I quit smoking - here are 6 reasons you should too

Margaret talks about 6 things smoking has stolen from her.

I’m not ashamed that I started smoking. When I started, there wasn't very much known among the general public about just how bad smoking is for you. The tobacco companies tried to hush it all up.

Many of my friends smoked. Our parents smoked too. It was just something people did back then – we didn’t know any better. However, like many long-term smokers I ended up falling ill as a result of my habit.

I was 54 when I was first admitted to hospital with a bad chest. I was told that my lung capacity was around 30%, and that it would only get worse if I continued smoking.

Even then, having already tried to quit smoking using hypnosis and acupuncture, I really struggled to stop. As we all know, smoking is very addictive.

Five years later I was admitted to hospital once more, and this time was told that my lung capacity was at just 15%. It had halved in only 5 years. Only then did I finally manage to kick the habit.

However, in many ways it was already too late. I’ve come to terms with the things that I now can’t do. However, although I live as full a life as possible, trying to focus on the things that I can do, I do still wish that I’d quit smoking before I did. As my doctor told me; the earlier you quit, the less damage you do to yourself.

If you smoke, I don’t blame you. It doesn’t automatically make you stupid, or bad or irresponsible. It does, however, mean that you have a good chance of ending up where I am.

So before you pick up your next cigarette, please just have a look at the 6 most valuable things smoking has stolen from me and ask yourself: are these things you’d be willing to lose for a smoke?

1. My identity

Smoking took away who I was in many ways. I always used to make the extra effort to help people out and I enjoyed my life doing that – that was who I was.

I can’t be that person any more. Now I have to stop and take a back seat. In the beginning I felt very down about this - I think most people probably feel like that when they get a COPD diagnosis.

I came to understand that I have to accept that I just can’t be the same person I was before. I’ve made peace with the new person that I am today. Obviously not every day is a happy day, but I have come to cope and adapt.

2. My house

I moved to a bungalow because having 15% lung capacity means I have to avoid stairs. I really miss my home: the home where I spent many happy years; the home where my children grew up.

I dread one day being housebound and unable to do anything for myself. I enjoy my independence and I know one day I might have to go to a nursing home - but I really hope that won’t happen. I keep that in the back of my head to make sure I stay positive.

3. My job

I loved my job, but 5 years after first being admitted to hospital I had to give it up. The chest specialist was very surprised when I asked for a 'sick note' for work as he couldn't believe that I was still working full-time. He said that it would be impossible for me to return.

4. My strength

It takes me 2 hours to get up and out of bed in the morning. I find simple things like getting up, washing or even brushing my hair exhausting. I am reliant on my scooter if I want to go to the shops. I have to give myself extra time to do physical things as my condition means I do everything at a snail’s pace.

5. My social life

I'm a very social person but now I only really have enough energy to see my friends once a week. Trips to the theatre, for example, are normally out of the question as they often involve flights of stairs.

As for holidays, I now have to have oxygen on hand if I ever want to fly on a plane - an extra hassle I didn't have to deal with before. It makes going on holiday stressful when it should be relaxing!

6. My father

I recently discovered that my father died from the same disease I live with – COPD. Apparently, over a quarter of long-term smokers end up with COPD, and others often get diseases like lung cancer or heart disease. Knowing that smoking took my father makes me look to my grandchildren through different eyes.

In a way, I’m grateful to still be here and see them grow up at all. However, I can’t run around and play with them the way I’d like to. I can’t tell you how much I would hate it if any of them took up smoking.

If you're trying to quit smoking, check out our smoking information or call our helpline on 03000 030 555.


Comments

Thanks to Juliet Eales and Melanie Marks for presenting my story. It has really took off on Facebook and many friends and family have passed on the message to others. Lets hope it encourages all who read it to bin the cigs and even if you have got a C.O.P.D. diagnoses, go out and live your life. Its still good even with a 'dodgy' chest. best wishes to all....Margaret .
those comments are a mirror image of how I feel
I was heartened to read June's comment of 19 hours ago! I was diagnosed with COPD 5 and half years ago and took the advice of my GP "If you stop smoking it won't get any worse, but it won't get any better: the damage is done". I quit the fags, started regular exercise and lost some of my excess weight. Returning to clinic for check up a year later, I was told that my lung function had improved somewhat and that I was, "A shining example to all COPD sufferers". I continue to exercise most day, try for 6 out of 7, have increased my walking pace from the 20's down to 18/19 mins per mile and although I still have the condition, it will not slow me down. I am 73 and half years old and surprised our locum GP who thought I was 20 years younger!! To ALL who suffer, give up the fags, think positively and go for it!! Good luck.
I left it too late and now have to walk around with a tube from my nose 24 hrs a day giving me oxygen.wish i had stopped 20 years ago instead of 7 years ago..i hate the smell of the coffin nails now.we think it will never hit us.how wrong can we be.
can relate to this in more ways than one,,for everything that was robbed i too felt that loss,i was diagnosed in 2006,already at end stage ,yet had no previous warnings of how bad i was or indeed that i was ill at all,i quit smoking there and then,i had suffered respiratory failure,i congratulate every one who manages to quit the dreaded fags...they are addictive and are as bad as hard drugs to give up,it can be done,it takes effort and a lot of courage ,dont feel ashamed for the failings for the next attempt may well succeed
Stopping smoking is helpful in improving quality of life and health long term, whether you have been diagnosed with COPD or any other lung disease.
Stopping smoking at the time of diagnosis will increase a persons chances of preventing further damage to their lungs. Its known that those who continue to smoke after being diagnosed, always deteriorate more quickly. Continuing to smoke causes further lung damage and an increased loss in lung functioning, which in turn leads to greater difficulty as the lung damage progresses. Those who stop smoking quickly after diagnosis, increase their chances and influence dramatically their future life and health by slowing down the progress of the disease and in some cases, can halt the lung damage going any further. Some can even regain some lung functioning that was initially lost through stopping smoking, with regular exercise, a good diet and follow the recommendations learnt at a pulmonary rehabilitation course and those recommended by the medical profession. The choices that we make after diagnosis can have a detrimental or positive affect on us as individuals in the short and long term. Some diagnosed with COPD early enough and stop smoking early enough can greatly improve their chances of living a longer and much better quality of life. I hope those recently diagnosed who read the above story will also absorb what I have communicated here and understand that they have choices and need not go down the route of those who continued to smoke.
I recently lost my dad who had severe cold caused by not only his smoking but also the industry in which he worked in his younger years. I saw first hand how over the past 10 years how he went from a strong independent man to a very frail person who could no longer at the end walk, wash and dress themselves and wish I could bring him back. If I had known more about what this dreadful disease does perhaps we could gave done more. However since his death I have talked to people who still smomking and tried hard to explain what my dad went through

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15 October 2014