I started smoking as a ninth grader. In 1974, I didn’t need any i.d. so I would walk to the store and buy a couple of loose cigarettes. My friends and I would play football in the field and smoke. My mom asked me to go downtown and do some shopping for her. She was trying to teach me to be independent. She handed me some money. I put the money in my left pocket because I had a pack of cigarettes in the right pocket. My mom asked what was wrong with my right pocket. She then told me to take everything out of my right pocket. I was caught with cigarettes and my mom took them. When I was 16, I built up enough courage to ask my mom if I could smoke. She said, “As long as you support your own habit.” Over time, I went from smoking three cigarettes a day to a half a pack a day.
In 1990, I started my job with the county. At the end of my probationary period, I was hospitalized for a week with a collapsed lung. In order for my lung to heal, the doctors stuck a tube in my chest and drain the fluid. I stopped smoking for a while. Eventually, I went back to smoking and in 1995 same problem different day. My lung had collapsed again. I decided to stop smoking again but this time with help of nicotine patches. The patches were working but I had a close uncle to pass away. Honestly that was an excuse to start back, so I chose to stop the patches and pick up cigarettes to grieve. In 1997, I called my supervisor and told her I needed to go the hospital. I knew my lung had collapsed for the third time. I went to Methodist North and was told the surgeon wanted me to go to Methodist Central. They offered ambulatory services but I told them I would have someone drive me. Before leaving Methodist North, I gave away my cigarettes and lighter. I NEVER SMOKED AGAIN!!!
I thank God I haven’t smoked since 1997. Quitting for me took being cut open and finding out I had emphysema. The doctor had to break my rib to remove my top left lobe and told me there was only a 2% chance that I would develop emphysema. I changed my lifestyle and stopped hanging around people that smoked. Cigarettes are very bad. Even with the lifestyle changes, I have emphysema because of my choices as a teenager. I take a breathing treatment every morning plus I have an inhaler. But I thank God for allowing me to be here. Cigarettes are not good for you and will damage your body in the long run. They will damage your heart, lungs, and everything. I think it is a blessing to be a smoke free since 1997.
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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