been smoking ever since I was a teenager. That's 40-something years ago. I
never really thought about what could happen to this old body if I kept
lighting up. I just knew that I loved to smoke.
"Then I started to
notice that it was getting harder and harder to do simple things like walk to
my mailbox. One time my chest was so heavy that I lay down on the sidewalk
until I could catch my breath. The neighbors must have thought I'd been run
over. I kind of felt like I had been. I don't ever want to feel like that
again. Then there was the coughing. I could barely get through a conversation
"Finally I went to the doctor, and he told me
that I had COPD. He said I really had to quit smoking.
sure I could. To be honest, I wasn't sure I wanted to, and that's what I told
him. He said my breathing would get a whole lot harder if I didn't quit, and
that one day, I might have to be on oxygen and be laid up in bed. That scared
me enough that I decided to give quitting a try.
"I tried to quit
cold turkey, but after just a few days I could tell that it wasn't going to
work. I knew it would be hard, because my best friend smokes, and we spend a
lot of time together. He wasn't ready to quit, so seeing him light up made it
really hard for me to say 'no.'
"I realized that I needed to try
something else. So I tried the patch, and that made a big difference. It took
almost 5 months, but I was finally able to quit, and I felt like it was for
good. I can feel a difference in my breathing. And I feel hopeful that quitting
will give me a few more years on my feet.
"My son has also been a
huge help. He quit smoking almost 10 years ago. When I want a cigarette, I will
sometimes give him a call. He helps me remember why I quit in the first place.
He reminds me that I never want to feel 'run over' again. This time I plan to
stay on my feet."
This story is based on information gathered from many people living with this condition.