It started back last May of 2000, as I was sitting here on my computer working on another website. At first it felt like major heartburn. It got so bad that I got offline to go lie down. Eventually it did go away, well till later on that night while my husband and I lie in bed watching T.V. But this time it was different. It was like I couldn't quite catch my breath. More like I couldn't take in enough air into my lungs, therefore I couldn't breath right and couldn't catch my breath. My husband, Tommy, thought I may have been having an anxiety attack. Honestly, I didn't know what the hell happened, but it scared the hell out of me, that's for sure. And that wasn't even the tip of the iceberg.
I'll be honest with you, I can't remember if I had any trouble the following day during the day, but again that night...BOOM! I could not breath normally. In or out. It was almost as if I was hyperventilating. Tommy gave me a paper bag, but it didn't really seem to help all that much. I tried lying back down on my bed, and relaxing my entire body, but when one can't breath right, that's pretty difficult to do. Again, though, in time that episode too, did pass.
Then during the night about 1:00 am I woke up not being able to breath correctly. I didn't want to wake up Tommy cause he had stayed up late with me earlier, during the previous episode, so I got myself through it. And finally went back to sleep.
At around 4:45 it hit me again. This time I awoke my husband. Man, I was more scared than ever. It just seemed as though each attack came on worse than the last one. My husband said it was time to go to the hospital. Now if you knew me personally...that was not an easy task to do. I just don't care all that much for hospitals, for one reason... it seems as though each time I go to a hospital or doctors office, within a matter of days I get sick with a cold, or flu or whatever is the latest bug going around. So I try to stay as FAR away from hospitals and doctors offices as I can, which is not all that easy when you have three daughters!
Anyway, once I got to the hospital, they tried giving me some kind of breathing treatment which only made me worse. So off to X-ray they took me, but not before the doctor gave me some kind of pill to put under my tongue. To make this part of my story short, they wound up admitting me! Which also meant I had to go without smoking!! Thank God for pain medicine, and sleep...or I'd of went literally bonkers!!
The next morning, which for some reason I remember it being a Friday, (and if you knew me at all...my memory literally sucks, but I remembered that day...) my family doctor came in and gave me the news that it looks as though I might have emphysema. I told my doc that I was only 38 years old! That I'm too young for this to happen! Way too young!! Of course he made it very clear how important it was for me to quit smoking. He even stated that if I continued to smoke, in a few years I would wind up pulling an oxygen tank around and possibly even be in a wheel chair!! There's only one word I can say ....SHOCKED!!!! I was like, NO WAY.... I'm only 38, yeah I smoke, but I don't have that normal morning 'smokers hack', like my husband does! My family doctor ordered some tests to have done on me down in Nuclear medicine...so later that morning that's where they carted me off to.
Later on that afternoon, a Pulmonologist came in to see me. He didn't have the results for that mornings X-rays but he did listen to my chest, talked with me a bit, and then set me up to see him again in about 2 weeks!
Anyway, I did get out of the hospital that Friday...and came home. To be honest, I can't remember if I started my first attempt at a quit then, or if I lit one up as soon as I got to the hospital parking lot. But I do remember coming home and lying on the couch...and there I stayed for days. I slowly, but surely sunk into a deep depression! Of course I didn't see it right away, but my husband did, I just felt so..numb. And it seemed with each failed attempt at quitting smoking just made me feel lower and lower and lower.
I kept that appointment with my Pulmonologist...but if ya ask me he wasn't worth shit! First off he didn't have the results of my last x-rays, claimed he didn't even know I had em, but I told em myself that day he came to see me in the hospital! Anyway he listened to my chest again....I think he put me on some antibiotics, and I was to come back and see him in 3 weeks! During that time I also went in to see my family doctor. He gave me inhalers to help me breath and to stop the inflammation in my bronchial tubes. By this time I think I had failed at 2 attempts to quit smoking. I wasn't feelin all that great either! He suggested that I use the Nicotine gum along with the patches I was using. He had said to only use the gum in those really tough times, when the cravings are the worst. So home I went, after stopping at the Osco Drugs first!
