Christina Pulley is the Assistant Director and Lead Preschool Teacher at the Bob & Billie Ray Child Development Center at Easter Seals Iowa. Christina has worked for Easter Seals Iowa for five and a half years and enjoys camping, movies and spending time with friends and family.
Smoking was like living in a prison. I was always thinking, “When can I have my next cigarette?” Everything took so much longer than it should have, because I would have to finish my cigarette before I could go into a store, or find a place to smoke. The main reason I wanted to quit was because of my new niece, Emri. I wanted to see her grow up, and realized smoking was not going to allow me to do that.
Also, Easter Seals Iowa offers health insurance incentive dollars; if I completed the Freedom from Smoking class, I would qualify for the incentive. I took the class online, and I was given tools to help me quit. I also had a lot of support from the Wellness Team at Easter Seals Iowa. Fongh Vong and Melanie Asbe from the Wellness Team were huge cheerleaders, and it helped that I saw them every day when they dropped off and picked up their kids at the Child Development Center. They never judged for slipping and always provided moral support.
It was hard at first, I struggled. I tried gum, patches and lozenges. It was a process finding what would work. Finally I found Chantix to get me started. I discovered it did make me nauseous, so eating right after I took it was important. Eventually I didn’t even want cigarettes and recently stopped using it.
I was smoker from the age of 13, which is most of my life. On March 22, I quit completely, after 30 years of smoking!
Now I’m feeling inspired to make other healthy choices and am meeting with a dietician to help with meal planning. I am not coughing all of the time and waking myself up in coughing fits. I am breathing better and find that I am not out of breath all of the time. I was also diagnosed with hypertension and my blood pressure would run as high as 180/120, which is stroke level. The last couple of times I have been to the doctor is has been 106/67, which is lower than it has ever been. I have a more positive outlook on life and for the first time in a very long time, I actually feel like a nonsmoker.
I went on a trip with some friends recently. We went on a hike and I beat them to the top of a hill! It seems like a small thing, but before I quit smoking, I would have just sat in the cabin while my friends went exploring. I was worried that weekend, because my friends are all smokers, but they have been my biggest supporters and I made it through the whole weekend, which was huge for me.
When I returned Fongh and Melanie had put together a little gift basket and a bouquet of flowers to celebrate my success. It feels amazing, and I can’t thank Easter Seals Iowa and the Wellness Team for literally helping me take back my life!
I haven’t really noticed the extra money in my pocket, but I think that’s because I spend it all on my niece!