"You Were a Lot Healthier Before You quit Smoking!"

"You Were a Lot Healthier Before You quit Smoking!"

GrumpyOMrsS (Gold)
Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:00

26 Nov 2001, 09:33 #1

These words were actually uttered to me by a couple of individuals as I progressed further into my quit. Insensitive? NO. Uncaring? NO, again. These are just well meaning people, people who never smoked a day in their lives. They are co-workers who have seen me struggle, not with my quit, but with health issues that have surfaced since I quit. Instead of breathing easier after quitting, it became more difficult. Instead losing the 15 pounds I gained the first year, I added 30 pounds to it this year. Did my quit cause these problems? Of course not. Was smoking masking them? Absolutely!

I write this not just for me, but for others who have had problems surface after quitting. Members, afraid to post on the board that they are feeling worse, and not better, like the majority who have quit smoking. Members who are worried that they might "scare" someone into relapse if they wite that they are having other problems. Each time the post, "My Visit to the Lung Doctor" surfaces, I hear from someone else who is also suffering from unexplained symptoms in silence. For some of us, certain problems surface or becoming worse after quitting smoking; depression, ADD, panic attacks, unexplained weight gain, shortness of breath, tiredness, edginess. The fact is, they were all there before we quit but we were so busy satisfying our addiction, we hardly noticed.

Nicotine addiction and smoking is the deadliest addiction there is. No doubt about it. It kills approximately 1200 people a day through a myriad of illnesses. It kills over 400,000 people a year in the US alone and over 4,000,000 world wide. Smoking and nicotine addiction is so powerful, that it has the ability not only kill us, but to mask illnesses that have been present in our bodies all along. Tobacco companies have added many chemicals to enhance the addiction process and many more to make sure that the delivery system in our bodies is more effecient so that our addiction is assured and we keep buying their products. It is not until we quit smoking and no longer have these chemicals in our bodies that new problems arise or old problems appear worse.

That is why we at Freedom insist that any lingering or unusual symptoms you have should be reported to your doctor. After the first month of quitting, it should never be assumed that your symptoms are quit smoking related. And it is also important to know that just because one doctor says you look and sound good.....that does not mean he or she is necessarily correct. If your symptoms continue to be a problem, see another doctor. In each case for me, both the asthma and the immune system problem, were solved not by my primary care doctor but by a specialist. I kept insisting they were missing something and by golly they were! (am now looking for a new primary care physician). How much easier it is to do battle with a symptom or illness if you know what you are dealing with! My problems were NOT caused by quitting smoking but were instead being "masked" by my continued smoking.

As for medications that your doctor may prescribe for a pre-existing illness when and if it is confirmed, don't be afraid to try them. So many of you have written that you don't want to become involved with other drugs but those drugs can change the quality of your life to a degree you never thought possible. In the beginning, it was very frightening for me to use the asthma inhalers. They reminded me of the act of smoking. It was also very frightening for me to use one of the medications prescribed to me for another problem that resurfaced for me this past year. It's used primarily to treat Parkinson's, which thank goodness, I don't have. Ironically this medicine simulates the dopamine receptors in the brain....the same ones destroyed by my 41 years of smoking. Three weeks on this medicine and I'm feeling 100% better. All symptoms are resolving.

From the first day I stopped smoking until now, almost two years later, I've been very proud of my quit. It has been a joy...something that I never thought I could accomplish in this lifetime. I will continue to guard it with my life. Was I healthier before I quit smoking? Maybe on the outside it may have seemed so to my co- workers, who by the way, were extremely supportive in my quit, but with each puff I took I was a step closer to my grave.

So once again I must emphasize just how important it is to see your doctor for newly acquired and lingering symptoms after you quit smoking. Yes, your body is amazing and begins healing almost after the last puff, but never assume that a lingering bad cough or sores in mouth or shortness of breath are from healing or weight gain is from eating too much after quitting, or that tiredness, irritability, insomnia are quitting related. Each one of these symptoms, completely normal in the beginning, can be a sign that there is something else going on somewhere if they persist weeks or months into your quit. Yes, seeing a doctor can be frightening, but not knowing what is going on can be even more frightening. Knowing what you are dealing with is half the battle and it makes fighting it so much easier.

Same thing with quitting smoking. The most important tools you need to quit are determination and information about your addiction and the most important thing you need to remember, once you quit, is that to maintain your health and not end up once again completly consumed by nicotine addiction, you must never take another puff. As Joel says, you never know if you will ever get around to quitting again. You just never know if you will ever get another chance to quit again.