By this time I had moved to our bedroom on the bed. And there I would lay all day and all night. Lots of times I would nap and then wouldn't be able to sleep that night, cause I slept too much that day. Thank goodness it was summer, and I didn't have to deal with the kids going to school! I felt really bad for them, cause we had planned to go to the beach that summer, and if I even brushed my hair that day I was doing good. My depression just got worse and worse. I started to cry ALL the time! I was already taking Zoloft, but it was like it wasn't working for me anymore. In a very stupid attempt to try and quit crying, I took several Zoloft at once. Oh it worked....I didn't cry till the following morning....and again I took several Zoloft to control my crying. By the time Tommy got back in town that evening, ol Mom here was feeling no pain!! Needless to say he wasn't too pleased with me. Can't say I blame him!
I went back to my Pulmonologist...and this time I was really desperate and told him that I just couldn't seem to be able to quit smoking. I asked him for advice...and I got more advice from my 12 year old, then him. I decided right then and there...I wasn't coming back to see him! He was too wimpy. Like afraid of his own shadow...definitely not the bedside manner needed for a good doctor. Or at least that was my opinion!
You know what's funny, as I look back...whenever I went to see either one of my doctors...I never brought up that "E" word...that is, till my next visit with my family doctor! He wanted to know how I was doing with my quit, and I told him I quit several times, but was back to smoking again. He told me to keep at it...and stay positive and blah, blah, blah, blah. BUT one thing I did do was ask him.... "What is it exactly do I have?" I had gone online, the only time I was online that summer, to learn what I could about Emphysema. But I guess I had read so damn much that I got information overload. I always seem to do that!! AND that's when I found that I DIDN'T have Emphysema, yet!!! Man, was those sweet words to my ears! But he did say that I had Chronic Bronchitis. (And at this time, I thought that Chronic Bronchitis was nothing serious...) The way he explained it, which then Tommy had to explain it to me again later on, was that Chronic Bronchitis was like a step below Emphysema. Either way....at least it wasn't Emphysema. And again my doctor did express to me how very important that I quit smoking as soon as possible. Well hell, THAT I already knew. It was the HOW that I needed help with!
You know I went online, found gruesome pictures of what your lungs look like once you have Emphysema. I guess I was trying to shock myself into quitting. And no matter how gross the pictures were it just wasn't enough! I had joined a support group online, but got very discouraged by them in a short period of time. I had people preaching to me that if it meant my life, I HAD TO QUIT SMOKING, I have kids...they need their Mom. Well no shit Sherlock! Like I didn't already know that! I dunno...maybe I was looking for excuses, this way I could still smoke...I have not a clue! But shortly after that I quit going online all together! Of course, after I posted a nasty piece of my mind. Man, was I pissed. Guess I was pissed at the world!
In fact I knew I was pissed at the world! I had friends older than me that smoke, and seemed to be in good health. Why me? I felt cheated. Like I had to give up something I enjoy, while others could continue to go about their lives and smoke as they pleased. Jealousy! Yup I guess that's what you could say it was. Then there was the Envy....man I was all messed up in my head. By now I got out of bed, probably only to use the bathroom, or to get me a cup of coffee. I had failed at trying to quit once again, and decided to set another date in September to try once again to quit. I had picked the 11th, for that was the day my own Mother passed away from Cancer. I tell ya...that date came up on me quicker than I realized. And again, to be honest with you I don't know if I even tried. But if I did....it didn't last long either. Cause I was back to smoking...and it seemed as though I was smoking more than before! Add depression in with all of this...low self-esteem, a lil bit of a pity party...and you got yourself a mess!!! And that's exactly what I was....a MESS!!! In a way I guess you could say that I still am a mess!!
