I started smoking in 1965 when I was 15. It was the cool thing to do! I enjoyed cruising around with my mates, one arm out the window and a smoke in the other. Perhaps it was an image thing, I don’t really know. My parents smoked, most of our friends smoked – it was normal back then and no one would tell you to stop.
I enjoyed smoking. It gave me a feeling of calm. I remember once sitting on the side of the Remarkables in Queenstown after finishing work on a fence. I was looking at the fence and the lake below and having a cigarette. It was a great feeling.
The habit started to increase for me, and at one stage I was smoking up to 40 a day. I have always had good paying work so the cost of smokes was hidden in the food bill each week. I was buying 14 packs a week. It’s frightening when I think about it - that’s $420 per week and $21,840 per year!
I smoked away being a millionaire! That could have been handy now that I have retired.
I knew it was becoming too expensive and I was getting fed up with constantly defending my choice to smoke. So, I decided I would try to stop. Quitting couldn’t be that bad.
How many times did I try? How many ways did I try? It really did become a running joke that I was the man who could beat all stop smoking plans.
First, I tried going cold turkey. That lasted two days.
I tried patches but I didn’t know how to use them properly so that didn’t work.
I tried hypnotherapy and that worked for three months. But I started smoking again.
I tried a programme through the Oamaru Hospital where I was asked to nominate places I wouldn’t smoke. I picked my work ute but found myself stopping to have a cigarette outside of it and it was taking all day to get my job done. So that didn’t work.
Then I tried Champix. Twice. It didn’t work.
Looking back, they were all great ways to stop smoking. I realize the problem was me, I just wasn’t ready to stop. I was fit and healthy and smoking was doing me no harm. But eventually some health issues started to arise, and by the time I was 68 I’d visited the emergency department twice because I couldn’t breathe.
Then one day, out of the blue, I had a stroke. The doctor told me I was lucky because it could have been worse. But I figured stress causes strokes, so I wound up my business and retired and continued smoking. I have made some very good decisions in my life. That was not one of them. The health issues continued to pop up.
Then along came Liz from the Southern Stop Smoking Service. Best thing that has ever happened to me!
There were no hard and fast rules, just someone who would listen and encourage and pass no judgement. Sometimes I would fall off the wagon, but we would talk about it and about why I’d done it and how I could overcome it next time. She was so supportive that when I did slip up and have a cigarette I felt like I was letting the both of us down! If it wasn’t for Liz and her help, I would not be where I am now.
It’s been five months now and I’m not missing the cigarettes. I haven’t had a patch on for a while but will have the odd lozenge when needed.
What will I do with the money I’m saving? I’ve already done it! I loaded the van onto my ute and away I went, just cruising around the South Island. I’m spending time doing things that I never had time for before, and enjoying the simple things in life.
Thank you to Liz and the Southern Stop Smoking Service team. Life doesn’t get any better than it is right now!