I have to stop

Hi, I’m 55 years old and was diagnosed with COPD in 2014. It was a very confusing time as I had gone to the hospital, thinking I had pneumonia (I did), but all of a sudden my entire body shut down and I coded right there in the ER. I was intubated and put in ICU for 10, then step-down for 3, then went home.

I am sure during this time a lot of information was given to me about COPD but I retained none of it. I started smoking cigarettes when I was 11 and was unable to quit once I went home, and for the past three years, while I’ve experienced SOB, things have generally been okay. I sleep with oxygen at night, use my inhalers, and take a travel tank of oxygen everywhere I go.

Until the last 6 weeks or so. All of a sudden, I started experiencing extreme SOB and acute respiratory failure, one episode after another, and each time ended up in an ambulance, then the hospital. Every time they tell me I HAVE to quit smoking, which I know I do, as these episodes have been getting closer and closer together. I haven’t been able to quit on my own despite tremendous support from friends and family and numerous attempts.

After this last hospitalization, something changed for me. I felt something inside of me shift – like, “I can’t do this anymore, I can’t smoke anymore, I want to be free of this.” A friend with COPD told me about a smoking cessation program at a local medical center and I immediately signed up, paid for it, and committed to it (it begins November 7). With the help of my sister, I found out that I qualify for pulmonary rehabilitation, a total of 36 sessions, that Medicare will cover. I also decided to begin counseling to help go with the no smoking class and for extra support, and found out I qualify for that as well.

Essentially, I was so scared after this last hospitalization that I finally, for the first time, made a firm decision. Everything I do from here I want to be proactive, positive, leading me on a path back to better health. Quitting smoking is the first step, I know that. I am scared and I am praying like crazy that these things work, but I am not leaving myself room for doubt. I can do this. I can be a nonsmoker. I WILL be a nonsmoker. I know I will still have COPD but I know it won’t be like this, every moment lived in fear, terrified to leave the house because of associated incontinence, tired of alarming my friends and family everytime I end up in the hospital, afraid to make a single move for fear of missing the mark. It is possible to get better.

I have to stop. And I will. I know that may sound like a weak assertion at this moment, but it’s what I’ve got to work with. All good thoughts appreciated. Thanks.

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

Comments

View Comments (33)
  • Barbara Moore moderator
    3 months ago

    Hi Ponyboy, it is so hard to quit. Believe me that I have been there and most of the community has too. I have to say that I tried very hard not to quite but my body had other plans, much the same as you.
    When you are successful and win this battle, you will have so much pride in yourself knowing that have moved one step closer to saving your life.
    Good Luck
    Barbara Moore (Site Moderator)

  • korea
    4 months ago

    I smoked for almost 58 yrs, have been smoke free for 1year 6months today. It was the hardest thing I had to
    train myself not to do, because I loved to smoke and
    drink but I rearlized if I was to have any type of life I had to give smokes up. Like I said it was not easy but you can do it, I think cold turkey is the best way, it was for me. I tried so many times to quit, do not ever give up, I am so much better now. I still have an urge for a smoke every now and then but it is just an urge. I know I will fight the no smoking battle fo ever but it gets easier as you go. Just keep fighting you can do it. Hope this helps.

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    4 months ago

    Hi Korea and thanks for your input to this post-chain. Most importantly, congratulations to you on being smoke-free for 18 months! Keep up the good work! Leon (site moderator)

  • KevinDavitt
    4 months ago

    Did you stop?

  • melinda123
    4 months ago

    Hi your story is a cc of mine. I would like to talk with you if you are ok with that. I have been up and down with this disease . how can we connect.
    I wish you the best.i will attempt to friend you not savy on this site yet

  • mindovermatter
    4 months ago

    Just put it in your mind that you quit smoking because like a job, it was required. Period. Not I have to or I should. How did medicare cover you? I have medicare advantage and still would have to pay a $40.00 co-pay. Welcome to new world for you….Non Smokers ha ha

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    4 months ago

    Hi mindovermatter and thanks for your post. It’s always gratifying when community members provide constructive support to one another. We appreciate your input.
    All the best,
    Leon (site moderator)

  • GeckoGal
    1 year ago

    Consider yourself a success! Picture yourself as already being a non-smoker and remind yourself that you’re succeeding! Way to GO!!

  • erma2001
    1 year ago

    I just turned 50 at the end of June been on oxygen when I sleep for 2yrs now,have been digniosed with COPD back in 2005,like most I continued to smoke not having much problem till 2014 went to hospital with acute exerbations,since then never seemed to bounce back fully stared seeing pulmonogist in april2016,March 9th this year ended up in hospital with pneumonia 1st time for me in for 9 days,I had tried Chanix before but really never stuck with it but was the only thing that had helped so they put me back ion it,was just getting back on my feet when on April 26 had Dr. appt and had feeling was going back to hospital and sure enough another 8 days,now I’m on oxygen full time but have been smoke free since first time went in the hospital,I an short old breath with any walking but the chanting will help you been almost 8 months for me,you can do it,god bless!

