Day 3, gets ugly. Calling in reinforcements!

“Third’s the worst, seconds the same, first’s the best of all the game.”

I have learned that when it comes to acclimatizing to a non-habit, the third day is by far the most extreme in my body. It’s my mile 20. Known by runners as “The wall.”

A nonsmoker’s system creates all sorts of gnarly natural stimulants. Unfortunately these little guys are displaced by the simple act of smoking. After smoking long enough, (for me its three days) the body realizes that there is a major surplus of stimulants running around everywhere and it drastically slows down production. This is called compensation. It’s a nasty lay-off at the stimulants factory because crappy low quality product has saturated the market .

“So sorry Joe, but we just don’t need you no mo!”

Over a very long time I have taught my body to expect a certain thing. It is expecting about 60 – 90 milligrams of nicotine to be delivered to my system every day over a 16-hour period. My body is also expecting the dosage to come in heavy spikes. So, about every hour my system is expecting 4-5 milligrams to come pouring into my blood stream right after I light up a smoke.

I’m reminded of my fish patiently waiting at the top of the tank when feeding time comes around. They know that soon a hurricane of bloodworms, shrimp, brightly colored flakes, algae wafers and the occasional blanched cucumbers flood the aquarium. Mr. Wizard, do fish salivate?

What if the fish keeper goes on vacation? Well some use a vacation feeders. There basically horrible little dish resembling catfood stuffed full of slow release gelatin. Fish do not like it very much when you go on vacation and would much prefer you had a buddy come by at feeding time.

So anyway, what’s happening now is very different from what I have taught my body to expect. Without the smokes, every cell in my body is screaming for relief. All systems gone to emergency mode. My body is in a panic. Everything is confused. WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON!!! This internal chaos is induced because of my decision to quit and its confused partly because I’m using the nicotine patch as a replacement therapy device. The patch is different from smoking. For starters, sleeping while wearing the patch is a challenging proposition.

While sleeping, Nicotine causes what some makers of patches describe as “vivid dreams.” “Vivid” dreaming sounds kinda cool. It sounds, kinda fun. Like when I was dumb in high school and used to party. Well it’s not! Sleeping with the patch is not an attractive option for me.

Bizarre nightmares with no logic ensue. Tim Burton, Quentin Tarantino, and Joe Francis, all got together and decided to cook up a movie just for me!

Ludovico technique apparatus

Even that sounds awesome! (I should write them). But then I learn that the film editor was sick that day and each scene is presented incomplete and shuffled in random order. Not quite so awesome. Anybody remembers the theater scene from “A clockwork orange?” BINGO! (Sorry Stan, there was only room for three cooks in this hypothetical kitchen of torture so you get the venue instead)


The nicotine patch works very differently than the common cigarette. On its highest dose, the patch slowly releases a grand total of 21-milligrams topically over 24-hours (NOT 16 hours). And because I must remove the patch before I go to bed,instead of the overall 21 mg that the nicotine company estimates, I get a grand total of a stinking 14mg/day. This ends up being about nine-tenths of a milligram per hour, evenly spread out across every single one of those 3600 a g o n i z i n g… seconds.

By bloodstream cries out, “POINT NINE! With a decimal!? Are you kidding me!?”

So what does all of this have to do with “Three days?”
At the end of day three, the factory starts hiring again! Joe gets his job back! Stoke up those fires, get those furnaces going! Slow at first; but its a start.
It’s all about the human body’s ability to adapt and adjust, compensate, and acclimate. Its incredible! It may not make day 3 any less gruesome, but I’m comforted knowing that reinforcements are on their way.


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