What can I say to persuade people with COPD to stop smoking because so many people carry on with the habit after diagnosis. I can understand why in some respects but if you had cancer would you stop? I think you would. Patients are under the impression and are misinformed that even if they stop smoking their condition will get worse. This is wrong!! Please read on for more information on quitting and see this link by the British Lung Foundation.
A few words about smoking with COPD. Smoking is a very addictive habit and it’s no joke stopping if you have psychologically relied on them for many years. You also have the physical addiction too, it’s not easy to stop. What makes it even harder is the fact that if your COPD is quite severe it becomes worse initially for some people when they give up the habit.
According to a report released by Am J Public Help, findings indicated that more than 100 of 599 documented cigarette additives have pharmacological actions that mask symptoms and illnesses associated with smoking behaviors.The use of additives with additional or synergistic addictive potential, anesthetic properties, or bronchodilator effects. These common chemicals that give this bronchodilator effect mask some of the damage that has been done to your lungs and it’s not until you actually stop smoking and have to rely on life without this extra help that you really notice how bad things have really got, you really miss this bit of extra help!
This happened to me you just have to go with it and persevere, in the end I can promise you it is well worth the misery. I tried all the help available, the patches, the spray, the lozenges and the inhalater. I made a right meal out of my quit and used every available help even hypnosis. My friends used to say, ‘If you can give up, anyone can’. I wasn’t a 40 or 60 a day smoker. I was a binge smoker. I would do all my housework and promise myself a nice cig and a coffee when I had finished. And it would be 2 or 3 cigs and 2 cups of coffee. I used to go through about 20 a day at my worst. I couldn’t afford any more. Below Leonard Nimoy talks about his life and COPD.
In order to give yourself the best chance of a successful quit I found that I had to plan in advance, tell my family and go to the Doctors for help. I tried loads of nicotine replacement therapies. I found the nicotine replacements all very different, the spray made me as sick as a dog and I only used that one once, the mint lozenges were quite good but I was going through so many that made me sick as well and the chewing gum made my jaws ache I was chewing that blinking much and looked like a hamster. In the end I opted for the patches and the inhalater at the same time which I found a great combination. I used the NHS Quit Line also, which was very good and sent me lots of neat little bits and pieces to help me along. Such as a large poster to chart my progress. The following is also helpful video which advises you on food to eat to help your quit.
I found it was better to quit when you are not in hospital, as I mentioned before things get worse at first and if you are already high with an infection, things get a lot worse and I experienced this twice, the last time I vowed I would never touch another cigarette and I didn’t. So before you get so ill you end up in hospital, please stop, its no joke stopping in there.
Stopping smoking is the single most important piece of advice anyone can be given when they are diagnosed with COPD, as this quote from Patient UK explains.
If you stop smoking in the early stages of COPD it will make a huge difference. Damage already done to your airways cannot be reversed. However, stopping smoking prevents the disease from worsening. It is never too late to stop smoking, at any stage of the disease. Even if you have fairly advanced COPD, you are likely to benefit and prevent further progression of the disease.
Your cough may get worse for a while when you give up smoking. This often happens as the lining of the airways ‘comes back to life’. Resist the temptation to start smoking again to ease the cough. An increase in cough after you stop smoking usually settles in a few weeks.
The National Health Service (NHS) provides free help and advice for people having difficulty in stopping smoking. Medication, such as varenicline and bupropion, and nicotine replacement therapy (such as patches and chewing gum) can be prescribed, and counselling offered. You could see your GP or practice nurse for further advice, or visit the NHS Smokefree website
In the end you know yourself that you have to stop smoking or die because that is the raw truth with this illness, COPD and smoking do not mix and the progress of the illness is very fast if you don’t call it a day. Not to stop smoking when you have COPD is mind-numbingly stupid, but, if that’s the way you feel, go on that suicide mission. Think of it as Darwinism in action. This advert says it all ……………………………….
And hey I wasn’t going to pay the government to kill me through all the tax they obtain from these poor smokers (but more facts on that later), nor was I on a suicide mission! So this is how I did it.
