a group sits in a circle as a man enters in the doorway a woman holds a chair for him.

Thanks for Inviting Me

"Hello...my name is Jeff, and I'm an addict!"

"Hello, Jeff!"

I didn't realize I was an addict till after I had quit smoking for 3 years and still jonesed those EVIL sticks (aka cigarettes) many times a day, even after all I had been through. Let me go back and explain my epiphany!

The good old days

Today I will be receiving my 6-year chip for officially having COPD, according to my doctor. I have always been a busy guy with sports, working two jobs, volunteer firefighting for 20-years, raising 3 kids, my dog, gardening, and exploring the great outdoors!

I always thought I had a small case of asthma as I had chest tightness during the humid days of summer. So convinced was I that when I developed a tree nut allergy requiring a bracelet, I had them put asthma on the bracelet as well.

Of course, smoking for 30 years since the age of 13 was the real culprit! Growing up playing competitive hockey, soccer, baseball, running, racing dirt bikes, and hiking most weekends, I was in great shape. Being an athlete my entire life helped mask the damage being done inside my body. I was that guy with superman lungs, who blew up all the balloons for parties, filled the rafts to float down the river, and blew up everyone's mattresses to camp in tents.

Down that slippery slope

Then one evening after supper, the kids and I took a stroll out to Timmy's (Tim Hortons Coffee Shop) up some hills and along some trails like we had done many times before. On this night, I couldn't catch my breath for a few minutes once I got to the top of the hill. Figuring I just ate too much, I sparked a smoke, and away we went.

The next time was a little longer to recover, and then longer, etc. After a few weeks, I changed our route to an easier climb to make it easier for me. Did I think to ease back on the smoking? Nahhhh! Does this pattern sound familiar to anyone else? To just keep cutting out things we find difficult so we can still smoke? By the end, we were driving through the "drive-thru" and taking a drive in the country cause dad couldn't walk very far anymore! After a year of cutting things from my life, my troubles breathing were increasing daily and it was time to see my general practitioner as I couldn't manage these issues any longer.

A bitter pill to swallow

My trip to the doctor had me sniffing away on my Vick's inhaler and sucking on cough candies to open my airways. He was sort of gruff with me, stating that this self-prescribed therapy wasn't giving me true relief. He prescribed a puffer and a test at the hospital to test my breathing. The new puffer was amazing as I finally got some relief from the magic inhaler - I could keep smoking! Two weeks later I skipped into his office because I had the magic cure - what could be worse than that? He closed the door, took his glasses off, and lowered his voice, "Jeff, you have stage 4 COPD". My life changed forever that day! July 2015.

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