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All People > Chuck_Quit_2-20-2011 > Chuck_Quit_2-20-2011 Blog > 2016 > February
2016

Good morning EXer’s!!

 

The other day I wrote about the fact that I was having breathing problems. But that’s not what this blog is about. This blog is about a celebration! A celebration of life and the desire to live that life to the fullest, no matter what tries to stand in our way.

 

I’ve never been one who believes in darkness. Rather, I always choose to see the rainbow on the other side of the thundercloud or the diamond in the lump of coal. I believe that what we do now determines what our future will look like later. And I always look for a positive one, because there’s just no room for negativity.

 

Funny thing is, I was an addict. For some reason, when it came to smoking, I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel or rather, I tried to ignore that light because in order to see it, I would have to give up my addiction. And somehow deep in my mind, I listened to the lies of that addiction rather than seeing the light that I somehow always knew was there. I was firmly in the grip of a lie! A lie that I fed myself over and over again until one day a small glimmer appeared off in the distance, like a star shining through the clouds of an overcast night.

 

And I stared at that little point of light and it grew for you see, on that day I saw through the lies of my addiction. On that day all that I knew was there became reality. On that day I chose to once again look to the light rather than dwell in a darkness of my own making. On that day I chose to take my life back!

 

And as soon as I thought of the idea of quitting my addiction, I felt fear. I don’t mean the thought bothered me but rather, I started shaking! I was terrified of just the thought of doing this one positive thing that I could do for myself. And so, I lit a cigarette. Huh? What the hell was I thinking! Darn it!

 

This was a day of confusion and triumph. The confusion of facing a new reality that I somehow wanted to face and yet I was terrified of facing it. I picked up the phone and called the Colorado quitline. A pleasant voice answered the phone. I hung up on her! I lit another cigarette. My palms were sweaty. In fact, I was sweating all over!

 

I calmed down a bit, put out that cigarette and made the call again. This time when the pleasant voice answered, I found my voice, though it was a trembling voice. We talked for about a half and hour and when I hung up, I had nicotine patches on the way, and a request for me to start removing triggers. I started with a big one for me. Smoking while driving.

 

OK, so now I’d decided to go on an unfamiliar journey. One filled with mystery but also one filled with life! I went to the quitline website and from there, I found a link to becomeanex.org. I came here and lurked for a while before I introduced myself. Of course, once I did introduce myself I discovered how wonderful and caring the support could be.

 

Fast forward to about three months later, the day I actually put out my last cigarette. (If you’re curious what I went through up to that point, it’s in the first posts of my blog.) I’d studied, learned my addiction and worked on most of my triggers. I decided that on the evening of Feb. 20, 2011 that I would smoke my last cigarette.

 

That evening, I went out on the porch and looked up at the fourteeners that I live at the base of, a beautiful mountain, and I lit that last cigarette. I never even finished it. I put it out, went into my house and began a journey for life. For my future.

 

Was I scared? Sure I was. The unknown is always scary. But at the same time, after all those months of preparation, I was confident. I was as ready as I could be. My mantra became that “what I do today will determine what my future will look like tomorrow”.

 

And of course there was the mountain. My vision of the journey. I saw myself at the trailhead, looking up the slopes and seeing how far I was from the summit. But I wanted that summit so badly. The symbol of my freedom.

 

When I put out that cigarette, I took the first cautious step onto the slopes of Mt. Freedom. As my journey continued to progress, I saw myself climbing that mountain, past the snowfields and through the boulder fields , always careful to not lose my footing for to slip would mean that I’d have to start over from somewhere down below on this mountain.

 

And as the endlessly arguing voices filled my head, I named those voices the addict within so that I could put a name to this strange argument going on inside of me, and somehow this helped. Somehow, visualizing my journey with the symbol of Mt. Freedom helped.

 

For me, I think it helped because when I visualize things, especially positive things it helps me to bring the mind, body and soul together for a single task and when one can do that then they become unstoppable!

 

Soon I was high up on the slopes of Mt. Freedom and I saw something their. A banner blowing in the wind, beckoning for me. I longed to reach that banner and before long as the addiction calmed within me, I did reach it.

 

It was the banner of Freedom and I grabbed it and waved it high over my head for you see, there were still so many others on the slopes, looking up and longing to be free. I saw myself gesturing to them, encouraging them to continue the journey so that they too could wave that banner proudly.

 

And now, five years later today I live in a land of freedom. A place of peace both with myself and with my body. A place that is free of the shackles of addiction. And it’s been the best five years of my life! The freedom feels every bit as good as I was told it would feel. Seeing life, and I mean really seeing life with the mask of addiction lifted makes the world so beautiful, because now I actually look at the world and not at when I can have my next cigarette.

