I smoked for no more than 10 years from late teens. I smoked because I thought it looked cool and I was insecure.... they were a social crutch. I gradually became very dependent and at its worst I would smoke between 20-40 a day. Most of these were in the evening with an alcoholic drink or during the day with a coffee. They were social times. A lot of my friends smoked. I tried to give up many times but there was always a justification why today I needed to have one... just one! And then I'd slip back into smoking again. Then I met someone who would become my husband. He didn't smoke and wouldn't put up with it. I had a choice... cigarettes or him. I wanted children. Cigarettes or them and their health. I finally recognised that I was an 'all or nothing' person... I couldn't cut down or have just one. So, the only way to stop was 'cold turkey'. I had to stop all the associations i.e. coffee and going out to pubs for a while. I thought I was going to die in the first week due to caffeine and nicotine withdrawal symptoms... but that made me stronger in a way as I realised what a hold they had on me and I didn't want to be weaker than either of these two! I didn't want to be defined by them... I was more than they!

In short, I had a buddy to encourage me, a goal, willpower and breaking associations which all helped me to quit. I didn't use substitutes like gum/patches... just the enjoyment of being free, sweet smelling, saving money and helping everyone's health!

Twenty years after having quit I was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease and hyperthyroidism and within a year, TED. I was fortunate that my TED was very mild and treated quickly with selenium so very non-invasive. I had two grandmothers who had both smoked and both had hyperthyroidism and one had quite protruding eyes from TED. Neither of my parents smoke and neither had thyroid issues. My sister never smoked and so far doesn't have thyroid issues. I was unaware until I had thyroid problems that my grandmothers had the same condition. I do wonder - if I had been told by a doctor that, due to my family medical history of auto-immune conditions, smoking would increase my risk of TED even in twenty years time, then I may have never smoked.

For further information see TED and Smoking: Information for Patients

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