Tuesday, July 5, 2011

My "Quit" Story

By Maureen Deutermann, R.N.
Director of Community Education

I started smoking at the age of 16 during a Wisconsin snowstorm. Sequestered in a Volkswagen Beetle with my sibling cheerfully puffing away, lighting a cigarette seemed my best defense against the annoying smoke accumulating in the baby car.

So began my 16-year love affair with cigarettes. With age, I knew better. I even quit for two years …until I glimpsed a physician’s note describing me as… “A 29-year-old slightly obese female.” I picked up a pack on the way home.

Cigarettes were my weight control, my social crutch and my stress management. When my 18-month-old daughter snatched a butt out of the ash tray and grabbed the lighter with her other little fist, something finally snapped in my smoke-clouded brain synapses. I quit for good.

Eventually, I started working at Sentara Potomac. When an opportunity arose to facilitate wellness programs, I quickly accepted, as I love to teach. One of my first assignments? A smoking cessation class.

I was then, and still am, a cantor in my church. I don’t exaggerate when I say that quitting not only preserved my health, but truly, dramatically, changed the course of my life. Could I credibly counsel people on living a healthy lifestyle if I were still a smoker? Would I still have the lung power at my age to lead worshipers in song if I had remained hooked on cigarettes? Obviously not, and these are two great joys in my life.

Today I’m a proud member of Sentara Potomac Hospital's Tobacco Free Environment Team, and wholeheartedly, gratefully support our Smoke-Free Campus!

Yesterday Sentara Potomac Hospital officially became a smoke-free and tobacco-free campus. This means that the use of smoking or tobacco products is prohibitted anywhere on the hospital campus -- inside and outside. This policy is in line with Sentara's mission to improve health every day. Click here for more information.