I've been a smoker for 16 years, with many attempts at quitting scattered in those years. My most successful attempt lasted for 6 months and I cannot even remember what caused me to slip up and start smoking again. Smoking has been my longest running love affair. And as with most people, a love hate relationship at best. Smoking calmed me when I was stressed, emotional, anxious, and so forth. But smoking was slowly ruining the quality of my life. Unable to perform the physical activities I once could in my teens or 20's, I became winded from walking up a couple flights of stairs. I've wanted to quit for quite some time, yet I always found excuses for why it wasn't the right time. Important career goals, personal achievements, holidays and celebrations, the list goes on. Then this past Friday, February 16th, I made a very bad decision that lead to poisoning and the injuring my lungs. What happened, you ask?!?!
I'm a woman like many others who loves to treat herself with beautiful shoes. I purchased on that fateful Friday a new pair of black suede block heels that are absolutely to die for. Apparently, I took that literally. My sweetheart and I had planned a post Valentine's dinner for Saturday and the forecast was calling for 6" of snow. More concerned with protecting my shoes, sitting on my bedroom floor with all windows closed, I sprayed half a can of suede protector on these precious new shoes. Despite the aerosol canister very clearly stating the fumes to be harmful or fatal, and to use only in an adequately cross ventilated area, I sprayed liberally in my close quarters. I do not need a lecture on the stupidity of my actions, because what happened to me next was consequence enough. I am embarrassed and ashamed by my actions, but the experience was beyond eye opening.
Friday, 9pm I spray my shoes. By 9:15pm I am sitting on my couch struggling to breath. The deepest chills of life quickly set in, accompanied with a full body sweat, nausea, vomiting, headache, dizziness, you name it. I went to my bedroom, feeling sicker than I've ever felt. Even with the extreme flu like symptoms, the inability to breath was the most concerning and uncomfortable part. I felt like a fish out of water gasping for air. Choking on my own lungs inability to function. I spent an entire day in the hospital attached to an oxygen tank. They took EKGs to monitor my heart, as well as a chest x-ray that luckily showed to be clear of any damage. I was sent home with an inhaler, and told to follow up with my doctor. Unfortunately, I am not out of the clear yet and may need to follow up with a pulmonary specialist.
It is almost a week later now, and I am still having trouble breathing. I have shown much improvement and I hope to be feeling a hundred percent soon. Out of this accident has come a long over due decision to quit smoking once and for all. As a 34 year, to be connected to oxygen, with masks, tanks, and the whole nine yards...was a troubling visual for me. I do not want that for my life today or later in life. I want to live free from tobacco. Free from being enslaved by my addiction and cravings. Free to choose my actions. And free to breath clean air. It will be the first time in my life that my lungs experience what life is like without the choking effects of smoke and tar. I was introduced to smoking as a fetus, then grew up with it in my house, and then eventually I started smoking as a teenager. I have a feeling, that in time I will feel better than I have ever felt in my entire life. I look forward to my lungs feeling free to function the way they were intended to.
I know I have a long road still to go. But I've been scared into motivation. And the motivation is strong this time. I do not want to ever experience that feeling of not being able to breath again. If I keep smoking that is my future, and even worse than that are all the other scary things that happen from smoking. I want to live a life of quality, and hopefully one that is long. We all have our reasons for quitting, and I've always kept a list in my wallet of my whys. But nothing has shook me to my core quite like this before. There is no better time that now.
So, the last push I needed to quit smoking....was an accidental poisoning that left me unable to breath. I wish it didn't come to that, but I'm happy to have a solid reason. I have no desire to ever smoke again. The cravings will come, some will be easy and some will push will power to the fullest. But I know, that when I think of that accident, I'll always be reminded that breathing is better.
Nicole - a woman determined to quit smoking
(I wrote this mostly for myself, as a record and reminder. But if I can help anyone by sharing my story than that is even better!)