Myssi's story is especially poignant (and her strength especially admirable) due to the fact that when confronted with the deadly effects of smoking-related disease firsthand, Myssi not only remained smoke free, she recognized faulty thinking for what it was and held fast to her resolve.
Thanks for sharing your very personal story, Myssi. Your words will help others become smoke free for life by blasting through their own list of excuses.
Smoke Free for LifeI started this journey to become a non-smoker back in November of 2003. My first quit attempt lasted about 45 days and then I got some really bad news, or so I thought at the time. Before long, I had relapsed. I never gave up on the idea of quitting smoking after that, but I just couldn't get past a week or two smoke free. Invariably, some kind of 'stress' would come along and I'd let that be my "excuse" to start smoking again. In 2007, I actually quit smoking for 6 months before I found an "excuse" to start smoking, and before long I was back on the treadmill once again.
Then came October of 2008. My husband landed in the hospital on October 4, 2008, due to a blood clot in his lung. After I finally got him to tell me that he would quit smoking, I decided to join him in the effort. So he quit on the 4th when he entered the hospital, and I quit on the 8th when I brought him home.
Smoke Free Challenge #1When he was released from the hospital, my husband brought a big oxygen machine as well as a smaller, carry along machine home with him. Part of the regimen included daily shots of a blood thinner that I administered in his belly too. This went on for the first 10 days. There was a lot to adjust to, and the stress from all of it was excuse #1 for me to jump back into smoking once again, but I managed to stay smoke free.
Smoke Free Challenge #2Less than thirty days later, I ended up in the hospital with chest pains, which thankfully, were caused by anxiety, but it was still a scare none the less. In my old life, this would have easily served as excuse #2, but I held fast and stayed smoke free.
Smoke Free Challenge #3Fast forward a couple of weeks to the day before Thanksgiving. I was an unfortunate witness to an attempted suicide. I didn't see the man jump, but I saw him after he hit the hard brick floor and I called 911. Because he was a stranger, I was unable to find anything out about him until a couple of days later when I read in the newspaper that he was in the hospital in serious condition. This was big excuse #3 for me to light up a cigarette, but once again, I remained smoke free. These had all been what I would consider to be pretty good excuses to smoke and thus far I had managed to stay smoke free. I was amazing myself!
Looking back from where I am now, I know that each of those battles were won in preparation for the biggest battle yet to come...and the biggest excuse to smoke that I'd ever come up against.
My Ultimate Smoke Free ChallengeOn February 24, 2009, I got home to find my husband violently ill. I had spoken to him just a half hour before. He had been fine and fixing to start dinner. When I arrived home, he told me that he had suddenly started feeling nauseous and then began vomiting. He sat on the toilet with his head in his hands and said "I just don't feel right..." just before he collapsed on me.
After calling 911 and getting a CT scan at the local hospital, he was air lifted to a larger hospital in a neighboring town. There it was discovered that he had a very large brain aneurysm that had ruptured. He survived it, and after two and a half weeks in a medically-induced coma, was allowed to wake up. He knew who he was and who I was, but his mind was not right and had a lot of healing to do. He was moved to a regular room where he was able to eat regular foods and watch television, etc. He even walked with assistance for 84 feet and was due to be moved to an intensive physical therapy floor the next day.
However, at 4:30 that morning, my dear husband suffered a massive seizure that caused the aneurysm to re-rupture. Even before any in-depth tests to fully determine his condition could be done, things looked very grim. His brain showed no signs of activity.
And so it was that at 10:12 pm on March 21, 2009, at the young age of 41 years old, my husband went home to be with our Lord. The next few days were a blur, but I managed to come through them with the help of God, family, and friends and, I am pleased to say, NOT with the help of sickorettes.
I cannot think of anything more stressful than losing the love of your life. Can you say major excuse to smoke?! Yet, believe it or not, I remained smoke free. At that time I was in my 5th smoke free month. I am at 8 months smoke free now and I know that I know that I know that I know that I will NEVER smoke again.
On October 8, 2008, I quit smoking for me. After March 21, 2009, I stayed quit to honor my husband who had come to hate everything about cigarettes.
So you see, 'stress' is really nothing more than an excuse to light up. As smokers, we think we cannot handle stress without smoking, but the reality is that we CAN. If you're waiting to quit until your stress level is less, I can promise you that the day will never come. Stress is a part of life for all of us.
To Smoke or Not to Smoke...You must make up your mind to either make the firm commitment to not let stress be your excuse to light up, or resign yourself to keep smoking and wondering which cigarette will be the one that gives you cancer...or emphysema...or heart disease...or any of the multitude of smoking-related diseases that follow nicotine addiction.
Please take my story to heart and let it be the inspiration that helps you build the smoke free life that I now enjoy. Don't accept anything less than permanent freedom and remember: there are no good reasons to smoke. There are only excuses.