Quitters’ Update 19th March 2014

hatIt’s the 3rd week of Lent!  And welcome back to our Smoking Control Quitters’ Blog.  And guess what happened by accident?!  I thought it was more than enough for me to have quit smoking and so didn’t give up anything else for Lent.  And I’ve just realised I haven’t actually eaten any chocolate (I’m almost sure anyway) since Ash Wednesday.  So go me!  Well one my way to optimal health and well-being.

Today’s picture is me with a hat.  Sadly, it’s not my hat as I’m pretty fond of it now.

(Okay, where’s she going with this?!)

You may remember that I decided to take up knitting in order to keep my hands busy and my mind distracted in an effort to break some of my evening-time smoking habits.  Well, behold my first ever knitted thing that’s not a scarf!  It’s a present for my boyfriend though I may re-think that as I’m pretty attached…

Knitting really has been a great help.  You have to think about it while you’re doing it and you need both hands. Previous evening-time activities were easily done while smoking; watching TV, surfing the internet, chatting on the phone.  I’m addicted now and am taking orders from friends and family.

My point here is (apart from promoting my new craft business!) that you really do need to think of something else to do.  It sounds obvious but it’s so important.    Break the habits and change your routine so that the activities and times you associate with smoking become associated with something else.

I’m still in the warm a fuzzy self-righteous glow of being a new non-smoker so it may be hard to take advice from me.  So this week, I’ve asked one of my colleagues, a long-time non-smoker, to tell us a little about how she feels about things now…

Noeleen, LloydsPharmacy, The Mill S.C. Clondalkin

 

Quit Date: 3 years ago

Still Smoke-Free: YES!

20140106_141627Hi guys,

Anyone out there trying to give up the cigarettes, hang in there, believe me it will get better. I was there myself and it will be worth it.  The ‘freedom’, as I called it at the time, was like I was released from something.

The best advice I would give is to do something with the money that you would normally spend on cigarettes, that is if you could afford to smoke in the first place. I got myself a loan and I knew then that the money was spoken for. I got my first car and paid back the loan within a year, I was so proud of that little Micra.

Apart from my car and back to the more serious side, my health was my main reason for giving them up. I got bronchitis every year and I have never had it since I gave them up. All the other little things like tasting my food again, my house smelling good and having loads of energy were a bonus. So if you’re trying to kick the habit at the moment, keep going and set yourself a goal, maybe a nice holiday or a spa weekend when you have reached your 3 or 6 month goal.

 Noeleen’

 

Thank you Noeleen!

 

I love Noeleen’s tactic of getting that loan.  It’s not unusual for a smoker to spend €300 in a month on cigarettes.  That’s the repayment on the loan for a very nice car.  But health is obviously the more important aspect.  Giving up smoking is the single most significant improvement you can make to your health.  And as I hope you can see from our blog, it’s not impossible; it’s not always easy of course but not impossible…

We’ll be back next week with an update from one of our favourite bloggers and amazing pharmacy managers, Lyndsey, to see how she’s been getting on since we heard from her last.

Chat soon,

Naomi…

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Quitters’ Update: Ash Wednesday

naomiHi again everyone and Happy National No Smoking Day. It’s been almost a month since you heard from me and my fellow quitters. I promised we’d make an appearance again as Lent kicks off so here we are… well, here I am anyway! We’ll be hearing how our other bloggers have been doing over the coming weeks.

Ash Wednesday as traditionally been a day when smokers decide to attempt to quit and we can certainly see that in our pharmacies today. Do you know, I think giving up chocolate would be much more difficult than quitting – and that’s from someone who’s been smoke-free since January 13th! Yes, I’m still a non-smoker, and am now finished using my Nicorette Inhaler also, though I still carry it with me when socialising. And I feel great!

It has not been easy, I’ll be completely honest. I have put on weight due to eating more, and it did take quite a while for my skin to return to normal. There were times when I really wondered whether it was worth it. But today, writing to you before going out for a run, I can tell you it IS worth it. There is no way the old Naomi would have managed a run in the evening without collapsing! And my car and clothes and skin all look and smell so clean!

