Employee Spotlight - BethLynn Howard, two-years smoke-free
- How long have you been without smoking? It will be two years on April 7th!
- How many years did you smoke cigarettes? I smoked for 18 years.
- How did smoking affect your health and daily life? My breathing/asthma had worsened; I was using a steroid inhaler and a rescue inhaler and still would be short of breath. I coughed all the time and I would get very irritable if I had to go without a cigarette. I couldn't hike anymore without getting dizzy. Socially, it was a nightmare because I didn't like to smoke in front of non-smokers.
- Why did you quit? I had wanted to quit and made several attempts in 2014-2015. What really motivated me was that my husband and I do not want children, and I couldn't continue my birth control without the risk of a blood clot or stroke. (Because cancer and emphysema didn't scare me - dumb!)
- Did you face any challenges while quitting? I had three cigarettes that were hard for me to give up: first thing in the morning, right after work in the car driving home, and one after dinner. My husband continued to smoke, so being around him was difficult.
- How did you do it? Christine MacDonald met with me for smoking cessation. She gave me a lot of great tools and advice on how to cut back. I also ate a ton of jelly beans and was hypnotized by my mother-in-law to help with those last three cigarettes, and I haven't had one since!
- How has your life improved since quitting? I no longer use any inhalers; I hiked Chocorua with my friends a year after quitting; I work out 5 days a week; and I can breathe like a normal person. My skin has gotten healthier and my teeth have gotten whiter; I have energy; I spend more time being present with people because I'm not thinking about having a cigarette; I don't cough at all; and I don't smell anymore!
- Do you ever miss smoking? Sometimes I miss the social part of being in the smoker circle, and once in a very long while I get a sudden desire for one, but it passes quickly. I do still dream that I had smoked and wake up mad occasionally.
- What advice would you give to other people who would like to quit smoking? You can do it! Sometimes it's one minute at a time to get you to one hour, to one day, to one week, but you can do it! Don't let one little stick have that much control of you! You are stronger than that, and will feel so much better!
Patients who smoke can use our smoking cessation program to quit for good. This program is free to patients. Christine MacDonald, one of our social workers, uses the American Cancer Society's Freshstart program to help patients quit.
Christine has been cheerleading patients trying to quit smoking through the finish line for almost a decade. She'll meet with you to discuss your motivations for quitting and the hurdles getting in the way, based on your individual situation. You and she will come up with a plan to quit based on her experience of what has worked for people she's helped in similar situations in the past, including additional meetings if needed.
To schedule an appointment with Christine, call the front office at 447-8900. You can also talk with your provider about strategies to quit smoking.