written before i actually quit and originally posted on november 17, 2001; it talks about why the health risks associated with smoking were never enough to make me quit.

quitting for health reasons

2008 December 30

the last lesson in module 2 (of the american lung association's freedom from smoking program online) asked us to post about why health reasons weren't sufficient to motivate us to quit smoking already - in my case, i guess they never seemed "real" to me until now. even though i watched my father struggle with smoking almost until the day he died of cancer, it still wasn't happening to *me*...

i remember thinking, "what an idiot! he can't even breathe on his own any more, and yet he continues to smoke!" (the irony of my thinking this as i stood there smoking was lost on me at the time...)

reading that back, it sounds awfully cold, but it's true; until i found out last week that i have emphysema, it wasn't real for me, because it wasn't happening to me personally.

and even though knowing i have emphysema scares the hell out of me, and the last couple of weeks have been a nightmare (between the emphysema and the asthmatic bronchitis, there have been times when i couldn't take even the shallowest breath without starting to choke; that's scary as hell), there's still a little voice inside me saying, "hey, lots of people live with emphysema; maybe if you just cut down on your smoking, you'll be O.K."

of course, my rational side realizes that this is just a cop-out (a way to avoid the pain of withdrawal by continuing to let this addiction control my life), so i continue to try and think of (and write down) as many reasons as i can that appeal to the emotional side of me (i.e.; reasons that appeal to my little voice); things it can understand, like "if i quit smoking, i'll be more attractive to women", or "if i quit smoking, i won't be a social outcast any more", etc.

it's almost funny; when i was a freshman in college, i had a friend whose father had an advanced case of emphysema (he had to carry a tank of oxygen with him everywhere he went). the first time i met this friend's father was when he came to campus to see his son's guitar recital, and during intermission, i was astounded to see the father come out to the lobby with the rest of us smokers, turn off his oxygen, and light up! i clearly remember thinking, "what an idiot! he can't even breathe on his own any more, and yet he continues to smoke!" (i guess the irony of my thinking this as i stood there smoking was lost on me at the time; now the shoe's on the other foot and i'm starting to get it...)

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6 responses leave one →
  1. 2004 July 10
    Turtle permalink

    Hi Kevin-thank you for being so honest about your addiction and emphysema. Congrats on being a non-smoker for so long, and God bless you for starting this forum. I am a newbie, intoduced myself as sick smoker-i have pulmonary fibros, not caused by smoking, but certainly severely aggravated by it. I am that guy that takes off my oxygen, turns it off and lights up-others have seem me do this plenty of times--and yes, i see it in their eyes, and sometimes i even get comments. There are times, i figure, why not-my path is near complete-i have no hope. Necodemon lies. Just because one is on oxygen, the nicodemon is still nipping the heels-oh, the looks i have gotten buying sickeretts while on oxygen-i have even lied and said "oh no-they aren't for me". Guilt. Oh, the guilt. Day two for me, and it is very hard. Yes, i have quit many times before this-that was all practice for the real thing-now. what a gluton for punishment/pain/frustration/and all the other--having quit so many times before--and here i am again-suffering the awful process of detoxing.
    Hugs to you!
    Turtle

  2. 2004 July 29
    quitgirl permalink

    Kevin,
    This site is so awesome and it really touched me about the candor of your situation. I used to be scared to death that I would get cancer...I did..only cervical cancer, but the funny thing is that I beat it and the doctor told me it wasn't caused by smoking. That was 7 years ago when I was 24 years old. My big reason now is that I am afraid to get emphysema...there are already days when I can't even take a deep breath. These are the days that I really want to quit, but I am ready now and I will quit because if I don't....I don't think I will get a 3rd chance. Thank you for this site and all you are doing to give us an opportunity to be in on your life.

  3. 2005 January 12
    mary haddix permalink

    This is the very same reaction I had many years ago.
    I am sick like you too. But I still smoke. I am so ashame of myself and my children think I am crazy. If you are trying to quit, please e-mail me and let me know how it is going. I would love to quit also. Good Luck Mary

  4. 2008 December 30

    note: the comments above were left on the original tale at the date and time indicated.

  5. 2009 December 29
    Diana permalink

    I am currently "trying" to quit. Tonight a good friend, who knew that I was out of cigs, showed up at my house with two packs for me. I know he means well, but I had gone a whole day without them. I am also sick with athsma, chronic broncitis,and the beginnings of copd. I have other health issues as well and I don't know if smoking affects them at all?? I just know that I cannot do this alone and came here hoping I would not have to - I really need some help. I am a 40 year smoker and have never tried to quit until this year, and have failed twice. Tried the patch and the pills. Someone out there might be willing to help.

  6. 2010 June 14
    SHARY permalink

    iam finding it so hard to stay quit but just reading that one story hit home,last year i lost my sister to emphysemia she looked terrible she begged me to stop as i to have been diagnosed with the same desease.i had been smoking for 40years and a heavy smoker at that i was smoking 50 a day.iam taking champix tablets and have almost completed the whole coarse but i still have days where i crave like mad,so soon i will be on my own its a very hard habbit to break but iam feeling much healthier than i have in a long time but i still feel i need a lot of support as i just keep looking for reasons to take it up again justifying myself please help it can be a very lonely experience,all my children are smokers they dont want me to smoke as they have seen me very sick from it so i cant really relate to anyone who is doing what i know is unhealthy and most of my family and friends are smokers cant really talk to anyone my doctor never has time regards shary.

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