In the beginning, it wasn't my choice to quit smoking. I had my last cigarette at 9:40 a.m. on April 21, 2007, right before I was admitted to the hospital because of blood clots in my lungs. I also lost a portion of my lung because of a pulmonary infarction. Even so, I fully expected to light right back up after being released from the hospital five days later.
But breathing wasn't as easy as I had anticipated. After being released, I struggled just to get enough air to walk slowly. But still, that wouldn't stop me from smoking, would it? Of course not. Holding my 12-year-old daughter as she sobbed in my arms is what kept me from lighting another cigarette. She was so terrified I was going to die that it wasn't fair to put her or my other three children in that situation. How could I be so selfish again and not think about what my death would do to my children?
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I did have one lonely little cigarette that I kept in my pocketbook for months. If I felt the need to smoke, I took that cigarette out and played with it, smelled it, held it, fondled it, and just generally molested the heck out of the poor cigarettebut I never lit it up. Reminding myself of those gut-wrenching tears my daughter expelled, and also the fact that I wouldn't be able to proudly say I've gone fill-in-the-blank number of weeks without smoking, is what kept me from lighting that pathetic cigarette.
After four months I felt strong enough to throw the tattered cigarette away. There was no more tobacco in it, so what good was it anyway? Now, months later, I rarely think of smoking anymoreand miss it even less. As a reward, I went and bought myself a new vehicle. What I used to spend on cigarettes now goes toward a car payment, but at least I have something to show for it.
I always felt that I was too weak to quit smoking, that I could never do it. But I've done it! And I did it without any stop-smoking aids, which is even more shocking for me, since I have tried everything on the market and failed miserably.
What works for one person may not work for another. You have to find your motivation within and keep working at it. Don't quit trying to quit. It will eventually happen, and most of us have failed several times before we were successful.
Tami shared her story with Health.com in hopes that it will inspire others. What about you? Did you quit? Are you struggling with cigarettes now? Please email us at email@example.com (with "Quit Smoking" in the subject line) and share your strategies and struggles. You may help someone else overcome a nicotine dependence.