As a smoker, I always worried about my health. I had tried numerous times to quit but failed. Every day was a war between me and the cigarette. I always considered myself a strong individual who could do anything if I put my mind to it, but this addiction seemed to continuously beat me up and knock me down. Even after losing close family members at a young age to smoking-related illnesses wasn’t enough to fear me into quitting.
I couldn’t understand why so many others were quitting smoking but I couldn’t.
Then a miracle happened! My oldest son gave me the joyful news that I was going to be a first time Grandma. I was elated! I have two sons – men now – and it was wonderful news to hear that our family was going to grow and receive the gift of new life. Every occasion would once again have the special joy of a child’s spirit.
I couldn’t stop smiling at the thought of it all.
Then reality started to kick in and I thought: “I’m not going to be around to see all these great things; I won’t have the stamina to chase my grandbaby around a playground…” and I finally had the greatest reason in the world to quit smoking.
I wanted to live a healthier life and to try to improve my wellbeing. I wanted to put in every effort I could to make ensure that the life I had with my new grandchild and future grandchildren was the best I could make it. I wanted to be a good example to them.
So I quit!! On September 8, 2013, I began my journey to a healthier lifestyle as a non-smoker. It has been a tough journey but as each day passed without giving in to the urges, I felt empowered.
I began by contacting Eastern Health’s Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP). They were very supportive and told me they would reimburse up to 80 per cent of my nicotine replacement therapy. They also advised me to contact the Smokers’ Helpline for additional assistance. I even picked up a package of inhalers but in the end chose not to rely on a nicotine replacement.
Instead, I focused on exercise and positive thinking. I bought a treadmill and I practise yoga, which helps keep me centred. And the occasional treat of chocolate helps too!
For the first time in a very long time I can walk and hike again without feeling fatigued. It’s been six months now and I continue to fight for my life, and for my health.
And, I also motivated my husband to quit! He was a heavy smoker and had easier access to smoking because he works outside. He’s had a couple of relapses but, thankfully, I haven’t, which worked out for both of us because I was able to be there for him. We give each other strength.
I’m still battling. I still get cravings. Social events are the hardest, but I’m further ahead than I was even two months ago – every day is a progress. I can’t imagine going back.
In just a couple of more weeks, I’ll be a first-time Grammy. When I hold my grandson or granddaughter for the very first time, I will thank him or her with a kiss for giving me a reason to want to be a healthier person and a chance to have many happy years together! ■
This story was written by Kathryn Nichol, an administrative assistant with Eastern Health’s Materials Support Department based in St. John’s.