When I look back over the past couple of years I can't believe it has taken me so long to bite the bullet and see this evil habit off once and for all. I say the last couple of years but I should really go back to when I was fourteen and I lost my Nan, a lifelong smoker, to lung cancer, she lived with us and helped bring me and my brother up, in fact she helped deliver us as my mum opted for home births, apparently they were common then anyway, I smoked back then on and off, I don't think I was truly hooked until I was about 16. My life carried on pretty much as normal and I smoked in complete denial thinking it wouldn't hurt me, I was actually very fit and healthy, until about eight years ago when I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and had to look toward a more sedentary occupation as the warehouse job I had made my symptoms worse. Then five and a half years ago I lost my father in law and uncle to cancer within five days of each other. Cancer again had taken loved ones, both of whom smoked quite heavily for most of their lives though my uncle had stopped about fifteen years earlier. My cousin, another ex- smoker, was determined to be pall bearer at his father's funeral even though he was facing the imminent amputation of his right leg below the knee due to circulatory problems - and yes I still puffed away believing I was fine and it wasn't doing me any harm. My cousin had his lower leg removed about five years ago and is now also likely to lose the other leg too, all smoking related. About four and a half years ago I had my first real breathing difficulties, I had developed a night time cough which only kicked in when I laid down, this went on for weeks, I went to the doctor's to be told it was a virus, it culminated in ending up on antibiotics and two inhalers just to breathe, I did actually stop smoking for three days as I just didn't fancy a smoke, but as soon as I felt better all I wanted was a fag. I also convinced myself that the smoking wasn't the issue but the black mould which was rife in the rented house I lived in that was causing the problem. I carried on for the next two years, having a couple of episodes again and going back on the puffers until I felt well enough to swap them for the fags. My mother in law, who gets through a pouch and a half of tobacco every week as well as couple of packs of fags has also been in hospital with cellulitis and breathing problems, she spent a week and half in hospital and was back to smoking like a chimney as soon as she came out. She is also convinced that smoking gets the blame for everything and there is no way it does that much damage - even though she is totally out of breath just going up the stairs :rolleyes: A year ago my father, another lifelong smoker, started having medical investigations after a routine colonoscopy for piles highlighted other issues such as polyps in his large intestine. He was sent to Cheltenham for a PET scan which showed small but growing tumours on the kidney and some shadowing of his left lung, he had to go into hospital in march to have the tumours removed from his kidneys and adrenal glands, two months later he was back in having a lobectomy, basically half of his left lung removed due to cancer - and yes I was still puffing away, not in ignorance but the mistaken belief that I couldn't stop. In between my fathers operations at the beginning of May this year I had another episode of coughing and breathing difficulties, so bad this time I ended up in A&E. I couldn't blame the black mould as we moved in December 2012, they tried four times to take arterial blood from my wrist, painful, ending up taking it from my groin to find out that my blood oxygen levels were very low - I was on a nebuliser and given steroids to help my lungs work properly, no surprises that by the time I was discharged my lungs were clear and I felt well enough to have a fag. Within the last year I also put my back out, I had a coughing fit halfway through bending down to put on my underwear :o, I was in pain for weeks - I knew that if I didn't smoke I probably wouldn't have coughed so violently and therefore wouldn't have put my back out but it still wasn't enough to stop me. I have also had really painful ribs that have lasted for weeks from coughing fits. Six weeks ago I was called into the doctors as they had received a letter from the hospital, they believe I have COPD and have prescribed tiotropium as well as the ventolin inhaler. It took one evening when I was preparing my night time tablets of statins, ramipril, tiotrpium, ventolin, painkillers (and antihistamine's just in case) I realised I was slowly and steadily killing myself and that I didn't want to live like this anymore - that was the actual "ding" moment for me and that I needed to do more than the half hearted attempts at giving up in the past. I have now been off the fags since 9pm 28th July 2013, in just over a month I can't believe how much better I feel, apart from the odd clearing cough I am not hacking away, I can walk for an hour without getting puffed out, my skin is clearer, my sense of smell and taste have returned even though I hadn't really noticed they'd disappeared. I was supposed to have my first chest clinic appointment this morning and I am so disappointed it was cancelled as I was hoping they were going to take me off the inhalers, I have to go next week now - hopefully the doctor won't phone in sick.
I have just looked back at what I've typed and can't believe how hard nicotine had me in it's grip, I never considered myself an addict but the evidence stands for itself and I just hope I have thumbed my nose at it in time to reverse some of the damage I have done to myself.