I remember the day it started like it was yesterday, the 2nd May 2011. It was a beautiful hot day, we sat in the garden drinking tea, laughing and joking life seemed so easy back then. The man smiled and told us it would be easy he would take care of everything. We smiled and believed him. He lied.
Six months on I have less hair and what I do have has turned a pleasant shade of grey around my temples, the sun has disappeared to be replaced by grey clouds and leaves falling from the trees. The warmth of that summers day has been replaced by a sense of relief and a new found hatred for a particular species. That species tell you that everything will be okay, they have done this a thousand times before, they are there to tell you how easy it will. They are lairs. That species is called The Estate Agent.
After all the stress I've been through it seemed to be the perfect idea to try another life changing decision. After all what could possibly be a better time to give up smoking than when I'm trying to sell/buy a new house. It's quite a brilliant idea when you think about it. Well it seemed like a good idea at the time.
It's been something I have thought about doing for a number of years, giving up smoking, I have asthma, I am overweight, I don't exercise so I'm a prime candidate for a heart attack, well the doctor keeps telling me I am. I play the lottery but never saw the irony of putting a pound on 6 numbers and beating the odds to win millions and changing my life, yet here I was placing a cigarette in my mouth maybe 15 to 20 times a day and filling my lungs with smoke. I was playing the odds and so far I was winning, in a sense that I hadn't contracted or developed something that would eventually kill me.
I had attempted too give up in the past and lasted for hours, yes I made the effort and lasted about three hours tops. There was always an excuse as to why I had gone back to them, I just wasn't truthful too myself. This time though, this time was different. I believe in fate, always have done and a friend of mine posted a message on his facebook page, the message went as follows.
"Nearly 11 years ago I was given a year to live but I made a promise to my wife..to my family...and to my friends that I would beat this Bastard disease...11 years....2 heart attacks....3 strokes later....at 5.04pm I was given the all clear and discharged from the UCLH Oncology Department...I have now officially beaten MY cancer. For all those near and far who are still fighting.....please,please,please don't give up. Thank you for all your support....you know who you all are x."
I cried when I read that and realised what a selfish pratt I had been all these years. Here was a friend, someone who I knew, fighting a cancer that had decided to attack him. He was fit, we played rugby together for a few years, he hadn't smoked since we were kids, yet he had been through hell for 11 years. Then there was me, puffing away, four kids, a wife and not giving a shit about how my decisions were affecting them in way shape or form. Disgusted with myself I picked up the phone and did what I should have done years ago, I booked an appointment for the next day.
I stood there the next morning outside the row of white houses with their black glossed doors. Cigarette in hand, deciding whether I was going to knock or not. Is this what I really wanted to do? Deep down was my own selfishness ready to make way for what I knew was the right decision?. The door opened and a city boy walked out smiling, his grey tailored suit fitted him well, the extra buttons on the collar of the pink shirt gave away that it wasn't from Debenhams like my own, the shinny black polished shoes, and the hair expertly gelled into the latest style. I felt uncomfortable as he passed me, I don't know why, he was probably a nice bloke but he represented everything I hate about city boys and for that I couldn't look past the suit.
He saw I was smoking and asked me for a light, I fumbled in my pocket and gave him my lighter. He took a deep breath of his cigarette, a look of satisfaction on his face, as he blew the smoke slowly into the sky. I shifted to the side as he went to walk past me down the stairs trying not to catch his gaze. He stood on the bottom step and looked at me, smiled, took another pull on his cigarette and finally spoke.
"if you are here for the hypnotherapy it doesn't work mate, just had a go myself and here I am £200 lighter and still smoking" he took another puff of his cigarette and walked off up the road.
So what did I do? Did I listen to him and walk away? Or did I walk through the door? Well it's been a week since I booked the appointment and I haven't had a cigarette since. Not one. I don't crave them, I don't want them, I am free of them. It's the weirdest thing in the world, I walked out of that clinic after my appointment and I haven't even thought about having one. I've been around smokers and not been tempted. I am on the way to changing my life round.
The house move is for my family, the no smoking is for me, in time I will start exercising and lose the excess weight, with the money I'm saving from not smoking I will learn to drive, my life is changing in so many ways, the stress I've been through with all the things that have gone on around me it feels like I'm starting again, a fresh start, a second chance at life, that this is my time to make a difference to my life and the people that matter to me.
Mostly though it's about realising that I played the lottery with my health for so many years and I got lucky. I abused my asthma with cigarettes, and I won. I won the lottery I just didn't know it. However I didn't get as lucky as my friend and I am grateful for him being here, sometimes things happen to others and it's only then you realise what a bloody idiot you are being to yourself, and your family, it's then you make the decision as to whether you change or not, I've been told it's a stronger person who changes something that is wrong rather than allows it to continue whether it was self inflicted or not. I don't feel strong, I feel lucky and grateful, being strong is for others not me.