Caption: Maria and her daughter Caoimhe
Quitting is working out for Maria Moran so far. Having taken her own advice in November to “just do it” she has now recorded five months as a quitter. And her daughter is delighted. Nine-year-old Caoimhe was the original inspiration and motivation for Maria, who is Business Manager with HSE Older Persons Services in Cork. Having been a smoker since her teens, the Cork native had considered quitting in the past but never actively tried. Caoimhe’s announcement last year to her mum that she didn’t want her to die from smoking, was the emotional bolt that finally motivated her into action.
A work email advising HSE staff around the HSE Quit Programme was the final prompt and once she was contacted by Smoking Cessation Office Miriam O’Shea, providing invaluable advice and support, she moved to provide her daughter with the best birthday gift possible.
That was January, and now, reflecting back on the past few months, Maria explains: “I don’t know myself – and Caoimhe doesn’t either. My fitness levels have massively improved – the lack of breathlessness – I bought my first bike in about 20 years and while cycling up hills is not easy at the best of times, I have really found that they are so much easier than what they were. We walk into the city from home and while it's downhill heading in, it's uphill on the way back, and I have really noticed the ease with which I can do that now.”
Mother and daughter are planning an “outdoors holiday” this year, with their two bikes in tow, looking at Greenways and other options: “I am a little bit more confident in my ability to take something like that on since I quit smoking."
While she is doing well and managing admirably, Maria does acknowledge that “it still hits me every now and again. I recently went into a shop that I wouldn’t frequent that often to get a litre of milk and just out of habit I automatically went to ask for my usual packet of cigarettes. I haven’t been around a smoker since I quit which is obviously great. None of my own family or close circle smoke and obviously we haven’t been going anywhere that I would encounter smokers. But of course every now and again you do get this little pang – but it passes.”
Having submitted her dissertation just last week on a demanding law degree programme that she has been doing by night, and with exams this week, she is also managing the stress that this brings: “I am a glutton for punishment I know! As well as cycling, Caoimhe and I have been walking a lot. I also committed to completing a Couch to 5k but I know energy-wise that I have had to reduce down the level of commitment there for the next three weeks – just until the exams are over.
“I set out with the mindset that ‘this is it. But because I had been smoking for so long, I wouldn’t be cocky enough to think that it’s completely in the past. I still keep one of the sprays with me just in case. I haven’t used the Nicotine Replacement Therapy since January but I have them in my handbag – again just in case. “
On the work front, Maria was also asked to help out with the logistics around the vaccination of healthcare support workers: “That has been really great, really exciting. I got to work with people that I probably would not have had the opportunity to work with otherwise which was great too. But of course, with that, your own job has to continue as well”
Reflecting back on the last three months and focusing on what has worked in helping her continue to be a quitter, Maria points to the Quit programme and especially the support she received from Miriam: “I am so grateful for her advice and guidance. It definitely works. I have thought about Miriam and the programme a lot over recent weeks – even knowing how to use the various Nicotine Replacement Products properly was so important and so helpful. I would have been very reluctant to use anything but Miriam taught me how to do that. And she has been a great support and a wonderful influence.”
And as restrictions ease and normal once again is re-defined, Maria smartly says, she is hopeful and confident but holds some nervousness: “I don’t think I would be tempted to go back smoking. But you never know. So I mind myself and stay positive.”
For more information on quitting smoking visit www.quit.ie
If you are a HSE staff member, you can avail of free stop smoking medication (nicotine replacement therapies and/or a prescription drug called Champix) to help you stop smoking. If Champix is suitable and recommended you can get a free GP visit in order to get this prescription.
Get more information on free nicotine replacement therapy for HSE staff