I’m proud of my husband for quitting smoking after a diagnosis

To remain on the lung transplant list, a columnist's husband quit cold turkey

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by Karen Schultz |

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Most people will admit to having at least one vice. My worst one is eating sweets — I’d rather have cake for dinner than the actual dinner itself. My husband Tim’s worst vice is nicotine.

On our first date, Tim and I walked through the streets of my hometown chatting, laughing, and having a great time. About halfway through the walk, he pulled out a cigarette to smoke. He saw my reaction and quickly said, “I’m trying to quit.”

Everything else about Tim was so great. He was a responsible boss, an Eagle Scout, good looking, and our conversation flowed so freely. He was just what I had been looking for, and nobody can be perfect.

Although his smoking worried me in terms of the potential consequences for his health, it was something I learned to live with — as you do with those you love. He never complained when I served cake for dinner, so we accepted each other’s vices.

When Tim was hospitalized on New Year’s Eve in 2001 with a fever, flu-like symptoms, and a low oxygen level, it was the last day he consumed nicotine in any form. Once we found out he had pulmonary arterial hypertension, he was placed on the lung transplant list, which requires a nicotine-free period of six months.

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The thought of a “cure” from transplant was the motivation Tim needed to never smoke again. Realizing that he was a smoker who enjoyed smoking made this even more surprising to me. He used to smoke after dinner and when he was stressed, and he wasn’t interested in giving up nicotine prior to his diagnosis.

Tim says he quit because it was what was required to get better. The qualities I so admired in him when we met were the same that were required of him to quit smoking and adhere to difficult and complex medical regimens.

Tim might still be a smoker if it were strictly up to him. When he walks by people smoking, a smile stretches across his face due to the secondhand smoke. But he chooses not to indulge in order to protect his long-term health.

I, on the other hand, have tried many times to give up sweets. Despite my efforts, I can’t force myself to stop eating cake, fudge, or jelly sandwiches. People aren’t perfect, and loving them despite failed efforts to quit a particular vice can sometimes be difficult.

The admiration I have for pulmonary hypertension (PH) patients is huge, prompted by the way they handle complex treatment regimens, medication side effects, frequent doctor appointments, and the hassle of dealing with drug companies.

I respect and acknowledge the sacrifice PH patients like my husband make to gain more time with their loved ones. I would like to think my love for him would outweigh cake if push came to shove, but fortunately, it has not come to that.

Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.


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