“When I was 16 I started smoking. 40 years later, I was still smoking. The anniversary of my quitting was just a few days ago: six years ago, on July 9th.”
When I was 16 I got a job in a pizza shop. I was the youngest person working there among a number of older women who took breaks to have a smoke. I figured if I wanted to have a break from this job, I should take up smoking. My father was a smoker, so it was pretty easy to steal cigarettes from him and plus, you’re in high school. It makes you cool. 40 years later, I’m still smoking.
There were times when I cut down for brief periods, primarily when I was pregnant with my daughter. But, for the most part I smoked for 40 years. Then, there came a time when I was having bronchitis on a fairly regular basis. One year, I had bronchitis and pneumonia, cleared up, then a couple of months later, pneumonia again. The doctor was about to test me for COPD and then couldn’t do the test because the pneumonia came back. She said, “You know, COPD is not curable.” I thought, “it’s probably time that I seriously think about quitting smoking.” She gave me a prescription. Using it and copious amounts of Peanut M&Ms, I did manage to quit. It is one of the very hardest things I’ve ever done. Dropping my daughter off at college in Manhattan was also one of the most difficult things, but you kind of distract yourself. For someone who smoked for 40 years, you think about smoking every hour on the hour.
I discovered there were triggers I didn’t expect. I didn’t smoke in my house, but there’s a carport behind my house. The access is through the laundry room. On laundry days, I would check the laundry every hour, go out, and have my cigarette. Doing laundry after having quit was very difficult because as soon as I get to the laundry room, “where’s my cigarette?” I managed to teach myself to do laundry without smoking. I managed to change my life into one of a non-smoker.
I did the math and I’ve saved approximately $11,500. In the process of quitting. I’d pray that urges would pass, but you recognize the prayer is more of a lament than a request. For a long time the desire to smoke was strong. Initially, when I would pass people outside who were smoking, I would stop and enjoy the second-hand smoke. But, when you ask, “Do you have any desire?” what I say is, “I am one cigarette away from a pack a day.” I can’t have the one, because there’s not one. The anniversary of my quitting was just a few days ago: six years ago on July 9th.