By Madison Loethen
Dan Wright sat back one spring evening and got out his phone to call one of his longtime friends. But this call was not to reconnect or to set up a time to visit, this call was to ask for support. Dan was going to ask for help on his journey to quit smoking.
Dan noticed he was slowing down over the past few years. It was gradual at first, and then it became a real problem. He could no longer mow the lawn in one day. He could no longer take his dog on long walks. Dan decided it was time to quit smoking. He had been smoking for 39 years as much as two packs a day, and he knew that smoking had to be behind his recent health decline.
At first, Dan felt overwhelmed by the thought of quitting. He had tried and failed several times throughout the years – he knew this time had to be different.
“I’m the type of person that would rather be beaten with a stick than disappoint someone, and I thought I could use this method to help me quit. I heard that it takes 21 days to kick a bad habit, so for each of those 21 days, I assigned someone near and dear to me a day. I would call them the day before and tell them I was quitting for them. The next day, I would be flooded with supportive texts and phone calls,” says Dan.
Dan made it all the way to day 19 successfully. He couldn’t believe it. His hard work was paying off. On that day, he was speaking to a friend who encouraged him to do his last day for him and make it a life decision. Dan agreed that day 21 would be for him, and he made day 20 for his wife.
“On the second-to-last day, I wanted to stand by my wife as I always have. So, day 20 was for her, and day 21 was for me,” says Dan.
And it worked. Dan was able to successfully kick the habit. But unfortunately, his health did not immediately improve. Dan was still having health concerns and decided to see a doctor.
“I saw Dr. William Woods at Missouri Heart Center and found out that I had a pretty major blockage. They did a couple stents and a balloon. I then did my rehab at Boone Hospital’s cardiac rehab,” says Dan.
Boone Hospital Center’s cardiac rehabilitation program provides exercise, health education and training to people recovering from a heart related issues or procedures.
Dan says that he really didn’t know much about his heart rate or the steps he should take to improve his heart health before going to cardiac rehab.
“We were all so inspired by Dan’s quitting smoking story when he first came to us. You could see his commitment to improving his health from the get-go. We showed him ways to be physically active and encouraged him to adopt healthy habits and reduce stress,” says cardiac rehab nurse Lugine Hein.
Slowly but surely, Dan’s health began improving. Now, almost 6 months after he quit smoking, he says he feels better than he’s ever felt.
“Quitting smoking was the best decision I ever made. I will also always be grateful for the teams at Missouri Heart Center and Boone Hospital’s cardiac rehab for helping me get my health back on track,” says Dan.