Continue to guard your quit with every fiber you have. Don't let any person, any event, or any newly acquired or uncovered illness ever rob you of it. Your quit is your life and you should protect it no matter what happens It's really simple... all you have to do to continue healing is to never take another puff.

yqs,
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Linda.....after 41 years of puffing away, almost 2 years free!
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Toast (GOLD )
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

26 Nov 2001, 10:14 #2

Image(Image(Image(Image Linda! Image)Image)Image)Image
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I'm proud and thankful of and to you for posting this!
Image Melissa
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reiterin
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:59

26 Nov 2001, 10:15 #3

Hi Linda,

Thanks for posting this, it really helps to put things in perspective and, for me, to stay grounded. I relate so much to this post and to your other one, "My Visit to the Lung Doctor". I suffered from severe asthma growing up (hooked up to that lovely Nebulizer every week), and while I was smoking, the symptoms were in fact reduced. After quitting, the symptoms again resurfaced. But I had forgotten what they felt like. And so I was convinced for a little while that it was the smoking that was helping my asthma! Imagine that insanity! I talked to a co-worker who has a son who uses the excuse of "it helps my asthma" to continue smoking. So I know that this isn't just me, and others out there actually relapse because of these scary physical symptoms they didn't experience while smoking. Needless to say, the smoking was NOT helping my asthma, just helping to mask it. Luckily I wasn't one to relapse because after feeling these symptoms again, and I think Freedom can help claim responsibility for that. ;) I'm just using my inhalers more often (Proventil & Ventolin). Asthma is treatable, unlike many of the diseases smoking could have given me.

There's more, though... it's not just the asthma. Instead of gaining weight, I can't stop losing it. This might sound good to some of you, but I'm underweight, and I don't mean to be. The reason for this is kind of two-fold, in that smoking was helping to mask two other problems of mine. It wasn't completely masking them, but rather masking the severity.

One of these problems is Vasodepressor Syncope, and luckily it was easy to see why my symptoms were exacerbated after quitting. Its caused from really low blood pressure, that can actually fall to nothing if I'm not careful. And smoking raised my blood pressure, which is usually a bad thing. I have to say, it was hard for me to go into the cardiologist's office, so happy I quit, but to say that I felt worse after quitting... Anyway, all it took was a medication adjustment. That's all. Of course he didn't say I needed to smoke again! lol The only thing he tells me to do that might seem unhealthy is that I'm supposed to eat more salt. I'm mentioning this because I talked to a friend of mine before seeing my doc, and told her my dizziness & fainting was worse after quitting, and she actually told me to smoke again!! She's a never-smoker, and I was shocked she said it. But its just the lack of knowledge.

People have been mentioning a lot lately that I don't look so good, that I'm worse since I quit. But I'm keeping my doc appointments and I'll be all good soon, without creating more problems by smoking. Although I do have to say, what these people say to me does affect me, and it might more so if it weren't for one person at my work that says to me at least once a week that I look great, that I look so much more alive after quitting. I don't care if he's making it up - it helps me when he says it. Strange thing is, he's the smoker. Its the never-smokers who say I'm faring worse. Hmm...

Anyway, I think all this just stresses how important knowledge is. And in terms of health, if we're not doctors or specialists ourselves, we should rely on these docs/specialists to make those determinations. I promise you no doctor is going to tell you to smoke a cigarette to feel better. :p

Keep it simple, one day at a time.
~ reiterin
2M 4W 1D 22h 35m 6s, 1273 not smoked, saving $286.46, LS: 4D 10h 5m
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marty (gold)
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:59

26 Nov 2001, 16:59 #4

Thanks for posting this, Linda

I think it makes a really important point for us. Above all other things, Freedom is founded on the truth. No-one here should feel the need to pretend they feel great when they don't, no-one should shy away from the facts even if (as they sometimes are) the facts are 'inconvenient'. We're not here to spread propaganda or a belief, we're here to tell the truth and give people the knowledge they need to free themselves.

Reiterin, you said "Needless to say, the smoking was NOT helping my asthma, just helping to mask it". In fact, cigarettes do actually help asthma --- they contain a bronchio-dilator which is exatly what drugs like Ventolin contain, which help to open cells in the bronchus and relieve the difficulty in breathing. But as Joel says, cigarettes are the only 'drug' which, if taken exactly as directed, will kill the patient.

