I quit smoking - here are 6 reasons you should too
Margaret talks about 6 things smoking has stolen from her.
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.