  • Lyn Harper, RRT moderator
    1 year ago

    That is such a great success story, erma2001! I’m sorry you’ve been through so much – in and out of the hospital. But, quitting was one of the best things you could have done for yourself. Thank you for sharing that with the community as I’m positive others that are trying to quit will take heart from your experience.

    Warm Regards,
    Lyn (moderator)

  • erma2001
    1 year ago

    Chanting,sorry for the spelling

  • erma2001
    1 year ago

    Keeps changing my words, chantix

  • blackjack
    1 year ago

    Ponyboy good luck to you. Men seem to have more will power. I ended up on Champix, and provided you took it on a full stomach (food) no side effects. I was a little naughty, after one week of two a day went back to one a day – gradually the desire for tobacco lessened – it’s still there but easily controlled, I even forgot to take them, then the urge came back, so tablet again. In the end I had some left not used.

  • Ponyboy author
    1 year ago

    Dear friends,

    I really want to thank you all for the tremendous support, sharing of your own stories, and encouragement. My commitment to stop smoking is getting stronger every day. Yesterday I had my first appointment with a new PCP, and he’s set me up with a pulmonologist for a pulmonary fitness test so we can get a baseline of where I am before I begin pulmonary rehab. I’ve cut down quite a bit on smoking in preparation for the Smoking Cessation program that starts on November 7. I am actually looking forward to it because I know I need the support and the techniques it offers. This first appointment was about getting this show on the road! Thanks again, and good wishes to everyone!

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi Ponyboy – it’s our pleasure to be behind you in all of this. We appreciate you following up and keeping us updated. Keep up the good work – it sounds like you’re on your way and have a strong resolve to get this done and move forward.
    Warmly,
    Leon (site moderator)

  • Kran45
    1 year ago

    Last year the week after Thanksgiving, I had my first COPD flare up, pneumonia, and Bronchitis all at once. I was like a fish out of water until I finally got in to see a Nurse Practitioner. After going to a Convenient Care Clinic, the ER and they both decided I din’t have pneumonia because I wasn’t running a fever, so I was given a breathing treatment and sent home. After 5 days of not breathing I finally got a diagnosis and was immediately put on oxygen for 3 mos. My last cigarette was 12/10/16, after smoking 2 paks a day for 40 yrs. I was given Chantix, and perhaps it helped, but I made my mind up that I could either breathe or smoke. wasn’t a difficult decision, and it was very easy to do.
    The answer to quitting is finding that personal reason inside of you to making it easier to quit. It is YOUR reason and nobody else can influence it. Except I did not want to see the fear and pain in my family’s faces again. I had to quit or die. Find that deep inside, and you’re 75% successful

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi Kran45 and thanks for sharing your experiences with our online community. You certainly have the right approach and attitude now. Your suggestions and resolve are clear as well. Congrats on stopping smoking too! That is a genuine accomplishment as you well know!!
    Keep up the good work!!
    All the best,
    Leon (site moderator)

  • judith
    1 year ago

    Everybody stops smoking at their own pace, but when it comes down to a life or death decision, it’s still hard to choose, but do it any way you can. You will see improvements in your condition, I guarantee it. I’m 69, have Stage 3 C.O.P.D., and I smoked for 45 years. When I finally made up my mind to quit, I used every method available to me, and on Jan.10, 2010, I threw them away and never picked them back up. It’s taken 7 years before my doctor said that my COPD has finally leveled off and slowed down its progression. It won’t take away the disease, but I won a major war within myself against cigarets; I won that battle and I feel good about it. You can do it. I’m another cheerleader of yours.

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi judith – thanks so much for sharing how you quit smoking with our online community. As you well know, that is a genuine accomplishment and one you can remain proud of as you continue to cope with COPD. I’m sure your experience will benefit our community members who read your story.
    All the best,
    Leon (site moderator)

  • Casey Hribar moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi Ponyboy! I see our team has provided some awesome feedback and warm wishes for you, which really makes my heart (and I’m sure yours too!) feel so full! I just wanted to jump in as well and let you know that this is such a healthful step you’re taking in your COPD journey! YOU CAN DO IT! And we’re all here behind you. Whether you need a friend to chat with, or just a caring ear to vent to, we’re here. We hope you’ll lean on us when times get tough, and that you’ll share wit us when you experiences some wins! (Because I KNOW you’ll have plenty of wins on this journey!)

    So glad to hear you’re starting pulmonary rehab as well, and I’m glad your sister was able to help you discover that you qualify! It sounds like you have a great support system! Amazing! We’re so glad you’re here in our community, and we hope you’ll continue to engage with us. As you can see from all of the comments, we’re all in this together and with YOU!!!

    Sending gentle hugs your way! -Casey, COPD.net Team

  • Ponyboy author
    1 year ago

    I really want to thank all of you for such supportive, positive thoughts and words! I hope I didn’t miss anyone!

