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Louise was introduced to smoking at an early age. She shares her story here...
I actually started smoking rollies a few years ago, thinking that I’d get sick of them and I’d stop smoking. But the opposite happened and before I knew it I was smoking at 20-25 rollies a day. I wouldn’t even accept a regular cigarette if I was offered one. I think I became hooked on the whole ritual of rolling my own cigarette. I would spoon coffee into my cup and then roll my cigarette, a Super King, while the kettle was boiling. I would call myself an ‘achievement smoker’, I would do a job like sweep the floor and then have a cigarette.
I was nine years old when I first tried a cigarette. Both my parents were smokers. I remember walking into the room and the air would be thick with smoke. Out of six kids, five of us smoked. My father died of lung cancer in 1990 when he was aged 49. My Mam quit smoking when my daughter was born. She is 73 years old now. I really believe that she would have died long ago if she hadn’t stopped smoking all those years ago.
Before it’s been a struggle to stop smoking but now there are days I don’t even think about cigarettes. In the past I’ve used champix, sprays, gum and tic tacs to try and quit. I tried using the e-cigarette too for five months but I found I was obsessed with it. I had mine hanging around my neck and I couldn’t leave the house without spare battery pads. I’ve tried to quit because other people told me to quit. My kids are very anti-smoking and pleaded with me to stop. I even tried to quit before my new grandson was born. But the pressure was too much, I really think you need to want to quit for yourself.
Before I quit, I did a little test and I thought about all the rollies I had smoked the day before. I could only remember two – the first one in the morning and the one after dinner. This made me really conscious of my smoking habits. Then I thought about when was the right time for me to quit. I decided to choose a week when I would be away from home for the majority of the week so I’d be away from my normal routine and habits.
My GP was a great support, he is a former smoker too, and he told me not to give up on trying. I’ve used the Nicotine Replacement Therapy patches to get me over the early stages of quitting. I’ve learnt a bit more about how NRT works and the dosages so I’m managing the cravings with the help of the patches. Initially I got a rash from the patches so now I take an antihistamine each morning. Slowly I’ve been lowering my dose over the weeks. If a craving strikes I take it one minute at a time and I say to myself I won’t smoke this minute.
I have to say the daily emails and text messages from the Quit Team were brilliant and now I’m getting loads of support from the You Can QUIT Facebook page. Three days into quitting I was so bad-tempered but then I got an email from the QUIT Team saying that it’s normal to have some bad days where you might be in a bad mood or irritable. I immediately apologised to my husband and to my brother for being in a bad mood!
When I quit, I was worried about the first of everything. A few weeks ago I went for a few drinks and the smell of smoke from other people there was so overpowering it turned me right off them and only strengthened my resolve not to smoke.
I feel absolutely fantastic, I actually don’t miss smoking. I’m really noticing the difference, I can smell the washing powder from my clothes and I can actually taste my food. I have put some on weight since I quit but I’m making a conscious effort to be more active so I’m walking 10km three times a week and I’m doing a hot yoga class.
My grandson is eight weeks old now and he’s is coming to my house this weekend and I’m so happy there’ll be no smell of smoke around him. I remember twenty five years ago my Mum looking at my daughter when she was born and how it helped her quit smoking. Twenty five years later, I’m now looking into my grandson’s eyes and I know this time it’s different – I’m going to quit for good.