TCS Stories of Inspiration

Michelle

Michelle

I was a smoker for 32 years and entered the MHealthy Tobacco Consultation Service at U-M at the urging of two doctors. I had beginning stages of COPD and had a cardiac event. I knew it was time to quit. 

What stopped me from quitting for so many years was my diagnosis of bipolar disorder. I was afraid that quitting would precipitate another episode and make my depression worse. I used smoking as a crutch and an excuse not to quit. So many people would tell me I would feel so much better if I just quit but I didn’t believe them. I was certain that I would never be able to quit because of my diagnosis. How wrong I was! 

Once I quit smoking, my depression lifted and I didn’t have any bipolar symptoms. I could breathe again. I could also start to exercise, which lifted my mood considerably. I now wonder if smoking was causing some of my depressive symptoms. 

I would urge anyone with a psychiatric diagnosis to not be afraid to quit smoking. It’s easy to use that as a crutch but, in the long run, it is hurting you more than it is helping you. I never thought it could happen to me but I did it! I’m happy to say that I am five months smoke free. 

I see myself as a non-smoker now, and it feels great! 

Thomas

Thomas

I started chewing tobacco when I was an 18-year-old in college. Other guys on my college football and baseball teams were using and I think more than anything I wanted to fit in. But even more, I liked it. It made me feel like I was an adult. Growing up, my parents were smokers. And though they both quit when I was about 12, the memories of them smoking in the house were still there in my mind. I think perhaps it made me feel like that was part of adulthood. I continued using tobacco for 25 years, all while continuing to play baseball, then eventually retiring from sports to settle down, get married and have children. 

I promised my wife early on that I would quit chewing. I tried to quit on at least three different occasions. Once on my own, which was a miserable failure that ended with me getting caught hiding it. Then twice with a doctor’s help, which also failed because they did not understand the difference between smoking tobacco cessation and smokeless tobacco cessation. Smokeless tobacco users ingest much more nicotine into their bodies, which was a big problem for me when I first began trying to quit. 

I decided 2016 would be my healthy turnaround year. My New Year’s resolution was no matter what, this would be the year that I would quit tobacco for good and get healthier. I began seeing a new doctor and asked her about help with quitting. She directed me to the MHealthy Tobacco Consultation Service (TCS). 

When I came to TCS to ask for help, they understood from the beginning what I was about to go through. From the moment I walked through their door, TCS knew how to help me. They are very knowledgeable and did not let me down. Before my quit day, they helped me understand what I would be going through and have helped me through it every step of the way. 

I am so grateful to TCS for their help. 

James

James

How many times have you heard: “You should quit smoking; it’s bad for your health,” “Second-hand smoke,” “It stains your teeth,” “Your breath is bad,” “Such a nasty habit,” “Think of all the money you’ll save?” Blah, blah, blah – that’s what I thought. We know all these remarks regarding smoking but we go through a stage of denial, justification or why quit.

I have smoked off and on for the past 40 years. I would quit but eventually start again. A couple of times, I lasted two years but then something would start me to fall into a rationalization or depressed state of mind and I would start smoking again. I’d think, “Maybe if I change brands and ‘control’ my smoking, I could get by.” Eventually, though, I would be back into my smoking addiction, which would make me feel more depressed or guilty that I could not control myself.

Quitting smoking was one of the hardest things I have ever done. It affected me on a physical, mental and even spiritual level. But as they say, don’t quit quitting!

The education and help offered through the MHealthy Tobacco Consultation Service provided me with the tools and programs I needed to quit smoking again. Before you go into battle, they provide resources specific to your needs to help you quit. 

Bottom line: you have to quit for you! I believe that we’re not bad people trying to be good but instead sick people trying to get better! If we continue to smoke we know that we will get sick. Learn to live tobacco-free. You don’t have to do it alone. 

I try to keep it simple. To think that I have to quit for the rest of my life is overwhelming! So, one of my tools is just take it a day at a time. Today I didn’t smoke - just for today! Sometimes it’s one moment or event at a time. Use what tools and support work for you. You don’t have to do it alone. I use the resources from the MHealthy Tobacco Consultation Service and it’s working for me today! 