This is my stopping smoking story –
In 2006, I managed to stop smoking for over a year, 18 months in fact, I felt brilliant after the first few weeks, up until then I felt like I was loosing my mind. I can remember driving home from a friends house one Sunday, she lived in Sheffield and we had been to some art exhibition and I sat in the car crying all the way home. I was finding things THAT difficult its no exaggeration! All I did was think of cigs all the time and I missed smoking like mad, I just felt totally deprived. I felt my best friend had deserted me and could not carry on without them. Every problem I have ever had was shared over a cup of tea and a cigarette, they had got me through so much. And now I was going to put weight on too! As it turns out they were not my best friend they were actually my worst enemy. Shame I couldn’t realise it at the time. I new I had to stop smoking, I was like a kid having his dummy taken away. Whenever I went to the doctors they used to ask me how I was getting on and I used to say, ‘I haven’t had any cigs and they used to say very good. then I would always reply, ‘I have no choice in the matter have I’. I was not often joyous about the fact I had quit, thinking it only a penance for getting this horrible chest I had. ‘You’ve got a bad chest so we are taking your toys away, sort of attitude’.
On the 25th March, I went out for a family meal to celebrate my daughter’s birthday and what a day that was. I felt so sorry for my daughter. Her 18th Birthday and I was just out of hospital and so was her brother. He had just undergone a brain operation to seal parts of the brain as he had spinal fluid leaking through which can cause meningitis. So her birthday was totally ruined really, but she was so stoic about it all. I had stopped whilst I was in hospital on the 13th March. I felt terrible and I decided there and then that I had to buy a journal to write down my progress. I knew this would give me a better chance of succeeding. I needed to for my family, for my daughter! I wouldn’t have been in hospital this time if I had stopped smoking before, I knew it was my own fault!
I wrote in that journal for weeks and it helped keep me on track and encouraged me to keep going when I looked back on my entries. I also bought a book, a very important book in fact, without which I don’t think I would have succeeded, my friend says it brain washes you. It was called, Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking, seems ironic now as Allen Carr died of lung cancer in the end, but anyway it worked! I read the book from front to end and I didn’t start smoking again for almost a year and a half! This is an excerpt from my journal –
Today is Elise’s 18th birthday I am not smoking and I am on day 13 of my quit. This cig thing is terrible I felt like one desperately this evening but week 3 starts tomorrow and things WILL get easier from now on. Stopping smoking has taken over my life at the moment. I know i will feel so much better once I have cracked it. I have so much to gain staying with it and nothing to lose!
and on day 15 –
This has been an even worse day – went to the doctors and my chest is improving but the no smoking thing is at its height I think. It has been a long day today as I was up quite early. Tonight things have seemed a bit better and for the first time in ages I feel a if I have got some energy and I don’t feel so depressed. The craving is still there but not as bad, lets see when tomorrow brings
Taking things a day at a time was one thing I found made things much easier to handle. One entry I made in my journal was –
The reason it is so hard to stop smoking is FEAR!! of giving up a lifetime without cigs! I suffer from the ‘smokers itch’, the belief that smoking supplies support to your life is an illusion! I have been stopped smoking now for a month, what is it like one month on? A lot easier in some ways but I still crave a cig and could go to the shop for one now! But I stick my inhalater in my mouth and hope this feeling goes away at the end of this second month. That I will feel like a non-smoker. I don’t get bad tempered any more or suffer from the thick head and the terrible neck ache I had, these are now gone.
By the beginning of 2007 I had put on almost 2 stone from stopping smoking and my breathing was badly affected by this weight gain, (see the section about Tummy Fat and Breathing), my emotions were all over the place too as I had gone on the dreaded change of life, the menopause some people refer to it as. And, I had developed an underactive thyroid for some reason.
In September 2006, I had changed my job and it was one of the worst moves I have ever made in my life. I think I have already spoken about it in my section about working with COPD. The department I moved to was terrible, the deputy manager in the department was a real harridan and she seemed to have sucked most of the staff in so badly that many of them were acting as she was. I think they were just afraid of her to be honest and were just content in looking after their own backs. The ones who were more honest either left or were also made ill by her. By July 2007, I was smoking again!
