I started smoking when I started high school, maybe before. It was as much a part of my life as breathing. Everything I did involved smoking. I never thought of it as a real addiction that would actually harm me. There is part of the process that goes on with smokers – most addicts for that matter – and that’s what smoking is: a serious addiction.
Over time, I lost my ability to jog and now, instead of the cold I developed every winter, it was a yearly bout of pneumonia, progressively more serious each year. My physician told me to give up smoking, otherwise it would kill me in short order. With the very best of intentions, I assured him that I would quit. He said that the damage caused by smoking, even for short periods of time, was fatal. This was the very first honest and sobering prognosis of my condition.
After a hundred unsuccessful efforts to quit, I was able to put some distance between myself and cigarettes. My wife and I were going to Miami Beach for Christmas. My appointment with my doctor was scheduled to be a mere check-up to insure everything was okay before we started our Christmas vacation. I was sitting in my doctor’s examining room when he came in and in an off-handed way, told his assistant to call the Emergency Room at Methodist Hospital and make the necessary arrangements for my admission. It was pneumonia again. I was beginning to feel a little weak at that point. Slowly, I slipped from consciousness into the darkness of a coma. At some point, I awoke in the hospital with a breathing apparatus attached to my face. For the first time in quite a while, I was breathing a little more easily. I remember the oxygen smelling so fresh and sweet. After six days in the hospital, much of it unconscious, an ocean of antibiotics and various breathing treatments, I truly had what might be described as an epiphany. I realized how much better I felt without a cigarette, how much better my food tasted, and how much better everything was without cigarettes. I just didn’t want cigarettes any longer and with that knowledge and strength from you know WHO, I wasn’t going to smoke anymore.
It’s been more than three years now since I last had a cigarette. I can’t say that the thought hasn’t crossed my mind but since that time, it has never been a struggle. The very thought of them makes me nauseated; the smell of them make me sick. Not smoking for the first time in 45 years is a miracle – at least to me. Though I still suffer from afflictions associated with “devil smoke,” my physical condition has improved. I regularly attend aerobics and with exercise, I have been able to keep my weight under control and most importantly, I am smoke free.
Has your life been affected by cigarette smoking? Are you a former smoker? Did you quit for personal health reasons? How long did you smoke? Are you a current smoker? Do you know someone who died after years of smoking? We are always looking for new stories for our Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Blog. You NEVER know when your story could help someone else and encourage them to stop smoking. Send us your contact information below so we can tell YOUR story.
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