Sheila

Sheila

I started smoking when I was nine years old. I would sneak out into the woods during recess and smoke. By the time I was a junior in high school, I was smoking two packs a day. 

The years passed. Then in my 40s I started having a lot of health problems. My health got so bad I lost my job of 18 years and was unable to play with my granddaughter. The quality of my life was bad and was only going to get worse. 

I was referred to the MHealthy Tobacco Consultation Service (TCS) and it changed my life. This program taught me how to be a non-smoker. It motivated me to change my habits and routines. They prepared me for any challenges I would face and made a game plan for when times get stressful. 

I have now been a non-smoker for six months. It has totally changed my life. I can now do the things I couldn’t do for years, like chase and play with my granddaughter.

In life there are decisions and people that change your life forever. Taking this program has changed mine for the better. My quality of life has increased considerably and I am looking forward to the future. I will never forget TCS and its staff for saving me and giving me a new chance at life. Thank you, thank you, and thank you! 

Karen

Karen

I started smoking when I was 19 years old. It quickly became a bad habit, as well as a dangerous addiction. I tried to quit several times but, unfortunately, I was unsuccessful and continued to smoke for 30 years. 

In 2010, I decided to give quitting one more try because I wanted to be healthy. My family and close friends were instrumental in my decision. I enrolled in the Smoking Cessation Program here at the hospital, which included phone counseling as well as medication in the form of a nicotine patch. 

Thankfully this time I was successful! I am happy to say that I have been smoke-free for four years now. Since giving up cigarettes, I feel a lot better physically, mentally and emotionally. Quitting was a very long and difficult fight for me and I had to work very hard to give it up. I still have an occasional desire to have a cigarette but I am able to refrain. People need to realize that nicotine is an addiction and being able to quit is not about being strong or weak.

You don’t have to do it alone. I strongly urge anyone trying to quit to never give up. The rewards of not smoking are incredible. 

Barry

Barry

When I started smoking in college in 1964, it was common practice to have a cigarette as the first thing you did in the morning and the last act before going to sleep. Smoking was such an accepted part of life in the 60’s and 70’s and I never gave a thought to stopping the habit. By the 90’s, the dangers of smoking became common knowledge even to me.

In 1993 a friend and I decided we would stop smoking. We went to a hypnotist for one session and thought it worked. It lasted about six months before I was back smoking as much as ever. 

Over the last 20 years I tried to quit smoking at least 5 or 6 times, unsuccessfully. For the past ten years, my physician brow beat me to stop smoking. I didn’t pay much attention to her until I started to experience health issues – COPD, chronic bronchitis, and peripheral artery disease – that were the direct result of smoking. All these health issues negatively affected my quality of life. 

In early 2014, I made the decision to stop smoking. My physician asked me if I wanted to participate in a stop smoking program and I said sure I’ll try it. I got a call from the MHealthy Tobacco Consultation Service and attended my first session on June 3, 2014. On June 24, I stopped smoking. As part of the program I took Wellbutrin and used the Nicotine Inhaler. 

It has been more than four months since I had my last cigarette and I feel much better. My health has improved, I can breathe easier, I can walk a mile without my legs hurting, my sinuses are clear, and I’m not blowing my nose constantly. I’ve also seen a marked improvement in my general health. I stopped taking the Wellbutrin but still occasionally use the Nicotine Inhaler, but never use more than three a day.

I was motivated to quit smoking and TCS provided me the structure, plan and mental reassurance I needed to accomplish my goal. I know I will never smoke a cigarette ever again because I learned I don’t need it and I feel so much better since I quit. 

Fred

Fred

I heard it many times: “You oughta really think about quitting.” I did, I thought about it a lot but I had to be ready and do it for me. While it was important to everyone else in my life, it had to be me who wanted it the most. 

I tried to quit/cut down on my smoking a few times, but I never had the “want” like I did this time. On the MHealthy health questionnaire, I checked a box saying I was interested in quitting, and then got a call from the MHealthy Tobacco Independence Program. 

