When a “Must” Becomes “Never Again”
I just realized that it’s been 13 weeks since I quit smoking and it’s amazing how time passes and how something that was “a must” becomes a “never again.”
I used to smoke one or two cigarettes in the evening to relax, then I stopped for four years. When my father died six years ago the addiction became an obsession for my sisters and me. I would smoke six to ten cigarettes at night, sometimes three in a row, three while I drove back home after work and three or four before going to bed.
I continued smoking more and more especially on weekends and this got worse when my daughter became independent and moved out of the house. I did enjoy smoking but I knew each time I put a cigarette in my mouth that I was hurting myself too much. So the experience became like a guilt trip after each cigarette, or while I smoked my conscious was saying “you are getting lung cancer” and each time I lit a cigarette while I heard myself, I would smoke another one or sometimes two more. I loved the ritual, the challenge of smoking while driving, but I just couldn’t continue killing myself. My doctors would say over and over “you need to stop smoking” and it really bothered me knowing that I had to, but I didn’t know how or when. A year ago I was told that hypnosis helps, but couldn’t find the person to do the hypnosis.
One afternoon while I drove to a meeting with community leaders, among them Sonia Mora, Manager of the Latino Health Initiative, I smoked one cigarette and after that I placed a piece of gum in my mouth to avoid the taste of nicotine. I turned the air in the car on full to avoid the smell of the cigarettes I might have left on my clothes. I arrived to the meeting and gave a hug to everyone as well as a kiss on the cheek and one of them said immediately, “You smell of cigarettes.” I was so embarrassed, I never thought that it would smell that much. With a nice smile Sonia said, we have a program for you Elizabeth and she gave me a number and contact person. I called and started attending the Smoking Cessation program of the LHI with Proyecto Salud. With the help of Doctor Lourdes Parry and Coach Elbita Jaldin, I stopped smoking in one week and I did it “cold turkey.” It was hard but I kept telling myself just don’t smoke. Since then I feel happier, I sleep better and I eat healthier. Now I can exercise without feeling worried that my heart may give out. My new goal is to lose weight. Does anyone know of a good program?