I would say, the next five years at work were the worst of my life. She totally wore me down the thing that surprises me the most is how she managed to get away with it! If my time in that department had not been hounded by my increasingly bad chest and the deaths of close members of my family, one who was my son and the, ‘you look after your back and I’ll look after mine’, attitude of the staff at work. I think I could have put up a good fight and put her in her place, but instead, after my July review at work, I was in buckets of tears and went and bought a packet of cigarettes. That seemed very much the pattern in that job and looking back I wonder why I had never left sooner. But well paid jobs are hard to come by and I loved my actual job, I managed to go through a few years just teaching, doing what I loved and not really mixing with the staff, (well, I will talk a bit more about this later).
It is very important that you are mentally ready to quit smoking, as this process is not an easy thing for some of us to do and you need to be 100% behind your decision and totally committed. I can’t remember ever thinking through those early years of quitting that I really wanted to! I know I had to for my health but wanting to and having to are two very different states of mind. And as I already said, you need to be in a good state of mind to quit.
Pity I started again, but one problem we addicts have is thinking that we can just have one, one cig and then I won’t have any more, which turns into one pack and then before you know it you are smoking again, I certainly won’t fall for that one again!
The law of physiological addiction states that, “administration of a drug to an addict will cause reestablishment of the dependence on that substance”. This means, by taking a puff, the smoker either goes back to full-fledged smoking or goes through the withdrawal process associated with quitting. Most don’t opt for the withdrawal. Don’t look for loopholes in the law of addiction. You will be convicting yourself back to smoking. While it may seem harsh and unfair, to many, smoking is a crime punishable by death. Don’t try to cheat the system – NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!
I actually did quite well because I never got back to smoking a pack a day again and I managed quite a few good quit attempts before I FINALLY managed to stop completely YAY!! I have at the moment been a non smoker for almost 3 years and I can promise you I will never ever smoke again it stinks, honestly that is how I feel now but it wasn’t always that easy.
From mid 2007 to 2012, I was on and off that blinking wagon more times than I can remember, those wheels just would not stay on for long enough and kept repeatedly falling off. I tried Champix and all manner of nicotine substitutes. I even started a blog called “Too stressed to stop smoking” and joined a nicotine busters site. I really made a right meal out of stopping smoking and made it much harder than it actually is.
Here is an extract of my effort to stop in 2010 –
Today is day 22 of my quit this time! And I know it will be my last quit because I have finally cracked what motivates my need of this very dangerous and smelly habit. Shame I could not have found this out years ago. That does not mean to say that it has been a piece of cake to quit this time, I just understand myself and the addiction more, that’s all.
I stopped smoking, for the first time, in 1999 when I was in hospital with pneumonia. After 14 days in hospital and chewing umpteen bits of nicotine chewing gum and resembling something like my sons gerbil, I went home and started smoking again. Crazy or what? I just could not get around the smoking thing and why I was smoking never really entered my head!
I tried to hide the fact from everyone that I had started again even swearing the woman in the corner shop to secrecy (how pathetic us addicts are). It was during a cig break in our outside toilet that my son and his friends saw me through the opaque window dragging furiously on my secret fag. The game was up!My son had found out and immediately went around the neighbourhood telling everyone his mum had failed and broken her promise. He was 10 years old then and not a smoker obviously at that age. He is now though and I wonder how much my previous attitude to cigs and stopping influenced him to take up this horrible habit.
When I read this over I feel so sad that I did not know the real importance of stopping smoking with this illness, it’s no joke, nothing to play with it’s your LIFE!
The truth is how long you live once you have been diagnosed is up to you. Your life and how long you survive once diagnosed is literally in your own hands. How long you survive will depend on your actions because although COPD is progressive that progress, providing you do not smoke, is very slow.
At that time I was still working and walking around with little problem, just finding it a bit hard climbing stairs and doing anything strenuous. And at this time, most importantly, I didn’t realise how bad this disease can get, how debilitating and how much it can interfere with your life in every way.
Even videos like this didn’t really sink in as I hope they will for any smoking reader who views this page. I used to turn the television over when I saw adverts like this. Does this ring a bell?