    Your support means so much to me. When I read your messages, I get this feeling of absolutely KNOWING I can do this, that I can stop smoking, that I WILL be a non-smoker. This kind of support means everything and I really hope to be as supportive to others here as you have been to me.

    I’ll post as things move along. Keeping everyone in the loop is another great motivator after knowing that so many of you are rooting for me. I appreciate all of you!

  • Janet Plank
    1 year ago

    Please keep us posted, so we know how you are doing.
    I quit smoking 14 years ago and know some of what you go through. Others likely too. Know we are here for you!

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    1 year ago

    It’s all our pleasure, Ponyboy.
    You can do this and we’re all behind you!!
    Wishing you the best,
    Leon (site moderator)

  • Janet Plank
    1 year ago

    Ponyboy, thank you for sharing your story. I’m so sorry that you have had such a struggle. Reading about all you have gone though and to where you have come, is vast. With your determination and desire to quit smoking, you can conquer smoking. When you know you can do it, you can! It sounds like you found a wonderful program to help you. There are online support groups as well.
    Pulmonary rehab is fantastic and it can make such a positive difference with your health.
    That dreaded incontinence that affects so many of us. It can keep a person prisoner, it doesn’t have to be. There are products that you can use to prevent leakage. If you aren’t comfortable getting products in the store, you can order online. You having living yet to do, so hopefully you do get out and about.
    Thank you for sharing your story. You are a warrior, as you have shown us. That’s big!
    Do let us know how you are doing and know that we are here for you.
    Janet (site moderator)

  • Ponyboy author
    1 year ago

    Janet, thank you so much! It feels wonderful to have such good support. And yes, I read the article you posted – that’s how I found this board, and it was so powerful for me, it let me know I was not alone. I’ve already ordered some male incontinence products online. Thank you again!!

  • Janet Plank
    1 year ago

    Ponyboy, here is a link that you might find interesting:
    https://copd.net/living/an-embarrassing-situation/

  • Ann D. Cuccia, MPH RRT moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi Ponyboy, I have to say, you have shown amazing strength and courage in taking these tremendous steps toward incorporating these positive changes in your life! It sounds like you have a fabulous support system around you, people who have been with you on your journey and who are willing to help you as you continue. You have a very comprehensive plan in place for yourself, which is chock-full of expertise and support. Keep your eye on the prize! Please know that in addition to your friends and family, you are surrounded by a huge community of cheerleaders and supporters rooting for you on the sidelines! We are all with you! Please keep in touch and let us know how you are doing – we truly appreciate your sharing your story. Ann

  • Ponyboy author
    1 year ago

    Ann, I am so grateful for your reply and thank you so much. This board has already been so helpful, I can only hope to be as supportive to others and you all have been to me! Many thanks!

  • Erin Rush moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi Ponyboy! I don’t think your assertion sounds weak at all. I worked with smokers for a number of years, helping them quit and stay quit. I always used to say that I couldn’t force someone that wasn’t ready to quit and, once someone was ready to quit, nothing would stop them! It sounds like you are truly ready and that’s awesome. You have done so many things right already — you have a game plan, you have support, and you are showing dedication to quitting. You *can* do this!

    My stepfather started smoking at age 12 and was unable to quit for good until he had to have quadruple bypass. Everyone has their own wake-up call. My stepdad has been smoke-free for 12 years now.

    And I am so glad you are taking advantage of pulmonary rehabilitation. You will learn a lot and also see an improvement in your overall quality of life.

    Thank you for sharing with us! This is another sign that you are ready and ready to be accountable.

    We’re cheering for you! I have every confidence that you can do this. I walked alongside many people that are now former smokers. And you totally sound like a person that is well on their way to being an official “former smoker”.

    You’ve got this, Ponyboy!

    Best, Erin, COPD.net Team Member.

  • Ponyboy author
    1 year ago

    Hi Erin, thank you muchly for such a great message. It gave me hope to hear about your stepfather, to know that people can and do quit. I’m excited but scared about this new passage in my life, but with this kind of support (as well as the support in my daily life), I KNOW I can do this! I appreciate you!

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi Ponyboy and thanks so much for sharing your experiences and recent journey with COPD. With all you’ve been through, you’re very fortunate to have ‘tremendous support from friends and family”, as you tell us.
    And now, after all this time, YOU are going to be your own best support. By changing your attitude, outlook and determination, there is no question, you WILL become a ‘non smoker, Ponyboy.

    The counseling and the pulmonary rehabilitation, combined with your new disposition and self assessment will help keep you on track so you can achieve your goal.
    Please do keep in touch with us and let us know how you’re doing. We wish you the best and look forward to hearing back from you.
    Warmly,
    Leon (site moderator)

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    1 year ago

    We’re all here for you, Ponyboy.
    You can do this!
    All the best,
    Leon (site moderator)

  • Ponyboy author
    1 year ago

    Leon, I really appreciate you for taking the time to reply with such a supportive message. I’m scared but excited too to be taking such a huge step in my life and will post about it as it moves along. Thank you again for your kind words!

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