A Letter To a Smoker With COPD
You have been diagnosed with COPD and you still smoke. You maybe don’t feel like you get respect from your doctor, family, and even others with COPD. The doctor said they won't treat you while you're still smoking.
When I was diagnosed with COPD, it was the 4th leading cause of death. Having it move up to #3 since my diagnosis felt scary, almost personal. That triggered a thought.
Cigars, cigarettes, Tiparellos
Ok, I couldn’t help myself. I don’t know how many years ago that this lingo was popular as an advertisement or if this was called out at a sports game. That lingo must have done something to trigger my mind after all these years. That lingo was also likely a trigger to smoke. For the record, I never smoked Tiparellos. However, aside from cigarettes, I had been known to smoke a cigar when someone had a baby, even a pipe. I liked the smell of pipes.
Ok time to get serious again. Sometimes we need to find humor even in the tough things and especially in the tough times. Share a smile and then get back to it. Some think that smoking marijuana can cause COPD. There are some that don’t believe that it’s possible. Do some research and come to your own conclusion like I did.
I observed a talk from a young child a week or so ago on tv. He was wanting a pack of those candy cigarettes. He said they tasted so good and looked good and all lit up too. I remember I used to like them. I used to take the L & M, ‘cause my grandpa smoked that kind.
You, the smoker
Okay now, I want to talk to you, the smoker. First, know that I come to you as an ex-3 pack a day smoker. At times, I had 2 cigs burning in different ashtrays at the same time. I quit many times but excuses and triggers led me back.
Here are some examples:
- Cigarette commercials triggered cravings
- My grandpa died of lung cancer
- I took a trip in my car, a place that I always smoked
- After a meal I was always triggered to have a cigarette
- Anti-smoking ads could trigger a craving
- Being around others smoking could trigger a desire to smoke
- And more…
My quits averaged a couple of minutes or hours or days. Six months was my maximum. Now 17 years later I’m doing it!
I had to do something
I had to do something about those cigarettes. Working in an ambulance and being a smoker was gross, but no one complained. However, I was very conscientious about it. That helped create a desire to quit.
For me, the patch didn’t work. I had a reaction of swelling. The gum was so hard to chew that my jaws hurt. Those pills, I just wasn’t interested. Pills just weren't my thing. Finally, I just gave the cigarettes to my husband. When I gave my pack to my husband, I know I would never get a pack again. At that moment, it was the minute that I quit. My quit date was July 23, 2003. How do I remember that date? That was one of my granddaughters 4th birthday. I didn’t realize that for some time.
I laughed and I cried
When I quit smoking, it was hard. The cravings were horrible. My chest hurt. My words and thoughts stumbled after each other. I laughed and I cried. 3 packs of cigarettes had dominated my life and seemed unforgiving.
As of the time of this writing, it has been 17 years and 7 days since I last had a cigarette. I have fought every trigger that was thrown at me. Sometimes I still catch myself reaching for a cigarette or a lighter. I get a glass of water, possibly brush with toothpaste or gargling with mouthwash. It doesn’t hurt anymore when I get the cravings and I welcome the breath fresheners.
I quit smoking 3 packs a day, cold turkey.
You can do this
Are you ready to step up and throw those cigarettes, cigars, and pipes away? That chew can also cause cancer. There are numerous things that you can use to help you on your journey to quit.
Quitting isn’t easy but slowing the progression of your disease is something that should be done. It can’t be done without your work and it will be hard. There are wonderful support groups to help you and we are here for you too.
Your life matters. Stand up to those cigarettes. They can kill you. You can do this. We care.
Do you live with any sleep disorders (eg. insomnia, RLS, sleep apnea) in addition to COPD?