OCEAN PINES – Karen L’Hussier is one member of the Smoking Cessation Support Group sponsored by the Worcester County Health Department who has occupied both categories of would-be quitters – those who’d like to quit and those who absolutely must.
The first time L’Hussier tried to quit was about three years ago. She did it at the insistence of – or to put it positively with the encouragement of – her son David.
“It’s something he’s wanted for a long time,” she said.
As any smoker with school aged children will tell you, the schools and television PSAs have done an excellent job recruiting kids to spread the word about the ills of smoking to their smoking parents.
Robbed of the moral high ground by the facts of science, parents are often forced daily to admit their weakness as smokers and vow to set a date to quit. It can be like living with an ardent member of a do-gooder cult.
To be fair, L’Hussier was also beginning to suffer the ill effects of smoking. She was more susceptible to colds and bronchitis, she developed asthma. Put simply she was nearly 50 and it was time to quit.
L’Hussier has been a regular at the group, starting each of the last three Octobers – David’s birthday is in October – and lasting throughout, although she hasn’t been able to stick to quitting.
The first time she tried was the most successful. Using the discount coupons provided by the Worcester County Health Department L’Hussier got on the patch and quit for three months.
“The patch just didn’t have enough nicotine,” she said. “I was on the patch and still getting cravings.”
Her second try was with the inhaler, a device geared to slowly reduce your body’s dependence on nicotine. L’Hussier said she could barely remember anything about it except that it didn’t work for her. In fact it almost doesn’t count as a quit attempt.
In January 2009, L’Hussier discovered she needed neck surgery. Simply put she has a slipped disk in her neck and is unable to work until it’s removed. The surgery needed cannot be performed on smokers so if she wants to be able to work again or to have a semblance of physical comfort into her late middle-age, now’s the time to quit.
She came back to the support group for the simple reason that she believes it’s been a big part of whatever successes she’s had.
“I find it very supportive and also it helps with the cost,” she said. “Plus the information they give you is really helpful.”
As important to her as learning from other people in the group and the mutual aid in everyone’s attempt to quit, is the scientific information she’s acquired about both quitting and nicotine as well as the extra tips provided by group leader Linda E. Green, R.N., M. Ed., C.D.E.
“I think the best tip I got was to remember the four Ds,” she said. David chimed in on naming them: Delay, Drink water, Do something else and Deep Breathing.
“The Delay has been working best for me,” L’Hussier said. “If I can wait long enough the cravings will pass.”
Her weapon of choice this time is the nicotine gum and after a tiny backslide last week, it’s been more than seven days since her last cigarette. She said after a few days the gum erases the cravings immediately, but highly recommends the cinnamon flavor over the regular.
“The regular tastes like chewing a menthol filter,” she said. The cinnamon can be a little strong so she’s taken to chewing a half piece of each. Even if it doesn’t taste great, it’s better than smoking.