I’m grateful for MHealthy and Staywell Health Management. As soon as I was ready, they helped me with a plan and suggested I use a quitting coach. At first I thought, “Yeah right, I’m going to talk on the phone with someone who never smoked and have them tell me how bad it was for me.” It was not at all like that. My coach gave me encouragement, tips, and tools I could use that worked for me, and I looked forward to that call every couple of weeks. Best decision I made was to agree to coaching calls. 

I went from almost 1½ packs down to 5 or 6 cigarettes a day in less than a month. I thought, “If I can do that, I can go the rest of the way.” I picked the quit date and committed to it. I didn’t slip up, even though the urge was there. I noticed changes in my well-being right away. I didn’t think I felt that bad before I quit, but I really felt better from day one. I no longer wondered if my clothes smelled like smoke. My car didn’t smell inside anymore either and it was cleaner. Plus, I was no longer standing outside in the cold for smoke breaks during the winter. I also figured out what I was spending on smoking every month and it was easily more than half a car payment. That became a big reward for me ... a new car.

I had my first cigarette at 17; had my last Dec. 26, 2013, just short of turning 64 years old. Getting me through the process, besides prayer, the coaching calls and my commitment, was the support and encouragement from my family, friends and coworkers. My quit date was on a Thursday and every Thursday since quitting, I’ve gotten an encouraging email or phone call from one of my daughters telling me “Great job … one more week.” My wife, who quit five years before me, is a big supporter too. She’d been there and knew what I was up against. Truly, I can’t remember being a nonsmoker. I’m learning about it now and enjoying it.

Everyone is different, and it isn’t easy, but no matter who you are you can find a way to quit smoking. 

Thom

 Thom

I would absolutely recommend TCS to anyone who is interested in quitting tobacco. When I came to the program, I was a can-a-day user of chew tobacco and an occasional cigarette smoker. I had tried to quit hundreds of times on my own,by going cold turkey and using over-the-counter nicotine replacements, but was never able to make it stick for more than a week or two. I used to feel sick all the time from the nicotine and depressed because I felt powerless to do anything about it.

TCS made all the difference in the world for me. They designed an individual quit program specifically for me, and the combination of group support, education, and individual counseling made it much easier for me to quit compared to when I tried to do it on my own. 

Now I can say I have been nicotine free for almost two years! I feel great, both physically and emotionally. I have a lot more energy and am generally much happier because I now feel like I have control over that part of my life. Today, at 50 years old, I’m also setting new personal records in my favorite sports, endurance running and Triathlon, and I recently completed my first Ironman. That’s right; it’s not too late to get fit! 

Thank you to all the staff at TCS, as well as everyone in the group meetings, for getting me on track and giving me the support I needed to stay there! 

Jan

portrait of Jan

I started smoking when I was in college and, for the first 30 years, did not try to quit. However, knowing that smoking was not good for my health, coupled with it becoming more and more difficult to smoke in public, I have tried several methods to quit smoking in the last 20 years. 

I first used Chantix and was able to stop smoking for about six months. However, I was under the false impression that I could smoke sparingly and once I had that first cigarette again, I quickly went back to smoking a pack a day. 

I was still trying to quit on my own and tried using nicotine replacement gum and patches. Though I followed the directions exactly, neither of these worked for me at that time.

I quit smoking for six months again during and after a bout with pneumonia. But as before, I returned to smoking even though I wanted to quit. 

This is when I found the MHealthy Tobacco Consultation Service program. It has made the difficult journey to becoming a non-smoker doable. I had several individual counseling sessions with an expert on smoking cessation. During these sessions, we talked about my reasons for quitting, obstacles to my quitting, and so much more. We set my quit date for September 13, 2014, and I got follow-up phone calls and an individual follow-up session to monitor my quit program. I started attending an evening support group for people trying to quit smoking. All of this personal contact has helped me to remain a non-smoker. I learned how to effectively use the nicotine replacement products and that has been a huge help in my journey to non-smoking as well. I could not have quit smoking without this program and I highly recommend it to anyone who is determined to quit.

My husband has been very supportive in my progress. He plans occasional “Celebrate Jan Days” where we go to a movie and have a late lunch to celebrate my continued success. 

I just celebrated my one year anniversary of being smoke-free. I still get urges occasionally but even the urges are easier to handle.