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Dad First, COPD Second
Dad First, COPD Second

Elizabeth provides support, insight and guidance for caregivers.

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Old Habits Die Hard

Elizabeth Santeramo's father gives the I was really hoping to break some good news to you with a ticker that read: “My father has made it to a week without smoking!”

Instead, I can report that he stopped for six straight days. On the seventh, he relapsed.

It’s not easy for him. I get it. Naturally, I am disappointed because he was doing so well. Incredibly well. His first few days, yes, he was anxious. But after a heartwarming chat and extra support, his nerves calmed down. I even posted on Facebook and other social media that my father was going on Day 3 smoke free. I asked for “likes” to show him a wave of support and to my delight and his wonderment, the likes came in by the dozen, reaching a whopping 60! I hurriedly took my laptop to the kitchen to show him not only the comments cheering him on, but the actual number of thumbs-up-likes.

He was overcome with gratitude. He sent a thumbs up back.

But over the holiday weekend, my father claimed innocently that he'd "found" another pack of cigarettes. “After this last pack, this is it," he said. "I’ll stop.”

As his loving daughter, the best way I can care for him is to support him and to understand his struggle. “At least he’s sober and maintains that,” I justify. After seven decades of smoking, I guess six clean days is good enough.

I also take my fingertips to the internet to learn more about smoking relapses and what they mean. I came across a site with some useful information which I printed and left overnight for my father to read during breakfast.

Relapses are a common part of quitting smoking. I took this article and engaged my father as to why he started again. His answer? “I miss it. It’s part of my own addiction to the nicotine rush. But I am trying, and will attempt to stop again. Remember, Lizunga: I’m old.”

At least he conceded that he will use the article’s suggestion of the “5 D’s: delay, do something else, drink water, and discuss with a friend.” Admittedly, he adds, “The last 'D' -- deep breathe -- is a bit tougher and I’d rather save that breath for puffing.”

The countdown begins again. He is trying. He doesn’t want to buy cigarette cartons and this is major for him. It is progress. 

Follow Elizabeth's story on Twitter: @lizunga

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About the Author

Elizabeth cares for her mother, a diabetic, and for her father, who suffers from COPD.