I have asthma, and I have been smoking for 28 years. Am I stupid?
I started smoking at the age of thirteen in the 70´s. All the older teenagers and many adults did smoke at that time. Smoking was for me a way to both do something forbidden, and to act more adult. When I now see a movie from that time, I am stunned by the fact that every one in the movies are smoking cigarettes! But it also show how common it was to smoke back then.
My first cigarette!
My first package was a small package Prince which contained 10 cigarettes. Me, and my best friend shared that first package. Since our parents did not allow us to smoke, we hid the cigarettes behind a door in a power substation in the community. We met daily behind that power substation and smoked cigarettes in secret. It was exiting! I can’t remember that we coughed or that we thought it tasted bad. We just started. Soon we left the power substation and carried the cigarettes with us instead. Strangely enough, my parent never noticed, although they did not smoke themselves. Or maybe they knew, but said nothing.
So, then I was hooked, and no one talked about the danger with smoking and no one tried to stop smoking. It was just something every one did. I continued to smoke through school and even through nursing school. If someone smoke without knowing the consequences it might be forgivable. But to have knowledge about how the body works, and to know exactly what damage smoking does to your body and still smoke, can that be anything else than stupidity?
It gets worse!
And it gets worse; I have since I was a child suffered from asthma. I had fairly severe asthma during adolescence. Back then we didn’t have preventive medications for asthma, which meant that I had asthma attacks regularly and had to go to hospital emergency.
At the hospital I received medications that widen the airways, sometimes intravenously. And although I was embarrassed, as fast as I could breathe again, I was dying for a cigarette! Later on I received preventive medications for asthma and the emergency asthma attacks came more seldom. But I continued to smoke.
When I became pregnant I stopped smoking immediately. I didn’t want to expose my unborn child to these toxins, and if something would happen to the baby I would never forgive myself. I didn’t think it was so very hard to quit, the worst part was to break the habit! I didn’t smoke for seven years, and then, believe it or not, I started to smoke again! Not even I can find any excuse for such stupidity, so I will not even try!
After a few years my lungs slowly became worse. I had to increase my medication gradually. But it worked, one adapts and I started to walk more slowly, I reduced the effort, etc.
But eventually, that day came, when I was really scared. I was recovering from a very bad cold, and the stubborn cough did not disappear. I had problems breathing which is very stressful. And I found, I even had difficulty walking up to the second floor in my house! Once up, I was like a hissing creature that had run a long distance. That was the first alarm bell for me.
The second time was at my work. I work as an environmental and public health inspector and occasionally, we have to do emergency actions with the fire fighters. This particular time it was an oil spill, in a bay surrounded by steep slopes. Fire fighters are well trained and I had big trouble to keep up with them as we walked up and down the slopes during work. There is always something to fetch, someone to talk to, and the whole area has to be examined and evaluated for damage. Drinking water sources should be checked and so on. When we got into the fire truck after completing the work, I had an asthma attack! I couldn’t breath at all! How embarrassing! At least one can say that I was in good hands and got professional help!
But, that was it! After I recovered I made a decision! Now, it is enough! I wasn’t prepared to spend the rest of my days with not getting enough air, and not be able to move around as I wanted.
The way back to normal breathing!
So, I did stop smoking, and this time for good! It wasn’t as easy as the first time, but I did it!
And slowly my journey back to almost normal began. In the beginning, I was still breathless and could not be as active as I had been. I was thinking a lot during this time, and thought, oh well, now I have to pay the price for all those cigarettes! This is how my life is meant to be, from now on.
To walk with my teenage daughter was stressful. I was out of breath while she just floated over the ground without any trouble at all. No one I know had both smoked and had asthma, so I didn’t have anyone to ask. And somehow, I was too embarrassed by the whole thing so I didn’t want to ask anyone in health care either!
But, I continued to do my walks, and after six months, I noticed that my lungs were slightly better. I could now walk quite briskly! I did fitness exercise in my basement and bought a cross trainer to be able to do condition exercise also when the weather was bad during winter.
The next spring when I resumed my outdoor walking, I felt that I suddenly had much more to give! I was not out of breath! Jipphii! My body was working again, I could move without difficulty! What a feeling! I felt so enormously grateful! My vision from my worst moments, when I imagine myself slowly walking with the aid of oxygen aggregates was gone! I felt so healthy and strong!
And I still am! And now I can even jog! That is pure joy every time! I can hardly believe it! I can’t jog for more than five minutes at a time, but those few minutes are precious! Then I walk for about three minutes to catch my breath, and then I can jog for five again! My goal is to be able to slowly jog the whole distance, and I will get there. I know i will!
How about the stupidity?
But, back to the stupidity! I look at myself as a stubborn, quite intelligent, well-organized woman. But not when it comes to smoking! In that case I am stupid! Some people have big difficulty quitting, but I didn't think it was so difficult. At least not the first time. When I decided to quit, then I just quit. Without any appliance! And yet, I have smoked for so many years. Even now, after going through all this struggled to get back to somewhat normal breathing I can still feel craving for a smoke! Unfortunately, I still think it tastes good! But I won’t! Not this time, because I want to live!
If there is anyone out there, who experience the same as I did, and feel that breathing starts to weaken. Stop smoking immediately! The breathing capacity deteriorate quickly even if you don’t have asthma. If I didn't have had bronchodilators to take, I probably would have been forced to stop earlier.
To stop smoking is a winning street all the way. You can’t loose! And if you already suffer from breathing problem, it is never too late! Your body will recover slowly and you will get better! But the longer you wait the worse it gets! Give yourself the best gift you can! Nothing in the world can beat the good fortune to be able to breathe! Don’t be as stupid as me!
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