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Smoke-free for One Month, Eight Days, and 17 Minutes — and Counting

Brenda Frelsi 

The Rev. Andrena Ingram

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
September 2013

I have finally announced to my congregation and to my Facebook peeps that I have quit smoking, that I am on the patch, and that I would appreciate their prayers!

I can’t begin to tell you how FREEING that was!

I began smoking at age 15, and have smoked for 43 years. I did have one successful year in seminary when I stopped smoking, but picked up again after a relationship went sour.

Contrary to what folks may believe, I don’t know that most smokers actually LOVE it. It’s an addiction. Nicotine is harder to kick than alcohol and most drugs!

Making the Choice

My doctor had been encouraging me to stop smoking for as long as I’ve been in Philly, but it has always been one thing after another. I have a very stressful life, so I just kept putting it off. I was not ready. When I began mental therapy about three months ago, I brought up the idea with my doctor again and she wrote a prescription for the patch. I don’t know why, but CVS never filled the prescription. I had actually forgotten all about them until I went to pick up my regular meds a month ago, and there they were — nicotine patches!

As of this writing, I quit smoking 1 month, 8 days and 17 minutes ago. I haven’t smoked 596 cigarettes, and have saved $193.74. (They even have an iPhone app for folks who stop smoking!)

My Life Today

I am so grateful!

  • Grateful to be free of that last monkey on my back and for the extra years added on to my life.
  • Grateful for a healthier heart, healthier lungs, breathing the air and actually feeling my chest open up.
  • Grateful to get more time in my day that was usually spent smoking.
  • Grateful that I most likely will not get bronchitis this year! It was total INSANITY to have bronchitis and at the same time light up a cigarette.
  • Grateful that I don’t stink anymore! People can hug me and smell a light fragrance of lavender or whatever I decide to wear, instead of that damn tobacco! However, when I pass by someone on the street, I find myself lingering just a bit to catch a whiff of the cigarette, and think to myself “I bet that person stinks.”
  • Grateful that I don’t have to hide my smoking in my community (although there were a few that knew), or to constantly be on my guard when smoking outside of my community, wondering who was going to drive by.
  • Grateful that I no longer have to step in an elevator and watch the faces of those around me because they smell the smoke, or enter a meeting/gathering place and sit down at a table smelling like a tobacco factory.
  • I am grateful for another testimony, for what God is doing in my life!

Next Steps: 12 Steps

As with drugs and alcohol (from which I have been clean for 25 years), I can only comprehend doing this one day at a time. And that is how I am getting through. I am 12-stepping this process, and that makes it a little easier.

I began with the first step: “We admitted we were powerless over our addiction — that our lives had become unmanageable.”

It certainly felt as though I was powerless over this addiction, and my life had certainly become unmanageable. Once the patches were in my possession, I embraced the decision and am happy about it. It is a day-by-day process, sometimes hour by hour.

Am I uncomfortable? Yes! Especially at night! But the moments are brief, and my freezer is loaded with Popsicle sticks to get me through the cravings. During the day, ministry keeps me busy enough and soon I won’t mind at all — except perhaps for the weight I will probably be putting on.

I think a good hula-hooping and working out at a gym a couple times a week and perhaps a little walking will take care of that.

Y’all pray for me. Thanks!

email Share your Wellness Voice at livewell@porticobenefits.org

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