If your dad ever preached to you about never quitting something you started, we'd like to assume he wasn't talking about smoking. The third Thursday in November is the Great American Smokeout. November 20th is the 33rd annual event. If you are one of the 43 million people in this country who light up everyday, the Great American Smokeout could hold great promise for your health and those around you. 443,000 Americans die as a result of smoking every year.
Most of Sheila Wasserman's co-workers at the Avera Heart Hospital don't know about her dirty little secret. She's a smoker. She started in high school at the age of 17, but she never lit up at work. She always waited until she got home when she would walk to get the mail. I'm happy to report those days are gone and so are the cigs. She quit smoking October 25th.
Sheila says, "The first day was fine. Actually the first few days were fine, but toward the end of the week come Thursday or Friday I could have killed someone. I made it through though. I would go for a walk.
Sheila works in the Admitting Department and is lucky to have on the job support from Respiratory Therapist Deb Murray who runs the the Heart Hospital's Quit for Good (call 605-977-7000) program. Sheila was screened through their Planet Heart Program and was told she needed to stop smoking if she wanted to stay healthy. Deb knows what Sheila is going through because she's been through it herself. She quit smoking 7 years ago.
Deb says, "the hardest part is breaking up the routine. You need to shake it up. If you typically go outside for a cigarette at a certain time do something else. Go for a walk around the building instead. Brush your teeth. Keep your mouth fresh. Drink a lot of water and have some hard candy or sugar free gum on hand to keep your mouth busy. If you smoked in your car, clean it out before your quit day. Maybe put some aroma therapy in there.
Sheila wasn't a huge smoker. She probably would smoke a pack a week which is $4.20. Instead of putting that money towards cigarettes, she is keeping a kitty. Every week she puts money in there and by the end of the month she'll have $16.80. In 6 months $100.80. She's going to buy herself a nice present. Deb says it's nice to reward yourself for keeping your goals.
Sheila says, "Every morning I get up and in the back of my mind I can hear Deb saying if I slip and start smoking again I will have to start all over again. And I don't want to do that."
Since smokers are twice as likely to have a heart attack as non-smokers and are at increased risk for stroke, Sheila made up her mind to clean her arteries and break the habit for good. Good for her!
The American Heart Association has all kinds of valuable resources to help you quit. Good Luck!