This is all so much more poignant a topic given the sad passing of Gerry Collins this week, the face of the HSE’s Quit Campaign last December. At the launch of the campaign in December last year, Gerry said the ads were an opportunity to show the dangers of smoking and that he took solace from the fact he would be able to say goodbye to his family unlike those who die suddenly. “I hope to continue in the fight against smoking,” he said in December. For me, it’s a nice legacy to leave behind. “People who are killed in a car crash never get to say goodbye. I’ve an opportunity to say goodbye. As sad and all as it is for the family, they’re very lucky. “If I can get through the day with a bit of peace and contentment every day, that’s good enough for me. If I can spend time with the kids, I’m happy with that.”

Gerry’s words make me happier and prouder still that I’ve managed to stay smoke-free for this long and more determined than ever to see it through.

If you have been thinking of quitting or know someone in your family who wants to, please please speak to your GP, your pharmacist or health care assistant about how to start. You are TWICE as likely to be successful in quitting with 1-2-1 coaching and support so services like our Smoking Control service can really help you. Visit http://www.lloydspharmacy.ie/content/Smoking-Control/1453 or www.quit.ie for more information and advice on breaking the habit. Quitting smoking is the single most significant improvement you can make for your health. Why wait?!

Chat soon,
Naomi…

Quitters’ Update Thursday: Week 4

naomiHi again everyone. Naomi here, still smoke-free and still having to concentrate very hard on staying smoke-free. It’s getting easier to deal with the cravings but I tell you what, it’s hard to keep the focus.

We’ve lost a blogger this week – Ciara is still doing really well with her quitting but she’s finding that writing the blog is making her think about smoking! That’s no good, is it?! Thanks Ciara for sharing your story with us so far. This got me thinking though about focus. It makes sense in January to focus on quitting and saving money and getting healthy after over-indulging over Christmas. But once February comes, it’s harder to keep the momentum going. Nights out start to become more frequent and you have some cash in your pocket again. We can’t keep blogging forever so I’m starting to wonder how long more I will last…

I heard an amazing story last week from one of my colleagues in LloydsPharmacy The Mill, Clondalkin. Noeleen is blogging away over on the Weight Loss Blog (have a read of it, it’s really great!). She gave up smoking 14 years ago and she had a very clever way of keeping her focus. Noeleen was saving hundreds of euro each month so she decided to treat herself to her first every new car. The money she was saving from smoking became her loan repayment – this meant she just couldn’t afford to smoke, even if she wanted to. And she had that loan cleared in a year! I thought this was so inspiring.

It’s also important to keep doing whatever it is you’ve been doing to become a successful quitter. For me, it’s ensuring my friends and family don’t let me slip, ensuring I do something with my money, and ensuring I keep using my NRT and keep tracking my progress. 4 weeks in and I feel healthier, cleaner, and far more energetic. I now need to put this energy to good use! Hopefully I’ll have figured out how by the time we finish with this blog…

Time to check in on how our customer David has been getting on since last week…

David, Teacher, Aged 33

Still Smoke-free?  Yes!

Blog 4 – I don’t want trouble!

‘Hi all,

daveSo here I am settling into my weekly blog routine, much the same way as I’ve settled into a routine of not smoking. I’m continuing to use the patches and have found that I never even think about smoking for most of the week. The only time that I get them on my mind, and immediately fold, is during the weekends when socialising.

This weekend though, for the first time since I quit, went very well and was definitely the most successful to date. A social event on one of the nights went fine as I was not drinking and didn’t know any of the smokers so had no reason to sneak outside for one. On top of this I genuinely didn’t feel a desire for one.

On another occasion I was in the pub and having my first pint since December. This used to be an unmanageable temptation when I tried to quit previously. I always had the impression that you have the most craic outside the pub and there was normally a partner in crime to head outside with. This time around though, I didn’t cave in. I was happy to sit in, and chat away to the people with me and never even considered heading for the door.

When I think about how I managed to get through the weekend a few things come to mind. No one else was smoking – they must be a dying breed – so I never even thought about it. For me having a support network of non-smokers is really helpful. All the bad weather makes it miserable to be anywhere close to the wind and rain so this has also encouraged me to stay out of trouble.

Until next week,

David.’

Well done on your first smoke-free weekend David!

Once again in David’s update, we can see how important a support network is in quitting.  For me, I’m almost afraid to let my friends down, never mind my boss! (We can’t have a failed quitter writing this blog!)  What’s going to keep us all going?

Keep the feedback coming.  We’re back on Saturday to check up on Lyndsey’s progress.

