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Following a health scare, Yvonne decided to finally kick the habit, this is her story...
I started smoking when I was 17 years old. My parents didn’t smoke but we all did except my younger brother.
I would have smoked 20 a day and then I found myself opening a second pack, so it was creeping up to 30 a day and more if I was going out and having a few drinks. I was heading to being a heavy smoker.
I had tried to quit before and it hadn’t work. I wanted to stop smoking but I thought I’d never succeed.
I knew I had to quit smoking for my health. I had got some bad news from the hospital and I knew I had to give up. My main fear was that I’d end up with emphysema and have to wear oxygen 24/7. I didn’t want to end up like that. I wanted to live an ordinary life.
The next step was to figure out the right time to quit and get the right help.
I'm 17 years working in the laundry at St. Brigid’s Complex in Ardee, Co. Louth. It has its moments but I do like it. There’s a nice little crew of four of us and we have good craic. It can be stressful and demanding at times, especially if we are short on staff then I have to cover the office and the floor.
When I heard St. Brigid's was to become a Smoke-free Campus - I decided it was the time to stop smoking for good.
I thought there is no way I am walking out to the road for a cigarette.
I had my last cigarette on a Sunday at 7am in the morning.
The next day Monday 16th November St. Brigid's went smoke-free.
I had seen a Quit poster in St. Brigid’s offering free help to quit smoking. So me and another girl from the laundry said we’d quit together and get help to stop.
We got support from the smoking cessation officer Madeline, who was brilliant she would talk to us to see how we were getting on and answer any questions.
I found the 24-hour NRT patches fantastic.
Don’t get me wrong I still had cravings but they weren’t too bad – I think that was the patches working. I took it one day at a time.
Two years on I’m still determined but in some ways, I actually find it harder now.
Some days my job can be stressful and I’m climbing the walls.
My other half is still smoking and one particularly stressful day he left 20 cigarettes on the counter.
I was dying for a cigarette. I picked up the packet and held it. I put down the pack and walked away. I walked back, took a cigarette out and looked at it.
Then I put it down and walked away and said to myself ‘Yvonne don’t undo all your hard work for one cigarette’.
My other half got some lashing the next morning I can tell you and he’s never left them out again!
Since I stopped smoking I find I always have money in my purse and I can save money for things like holidays and meals out. Recently I took my whole family out for lunch.
I’m a lot healthier now too. I do have off days because of my asthma. But everyone who speaks to me says I’m not gasping for breath between sentences and I speak much better now.
I’m thrilled and so proud of myself to be smoke-free two years later, especially after that night when I took up the packet of cigarettes twice.