A Story of Numbers
After my eighth serious quit attempt in three years, it finally took. Support from the QuittersWin group and mindful use of NRT (nicotine replacement therapy) helped me finally sever the chains from my 45-year, pack-per-day addiction.
I noticed a difference right away! By the end of day two smoke-free, I was no longer coughing. By the end of day four, I could breathe more easily. But what happened week two was a darned miracle.
My doctor had been on my case about my blood pressure. The first medication didn’t help move the needle from 165/100, so he increased the dose. But even then, I was still clocking in at 140/100. I decided to ignore it – I’ve gotten really good at ignoring medical advice over the last 45 years. I got up the courage to check my blood pressure after not smoking for 12 days. I had to check it again when I saw the results: 120/75. My readings have continued to hover there since then. It probably also helps that, being able to breathe more easily, I actually enjoy going to the Y, so I’m getting regular exercise for the first time in 20 years.
After years of being harangued* by my doctor, it felt good to write him with the good news. And in his response, he gave me FIVE gold stars which I wear now as a badge of courage. Keeping my numbers down is really motivating – I’m keeping kidney and heart disease at bay.
My advice to anyone who wants to quit smoking is to just keep at it. And come to QuittersWin meetings. You won’t find better support and group learning anywhere.
Most smokers are already carrying around lots of self-criticism related to their smoking. So, when a well-intending healthcare provider talks about smoking (which they have to do), a smoker will usually hear it through that filter of self-criticism and interpret it as more of a scolding than it was meant to be. It can be tricky sometimes for smokers and providers to talk about smoking. On one hand, it’s the single most harmful preventable behavior. On the other hand smokers often feel such guilt about their smoking that any mention of it can feel judgmental.
Cassie has done a great job and is a classic example of why I enjoy my work so much! She has been a great example of the power of persistence. One of the other strategies she employed involved her “Ciggy Bank.” That’s the often considerable amount of cash that piles up when we stop buying tobacco! Quitting doesn’t just save your lungs – it saves your loot, too! Cassie leveraged that cash to provide some well-placed rewards on her path to “smobriety.” Having some long and short-term rewards can help us to maintain motivation. We were all really excited when she showed up to class wearing a lovely (and rather indulgent) article of clothing she had bought as her 30 day reward.
Quitting smoking isn’t usually a “one and done” sort of project. No, quitting is an adventure – and not for the faint of heart! (That’s why we encourage folks to gather together for this journey. Cassie attended very regularly and occasionally teamed up with some other folks in the group for quit attempts. Having a “Quit Buddy” makes a difference!
I’ve always been impressed by her persistence, her heartfelt concern for others in the group, and her candor. I believe that Cassie realized that her truth might help set others free. That’s what’s known as the power of we!
People like Cassie who dare to try and then share their story can be like pebbles cast into a still pond. They will send forth ripples (of courage and hope) that will cause changes far beyond their awareness. Thank you for caring and daring and sharing! I’m so glad that Cassie found our group. She’s a power of example (candor, persistence, compassion) and I’m so happy to see this Quitter Win!