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I celebrate being smoke free every day - Robert’s story*

Friday, December 8, 2017

I have been smoking since I was 12, am now 64. I have been convincing myself for a long time that I can't exist without cigarettes - can't socialise, can't enjoy food, can't focus or think, can't even relax without having a ciggy.

For me every day used to start the same way - wake up, make a coffee and go out on the balcony and roll a ciggy. I also used this time talk to the big guy upstairs about stuff I am facing. This particular day I knew it was time to talk to him about the smoking. Why? The real issue was because of my breathing - I had suffered Pneumonia, Pleurisy and Hyperthermia some six years earlier and lost 40% of my breathing capacity according to my doctor. Every time I coughed I broke a rib, so I kind of knew I had to "let them go".

Although I'd been cutting back heaps over the last 5-6 years, pretty much had halved my smoking but still smoked about a pouch and a half a fortnight.

So then what happens? 3 weeks later I have a heart attack. It was a Saturday, I fell asleep in the armchair after lunch and woke up feeling nauseous, breathing heavily, tightness up and down the arms and across the chest. I guessed I better go to emergency at the "Royal" and ask their opinion. Within minutes they had me off to radiography and then theatre. They were amazing, they cleared my blocked artery near my heart. Now I have a stent in the artery made of Titanium which keeps it from being blocked and collapsing. Have since joked with my son asking him if it technically qualifies me to be a "Cyborg" lol, he responded adding - "Yeah Dad you can join the "Avengers" now.

By 9.30 pm on the Saturday night I was in recovery with nurses fussing over me, giving me medications and putting plugs and wires all over me so they can monitor me. After they leave the first thing that comes to mind is I haven't had a cigarette for over 7 hours, so I put my shorts and shoes on and go out into the hallway to find the nurses are busy with someone else, so I go down in the lift to the ground floor and head outside to have a ciggy. I was aware the doctors are going to want me to stop smoking, along with everybody else, and I became conscious that I didn't really want it but felt like I had to have it. I got back up to my room to find two very worried nurses, apparently when I left the floor the monitors reported me as "flat Lining" and when they came running I wasn't there. I went and had another Ciggy about 2am Sunday morning and knew it had to be my last, from what I hear smoking hardens the arteries. I have too many other things to live for (mainly my family) I'm not ready to go yet so it became my last cigarette.

One of the nurses asked if I wanted a "patch", which I put on then went to sleep. I woke up 8 hours later and didn't want a ciggy, wow, that’s never happened before I thought. I have stayed on the patches ever since. It's been 6 weeks and 5 days as of today (2nd Nov 2017) and not one ciggy.

One thing that has helped is that I noticed that what I was actually doing when I smoked was taking deep breaths, so I do breathing exercises now when I feel like a ciggy.

I am really happy that I don't smoke any more. Right from day one I have celebrated every day that I haven't had a cigarette. It’s only early days, but already my breathing has improved, I'm not puffed out and can breathe so much easier, my taste buds have improved too, and I don’t smell of stale cigarette smoke anymore. And I have extra money in my pocket too.

*Results may vary from person to person.