Smoking, Reflux and COPD
Do you get tired of the anti-smoking commercials that are on TV? Do you get annoyed? One is about a lady climbing to the top of a pile of cigarette butts? She smoked 12,000 cigarettes over so many years. Another shows Terri, a lady with cancer that had to cover her tracheotomy tube in her neck so that she could talk. Terri actually died from her cancer. For COPD television ads, they discuss medications, such as Spiriva.
You’re right, this is a COPD site and article. Not cancer. I think that those commercials can and should be shared here because smoking is the leading cause of COPD and a major cause of lung cancer as well.
COPD was never really a thought
When I quit smoking, COPD was never a thought. Nor did I really know what it was like. I did know that smoking caused cancer. I had seen commercials and the kids brought letters home from school about smoking. I would smoke. My grandpa died of lung cancer. The stress and sadness hit and after a 6 week quit, I started back up again. The very same day that he died. That was in 1975, about a year after I started smoking. I had quit a couple of times, but some stressor always caused me to start smoking again. Hey now, you heard that, didn’t you? “Some stressor always caused me to start smoking again.” I wonder what gave that stressor so much power, that it forced me to start again and again?
Coping with Barrette’s Esophagus
For a couple of years, I had been coping with Barrette’s Esophagus, which is a pre-cancer of the esophagus. When the sphincter muscle at the bottom of the esophagus relaxes at the wrong time, it allows stomach juices and acid to back up into the esophagus and at times, even the throat. This can cause heartburn, chest pain, dry cough, hoarseness, wheezing and even a tightness in the throat. Frequent or constant reflux can lead to GERD, which is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. This can lead to Barrettes Esophagus. I am telling you this because it’s what made a difference in my smoking. So many have asked about Reflux as they have had similar symptoms with the air trapping. COPD patients can develop Reflux or GERD because they tend to trap air in their chest cavities, which increases pressure on the abdomen. In 2002 I was concerned about my Barrettes as it became columnar, which showed the pre-cancer of the esophagus. Then…
I quit cold turkey
In 2003 the love of my life and I became serious. Because of the Barrettes, I knew I had to quit smoking and my doctor agreed. I wasn't diagnosed with COPD until about 2008. My hubby didn’t smoke, so he was perfect for taking the role of keeping in the straight and narrow and off of cigarettes. July 23, 2018, I celebrated my quit of 15 years. Sure, I still reach for a cigarette periodically, but it’s habit, not a craving, and I have not had any more desire to ever smoke. Patches didn’t work, nor did the gum. When I handed those cigarettes over, I quit cold turkey.
I need to back up here. Back in the 3rd paragraph, I commented on “some stressor always caused me to start smoking again”. Since I quit, I’ve been through a lot of stressors and some major ones, but nothing has made me want to smoke again. That would be giving too much power to that “cancer stick” as we used to call them. I believe they have earned the title of “COPD stick” as well. I commend each of you who is working on or has made your quit!
If you are struggling with your quit, find a support group. If you don’t know of one face to face, there are numerous groups online. Talk to your doctor as well. They can give you a prescription for medication. You can get over the counter patches, lozenges, and gum. Check for coupons, as they can be expensive. Check with the American Lung Association. There is one in every state who may be able to supply you with the products you may need.
Oh, by the way, in August 2018, my hubby and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary.
Do you have questions about your COPD diagnosis?