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Aunty Hazel's story

My name is Aunty Hazel and I’m from Dimboola Victoria. My mob is Wotjobaluk and I am an elder. I had never intended to give up smoking but on the 11th February 2021, that all changed.

My name is Aunty Hazel and I’m from Dimboola Victoria. My mob is Wotjobaluk and I am an elder.

I had never intended to give up smoking but that all changed.

On the 10th of February 2021 my daughter Robyn drove me to Ballarat to spend the night so we could attend an early morning appointment for a stress test on the 11th. 

On the morning of the 11th little did I know that this was the last time I would be having a smoke.

We attended the appointment and the doctor who conducted the stress test told us that I would have to go down to the emergency department to wait until a bed became available. 

This was a long wait, people coming in and out of the doors of the emergency department, and I was really hanging out for a smoke all the while.

Finally, I got a bed and was glad to rest as it was so noisy.

I spent three days in Ballarat Hospital doing blood tests, and a test to run dye into my heart to see what the problem was. 

After that test I was told I had to have triple bypass surgery as the left side of my heart had no blood.

I then went back to the ward to wait on which hospital was going to do the operation.

All this time I was thinking about having a smoke.

It was hard to get in and out of the hospital as it was right in the COVID time when everyone had to have temperatures taken etc... So, it wasn't ideal to do this each time I wanted a smoke. Also, my bag was left in the car with Robyn and on the way back to Dimboola. 

I left Ballarat Hospital to have a rough ride by ambulance on the 14th February to the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, where the next day I had a quadruple bypass, which was changed from a triple after the doctors in Ballarat looked over my heart scan.

So, my quitting smoking wasn't by choice. For me, giving up smoking was thrust upon me and I weathered it combined with all that pain I was going through and leaving the Alfred Hospital at the end of March 2021.

When people ask me “do you feel any better for giving up smoking”, I tell them the big difference I find from not smoking is that I have the money once spent on smokes which I can now spend on my craft items or save for something special.

I am nearing the 12-month mark of this journey. AND I AM SMOKE FREE AND DON'T EVEN CRAVE A SMOKE!

I know what it is to be a 'social leper' and always being annoyed with quit smoking campaigns... I think we all get to give up with different journeys that confront us. I've certainly walked that path.

Yours sincerely 

Aunty Hazel, Wotjobaluk Elder

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