Giving up smoking


Age at interview: 65

Brief outline: Chris, 65, gave up smoking seven months ago. Chris is White British, retired and lives with her husband and dog. She gave up smoking after trying to stop for 15 years. Chris smoked from the age of 14. She smoked 20-30 a day throughout most of her life and said that nearly everyone around her smoked. She was then diagnosed with emphysema and bronchiectasis after always suffering with a ‘bad chest’. She has given up after many attempts and now has to be on oxygen.

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Chris started smoking with her brother when she was about 14. She found her brother rolling a cigarette out of the dog-ends of her parents’ cigarettes and she thought she would try it. She felt ‘so sick’ but soon smoked more and had a ‘bit of a cough here and there’ but was ok. Money was ‘very scarce’ so she didn’t smoke a lot - ‘two or three a week’. When she started work at 14 she would buy more as she had more money and was mixing with people who were smoking. Later, she started smoking 20-30 a day. She remembers smoking being everywhere in films and on the television and that cigarettes were advertised everywhere.
Chris had smoked for over 50 years and has tried for the last 15 years to give up. However she found it very difficult, saying that the ‘slightest thing’ started her off smoking again. She says that she always had a bad cough and a bad chest. Recently she was diagnosed with emphysema and bronchiectasis. On hearing the news she didn’t stop smoking straight away and later was told she needed to be on oxygen. She finds that she is limited in the things she can do now. She wants to see her grandchildren grow up and get married and she sees other people around her age who are ‘fit and healthy’. She has given up as she says she has ‘no alternative’. Now its seven months since she stopped smoking but she says she still wants one, even though she says she will never have one. She misses the relaxing feeling of smoking, and sees her friends looking relaxed whilst smoking and wants to be like that. She misses the ‘cigarette after dinner’ and the ‘first one in the morning with a cup of tea’. When she was smoking she wouldn’t enjoy it sometimes, but she says her brain was telling her ‘you do need it’.
She has tried the Paul McKenna book and CD. Even though she wasn’t in a ‘trance’ she found that it was ‘very calming’. She had stopped smoking once before for 3.5 months when her daughter was diagnosed with cancer. On a previous attempt at smoking, she used to get patches, then have a cigarette and ‘double up on the nicotine’ and used to lie to everyone. However, the consultant at the hospital said that she must give up smoking. She then saw a smoking cessation nurse with whose help she had many attempts at quitting. Chris used nicotine replacement patches and the inhalator together, which she says ‘wasn’t successful’, but then she had the patches and the gum which seemed better. She felt that the nurse was ‘very supportive’ and saw her on a monthly basis. She says that her dad had emphysema and she remembers how she thought ‘Oh Dad, it can’t be that bad’ when she saw him struggling to walk. Now she herself finds it hard to go to the loo in the middle of the night and is completely out of breath when she walks without oxygen. She says that one consultant used to make her cry as he used to ‘shout at her’ for smoking. Then she changed her doctor for one who she felt was more supportive. Her attitude at the time was that no-one could tell her she couldn’t smoke. She sees someone now who is a woman and ‘very down to earth’. Chris finds being on oxygen hard, but she found a way of working with it. She has got the support she needs and has had her bathroom converted to make it more accessible. Chris has noticed that she has put on a stone in weight after stopping smoking and she doesn’t like the fact that she has to buy new clothes. Chris’s husband is also not well as she says he has emphysema, problems with a blocked artery in his leg, and an aneurysm in the bottom of his stomach. He still smokes but doesn’t do so inside the house. Now they have started decorating the house and don’t smoke in rooms where they have decorated. She thinks it’s a good thing that smoking has been stopped in pubs and restaurants. However she does think that smokers should have a place to go.
She feels really pleased with herself for giving up smoking as she didn’t think she would ever do it. She advises people not to give up, and just to find the right method for them. She urges people to get the help that’s available. She finds going on holiday very difficult as it is ‘such a hassle’ to try and arrange oxygen abroad, and travel insurance is very expensive.


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