Again, I would stress as Linda has, that we must all tell it as it is. That's the only way we will trust each other when it matters, and the only way we can help each other.

Marty
NOT A PUFF FOR 11 months 3 weeks 5 days : 6491 cigs not smoked : 3 weeks 1 day 12 hours added to my life
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Glynda (Gold)
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:59

26 Nov 2001, 19:38 #5

Hi All !

Generally, I have become healthier since quitting. I'm a bit bigger, but I'm working on that. But, my asthma has become markedly worse. I didn't even know cigarette smoke had bronchiodilators in it until I read about at this site. I just assumed I had mostly "outgrown" my asthma 20 years ago! That was when I started smoking. While smoking, I only had to carry my inhaler on overnight trips, just in case. Since I've quit, I've been caught needing it a few times.

Once, I had to go out of town for a business dinner about 1-1/2 hours from home and I needed it after dinner. Of course, it was about 10 o'clock, no drug store was open, and I ended up in the local ER :( They gave me a big misty nebulizer and I felt like I was 'smoking' a big peace pipe! Haha That was the only thing funny about it. Now, I carry the Ventolin all the time.
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Joel
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

26 Nov 2001, 20:47 #6

Hello Linda:

This post brings up such an important point to work with your health care providers in the event that something seems wrong after quitting. For some people things may just happen at some point in time after quitting that were going to happen whether they had quit smoking or not. In a few other people, conditions that may have actually existed when they were smoking and were being masked may now present noticeable symptoms for the first time .

Either way, there are likely treatments available for these conditions if they just get properly diagnosed. What it so ironic is how a people can be afraid to go to a doctor for risk that he or she may prescribe a medication for a problem that smoking was "treating" and now the patient is afraid of the side effects of the new medication.

Well in the case of the bronchodialators you had said you found out were in cigarettes, the prescribed medication may be the same as ones found in smoke, but now not being accompanied by the thousands of other chemicals, poisons and cancer causing agents that they were delivered simultaneously with your cigarettes. Everyone should know for a fact that there is no drug that is ever going to be prescribed that carries a one in two chance of being fatal--and cigarettes do carry that risk.

Life goes on after quitting. Most people do in fact get healthier and don't develop such reactions from quitting. But there are people who do have masked problems or problems that were being treated by medications already that may require dose adjustments after quitting. This is because your body eventually returns to normal after quitting.

Normal doesn't mean what it was like the day before you quit, normal means returning to a state that your body was designed to be in before you ever took up smoking--with aging thrown in. No one knows what that normal state is until they get there--and for some people normal is a state where they have some chemical imbalances or conditions that may require medical intervention. It can be very uncomfortable or even dangerous to ignore such conditions and just write them off to not smoking.

So again, for those of you who quit and feel great, know that this is a common reaction and you should be grateful that things have gone the way they have. For those of you who have discovered problems, know too that this is possible but there are likely therapies of one sort or another to make these problems better and you should not put up with sustained suffering any longer than necessary. Both groups should know that they are healthier since they quit for the mere fact that they did quit and will likely stay healthier, smell better, have more control over their life, and likely live happier and longer as long as they always remember to never take another puff!

Joel
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NPannie
Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 19:55

