Smoking Controlled Me for 29 Years

Susie's Quit Story


Susie, a member of our Smoking Cessation forum recently celebrated a year smoke-free following a 29-year smoking habit. She shares her account with us here with the hope that it might help others find a way to quit, too.

From Susie:

As I write this, I quit smoking one year and one week ago. I smoked for almost 29 years. I started smoking with my college buddies and vowed that I would quit when I finished college.

That didn't happen.

I then said I'd quit when I turned 30. That didn't happen.

I set my sights on quitting at 40, but nope -- once again, it didn't happen.

Finally, at 49 years of age, I was able to achieve my goal. It took almost a lifetime of trying before I found a way to quit smoking.

I Hated Smoking...

I hated the way it had taken control of my life. I hated it because it robbed me of my complexion, my taste for good food, my sense of smell, my health, my mind, my teeth. Smoking robbed me of potential friends because I was afraid to get close with anyone but my smokes. I hated smoking, but could not control the immense power it held over me.

I used Chantix to help me quit smoking. However, I had lost any enjoyment or fulfillment for smoking about 5 years earlier. Let me tell you what happened. I had just purchased a new car and made a promise that I would never ever smoke in this new car -- my husband's car, yes, but not this one.

One night, on the way home from University, I was feeling frustrated about something that went wrong in class. I didn't start out saying I was going to smoke in the car -- it just happened. As soon as I jumped in, I lit up. Just before approaching the highway, I hit automatic down on the window of my brand new car (never had that in a car before), simply tossed the unfinished cigarette out and hit automatic up.

Trying to learn all of the features on my new toy, I pushed a button and the sun roof glided open. Since it was a warm night, the air felt wonderful and I enjoyed the ride home. When I arrived, I carefully parked my car, jumped out and opened the back door to grab my book bag.

NO! My back seat had a hole in it.

I looked closely, and the hole seemed as if it was pulsating and smiling. I knew immediately what had happened. There were ashes around the hole.

Yes, there was a hole the size of Minnesota in my back seat. In actual fact, it was a little hole, but it might as well have been the biggest burn hole I'd ever seen. I grabbed my book bag and slammed the door. In my mind, those cigarettes, which I'd vowed to quit a hundred times, had ruined my joy once again. But that didn't stop me from smoking. I reasoned that the car was ruined, and I might as well continue smoking. Just another excuse.

Not long after that incident, I had the Marine Corp Marathon 26.2 mile race scheduled. I had been training for this race for one year and, while training, I had continued to smoke. My trainer didn't know, my peers didn't know, my parents didn't know -- but I knew. I felt bad about the fact that I was lying to people who loved me, not to mention the fact that I was lying to myself.

The guilt I felt was huge, but that didn't stop me from smoking.

On the day of my race, I awoke at 3:00 a.m. I ate all the right foods, did all of my stretches correctly as I'd been taught, put on all the right clothes. I jumped in my car, lit a cigarette, and off I went.

The race was scheduled to begin at 7:30 a.m. I arrived at the site a little early, found a fantastic parking spot, grabbed my thermos of coffee from the back seat, and lit yet another cigarette.

Just as I was about to take my last puff, you would not believe who I saw in my rear view mirror. My trainer. I knew he'd seen me in the car.

I didn't know he was coming to the race. Why was he here? I hurriedly found the spray to mask the scent of the cigarette smoke.

By the time he got to the passenger side of the car, the cabin of the car was an ugly mixture of smoke and a sweet smelling odor. All he wanted was to be there to be there for me to support and cheer me on, but I was so nervous and worried that he could smell cigarette smoke that I did not appreciate his kindness. Yet another missed opportunity to enjoy life because of cigarettes.

I ran the race in 4 hours, 20 minutes. Please tell me that you can't guess what I did immediately after the race when I returned to my car? Yes. I smoked. My God, weren't there any limits to this madness?

That was when I decided that I had to stop smoking.

No matter how long it took; how many years, I'd made up my mind it was going to happen. That was 5 years ago. I can't tell you exactly how many times I quit smoking, but it's in the double digits!

I tried quitting [on and off for years] with the nicotine patch. I must have had more nicotine in my system from the patch than from the actual smokes some of the time. I would smoke with the patch on. I would yank the patch off and smoke. I would sleep with the patch on and grab a smoke first thing in the morning. Oh yes, I had many wonderful ways to use the nicotine patch -- all of them detrimental for me. I was truly out of control.

Still, I wanted to quit smoking so desperately.

It wasn't until my visit to the doctor's office in 2006 that I got a real scare. I went in for a routine checkup, my doctor once again pleading with me to quit smoking. She asked if I had any questions or concerns. I nonchalantly mentioned that I had a little discomfort in my upper back and that I must have pulled a muscle. She suggested I get an x-ray just to be sure I hadn't torn a ligament or something like that.

I gingerly went for the x-ray, and once it was done, slipped my clothes back on and headed for the door. As I was leaving, wishing everyone a good weekend, my doctor came rushing out of her office, asking me to step back in so that she could speak to me.

She told me they'd found a little shadow in the lung area and wanted me to immediately do a CT scan. Shaken to the core, I did as she instructed the next day. As I was sitting in the waiting room, I looked around and saw that there were some seriously ill folks here. That's when I realized that this could really be serious.

The results from the test were negative, but I was told to come back in six months for a retest. When I did, the spot had almost disappeared. I don't know what it was -- don't want to know. I just know that it was my time to quit, and I'd gotten a message from God above. I had to take smoking cessation seriously.

At the time, my doctor didn't know what Chantix was, so I went online and purchased a pack for $169. It was worth it to me. I vowed NOPE (not one puff ever) with my heart and soul, and have ever since.

I did not want this message to be lengthy, but I do have to say one last thing. My husband had been a smoker for almost 40 years -- he started when he was 14 years old. My sense of smell has came back in full force, and each day when my husband came home from work, the smell of stale and stinky wet damp cigarettes made me walk away from him. He would come up to give me a kiss and ask how my day had gone, and I had to force myself to kiss him. I never missed an opportunity to gently remind him that he needed to quit, either. He was almost up to two packs a day, with a very nasty cough which concerned me greatly.

I am happy to report that my husband quit smoking. He hasn't picked up a cigarette since. I am so proud of him!  And now I can kiss him and he doesn't taste bad. His cough is going away too.

My dogs are happy, I am happy, my husband is happy, and life is sweet. We still have our problems and ups and downs, but we have learned how to handle them without adding more stress to the situation by reaching for a smoke.

If there is anyone out there thinking about quitting or who has recently quit, please get started.  Don't let fear stand in your way.  I am sending loving energy to you right now and wishing you all great success!

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