A Stoptober success story

Stoptober is a U.K. National Health Service campaign to encourage people to stop smoking throughout the month of October. The NHS says 246,860 people participated this year. Kerry is one of them:

My name is Kerry and I have now been a non-smoker for seven weeks and three days – I never in a million years thought I would be able to stop. I have been smoking since I was 13 and I am now 32 and a mum of four young children. Before I quit, I was smoking around 30 a day, buying two packs of 20 most days. I didn’t want to smoke around the children, so I would go into the kitchen and sit by the window smoking whilst they played.

My health has not been great recently, I have had a lot of back pain, and to be honest, I just couldn’t afford to keep smoking. When I saw the adverts for Stoptober, I thought I would see if I could try and quit. I’ve never really tried before, so when I was at the doctor’s office, I noticed they had an advert up too about Stoptober so I asked for help. They offered me an appointment with a specialist nurse.

I went to see the nurse and told her that I didn’t think I would be able to stop, but that I thought I really had to. She asked me lots of questions about my smoking and then gave me some information about changing my habits as well as the medicines I could use. She gave me some patches and some mouth spray and told me how to use them.

I decided to set October 1 as my quit date and the nurse gave me some info about not smoking, not even a puff, from then on and some of the things I could do to make it easier for me. She gave me a Stoptober preparation pack and some other leaflets and information to take home. She did my carbon monoxide reading and the result read 44 parts per million.

On October the 1, I made it through the first day although I was nervous – and my daughter ticked off day one on my calendar. I told all my friends and family, and none of them could believe I was doing it! I saw the nurse three days later and hadn’t had even a puff on a cigarette, although there were times I really wanted one. I felt great when my CO reading was 3!

At one week in I got a cough and some mouth ulcers which were really sore, and I couldn’t have smoked even if I had wanted too. I had three or four days of feeling really unwell, and I carried on with the patches but didn’t use anything else.

After I started to feel better I made a list of reasons to keep going and stuck it on the fridge. I noticed that I was spending much more time with the children who also seemed much happier and calmer (maybe that was me though!). I was feeling much less grumpy than I thought I would too.

My Mum was so impressed with how I was getting on that she made an appointment to see the nurse too when I was three weeks in. I went on a night out and all of my friends were amazed that I didn’t go outside for a cigarette. Several of them said that they would now think about quitting too. I tried a couple of days without the patches but found I used loads of the spray and the nurse said it wasn’t a good idea to end the course early so I went back on it.

My back was really bad at the beginning of the fourth week and I did wonder if having a cigarette would help; I did feel really low at times. I managed not to smoke at all though, and talked it through with the nurse who gave me some more ideas and options. When she did my reading at four weeks it was one part per million and I was very proud when she told me that I was well on my way to being a non-smoker.

Stoptober finished part way through my fifth week, but I have kept going. I see the nurse nearly every week, and seeing her has really helped. Stoptober gave me a really good reason to act and to get going with stopping and it was really good feeling like I was part of a massive group of people all going through the same things together. I really think that I will never go back to smoking now and we are looking forward to spending some of the money I have saved on my first smoke-free Christmas!

Learn more about Stoptober in our earlier blog by Emma Croghan.