27 Nov 2001, 04:58 #7

Dear Linda,
Thank you very much for addressing a subject that has affected me and addressing it so well. I'm not sure if I felt healthier smoking, but I think I was able to ignore health problems when smoking. It is really hard for me to post about problems I have had after quitting smoking for fear I will discourage someone that is considering quitting. I need to remember that because you had the courage and the ability to talk about these problems, I have succeeded in not only quitting smoking, but doing so with a positive attitude even when I have health problems that I believe smoking was masking. If these "bad" things were not discussed, I would be wondering why I am not able to feel great and breathe better. I very likely would have gone back to smoking to mask health problems again.
I probably need to change my primary care physician. When I went in to see him for treatment for depression, I told him I quit smoking. He said, oh, you did, and continued on like I hadn't said anything important. I smoked for 32 years - seems like this would be important. The treatment for the depression is going pretty good, but I still have breathing problems. I wish I could take a deep breath and it feel good. There is not a lot of pain with a deep breath, but I am not to the point it feels good. I also have bouts with a dry, non-productive cough that can be very painful. I asked him about this, he listened to my lungs, pronounced them all clear, and told me to use the over the counter bronchio-dialator. It has been a couple of months now, and the lungs are slowly feeling better. Maybe I shouldn't expect too much after exposing my body to so many poisons for so many years. I have gotten my hands on a prescription inhaler, Albuterol. I know this isn't a good idea because it was not prescribed for me, but the over the counter stuff made me sick to my stomach. If I'm still having problems after I'm out of this stuff, I'm going to go to a specialist.
I'm just really tired of dealing with doctors. On top of all this, that womanly change thing is changing me in to something, and I don't think it is for the better. It is hard to separate what is causing which problems, but I guess it doesn't much matter as long as I find something to help me heal. I have been afraid to do much exercising because of the coughing problems and the pain involved, but I just got a treadmill, and we'll see what happens.
I did not want to go to the doctor to get medication for depression. I had to have an emotional out of control episode to make me go to the doc. I ended up at his office out of desperation. He told me the medication is not a weakness, but the cure. I have taken it faithfully because there ain't no way I'm going to let those nasty cigs back into my life after learning how to live without them. We've come a long way, baby!
Thanks again, you are a life saver! I really think if I hadn't quit when I did, my health problems may not have responded to treatment at all and I would be on a steady decline downhill with lots of pain and heartache.
Love from your quit sis,
Nancy
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Dionne (gold)
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:58

27 Nov 2001, 07:56 #8

Linda I swear, this has been your most important piece of writing yet. Well done girl-friend! well done! There must be a million of us our there who knows exactly what you are talking about.
Smoking covered up my ills also. The entire last year has been full of doctors, labs,
'precedures' medications, and on and on and on. The last word is, "Well, you seem to be healthier than we thought. Perhaps your coronary heart disease isnt' so serious as we thought. Giving up smoking seems to be by far the best thing you could do for yourself." And on it goes...................
Today a year plus after quitting I can finally resume my beloved running that I had quit previously. I can breathe long enough to swim under water. I simply have a joyous life to continue living. All because I dared to not drag on any more cigarettes.
I loved your article Linda (whom I adore more than mere words can convey). Thanks for taking the time.

In case I haven't said how much I admire you lately.....................I surely do!

Your Sweet Smelling 'golden' Dionne
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mitch (Gold)
Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:29

27 Nov 2001, 11:23 #9

Yo grumpmeister... Mitch here. You're the best... THE BEST... Yep right on...I too am proud of your "almost 2 year" quit.

I had asthma show up as well. Had it under raps for many years... well disguised. After 7 months... the symptoms are less but they are there. Still not smoking has made life much more compelling with depth and focus... it's easier to get on top of the asthma.

I'm with you 100%... the Grumpmeister has spoken...

"Continue to guard your quit with every fiber you have. Don't let any person, any event, or any newly acquired or uncovered illness ever rob you of it. Your quit is your life and you should protect it no matter what happens It's really simple... all you have to do to continue healing is to never take another puff."

AMEN TO THAT. You have been and still are a supreme inspiration to me. You lent me courage during some weak moments in my quit/ I'm forever in your debt...

Plus I described a picture once in words and in the next post you provided the actual picture... EXACTLY. Now that's intense.

Love, Mitch...
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Toast (GOLD )
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

29 Nov 2001, 11:13 #10

Ah ... this one's too fresh and important to let it slide too far down the message board. I must applaud you Linda again for this post.

I spent some time today at the MD. My head cold of last week has settled into my chest. I used it as an excuse to go ahead and have my first thorough physical as an ex-smoker. I can't tell you how good it felt to tell my doctor I'd quit smoking when he asked if I still smoked about a pack a day. His face lit up and he congratulated me wholeheartedly. I couldn't help thinking of all the doctors over all the years talking to me about quitting smoking, especially when I was on the pill. I heard them every one, but the addiction to nicotine was always the louder voice, having me lighting up once outside the door. I felt good to me today to see my doctor proud of me, but it feels even better to know I'm proud of me all the time for quitting smoking. My doctor probably forgot about it 30 seconds down the hall.

It was good today also to talk candidly with my doctor about the many changes I've felt since quitting smoking, the fears I've had, the worries I've finally allowed myself to acknowledge, etc. I am grateful to have such a wise and intuitive MD, who had me walking out of his office feeling more knowledgeable and better in tune with my physical reality.

"Still not smoking has made life much more compelling with depth and focus... it's easier to get on top of the asthma." Here-Here, Mitch! It's easier to get on top of anything!
Image Melissa

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