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Supporting healthy lifestyle choices

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After having heart surgery for a third heart attack, the surgeon strongly advised Robert Wilkes, aged 68, that he quit smoking.

He heard about the One You Lincolnshire programme through friends and signed up online. Our colleagues at Birchwood Pharmacy were happy to help, and Robert first attended just two weeks after his surgery so was still recovering and quite weak still.

"I was apprehensive as I had smoked for decades and had never tried nicotine replacement therapy before,” says Robert. "After taking part in the programme, though, I feel more confident in my ability to remain a non-smoker and was surprised and pleased at how well I managed."

"My family, particularly my wife and daughter were a great encouragement and support as they knew I needed to do it for my health and to help prevent another heart attack. The smoking cessation practitioner at the pharmacy was a great help and seeing her every week gave me the opportunity to discuss any concerns or things coming up that I may need more support with. The programme worked well as it gradually reduced the nicotine I was receiving from the patches. I also used the lozenges and found these very helpful. The nurses at the cardiac department who I saw weekly were also very pleased that I had stopped smoking so soon after my surgery."

Robert says the first few weeks were hard as it was a big adjustment after smoking for many years.

"Creating new habits was challenging at first but the more I did something else instead of smoking the more I was able to establish new habits and routines and gradually it became easier. My biggest challenge was going abroad on holiday. For many years I had always bought a large amount of tobacco home and this was the first holiday that I did not do this. When I came back from holiday my CO reading was slightly higher than normal and the practitioner explained that this can be increased by passive smoking and we discussed how sitting outside with other smokers could have caused this. I did not realise it could make such a difference and how even if I am not smoking my health could still be affected by others smoking. We discussed how to handle this for future holidays and spoke about how I could arrange with my wife to try and sit away from the smokers and find places where this was easier to do."

Robert’s main goal was to quit long term and improve his health. He says he also wanted to quit for the family as he wants to be around as long as he can to spend time with them.

“I now spend more time with my wife, we go for more walks together and I spend more time doing hobbies I enjoy. I also feel healthier and happier and have learnt to manage stressful situations without smoking.

Completing the programme was a big achievement and I am proud of my commitment to that. My biggest achievement is probably going abroad on holiday to the place I have gone to for many years and not smoking and not bringing tobacco home.”

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