Finally school started that Fall...and I wasn't ready for it! I mean I dreaded it worse than the girls did. I guess it was because I was afraid that I might have to go out. Yup, if I had been outside a whole of 21 days this past summer, that's stretching it. I continued to smoke, be depressed, and stayed in my bed. But yet in the back of my head, there was always this voice that kept saying to me "You go ahead and smoke girl, but when your hooked up to that oxygen tank, and can't do the things you truly love to, you can't blame no one but YOURSELF!!" And I knew that it was so true. At times I could actually invision myself in a wheel chair, hooked up to a tank, being a grouchy ol bitch, because I knew deep down inside I did this to myself. It was hell. I was really, really depressed!! I guess I should use the word "am" still depressed. I've lost all interest in what few hobbies I had. I isolated myself, and ABSOLUTELY dreaded it when I had to go out. I prayed and prayed to God.... I knew that if I didn't do something, and do it soon, I would be in big trouble, health wise! I've spent the last 6 or 7 months in my bed. I go days without brushing my hair, but boy when I did, it was a major chore. No one, but my family knew how bad off I was. But no one knew more than myself that I needed to get out of this rut, and actually do something! I finally had to convince myself that it wasn't just gonna happen for me.
Eventually I decided to set my quit date for New Year's Eve, and I made myself remember each and every day! I'll be honest, at times I would think that I knew I'd fail, AGAIN! Then other times I would think of how very important it was for me to quit!! And boy did I smoke....I think I smoked more there toward the end then ever before! Even my husband made a comment about it. All I could think of to say was "Mentally I know I'm quitting, so I'm trying to get all I can now, I guess." Bless his heart...he's quitting with me too! And to be honest with you, he's more addicted than I ever was.
Once I set my date, I started contemplating building me a site for my quit. It's what I do for a living, although I had not taken on any new clients in months, and I truly enjoy building sites. So I mulled it over and over in my head. Then for about three weeks, I was actually coming online,(I was gettin OUT of bed!!!), but just wasn't sure how to approach this new "quit" site of mine. I'm serious, it was nothing for me to sit in front of this computer for 5, 6, 7 hours or more, checking out this and checking out that...and really not getting ONE single thing accomplished! I started to get really frustrated!! And with that frustration I would start to feel discouraged. Luckily not discouraged enough! Cause I finally got an idea, which was only going to be a site of a couple of pages, but eventually it grew and grew and grew! I'm enjoying working on my computer again. That's something I haven't done in months! It's sort of a double edge sword for me though, cause when I sat in front of my computer, I would smoke like crazy! BUT I now throw myself into my site....and, of course,I go and visit at QuitNet!!!! ALOT!!!!
(to live my life healthy, & smoke free)
So now that it is the year 2 0 0 1, YES I have quit....I'm very, very early into it. I take it one day at a time. And I am learning little odd things about myself. If you'd like to know from time to time how I'm doing, just visit My Diary! With Gods help, ALOT of prayer, determination on my part, of course my loving family, and many, many posts at Blairsville Bulletin Boards, I'm actually going to beat it this time!!! Not only do I feel it, but I also WANT it! I know it's NOT going to be easy..and it'll get very tough at times, but it's my life I have to fight for!! No one else can do it for me! And if I don't do it for myself, then I'll only be asking for Emphysema. I mean this Chronic Bronchitis is bad enough, why would I want to take the chances of making it worse. I'd have to be absolutely crazy!! And in a way I have been for the last 26 years that I smoked!! I've done alot of research on Emphysema, and to be brutally honest, I wouldn't wish that slow, excruciating painful death on my worse enemy! So may God give me the strength and determination, and may I take it when he offers it to me!!! God Bless all of us who are quitting, or who still smokes...and God Bless those that are considering picking up this awful habit...in my eyes, IT'S NOT WORTH IT!!!!!!!
AFTERWORD: Today I also visit Quitnet. The web is a vast place for offering support in the field of quitting smoking. There's more places out here, than I would have ever dreamed! Search till you find whatever it is that YOU are looking for, and once you do, stick with it, cause I'll be honest with ya...if it were not for Quitnet, or Blairsville,-and some very kind people, I don't believe I'd have made it as far as I have today, January 27, 2001.....
Website Created by LauraChristine 2001
Updated July 20, 2008