On July 5, 2011 it was 12 years since I quit smoking. I can believe that I forgot until I was driving home from the grocery store today. I don’t know what made me think about it, but it popped into my head. A lot has changed in my life over that time, but I wanted to highlight the things that have improved my health since then.
- I got married
- I gave birth to my daughter, Hannah
- I went gluten-free and have never felt better
- I joined a gym
- I discovered my love of running
- I have run a 5K, 10K, 3 half marathons and 1 full marathon and am currently training for 2 more half marathons
- I taught myself how to swim (for exercise)
Many of those things I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish if I was still smoking. There is no way I could run like I do if I smoked.
I am so thankful for the day in the spring of 1999 I went to see my gynecolgist and she recommended that I try Zyban to quit smoking. I wasn’t sure I was really ready. I had been “ready” before, but I think that I really just wanted to satisfy those who wanted me to quit. Along with my doctor giving me some hard facts, my grandmother was dying of lung cancer and passed away shortly after that. I took that as a huge sign that I needed to give this everything that I had.
It wasn’t easy, but I did it. I remember smoking that last cigarette down as far as I could. I had started taking the Zyban a week or so before I quit, so that it would be in my system. It definitely helped with the cravings for nicotine, but I had to really work on changing my habits. I would drive a different route to work; follow a different routine for after meals, when I most wanted to smoke.
There are still times when I think about it; I would be lying if I told you that I never think about it. Then I have a flash of the following run through my head:
- my kids
- my grandmother
- how one puff will erase all of those years of my not smoking
I often referred to these facts to help get me through the tough spots:
- 20 minutes after quitting: Your heart rate and blood pressure will drop.
- 12 hours after quitting: The carbon monoxide level in your blood falls to normal.
- 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting: Your circulation and lung function improve.
- 9 months after quitting: Coughing and shortness of breath are reduced.
- 1 year after quitting: Your risk of coronary heart disease is reduced to half of what it was when you smoked.
- 5 years after quitting: Your risk of stroke is the same as if you had never smoked.
- 10 years after quitting: Your chances of dying from lung cancer are now half of what it would have been had you continued to smoke. Your risk of getting cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, cervix, and pancreas has also decreased.
- 15 years after quitting: Your risk of coronary heart disease is the same as if you’d never smoked.
Some pretty important changes, huh?