Attention COPD Smokers!

Attention COPD Smokers!

I learned early on it wasn't the fact I was addicted to nicotine that kept me smoking, I liked smoking! The whole sensation of drawing the smoke into my lungs and slowly exhaling my stress away with the smoke. I had been smoking since I was 10 and my cigarette was the extension of my arm. The extra digit on my fingers, a sensual pleasure to my mouth. I felt incomplete and lost without my cigarette.

At first I cut back to one cigarette a day. I would go out on my patio and for 10 min, I would sit back, enjoying my smoke and felt whole again. But, when I came back in the house my husband would carry on so much (he also had COPD), that I stopped my one a day cigarette and became a binge smoker. I went on at least two road trips a year (my husband would not go), as soon as I left New Mexico (where I lived), I would light up and smoke the whole time I was gone. When my trip was over and I got back to NM I would stop at the Welcome Area and throw out any cigs I had left and did not smoke again till my next road trip.

The thing that made me quit was on a trip to Michigan to visit my grandchildren, I had a bad COPD exacerbation. I was put on a ventilator and, for the third time, was told I was dying. I didn't want my grandchildren to see me die, so I asked God to let me live long enough to get back to NM and I would never smoke again. 3 days later I left the hospital on a BI-PAP 24/7 and when I felt well enough, my daughter drove home with me. I haven't smoked since.

Even now after eight years without a cigarette I still miss them and crave them everyday. But, I keep my promise - I also know to smoke a cigarette will be my death, and I choose life rather than death.

Within three months of quitting I could taper back on my Bi-PAP, and breathe a lot better. By the end of a year I had no more morning hacking and very little mucus. I didn't have as many or as bad infections/exacerbation. Over the last four years I was in the ER or hospital for my COPD only once, and that was because my granddaughter burnt some pizza rolls she was cooking, and the smoke sent me to the hospital for 2 days with CO2 poisoning.

After my last breathing test and since it's been 3 years since I'd had an infection, I was told I no longer have chronic bronchitis. I have very severe Emphysema, compounded by Asthma, CHF and a few other things, but no sign of chronic bronchitis. I attribute that to the fact I quit smoking, and with God's help I stay smoke free. The best thing I did in the last 17 years is to stop smoking. My FEV1 had been at a stand still since I quit.

There may not be a cure, but you can hold back the progression of your COPD.

So the best advice I can give you is STOP NOW! As long as you continue to suck that tobacco into your lungs every day, your COPD will not improve. As long as you keep smoking there is no medicine or treatment that is going to improve your COPD. Being that I smoked for 50 years, I  used all excuses, but ultimately, if you want to improve your COPD you must stop smoking.

Pick a day this month and make that the first day of your new and better smoke free life. If you really want to quit, you will. Slow the progression of your COPD to a snail pace, QUIT NOW! The life you save will be your own, I know you can do it. I will be praying for your success. Breathe deep and easy.

Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to say that on March 2, 2018, Mary Ultes passed away. Mary was an engaged advocate for the COPD community who strived to help people live fulfilling lives. She is deeply missed.

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