SO THOSE WHEELS KEPT GOING ON AND COMING OFF
By 2010, I was only smoking part time but because I was on one quit after another I was constantly stressed out. I have learnt since that its harder to smoke part time than to just give up. Unfortunately, I ended up with Pneumonia and being taken into hospital for the first time in years. It all really pushed me over the edge. Of course, I stopped completely again, but just couldnt keep off them completely when the day after my release, I was told my son had died (but that’s another story). Now, I could handle it all and not start again, it’s not something I am really bothered about any more and I think it was the Hypnotist that did that, it was well worth the £150 I paid.
Sometimes, you have to give yourself additional reasons to stop smoking. One fantastic thing that had been happening over the last year or so which had really helped with all the upset and grief in my life at that time, was the arrival of my first Grandchild, she was a wonderful distraction. Such a happy little madam and the light of my life and then one became five, when my daughter produced twins and not long after another boy. And my son produced a brother for his daughter. But, as families are, problems arose which you have to deal with and I found it difficult to deal with problems without my cigarettes at the time. I was totally convinced that I would fall to pieces without them. Which is utter rubbish of course. So I read my journal and the book again!
By 2012, I had five grandchildren and even more reasons to stop smoking permanently and get my life in order. If they weren’t worth the struggle then what was? And my daughter needed my help too her twins were so hard for her to look after, she was as total stress head at the time. Another thing that added a plus to my quit was the money, I was so much better off not smoking and also it annoyed me how much the government benefited from my poor health and empty bank account, see the following link for more information on, how the government benefits.
I had been through so much over the past few years it started with my Dad dying, then my Son and then my Mum all in the space of 19 months and then work slapped a disciplinary on me for swearing about the harridan when I was stressed. My youngest son was also going through loads of problems with his partner and was on countless suicide missions, my life at this time was very difficult. I ended up having to give up my job because the thought of going into work after I had been given this disciplinary gave me panic attacks. I felt like I was drowning and it was so hard to keep off the cigarettes.
In March 2012, I had a massive asthma attack and ended up in Hospital for 3 weeks. I had never been so ill and I was gasping for breath for days, they prepped me for ICU but fortunately I didn’t need to go in the end and ended up on the High Dependency Ward, I was so scared. It was an experience I never wanted to repeat and touch wood never have since. This extended stay in hospital really made me realise how bad things were getting and I prayed to God that I would never ever smoke again if he got me through this. I was desperate and I have never touched another cigarette since. Do I believe in a higher power who turned my life right round, yes I definitely do, you can call me all manner of crackpots if you like but my fight with cigs ended after that stay.
The first two years of my stopping smoking were not easy health wise. You have to remember that you have smoked for years and any benefits you receive from stopping is not just going to happen overnight. In fact for me I got worse to start with which was very frustrating and after about a year I did start to feel a bit better and after two years I seemed to turn around. My own doctor said that if I had not stopped smoking I would have been dead by now and I can believe it. Some of us are just not meant to smoke, as previously stated for some of us this smoke is so toxic it can kill us. It doesn’t make you feel any better when it is reported that only 20% (statistics are a bit wooly about this some state its nearer 50%, because of underdiagnosis) of people who smoke end up like myself, the ‘why me’ button is then pressed, but I expect people with cancer and any other life altering illness think the same.
I have now made sure my condition doesn’t get any worse, in fact the deterioration of my lungs will be no worse now than a never smoker, so it makes me feel very good. However, I should have stopped a long time ago when I was not so ill. The fact that I have put on a lot of weight from stopping smoking does not help me to see fully the improvement from stopping smoking. I will keep you posted on that one! I have also secured a chance of improvement by being a good candidate for the Zephyr Valves, something I would never have had the opportunity to do if I had continued smoking.
Remember when you read this that it is worthwhile stopping smoking and that when you do stop you may feel worse at first, just go with it and enjoy each day as it comes as you clear your lungs of the crap you have collected over the years. You will feel better eventually I promise!
Please let me know if any of this has helped you and if there is anything else I could include in this section.