Wake up. Smoke. Get ready for work. Smoke. Drive to work. Smoke.
Work. Go to lunch. Smoke. Work. Get in car. Smoke. Get home. Smoke.
Eat dinner. Smoke. Smoke again before going to bed.
Jean Turnan’s life was driven by her smoking schedule. Her life revolved around it. “I was a slave to the habit,” says Jean.
At 55 years old, Jean smoked cigarettes for 42 years of her life. She started when she was just 12. At that time, she was convinced that almost everyone smoked and especially the cool kids. “I wanted to fit in and everyone around me was doing it,” she says. “I didn’t know it would become addictive or affect my health.” By the time Jean was in her 20’s, she was smoking a pack a day.
Ten years ago, and a few years after her husband quit smoking, Jean tried to quit for her first time. She then spent two more years trying to quit 4 or 5 more times. She tried many different approaches including medication, patches, gum, inhalers, and going cold turkey. None of them lasted. Jean started having difficulty breathing and was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD.) Jean’s self-esteem plummeted, and she resigned herself to “die with an oxygen tank or a hole in my trachea.” Not only did she not know how to quit, she didn’t know how to not be a smoker. Smoking was part of her life – a reward when she finished work, and relief from her stress.
Then, Jean heard about Kick the Nic program at Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. Jean had failed so many times, it couldn’t hurt to try again.
Jean’s first session with Ida Corby, the Kick the Nic’s smoking cessation counselor, was a discussion around Jean’s readiness for quitting. They focused on Jean’s history and why Jean continued to smoke. Ida led Jean through her fears, her past attempts, her support network and more – to understand what stood in the way of Jean reaching her dream. Weekly, Ida would meet with Jean to go over her progress and continue a plan toward – first reducing her addiction – to, eventually, eliminating it. Jean had significant support from both family and formal support groups. She was also using a patch, trying e- cigarettes for back-up, using acupuncture, and meeting with a therapist for visualization exercises. In four months, Jean was able to break the habit. “Jean was awesome to work with,” says Corby. “She hit every mark when it came to successful quitting. “
Today, Jean has been smoke-free for 15 months. “I can breathe better, smell things, taste things.” “I am no longer hiding in a corner to get one last smoke in. People are not giving me that look when I light up. My COPD is better.” Her number-one benefit is that she is proud of herself – she overcame her addiction. “Once I quit smoking, I felt like I could do anything. I wanted to be healthier overall. I changed my eating habits for the better; started walking my dog. I now have a personal trainer and work out regularly with a friend,” says Jean. “I am now in control of who I am.” Jean is very thankful to her husband for encouraging her to quit and thrilled that she may be around longer for her grandkids.
Ida and the Kick the Nic program were instrumental in her success. “I had someone to work with weekly who held me accountable,” Jeans says. “They even tested me for nicotine levels every week. It forced me to be honest with myself and others on my success and failures. And when I failed, we discussed the causes, came up with a plan for the future, and moved on.” Statistics show the more attempts you make in your life to stop smoking, the more benefit you will get later. “You come to realize there is no magic pill that will suddenly make you want to give up nicotine,” says Corby.
“You have a better understanding of your addiction and know what helped you succeed – even for a short while – and you can draw from that knowledge.”
Jean’s advice for those who wish to quit smoking; “It is possible to quit even if you have been smoking all your life. Don’t do it by yourself. Find your support networks, find what works for you, and get a counselor who holds you accountable and understands you.”