A New (Smokefree) Life Ordered Up
The American Lung Association is sharing inspiring stories from individuals who have been able to end their addiction to tobacco and stop smoking through #TheDayIQuit blog series. Quitting smoking isn't easy, but it is possible—and we firmly believe that anyone can quit with the right support. If you, or someone you know, would like to quit smoking, share with them the new, interactive Freedom From Smoking® Plus.
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I'm a flight nurse, a father of three daughters, divorced and I'm a smoker. I was looking pretty good until the last part. Actually I didn't even have to confess the last part, you probably smelled me long before you met me. Frankly I never tried quitting and never cared before now.
In my own little world, everyone knew I was a smoker—my family, friends, colleagues, peers, management, my patients whose lives I saved and their families. It was no secret. I have family members who smoke, friends who smoke, colleagues and peers who smoke. I had a financial penalty imposed on me by my employer just for smoking, and I didn't care. I watched my father on oxygen struggle to breathe while still smoking. It didn't stop me. The big deal, I thought, was that people were going to immediately judge me as a person, father, nurse or friend when they found out I was a smoker. I didn't really care. I never really tried quitting or was willing to quit, until July 2016 when the light finally went on. The daily struggles of my father who was on oxygen was enough. Best of all, the love of my life walked into my life and suddenly quitting was a priority. Because of her, I was done, I had enough. I was finally quitting for myself and those around me.
Enough of the daily trips to the convenience store for cigarettes. Enough of my smoking limiting me physically from doing the things I loved. Enough of hiding the tar build up on my fingers, the morning cough, wheezing like a harmonica, using inhalers every winter, being ridiculed on occasion. Enough of the bad breath, stinky clothes, not being able to sing those high notes of my favorite songs. And worst of all, enough of putting off anyone interested in me beyond casual friendship. Enough of life passing me by.
Smoking was a pretty cool thing to do when I started 26 years ago. It started as a social thing in the local taverns and bars but soon became an addiction. Working in a high stress environment, smoking became a social thing to do with everyone else who was stressed. One to two borrowed cigarettes became buying my own so I didn't seem like such a moocher. Borrowing became buying one pack to suddenly two packs, but eventually returned to one pack per day for 26 years. Add in more stress from being a young parent, and demanding and dangerous work that didn't help either: coal miner, volunteer fireman/EMT, bartender, steel worker, rod buster, construction laborer, salesman, registered nurse and now flight nurse. Stress and cigarettes went hand in hand.
After three decades, I found myself single. The dating game has changed a bit but unfortunately, I hadn't. My smoking came up a lot. I quickly learned that women my age today have no interest in a partner that can't keep up. Another gut check.
Fast forward 60 days: I'm smokefree. I never faltered, never cheated. The first few days I would have chewed my fingertips off for one trace of nicotine. I traded my smoky vehicle for a clean and fresh smelling one. I washed everything over and over until it no longer smelled of smoke.
I'm happily engaged to my true soulmate, smokefree and looking forward to a life together and experiencing everything wonderful. It's a lot fun not smoking. I get to look forward to a life smokefree.