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A woman with a coughing figure standing on her shoulder

I was Keeping it a Secret

It was my secret. I didn’t want to tell anyone because I didn’t want to be forced to quit.

I was so short of breath. I could barely walk across my kitchen floor to get a glass of water. It took some very clever techniques to get people to help me. I couldn’t do much of anything myself. Exertion, any exertion, surely meant I would become very short of breath.

I was unable to stand long enough to shower. I started to use a stool in the tub so I could sit and shower.

Constant need

It seemed I was in constant need, and frequently asking of help to do the smallest tasks. Fetching items I needed. I found chairs or held on to walls in order to go from room to room. Going from my car to my desk at work was a total challenge.

I got paid to talk on my feet. Now in order to talk while standing, I needed to lean against a podium. I was fine while sitting. In fact, I could actually talk while sitting. As I rose to exert myself, I became very short of breath.

But, I loved it

Then, I coughed and coughed with every single one that I smoked. I felt like I was drowning in mucus secretions but still, I loved every one of them.

That was the main reason for not giving it up. I truly loved the sensation. I loved how I looked, the way it made me feel. It was the one thing that could soothe my nerves.

I had been smoking since I was 14 or so. It was my constant companion. It was one of the only things that could get me to walk to the store or go back home when I was already halfway to my destination.

I didn’t want to quit

When I did try to quit smoking and was becoming successful, I reasoned that I could do it. I just didn’t want to, so I didn’t.

I tried to be as courteous as I could to those forced to smell my cigarettes and suck in the second-hand fumes, but I couldn’t really care what people thought or how they felt. I was addicted.

The day we finally broke ties was the day I was diagnosed with COPD. It was a little late coming but my doctor told me that I would surely go downhill much faster if I continued. I was truly scared.

Today, I am proud

Smoking was one of the hardest things that I have ever had to give up. It is a total mental and physical addiction. Looking back I can see and feel the total grip it had on me and its destructive ways. Yet today I am so proud of not smoking.

You will never know the freedom of living until you can do it without being a slave to cigarettes and a lighter. It is a great feeling knowing that you not only smell good but are doing what you can to live your life to the fullest.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • tamboreen
    1 year ago

    Barbara’s story is so parallel to mine. The big difference is I smoked, knew I had COPD and was on oxygen. I tried to hide the smoking, shortness of breath, thought I could beat it myself and overpower my shortness of breath. I loved smoking, it was my friend, never wanting to admit friend was killing me. I took up e-cigarettes to quit the smoke particulates. Now I was doing both. Eventually the cigarettes disappeared. My vapor rolled down the driveway and broke apart. All my efforts to fix the vapor were to no avail. It disappeared. We moved to a one story condo because of my COPD. That is when my cigarettes took a hike to bother someone else. I will admit the desire still comes to mind.

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi tamoreen and thanks for your post. We appreciate you commenting on Barbara’s published material. I’m sure she, too, will be pleased to see your input. Warm regards, Leon (site moderator)

  • Baron
    1 year ago

    That was a great and honest story, thank you. One interesting difference in my own particular case is that when diagnosed with COPD, I was still working and very mobile, not yet suffering the physical limitations that the disease brings. I was still smoking and had done so for over 40 years, yet when my physician advised me there and then, along with the diagnosis, to give up smoking, I did. Because I really wanted to, I found it the easiest thing I’d ever done! That’s the key – you have to want to quit. I was annoyed with myself as I’d always believed that it was going to be hard. 12 years now and I’ve never been tempted to go back. I think it would kill me if I lit a cigarette now, that’s if family & friends don’t get there first!!

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi again, Baron, and thanks for your comment and insight in response to Barbara’s article. Congratulations on being smoke-free for twelve years! That is a genuine accomplishment and one you can be proud of! Wishing you well, Leon (site moderator)

  • Kathi MacNaughton
    1 year ago

    Thanks for sharing your story, Barbara, and congrats on quitting smoking! I saw firsthand how hard it is to quit something you truly enjoy doing while watching both my father and mother. My father also hid that he had COPD. Why? We’ll never know. He died not ever admitting it. It could be that, like you, he wanted to continue smoking. Or maybe he was trying to “protect” his family. So glad you are having a different outcome than he did. My mom tried to quit many times, but didn’t do it for good until she was diagnosed with COPD and put on oxygen. I sure wish she had done so earlier. She may have lived longer.

  • Barbara Moore moderator author
    1 year ago

    Thank You Kathi MacNaughton,
    Once the ties to cigarettes are cut, most everyone agrees that quitting is the best thing they ever did. Not only to preserve their health but also to help their pocketbook. Barbara (Site Moderator)

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi Barabara – you’re so right. Most people do not quantify or even realize the amount of money they are spending on cigarettes. All the more reason to kiss them ‘goodbye’!’ Leon (site moderator)

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