If you are in crisis, emotional distress, or at risk of suicide call 9-1-1, go to the local hospital emergency room, or call the mental health crisis line at 613-544-4229 or if you are a KHSC staff member, contact Homewood Human Solutions at 1-800-663-1142. Someone is there to help.

Sharon's Story On Kicking the Habit

My story is likely typical of any addiction with one exception, I did not start smoking until I was 30 years old. All it took was one puff on a co-worker's cigarette and, before I knew it, I was a smoker. During my 23 years of smoking I came to enjoy the social aspect of smoking. And I ate less; rather than having dessert, I would have a cigarette.

As the years went on however, I noticed my breathing was suffering. Whenever I developed a common cold, it was much worse, often resulting in a trip to the hospital to get relief. Despite the increased effort to do simple things, like walking without being short of breath, and the terrible cough in the morning, I continued to smoke. And like most smokers, I had tried to quit many times but after a few days no one could stand to be around me- I was so grumpy. Eventually it would get the best of me and I would give into the habit with another failed attempt. This cycle of trying to quit occurred many times and, of course, I had many excuses why I shouldn't quit and convinced myself I was right. The sad thing is that I watched my father battle asthma and use puffers his whole life, knowing this might become my reality.

The good news however is that I have now successfully quit. For me, it wasn't smoking cessation medication, hypnosis, or e-cigarettes that helped me to quit, nor my will power. What motivated me to make this quit attempt stick was the respiratory virus I picked up when on vacation. The effects on my ability to breathe were so bad that I ended up being admitted to the hospital. For anyone that knows me, you will know that I say it like it like it is, so I said to the attending physician, give me an answer to this simple question "Did my smoking cause or contribute to my breathing problems in any way"? While he couldn't say smoking causes them, he certainly indicated my smoking was a key factor in making my symptoms worse. That was the last day I smoked. I knew that I never wanted to struggle to breathe and feel like that again. And since quitting, I have not.

That hospital visit was my life-changing moment. It's been 1 year now that I've been smoke-free. I won't lie, I still have the urge to smoke every day and I expect this will be with me for quite some. But what keeps me from picking up a cigarette is knowing that all this could change in the blink of an eye and, the next time, I might not be able to quit, or worse, my health would not recover. I don't want to end up with a diagnosis of COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), which is the path I was heading down.

I urge anyone who smokes to consider the impact on their health and what you could lose. Health should not be taken for granted; life is so precious. Because I know firsthand that quitting and staying quit is not easy, I want to offer my support to anyone who is thinking about quitting or who has quit but is having a hard time. Just pick up the phone and give me a call!


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