Cigarettes took away my life. Now I’m fighting to get it back.

17 March 2016

Iain Fraser’s life changed forever on November 13, 2013. “I’d got up in the night to go to the bathroom,” explains the father-of-one from Hawkhurst. “One minute I was standing at the sink, the next I was scrabbling around on the floor, literally going around in circles as only one side of my body was working.”

Iain’s partner Sharon realised something was seriously wrong and dialled 999. “When the paramedics arrived they said; “you’re having a stroke.” I said; “you’re having a laugh!” I was only 47 and like most people, thought that I was invincible. I was fit and active, a healthy weight and was enjoying life with Sharon and her son. But that all changed in an instant.”

Iain had been warned by his GP that his blood pressure was raised due to smoking. “I was being monitored regularly and the GP kept telling me that I needed to quit. In fact for the last 20 years I would wake up most mornings and think ‘I don’t want to smoke anymore, I hate smoking’, but I just didn’t have the willpower to follow it through. But like most smokers I just thought, I’ll be fine – it won’t happen to me.”

But sadly the worst did happen. Iain suffered a major stroke due to a blood clot – caused by smoking. The attack was so severe that his brother and partner were warned by the team at Pembury Hospital that Iain might not survive. “My brother took photos of me that morning, hooked up to all the machines,” said Iain “He did it because he thought that it was the last time he was going to see me. As it was I did survive but I lost the whole of my left side.”

While in hospital, Iain finally got the support and motivation he needed to quit smoking forever. “It wasn’t just the fact that you can’t leave the hospital to have a smoke, it was that I never wanted to smoke again,” he explains. “Linda came to see me on the ward and worked her magic. I was determined to quit but having the support of someone to help me through made it much easier. I used patches and gum to help with the cravings and I finally beat the addiction. If only I’d done it sooner.”

Iain spent two weeks in Pembury before being transferred to Tunbridge Cottage Hospital Stroke Unit. Now back home, Iain receives rehab treatment  from the Community Neurological Rehab team to help him with his mobility and everyday tasks such as cooking or getting dressed. He describes the care he has received as ‘awesome’.

“My goals are to return to work as a Sales Manager for Stephen James BMW Group in south London. My boss has been so supportive, as has Sharon. I am fighting hard to get my life back on track but I’ve had a massive lesson in how fragile life can be.”

For help to quit smoking call 0300 123 1220 or text QUIT to 87023. You can also get support to quit smoking in hospital or before an operation. Talk to your nurse specialist about a stop smoking referral.