Chat soon,

Naomi…

Quitters’ Weekend Update Week 3

Happy Weekend everyone!!

knitAnother test for us quitters lies ahead as we nervously await the temptations of dinners out and trips to the pub.  For me, the Nicorette Inhaler has been an absolute must when facing social events.  Even though very few of my friends smoke, I’m still used to the odd trip to the beer garden and feel a bit cheated if I miss it.  Alcohol seems to go hand-in-hand with smoking for me.  I don’t know if that’s habit or need or genuine enjoyment.  Whichever way, the inhaler is helping me not to crack.

Wish us luck!

So, what’s with today’s picture?

Well, myself and my house-mate/fellow quitter have been finding we are really, really BORED in the evenings.  Now it’s not as if we spent all evening smoking beforehand.  We are just acutely aware that something is missing so it feels like there’s time to fill all of a sudden, time we spend thinking about smoking!  So we’ve decided to take up a new hobby, one that gives us something to concentrate on, to aim for and keeps our hands occupied.  She’s learning to crochet and I’m taking up knitting again.  Apparently it’s hip again.  Someone let me know if that’s true; I’ve never quite figured out how to be hip!

A lot of ex-smokers have been talking to me about DISTRACTION.  And I understand exactly what they mean.  When the cravings come, the key is to distract yourself with something else; hopefully for me it will be knitting.

Think about it; if someone in your workplace yelled ‘FIRE’ when you were about to head out on your cigarette break, would you wait and have your cigarette before running to safety?  Of course you wouldn’t.  The craving would be less important than getting out of a burning building; it goes away because something else is more important to you.  Give your brain something else to think about…  It’s working for us anyway!  I know of course that knitting is not quite a fire in the office… but you get me, right?!

Let’s check up on how the lovely Lyndsey has been getting on since last week…

Lyndsey, Manager LloydsPharmacy Blanchardstown, Aged 27

Still Smoke-Free?  YES!!

Hi everyone,

lynI know the withdrawals are getting easier to handle because I haven’t cracked even though I’ve had a mental week. As you can see from the picture I’m literally pulling my hair out!!!  🙂

This week’s positive point for me was…….

With the weather being pants, not having to stand out in the rain and cold for a smoke has been brilliant.

I find my appetite has increased; I feel hungry more often than usual. I’ve tried to be good bringing my healthy lunch to work, saving me being bold in the shop and coming back with a bag of goodies.

Next week I’m going to try drinking more water as everyone is saying it will help suppress hunger. At this point I’ll try anything before I end up like Ten Tonne Tessie.

This week’s killer is the headaches. I never suffer from headaches so I’m blaming giving up smoking for this. It feels like an elephant sitting on my head 😦  At this point the only thing that will help is a sugar rush, but it’s better than a smoke rush.

Oh to end on an awesome note…..  🙂

Earlier on this week I went to the Garage to fill up the car. When I was paying the girl she automatically said to me “twenty John Player blue?” I was like “eh what!!  Yea!!  Oh no thanks”. She looked at me confused.  I told her “I’m off them” she replied “fair play”!

I got back into the car a little shocked that even the girl in the garage knew my routine, but then I thought how good it just felt saying “I’m off them”

So as you can imagine I’m driving to work smiling like a Cheshire cat (he he)!

Bye for now, blog you all soon.

Smoke free,

Lyndsey.’

Well done Lyndsey!!  You’re doing so well x

Lyndsey’s updates always leave a smile on my face!  She’s just so positive and honest.  It’s all the little victories that keep you going – like telling that shop assistant you’ve given up or boasting to your friends and family about your blog (yes, that’d be me…).  But support and encouragement really helps in this effort.  So keep it coming everyone!

Have a smoke-free weekend 🙂

Chat soon,

Naomi…

Quitters’ Update Thursday: Week 3

naomiHappy Thursday everyone!  Almost at our third weekend of quitting and it’s getting so much easier… well, kind of.

I had another real test this week, much harder than a night out.  A personal upset got me more than a little bit stressed out and I almost cracked.  I was full sure I HAD to have a cigarette, and what’s more that I deserved it; for all my good work so far and for having been upset.  It was tough but I had to talk sense into myself.  What was I thinking, using a cigarette as some kind of treat to make myself feel better?    I knew if I could pass this test, I’d feel so much better.  And I did!  Pat me on the back.

