The symptoms that you describe are in fact completely normal. I would advise that you get some nicotine patches, start using them and quit actual smoking altogether. Every time in the past that I tried to quit smoking the withdrawal symptoms would wear me down and in the end I would start again. About 7 months ago, after fifty years of smoking, I stopped again. This time I had quite a good incentive.
Just as I was coming up towards retirement, in late April, I coughed up some phlegm and spat it into the kitchen sink (by pure chance). There was just a trace of blood in it. The next day there was a little more, so I got concerned enough to book an appointment with my doctor. The day after that there was just a trace again, and the next day it was clear – I felt perfectly fit and well so I nearly didn’t bother to go to the appointment. It was just as well that I did. The doctor sent me for a chest X-ray, which didn’t really show anything much, but he still wasn’t happy and sent me to the specialist at Treliske Hospital, a nice chap called Simon Iles. A week later, after a CT scan, I was diagnosed with lung cancer. After another two weeks and a PET scan in Plymouth, it was active lung cancer. This, as I am sure you know, is very bad news indeed.
Fortunately, the scans showed that I had just the one tumour, low down in the RH lung, so it could be tackled with surgery. However, until they had me opened up nobody could say with any certainty whether the cancer had spread into the rest of my body or not. I was booked in to Derriford hospital for the op at the end of June. While all this was going on I was in the middle of my retirement leaving presentation etc and not really able to talk to anyone about it. Very stressful. So I was retired for a month, which I spent manically gardening because I knew I would not be able to for quite some time after the op, and then into Derriford Thoracic Unit. The surgery went very well (I have a huge scar) and I came home after only 10 days but then had quite a rough time trying to cope as best I could (I was not allowed to drive for 8 weeks which made life difficult). After five months, I am returning more or less to normal. So now (after thoracotomy and lobectomy in technical speak) I have one-and-a-half lungs instead of two.
At first I was not allowed to lift any weights at all or do any kind of heavy activity. Now I can lift up to 5 kg and do gentle gardening and light activities. After January I should be more or less OK if I am sensible about working it up gently. I have been doing a lot of walking which is good for the healing process, but at first any sort of hill was pretty scary. I am getting better at the hills now, with persistence, but of course I will never be as fit as I was. The good news is that both my follow-up appointments so far have given me the all-clear, but I have to go back at intervals for five years. The bad news is that of course the cancer can recur or pop-up somewhere else, but the post-op biopsy showed that the tumour had remained localised and had not spread into the surrounding tissues, so thank heaven for that.
So, as you can imagine, I have not had much of a chance to think about retirement or how I might spend it, or what I might be doing or who it might be nice to do it with. I have just been coping with events, really. The moral of this tale is that smoking is not too great an idea – but I guess we always knew that, didn’t we? Fred, I wish you all the very best in quitting smoking. Never imagine that it will be easy, it will probably be one of the hardest tasks you have ever set yourself, even with the support of family and friends. Even with the excellent incentive of death staring me in the face, I still found it terrifyingly hard to quit. And I am still very shaky about staying clear of tobacco in the long-term.