops, and he found a few. Across town. By a mall. Blech. I totally appreciated his efforts, though, and offered up a more palatable option: the head-shop where I had been getting my kreteks on the cheap all this time. Those folks were experts, they already knew me, and they would teach me how to choose and use a device. They would do me up righteous and proper.
My partner recommended that I make that my Priority No. 1, my project for the afternoon. He had checked the astrological calendar and noted that the Moon was not Void of Course, and that it was in a waxing (growing) phase. These attributes make any endeavor undertaken during these times more likely to pan out and succeed.
I went for it.
A familiar trip to a familiar place led to an unfamiliar purchase, but I walked out with the most beautiful device and the yummiest-tasting oil I had ever seen. The vaporizer already had half a charge straight out of the box, and I got to demo it right there in the store. Three cheers for a Guided Tutorial!
I can do this on my deck. I can do it in my office. No one’s going to know. And thus, no one’s going to care.
It may not be progress; after all, it’s still nicotine, so in a way, I have conceded some of my success.
But then, a brilliant, informed, cutting-edge health-conscious friend sent me a link to an article (actually more of a discussion thread on a forum that led off with an article) about nicotine that piqued my interest pretty acutely.
It hailed nicotine as a brain-boosting agent. It explained that nicotine’s effect on the brain is simultaneously stimulating and relaxing. That it boosts focus, memory, attention, and executive function. It went on to say that nicotine itself was not the addictive substance that everyone thinks it is; rather, it’s the other chemicals added to other, regular cigarettes that are responsible for the addiction aspect.
That explains a whole lot. Actually, it explains everything.
It explains why I never went through the withdrawals, the anxiety, the restlessness, the needing to chew gum and keep my hands and mouth “busy”. I never snapped at anyone or paced the room. Nor did I get shaky or nauseated during the first few days normally described as “detox”.
Nope, Lucky Duck Me, I never went through any of that. None of it.
All I did was watch helplessly as my brain fell off a cliff and proceeded to go tumbling down the hill. I was Jack and I was Jill, at the same time.
And the crushing fatigue! My sister said that she slept horribly after she stopped, so I braced myself for the same thing.
What I didn’t realize was that my sister and I had stopped different things.
We had started different things, for different reasons, and kept doing our different things for different reasons, and we decided to stop in different ways for different reasons.
Lots of “different”s.
I hadn’t quite fully realized that. Neither of us did.
Shoulder shrug. Oh well. No harm, no foul.
I still think it was a good idea to have compared notes anyway.
This throws a kink into the chain, though, an unplanned variable into the equation, now, doesn’t it?
Very few people out there are doing what I’m doing, in the same context and pretenses as I am. Therefore, there isn’t a lot of information out there for someone in my situation. I had little to no heads up regarding what I want about to face or go through.
So, I guess I’m writing my own book, as I have done for so many other situations in my life. It’s nothing new to me, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing, either.
The upshot of doing it this way is that there’s no precedent set, no benchmarks against which to measure myself, no set barometers of success, failure, expectations, or timelines. It’s all me, just me.
Once again, I travel my road alone. And I do make decent self-company. 🙂