So what’s today’s picture about?  This is my Smoking Advice Card, an element of our Smoking Control service.  This tracks my progress, how I’m feeling and allows me to record how much money I’ve saved (which is now €92!).  In David’s update today you’ll see how important SUPPORT is in quitting.  I’m very lucky to have the support of my housemate and my boyfriend, which means I haven’t been tempted to smoke.  I couldn’t have come this far without it.

Remember our last update when we spoke about support; Dr Alan Curley told us at our training session this week that quitters are TWICE as likely to be successful with 1-2-1 coaching and support.  If you’re thinking about quitting, you should strongly consider signing up to a free service such as our Smoking Control Service, AND making sure that your family, friends and colleagues are going to be there to support you when you’re weak.

Let’s see how David has been getting on since last week.

David, Teacher, Aged 33

Still Smoke-free?  Kind of…

Blog 3 – Healthier than a teenager!

dave‘Three weeks in and two slip-ups later and I’m (pretty much) still off those filthy cigarettes! ‘“Pretty much? ” you ask. Sadly this is the case as I am not completely off them at this stage.

Monday to Friday went fine and then, just like last week, a few cheeky drinks and my resolution goes out the window nearly as fast as my Nicorette patch gets flung in the bin. I met up with a group of old friends to catch up and relive our college days and before you know it we’re all out the back door puffing away.

Funnily enough though, this is the exact sort of thing we used to do fourteen years ago when we were all teenagers. At the time we were unhealthy students. We smoked cigarettes and drank endless coffees so as to not eat food and to while away the hours. Now none of us smoke – I’m the most recent quitter – and we are all healthier and skinnier.

I realise that this is a blog discussing the benefits of quitting however surely one cheat night a week for the time being is allowed? Answers on a postcard please…

The rest of the week was fine. I don’t miss them at work and whilst I find myself munching and snacking away a lot more than I used to during the evening, life continues to move on. I’m still flat broke after Christmas so have not really noticed more change in my pocket, however I suppose it’s fair to say that I’d be more broke if I was still smoking!

This coming weekend I have the Hell and Back race to keep me out of trouble and it is one of the strategies I used to stop me from smoking. During training it definitely makes a big difference to be able to grab a big lungful of air rather than wheeze and cough and feel like I’m choking. The patches are still working great and as I have made putting on a patch part of my morning routine there have been no grumpy episodes in the past week (much to the relief of everyone who spends time with me!)

Best of luck to all the other quitters,

D.’

Thanks David.  Keep trying!

You can see how important it is that you try as much as possible to limit your risk of slipping.  Some things are obvious; get rid of the ashtrays and lighters, throw away all your cigarettes, etc.  But it’s also important to have a plan for events likely to end up in you cracking.  David might benefit from using the Nicorette Inhaler when he’s socialising for instance.

If you have any more tips, please let us know.  We’re back on Saturday to check up on Lyndsey’s progress.

Chat soon,

Naomi…

Quitters’ Update Tuesday: Week 3

Hi again everyone.  Naomi here with our first update of Week 3!  I can’t tell you how weird it feels to be typing as a non-smoker for 3 whole weeks.  This blog has been a huge help I must say.  And having all eyes in our office on me is handy too!

alan cBefore we hear how Alison has been getting on since last week, I wanted to talk about an amazing training session I attended with 50 of my colleagues yesterday. Dr Alan Curley PhD is an expert in addiction services and smoking cessation from Scotland.

Alan set up the NHS Stop Smoking Service in Scotland many years ago and has been working with sufferers of all types of addiction throughout his career.  I was delighted to be able to attend his session on Motivational Influencing and Stop Smoking with my pharmacy colleagues.

We heard so many interesting and useful stories and strategies in motivation, addiction types, the best ways to support our patients and the various types of NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapy) products that work best for different types of smoker. Alan also showed us so many statistics about success rates in breaking nicotine addiction based on his work and research over the years.  One point in particular really stuck with me.

Alan spoke about his experience with using NRT products versus cold turkey, telling us that people are TWICE as likely to be successful by using NRT to help them quit.  AND, if you combine that with 1-2-1 support (such as what you would get by using our Smoking Control Service), they become FOUR times more likely to be successful.  Why wouldn’t you make it easier on yourself looking at those figures?  Check out one if the slides he showed us below.  With NRT, 1-2-1 coaching AND group coaching, patients have a 71% chance of quitting successfully.

Check out http://www.quit.ie/en/inner/effective_support_methods#group for more details on what group support is available in your area.

slide

It really was a very enjoyable and thoroughly interesting lecture.  We best check in on Alison!