 

Now I can see what freedom looks like. I can feel what freedom feels like. I can smell the sweet fragrance that’s all around in nature. But mostly I can smile for you see, though the journey was hard. Though it was confusing at times. In the end I did finish that journey. I did find out how wonderful it is on the other side of addiction.

 

And it all started with that first faltering step seemingly so long ago . . . .

 

Soon that will be you if you can just take that first faltering step to begin a journey of life. Go for it! There’s so much waiting for you on the other side of addiction. Remember the mantra that what you do today will determine what your future will be. Every choice you make today is a chance to change your future.

 

I hope I see you at the top of your own Mt. Freedom. It’s just an amazing place to be!!

 

ONWARD TO FREEDOM!!!

 

Chuck

   

Good morning EXer's!!

 

I wanted to share a story with you. It’s a story of fear but also one of triumph and the human spirit. Please bear with me, as I wanted to include as much as I could in this one life experience that I have recently faced.

 

It started with what I assumed was a small cold. So many things were going on in my life at the time that this cold began. My wife and I were preparing our home to care for someone who was about to join hospice, as we agreed to help him and give him the best quality of life for the end of his life.

 

I live in a high mountain valley and the guy, who I’ll call Don from here on out was originally flown to Denver in a flight for life, before anyone realized how bad he really was. Well, to make a long story short, it wasn’t long before we had to go to Denver ourselves to get the paperwork going and get him back up here to Buena Vista.

 

We converted our living room to a basic hospital room with the help of hospice and eventually got him here. During this time, this nagging cold that I had continued to worsen, but only in the lungs.

 

Soon I found that I could hardly breathe! At last I realized that this wasn’t going away without some kind of help so the next morning, my wife and I got up, determined to get me to the hospital. But there was a problem. We had to do intake paperwork for hospice before we could leave.

 

As we continued onward,  I found that I could barely catch a breath. The hospice nurse checked my oxygen level and found that it was at about 85%. We rushed through the paperwork and when we were finished, we began the half hour trip to the hospital.

 

As luck would have it, on the way we ran into road construction and a one lane road. My wife got out and told the flagger that I couldn’t breathe and he actually waved us through. By the time I got to the hospital, I couldn’t even get enough breath to say my name. It really is horrifying to be in a world full of air and still be suffocating like a fish out of water.

 

They got me in and used the standard nebulizer technique to get me breathing again. After several tests, more of the nebulizer and a shot of steroids, I was released and feeling better with a script for antibiotics which I started the next day.

 

I made a doctor appointment a week later and during the wait, my breathing worsened again to the point that by the time my appointment day came up, I couldn’t even make it to the desk to check in, and that was with oxygen!

 

They checked me out, asked a few questions and sent me home with a prescription for five days of oral steroids. I remember thinking that if that didn’t work, that I didn’t think I could make it through the night alive.

 

One thing that helped and maybe even saved my life was a breathing technique that I had previously found on Thomas’s page where one pursed the lips while breathing. I used that technique a lot during those scary days. Thank you Thomas for that simple life saving technique!

 

The steroids worked overnight, making me feel much better by the next morning. I finished the prescription and saw the doctor in a week, feeling pretty good. We set up breathing tests in a month in order to try to make an official diagnosis of COPD.

 

Over the weekend, my condition worsened and by Monday, I could barely breathe again. I called and got another prescription for steroids to get through to my next doctor’s appointment. So this story is still ongoing.

 

One might wonder what I was thinking during this process. Was I angry? Sad? Depressed? Scared?

 

At first I was really scared! But after that, when I had time to reflect, the first thought that entered my mind was that If I hadn’t quit smoking almost five years ago, I probably wouldn’t have survived this event, and wouldn’t be writing this right now.

 

I realized that the temporary discomfort that I’d gone through in the past when I quit actually saved my life! And the fact that I’d already done the most important thing I could ever do to help my current situation gave me a sense of pride.

 

Sure, I’d messed up in the past with all of those endless cigarettes I smoked. Sure, I lived the lie of addiction that so many of us have, and so many still do. But I climbed out of that world and entered a world of freedom that was so wonderful!

 

I’ve been given five wonderful years with no real problems just because I took that one step so long ago. Sure, it was hard but it was so worth it! And not just because of how it helped me now, but because of that freedom that’s just waiting for us! All we have to do is desire it enough and then take it. All we have to do is long for that moment when nothing can stop our desire to be free!

 

Take that step my friends. Don’t worry about what this person or that person is doing. Just take that step for yourself. You’re the only one that can truly make the decision and the only one that can stop yourself!

 

Take that dream and turn it into a reality and I guarantee that you will never ever regret it!

 

I’ll see on the the 20th when I return to share the five year anniversary with all of you wonderfully committed people!

 

ONWARD TO FREEDOM!!!

 

Chuck