Posted on 11/15/2017 at 11:44 AM by Troy Cummings
The Great American Smokeout never meant anything to me over the years. I had been a smoker since I was 18 years old. I enjoyed it, it was my stress reliever, my time away, it was a part of my daily routine. I would have 2 cigarettes in the car (after dropping off my daughter, of course) on my way to work and then douse myself in perfume and pop in some gum. At lunch, I would have 2 or 3 more followed by the gum and perfume. After work, I would take the long way just so I could smoke another cigarette before picking up my daughter.
I remember hating that people knew I smoked. I didn’t really mind that my friends and family knew, but for some reason, it really bothered me that my co-workers knew I was a smoker. Perhaps that’s because I was the only one in the office that did. I remember being particularly distraught a couple of years ago at the Holiday DeLight Parade in Cedar Rapids. Greg, Chris, myself and my friend Tessa do this every year. Tessa and I had gone around the corner to smoke without telling others what we were doing. When we came back, Chris pointed to the ground and told me I dropped something. I was mortified! My pack of cigarettes had fallen on the ground. Half embarrassed, I quickly told him they weren’t mine. He laughed and told me I was busted. I could never figure out why it bothered me so much to have others know that I smoked. It was like hiding it from my parents, but as a 34-year-old woman, I should be way past that! I’m an adult and I can do what I want… but as an adult I also needed to start making more adult decisions. Decisions that would affect my beautiful 4-year-old daughter that I had been waiting my entire life for.
It was always in the back of my mind that I need to be here for her. I tried not to ever let her see me light up, but it was inevitable that the time would come where she would ask me what I was doing. Smoking and my “routine” were cutting into my time with her. It would cut down on puzzles, or playing Barbies or watching movies and snuggling, all because Mommy had to go outside for a quick break. Even with the constant guilt I still couldn’t bring myself to do quit. It wasn’t until August of this year that I came down with pneumonia (I am literally sick all the time) and couldn’t breathe that I thought I would just cut the guilt. What better time than now to quit the habit. So, I did. I made up my mind that day, August 27, that I would never pick up another cigarette. For myself and for my family… and I haven’t.
It was a rough first couple of weeks. I was tired all the time, sluggish, grumpy (understatement), foggy headed, everything smelled different and I gained about 12lbs. But in hindsight, I can handle that. I have more time for my daughter, more focus on a life that I feel I took back. I look forward to continuing to be smoke-free. I look forward to not being sick so much anymore. I look forward to a long life of breathing easier. I know it hasn’t been a long time yet and every day can still be a struggle, especially those days where stress levels are a little higher. Then I remember how much money I am saving on not buying cigarettes or the multiple packs of gum and perfume every month!
Good luck to anyone who decides to begin quitting. Just remember you have to be ready for it and it has to be on your time. Preaching about how you shouldn’t smoke doesn’t do anything but irritate people. I know it irritated me. If you plan on trying, I will be more than happy to be your leaning post; non-judgmental and just someone to listen. The first week is always the hardest, if you can get past that you have got quitting in the bag. I wish the very best of luck to anyone who tries to quit. Even if it’s not your time, I encourage you to at least try during this year’s Great American Smokeout.
Written by Andrea Prymek, Recruiting and Retention