Alison, Manager LloydsPharmacy Raheny, Aged 31

Still Smoke-free?  Yes!

‘Hi again everyone!

So…

alison cropWell I’m still off them… it’s getting a lot easier. I’m feeling very optimistic so decided to buy four weeks supply of patches! I was looking at how much I would have spent on cigarettes if I had still been smoking and its almost 150 euro! And that’s only two weeks supply!

I haven’t noticed myself eating more but I did weight myself and I’ve put on a few pounds but nothing major….my lunchtime walks must be helping…or not!!

I have a very annoying cough at the moment as well which weirdly enough if I was smoking I know I wouldn’t have! Also the patches can interfere with sleeping at night so I do look a bit rough in the mornings (my partner is happy to put up with it because apparently I don’t smell like an ashtray anymore!!!) but I’m afraid to take the patch off at bedtime because it’s worked so far!!

Everyone is so supportive and my family keep telling me how proud they are of me and that’s a huge help!

Only eight more weeks of patches and then I’ll be smoke and nicotine free forever!!

Hope everyone else is still doing great!

Alison.

Well done and thanks Alison!

Not a bad way to start the week, eh?  Personally, I am not as lucky as Alison and am finding myself very, very hungry!  Lots of water and chewing gum is helping me manage that.

Please, please keep the feedback coming folks; it’s so motivating.  Thanks to everyone who is sharing stories with us too.  We’re back on Thursday with an update from David.  See you soon J

Naomi…

Quitters’ Update Tuesday: Week 2

Hi everyone.  Naomi back again.  We’re one week into our Quitters’ Blog series and it feels so good to have the first weekend done with!  I for one found it surprisingly stress-free.  My house-mate and fellow quitter were just talking about how our cravings are getting much easier to deal with.  And already, our sense of smell and taste has much improved.  This really makes me more determined to see this through!  Like I promised, I did bring my Nicorette Inhaler to the pub over the weekend and I did use it in the Smoking Garden.  And you know, it worked wonders!

optransBefore we hear Alison’s update, I would be remiss not to mention Operation Transformation, airing tonight on RTE 1 at 8.30pm.  I’ve been following leader Sarah’s story, which tonight will be of particular interest to us quitters as she focuses on giving up smoking.  Make sure you tune in!

Also, in conjunction with the show, this coming Thursday 23rd January is National Blood Pressure Awareness Day.  Free Blood Pressure testing will be taking place at selected locations throughout the country.  But did you know, LloydsPharmacy offers free Blood Pressure Measuring all year round at each of our branches?  Smoking is one of the main risk factors in developing Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) and High Blood Pressure (Hypertension).  Why not measure your Blood Pressure in conjunction with your quitting plan?  You should see vast improvements as your body returns to normal.

Let’s check in with Alison on how her first week went:

Alison, Manager LloydsPharmacy Raheny, Age 31

Still Smoke-Free?  Yes! (apart from one tiny hiccup!)

Hi again everyone!

alison cropWell I stopped smoking on Jan 13th and things had been going really well.  I will be honest though; I did have one tiny little cigarette and loved every bit of it but I felt bloody awful after having it…  it was guilt really!

I’ve been using Niquitin CQ 21mg 24hr patches and up until my tiny little cigarette, I really was finding them great!

I do feel a great deal better now that I’m back on the wagon… much more energy. I’m going for a walk during my lunch every day and I’m eating much better than I used to.  If you asked anyone that knows me they will tell you how weird it is to hear the words ‘exercise’, ‘healthy-eating’ and ‘Alison’ altogether!!

I feel so rested in the morning when I wake up. It’s also great to go to bed at night and not have that horrible feeling that you don’t have enough cigarettes for the next morning. It’s definitely getting easier…I see it more now of a habit than an addiction which makes it easier to deal with!! The reaction from family, friends and colleagues has been great and they are offering so much support. I know I will be mailing you next and I will not have had any cigarettes!!

Wish me luck!

Alison.

Well done Alison!!

I love this update from Alison.  She may have cracked and had one sneaky cigarette, and indeed she enjoyed it!  But she got back on the horse and feels better for it.  This is important for us all to remember.  It might take more than one attempt to quit but you can become a non-smoker if you keep trying!

We’re back on Thursday with updates from our other bloggers.  Keep the comments coming and please share your own stories with us!