On the eve of Stoptober, Birmingham blogger Emmalene Fletcher talks about her own personal journey from smoker to non-smoker and offers advice to anyone planning to quit next month.
I remember my last cigarette much clearer than my first. I remember the hacking cough and failure to inhale successfully due to a nasty chest infection brought back from holiday. I remember thinking “I might take a break from smoking – just until this clears up”. That was three years, one month and two weeks ago. And I haven’t touched a cigarette since.
One day clean, became one week, became one year. I successfully negotiated my first social event involving alcohol a couple of weeks after that final cigarette. My first UK mini-break. My first European holiday – and the test of sitting on a beautiful square in Krakow without lighting up. My first Christmas and New Year. And 7 months after I quit, my husband did too. Like me, he went cold turkey, with only determination, willpower and a desire to prolong his life as a crutch.
And the effects? Priceless.
My cough magically cleared up almost overnight. Food started to taste so much better, and my sense of smell became so much keener.
In 2010, hubby and I struggled to do a 1.5k hike in Yosemite, with our chests tightening at every rise in altitude. This year we did a 4k hike in Cinque Terre with no chest pains or gasping for breath. No more standing in the freezing cold in the winter; no more giving up prized seats in the pub to “just nip out for one”.
My advice to anyone wanting to give up? Take it one day at a time. Say “I won’t have a cigarette today, but I can have one tomorrow if I want.” And tomorrow, ask yourself if you really want one, or if you might be able to go one more day. It worked for me; I told people I was “on a break” from smoking, not that I’d given up. That way I was giving up for me, and not for anyone else, removing the outside pressure of failure. And my stubbornness proved crucial. I never want to return to Day Zero since my last cigarette.
Sign-up for Stoptober here: https://stoptober.smokefree.nhs.uk/
Quit smoking in Birmingham
For friendly, expert advice and support on how to quit smoking:
- Call the Birmingham stop smoking service on 0800 052 5855
- Text ‘QUIT’ to 80800
- Go to: http://www.bhamcommunity.nhs.uk/about-us/services/adults/stop-smoking/