I began smoking at age 13. Back when I was a teenager, that was the "COOL" thing to do. I wound up being addicted to cigarettes for 45 years.
I went through the same things as many others. I wanted to quit. And I tried to quit. Many times I tried to quit. But nothing seemed to work. The first time I tried to quit smoking, I was 14 years old. I did actually manage to give up smoking for about a month. Then our family moved and I was surrounded by people in my age group that all smoked and it was still the "cool" thing to do. A few puffs with them and I was back to smoking on a regular basis.
My next attempt at "trying" to quit smoking came when I was 16. I can't remember exactly why I decided to quit that time because I lived with my father and my step-mother and they both smoked. Maybe it was because my father had developed heart problems (he was having heart attack after heart attack) and his doctor told him that the cause was partially due to his smoking. He was advised to quit smoking, which he tried to do but was unsuccessful in the attempt. I didn't really tie his heart problems and his smoking together, but I did try to quit. That lasted for about two weeks.
After that time, I started sneaking cigarettes and smoking in my room, but not in front of my parents. After about another week, I told my parents that I had started smoking again. I got the usual repercussions. They didn't want me to smoke but since they were both still smoking, neither of them had a strong leg to stand on as to why I shouldn't.
My father died just a few months later due to a heart attack. Smoke related? Probably so! But, when that happened, my smoking increased to three packs per day due to the stress of losing my father. Mind you, I was a Junior in high school and smoking three packs per day. I can't even imagine, now, how I managed to get enough free time to light, AND SMOKE, that many cigarettes per day and still have time to go to school! Can you imagine? That is 60 cigarettes per day! I managed, some how. Not for long, though. My smoking habit finally settled into two packs per day. And that is where it stayed for many years.
When I was 19 years old, I gave birth to my first daughter. She was a husky nine pounds. And, can you believe, I was still smoking two packs of cigarettes per day? Yes, I was. I smoked two packs per day continuously until after my second child was born, which was when I was 28 years old, and then after my third child was born, which was when I was 30 years old.
When my two youngest children were still quite young, they started badgering me about my smoking. Evidently they were receiving some lessons in school that were teaching them about the hazards of smoking. I didn't listen to their badgering. I just kept lighting up and smoking away. Of course, I did that in the house while the kids were present. I had no knowledge of second-hand smoke being injurious to others. EVENTUALLY, I did try to stop smoking. Not because "I" wanted to, but mainly because my children wanted me to. Nothing worked. Sometimes I would make it two days, sometimes three....then, you got it. Back to smoking I went.
Over the years, I developed quite a cough - you know the kind. It sounds like you are coughing up a lung. Then I started wheezing when I took a breath, especially when I went to bed at night. After a while, this weird feeling developed in my chest, especially on the left side. There were little pains that I hadn't had before and they were very annoying. Since my father had died from a heart attack at age 43, the nagging little pains scared me enough that I finally went to the doctor. That was in 1997.
I went through the normal testing. An EKG proved everything fine with my heart. Chest X-rays proved that I had chronic emphysema. Can you believe that I was actually relieved to hear that news? I was so naive at the time that I thought that chronic emphysema was good news. It scared me enough, though, that I did try to quit smoking again. I had a definite reason to quit. Right? Well...guess what....I didn't manage it. I was living with a man who smoked 3 packs per day. Although he went outside to smoke during the time I was trying to quit, the evil side of my brain kept telling me that he was smoking and that cigarettes were within my reach and that I should have some. During my try-to-quit process, I would bum two or three cigarettes per day from him, telling myself that I was quitting and that I just had to do it gradually. HA!!! I lied to myself and didn't even know it!Donna lights her hair on fire