I'm 51 years old and I had been smoking for 37 years. I started in high school at the age 14. My friends smoked and I had to smoke because all my friends were smoking and it was the cool thing to do then. I smoked even though I would throw up at even the smell of a cigarette, but I had to keep going. After all I had a reputation to save and to defend. NOW IT'S MY LIFE I HAVE TO SAVE AND DEFEND !!!!!!!!!!!!!
It did not take very long for my body to accept the smoke with pleasure. My body was welcoming the smoke so much that I could smoke even more until about 3-5 years down the road that I was up to a total of smoking approximately 2-3 packs of cigarettes a day.
Well, 37 years have passed and during this time I have lost both of my parents to emphysema, both in their early 50's (both smokers). My brother just turned 50 years old and has had emphysema for the past 6 years. He is on oxygen 24 hours a day and has been on a life support system 3 times in the past 6 months (he's still smoking). When I was a child I lost my grandfather to Buerger's Disease (smoker). He had one leg amputated and his twin brother had both legs amputated from the same disease (both smokers). Two other grandparents passed away from cancer (both smokers).
ALL SMOKING RELATED DISEASES !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Even after losing both parents I continued to smoke. O, I would try to quit, but after awhile I was right back to smoking full force. It just didn't seem like I would ever give them up. I remember as both of my parents were in their last days of life, they would say to me,
IF I COULD HAVE ONLY QUIT SMOKING !!! IF I COULD OF ONLY GIVEN UP THOSE CIGARETTES!!!
I don't know what I thought? People would say to me, how after all you have seen your parents go through and taking care of them during their illnesses, how could you pick up a cigarette? I DON'T KNOW. I guess I just thought this would not happen to me, maybe my genes are different and it will pass me by, that I could quit this bad habit anytime. Bad habit, very bad term for cigarettes, but I used it. Even when people would say, you are addicted to those cigarettes just like cocaine, just like heroin, just like alcohol. Well, I told myself and them that this is not an addiction because I don't do unusual things like sometimes is associated with drug use. WRONG!!! I AM AN ADDICT TO NICOTINE AND YES THIS BEHAVIOR IS UNUSUAL LIKE SOMETIMES ASSOCIATED WITH DRUG USE.
I would remember my parents words and think well if they couldn't give it up, I will probably never be able to give it up either. I almost felt that I was stuck with this. There were times I really wanted to quit, that I tried to quit, but I just couldn't seem to do it.
About four to five weeks ago my brother was in the hospital for the 3rd time on life support. He was on life support for almost 5 days, the longest since the beginning of his illness with emphysema. It was the second day of his stay in the ICU Unit while I was sitting with him that I really needed a cigarette.
Now I have osteo-arthritis in both knees and if anyone out there is familiar with this, you know the pain that comes just from taking a step at times. Well I made my way to the emergency room exit, the only place on hospital property where you are allowed to have a cigarette, which is a very long distance from the ICU Unit. I struggled with every step, stopping every few feet to rest my knees, and O, I also have 2 inhalers that I use when I have problems with my asthma. I stopped twice to use each inhaler, leaning on the wall and railing to get my breath, resting my knees to take another few steps to make it to my goal of having this cigarette near the emergency room exit. After quite a few stops, I had made it. Now hanging over the railing to light this cigarette outside, temperature is only about 10 degrees outside, to cold to inhale without a cigarette, much less additional smoke into your lungs.
As I stood there hanging over that railing, I said to myself, you are an addict to these cigarettes. If you don't do something, you will die. What is wrong with you, your brother is upstairs on life support and not knowing if he would make it this time and here you are struggling to have a cigarette.
In my ears began ringing the message
If I could have only quit smoking !!! If I could have only given them up !!!
I didn't know what to do or where to go, but I did know that I could not do this on my own.
I NEED HELP! I AM ADDICTED! I NEED TO DO SOMETHING TO SAVE MY LIFE
OR I AM GOING TO DIE!