I don't smoke
I gave up smoking 3 years ago today and I didn't even know I was doing it
3 years ago today I stopped smoking.I had my last ever ciggy at around 13:15 Jan 18th 2019 and the funny thing is I didn't even know it was my last ciggy.
I caught a cold
I had picked up what I thought was a cold a few days before and I got up on this morning and my ears ached to the point they were quite painful. I managed to get an emergency GP appointment for 12:30 (Played the cancer card).
Saw my GP at 12:30 and she did my vitals then picked up the phone and started to call for an ambulance :O I'm like "WTF?"
She said I was seriously ill and I needed to be in hospital right now :O
I'd parked my car in a limited parking place and didn't want to leave it there so I convinced her to let me drive home and I'd get the ambulance from there.
She agreed but obviously didn't trust me because when I got home she had already phoned my partner to tell her to call an ambulance.
The ambulance was called and I sat down on the sofa and had a ciggy while I was waiting, apart from the earache I really didn't feel seriously ill.
That was at 13:15 and I finished that and was feeling a bit tired so I laid down for a minute to rest.
The next 24 hours were a blur, I really don't remember very much as I was drifting in and out consciousness.
I vaguely remember waking up a few times and also taking a few selfies as by now th news had broken to my friends on Facebook and they were expressing concern
I remember that I was struggling to breath so they gave me a nebuliser
And I remember that they were concerned that the antibiotics I had been given weren't effective enough so they gave me a third lot
Then I passed out and don't remember anything until the next morning.
I had gone into septic shock because I had neutropenic sepsis, my blood was poisoning me.
I woke up the next morning in an isolation room wondering what the fuck was going on and how I got here, the nurses and doctors came in and explained I had neutropenic sepsis but they had caught it in time and thanks to the massive doses of IV antibiotics they had caught it in time and were turning it around.
They also wibbled on about the root cause was influenza which at that time I thought they meant flu and couldn't work out why they didn't say flu.
Later that day they moved me into an isolation room on a cancer ward and I was put on barrier nursing meaning anyone who came into my room including my partner when she visited had to have PPE including face masks.
I was still not quite with it for the first few days and really couldn't understand why all this barrier nursing was needed for "flu"
It wasn't flu
On day 6 my haematologist came to see me and by this time I was feeling much better and more compos mentis and he explained that it wasn't flu at all but Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) .
Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) is a bacterial infection that can cause a number of serious illnesses, particularly in young children.
Hib infections used to be a serious health problem in the UK, but the routine immunisation given to babies since 1992, means these infections are now rare.
Of the small number of cases that do occur nowadays, most affect adults with long-term underlying medical conditions, rather than young children.
Problems caused by Hib
Hib bacteria can cause several serious infections, including:
- meningitis – infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord
- sepsis – blood poisoning
- pneumonia – infection of the lungs
- pericarditis – infection of the lining surrounding the heart
- epiglottitis – infection of the epiglottis, the flap that covers the entrance to your windpipe
- septic arthritis – infection of the joints
- cellulitis – infection of the skin and underlying tissues
- osteomyelitis – infection of the bones
Many children who develop Hib infections become very ill and need treatment with antibiotics in hospital.
Meningitis is the most severe illness caused by Hib. Even with treatment, 1 in every 20 children with Hib meningitis will die.
How Hib is spread
Hib bacteria can live in the nose and throat of healthy people, and usually do not cause any symptoms.
The bacteria are usually spread in a similar way to cold and flu viruses, through infected droplets of fluid in coughs and sneezes.
The bacteria can be spread by healthy people who carry the bacteria, as well as those who are ill with a Hib infection.
Inhaling the infected droplets or transferring them into your mouth from a contaminated surface can allow the bacteria to spread further into your body, causing one of the infections mentioned above.
Vaccinating children against Hib has been very effective in cutting rates of Hib infections.
From more than 800 confirmed cases a year in England in the early 1990s, there were only 10 cases of Hib infections in England in 2018.
After 7 days
At the end of 7 days they decided I was no longer infectious and the sepsis had been sorted out so they discharged me.
Now here's the thing, my illness has "masked" all the withdrawal symptoms from smoking, during my time in hospital I hadn't once craved a ciggie so I decided that if I could go without for a week then I could go without forever
The next month
The next month was little bit of a struggle because after being home for a few days and feeling much better I started to crave a smoke but I kept telling myself that I had gone without for xx days and that means I can go without for another xx days.
The hospital had referred me to a smoking cessation specialist nurse who I saw towards the end of January and she prescribed a course of champix for me, which really did suppress my cravings for a smoke and the odd time that I really weakened I vaped instead.
My partner is a rock, a superstar.
Like me my partner was also a lifelong heavy smoker and by about mid Feb I had developed pneumonia and was back in hospital again, what she did next was the most amazing thing, she went cold turkey and quit smoking as well, not because she wanted to, but because of my health and what smoking around me would mean.
I would never have asked her to do that for me, but I love her so much that she did.
The Champix worked and after the months course I no longer craved ciggies and still don't to this day, I also stopped vaping as well
We both feel so much better for being non smokers and the house smells so much nicer now.
By the end of 2019 I was diagnosed with bilateral bronchiectasis this had been caused by the damage to my lungs the pneumonia did, it's an incurable, chronic and degenerative condition and just a single puff on a ciggie could hospitalise me that alone is enough to keep me from smoking ever again.
My only regret is that I hadn't given up smoking a lot earlier then maybe the pneumonia wouldn't have done so much damage, but it is what it is, I'm a non smoker now.
During 2019 I also had several scans on my lungs and it appears I dodged a major bullet in that I hadn't developed lung cancer.
I'm not a "born again" anti smoker
TBH I couldn't care less if others smoked, that's down to them I don't moralise or lecture them like some ex smokers do, it's their lungs, their lives to do with as they please.
some of my kids smoke and I only have one rule, no smoking in this house, you want to smoke when you are visiting, fuck off outside and do it then.
3 years a non-smoker, who'd have thought that.