I quit six years ago today when I woke up and I could not breathe. I did not know if I could even call out for help. Somehow, I managed to get up and get dressed and I called the doctor and they told me to come right over. The doctor told me that I needed to be admitted to ICU and probably get put on a ventilator to “rest” my very tired body. I begged him to let me go home and at least TRY to get better. He agreed reluctantly and gave me prescriptions for two antibiotics and some new medication for my nebulizer as well as two new inhalers I had never used. And high dose prednisone to help with the inflammation. I knew from the moment I woke up that I could not ever smoke again. I had been sick before, many times, I got pneumonia pretty regularly every fall but I kept on smoking. I knew that my shortness of breath was getting worse all the time, I chose to ignore it. When I would get better from a respiratory illness, I would convince myself that I was fine to smoke, I just needed to “cut down.” I never really did that, consciously, the last year or so that I smoked, I was so short of breath that I would take a couple of puffs and put the cigarette out, I just could not finish it.
I have certainly had ups and downs since I quit, I absolutely accept that smoking never did anything FOR me, only TO me. PLEASE don’’t do this to yourself, between the intense shortness of breath and the overwhelming fatigue, it is not something I can even begin to describe. I am a retired RN, I took care of patients with COPD, I always felt so inadequate because I could not ease their anxiety, I never expected to be one of them.
I had been quit for a year and ten months when I had lung reduction surgery on both lungs. I was told that it was not a cure but that it may improve the quality of my life for 3-5 years. I was also told that the next step would be a lung transplant. I have degenerative disc disease and a rapidly progressing scoliosis which limits the space I have for even the lung tissue that remains. I so wish that I had quit years ago but I didn’t, if I can reach ONE person to help him or her to quit, it would be the best gift EVER for me AND that person. I used to be able to enter a room without people staring at me or getting up and asking if I needed to sit down. Last week, I took my husband to the doctor and it was very windy outside, by the time I parked the car and got on the elevator, a woman asked me if I was okay, I was so short of breath. I told her it was because it was so windy, she nodded, knowingly. I can’t even HIDE it any more. You DESERVE so much more than this, so do I, PLEASE DON’T BE ME.