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Damian's dramatic achievement!

Damian had a tough realisation when he realised that some friends can be bad influences.

I was a very heavy smoker from when I was 14. 40-a-day minimum (more if I was drinking) until I was 43.

I loved them. They were my mates. We did everything together. The ciggies were with me as I grew up, as I celebrated each and every milestone of my life.

I just need to look at photos and there I am either with a smoke in my hand or my mouth.

In my youth it never mattered. I could run, jump and do everything. In my 30’s I started to have problems with my chest and…what!! The Doc says I have asthma! "Give them up", the Doc says. He reckons they are getting to my chest. My mind says: "Bullshit, what would he know!”

I continue to smoke and my health continues to spiral. In my 40’s, after about 2 years of chest problems and a bug that put me in bed for 2 weeks, I had a lung function test and the Dr said 42% lung function and getting worse. Bugger. No wonder I can’t walk up stairs without coughing my guts out!

I had my first crack at giving them away. This lasted about 2 days - my "mates" just would not leave.

A month later another crack - this one lasted about a week and I got so grumpy that I just had to get me "mates"...

Then I got crook again and was back off work for another month, and could not stop coughing and spluttering. All the time smoking ciggie after ciggie. I gave those tablets a go - Zyban or something like that - and after a couple of weeks I noticed I was butting my ciggies out bigger and bigger. What a waste of money. So I stopped taking the tabs!! I continued to smoke my mates on a 30 min basis.

Then crook I get, again. This time I could barely breathe and a trip to casualty was needed. After spending time on a Ventilator and a Ventolin machine I got another lecture from a Doc. Another lung function test and chest x-ray and I was told I had COPD. “So what?” I thought. When I went to the Dr he explained that COPD is what they call that lung disease starting with E. Lung function 38% and heading south.

The GP then went on to tell me the consequences of continuing to smoke:

“Steady decline in lung function, slow choking for breath and your cough will get worse. You will need an oxygen bottle and mask to use. You will have to carry this at all times. Eventually you will need help to do everything. And a slow early death."

Well, for once I believed the Doc!! It seems me mates were not me mates and they were killing me.

I got serious about giving up smoking, asked for another prescription for the pills, called "Quit" and set a quit date. One week in, things were as tough as they had ever been. I wanted a smoke but I never had one. Two weeks in, jeez the days are long but still no smokes. Then after a month of taking the tabs, still no smokes.

I had a nightmare that scared the living bejesus out of me, so I stopped taking the tabs. But still no smokes. After 6 weeks I had a day were all I wanted was a bloody smoke. I drank water, I walked and walked. I chewed gum and ate mints but still no smokes. That night talking to the Mrs I told her: “That day was the worst. I wanted a ciggie bad.”

“Did you have one?” She asked. And I replied: “NO”. She said: “Well if you never had one on the worst day then you will not have one on a good day".

This I take strength from.

I got through the worst so I was a NON SMOKER!!!

I am now 45 and have not had a ciggie for two years. I breathe easier and walk every day without coughing and sputtering. I barely get the flu! I feel better. I am better!!

I am always on guard. Every now and then my former mates still call to me. But like all bad friends they are ignored. Good luck to anyone attempting this. It’s tough but it can be done.

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