Wise words from a former smoker

Published 10:12 pm Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The Great American Smokeout happened on Nov. 21. Mrs. Betty Brinkley submitted this excerpt for that occasion.

Excerpts from a talk given to the 1983 Stop Smoking Class at Louise Obici Memorial Hospital by Betty Brinkley, evening nursing supervisor and registered nurse

It was about half past seven last Oct. 5, 1982, time for the first stop smoking class to start, and as I sat in my car right out in front of the hospital — puffing on that “last cigarette” — I wondered if I could do it. I was thinking, “Boy, how I love these Carltons, but am I really willing to give them up?”

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Distressed with these thoughts, I went on inside and filled out the forms and met my “fellow sufferers.”

We were greeted by two ladies who coordinated the program, one from the hospital and one from the lung association — both non-smokers.

Here went those distressing thoughts again. “How’s a non-smoker going to help a smoker quit?” I asked myself. “Well, I’m already here, so I might as well give them a chance.”

During the first class and others to follow, we all declared we wanted to quit, cut down or at least try to change our smoking habits. “OK,” I said, “here goes.” At the risk of sounding redundant, I told myself and then the class that I simply didn’t need to smoke! But then there was that part of me that hated to let go or give them up. If I quit “cold turkey,” I could almost feel assured I would continue to want a cigarette. What a dilemma!

It was at this point I remembered to say a prayer, and I asked God to please not let me keep wanting cigarettes. I’ll admit, I wondered if He heard me, so I continued to ask again and again — you see, there were some times that the “urge” was stronger than at other times. I remembered they told us that the longest urge would last only about three minutes, so with that in mind, I continued to think of other things or snap my wristband or did whatever I could do to get through those bad times.

Several doctors gave talks during the weeks to follow, passing on some very encouraging words and making our task a little bit easier. It was also nice to hear the panel of former smokers, none of whom had attended a class such as this.

In class, each week, we shared a lot as we reported our successes and failures. We even had a nutritious snack at the end of each class. (I never did go for celery or carrot sticks — “just ain’t no menthol in a carrot stick!”) We did get good information on diet and exercise, but I chose to substitute Brach’s candy corn for the former. About four weeks into the program and three bags of candy corn, it seemed as if I had really kicked the habit.

So here I am a whole year later, a little bit “bigger,” a whole lot wiser and very, very thankful my prayer was answered.

Betty Brinkley