Confessions of an ex-smoker: ‘At 52 I was shuffling back to my bed like an 80-year-old’

Danny Clarke

smoking 300x225 Confessions of an ex smoker: At 52 I was shuffling back to my bed like an 80 year old

(Getty Images)

Running 7.5 miles a day wasn’t enough to keep 60-a-day smoker Danny from a heart attack.

I started smoking behind the bike shed at school when I was barely a teenager and ended up puffing my way through up to 60 cigarettes a day. I started smoking because it was seen as cool. Everybody else was doing it. By the time I was 20 I was hooked but I justified it to myself. I could afford it, and I enjoyed it. I live in Essex with my wife. My three grown sons have flown the coop. I knew about the health dangers but never thought I’d be affected until I was struck down by a major angina attack the day before my youngest son’s twenty-first birthday. I stopped smoking that very day.

The heart attack that followed two months later reaffirmed my decision to never pick up another cigarette. I’d never worried about my health. I saw the warnings but never thought anything would affect me. I was running 7.5 miles each day and felt as fit as a fiddle. I’d always been a typical alpha male, showing off with my fitness and weight, and then at 52 there I was shuffling back to my bed like an 80-year-old.

My stressful and fast-paced job often saw me reaching for up to 60 cigarettes a day and burning right through them. Giving up that 60-a-day could have saved me enough money for a brand new e-reader in just a week and I could have had my hands on the latest smartphone in just a month. The savings from a year would have been astronomical – over £7,000. I never really counted how many I was smoking but I used to buy three packs of 20 each morning and they’d just go.

This year’s I’m supporting No Smoking Day. The point isn’t to badger people into quitting – it’s to encourage people just like me to think about how they could spend the money they’d save by quitting – even in a week and of course the health benefits. I’ve been smoke free for six years now. For anyone who’s thinking about quitting, I’d say do it now before you do any irreparable damage. You’ll feel better, you’ll be richer, and there’s definitely a huge sense of satisfaction in knowing that you’ve beaten it.

Unfortunately for me, the damage has been done. Two months after my son’s birthday I had a heart attack. I remember waiting in hospital for a procedure to insert two stents to hold open my blocked arteries. It was a very distressing time. I went to have a shower by myself one day, not realising that I should have been supervised, and then after locking myself in the bathroom I started to feel really ill. I remember wondering if this was it, and crying and cursing myself because what I was experiencing could perhaps have been avoided  if I’d never smoked.

Fortunately the stents made a huge difference and after the procedure I was able to spring up the stairs like someone had flicked a switch. I do feel better for not smoking. But I wish I’d never started. I have to take medication every day for my heart now, so smoking has left a legacy with me.

No Smoking Day is on 13 March 2013.

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  • thelaughingllama

    Yeah it’s all just made up, sorry. You smokers are actually a boon on the economy. Bore off now please.

  • rabbitlug

    Don’t let any of that evdunce stuff get in the way of your prejudice…

    Tax revenue from tobacco

    Excise VAT Total

    £ billion

    8.8, 1.7, 10.5

    9.1, 2.0, 11.1

    2011-12 (p)
    9.5, 2.6, 12.1

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