Guy Edson will tell anyone he meets about the benefits of the antioxidant-laden Aronia berry, a plant native to Vermont and now in plentiful supply on his hillside in Plainfield. Retired from the granite business after 45 years, Guy has planted 1000 Aronia plants in the 25 acre field adjacent to his home. His new business, V.I.B.E (Vermont Indigenous Berries for Everyone) is a pick your own berry patch but he also sells to whole food markets around the region.
The irony of the life Guy was leading, while preaching the medicinal benefits of the Aronia berry, was that he was literally killing himself with a two pack a day smoking habit.
“There is a stigma about smoking, that quitting is the hardest thing you will ever do. That almost kept me from trying to quit until I realized that NOT quitting was actually harder – when you look at what smoking leads to, it is way harder to keep smoking. I don’t like needles, I don’t like surgeries…but I do like my life and I want to live.”
“I remember when my sister and I used to roll up cigarette paper to pretend we were smoking,” recalls Guy. “This one time my mother caught us, but we weren’t in trouble or anything, she just said ‘here, try a real cigarette.’ That was just how things were back before anyone knew any better.”
Today, Guy knows better. Like many people Guy is aware that smoking is bad for his lungs but had no idea the impact smoking can have on the rest of his body. This all changed late last fall when he was unable to control his blood pressure.
With his health spiraling as winter deepened, Guy decided to attend the Tobacco Cessation Workshop at CVMC to try to quit smoking… but he wasn’t fully committed to the idea yet.
“I was attending classes, and I wanted to quit, but I wasn’t quite there yet,” said Guy. “I felt like what I really needed to see was something more graphic, to truly witness how sick smoking was making OTHER people.” Guy thought that maybe that would be a wakeup call for him.
Around the same time, Guy decided to get the free lung x-ray offered through his insurance as an incentive to quit smoking. As it turned out, Guy did not need to see how smoking affected other people, the x-ray revealed all he needed to see.
“What the hell,” Guy exclaimed, “It was me! It was me who was the example I needed of the awful effects of smoking.”
The x-ray showed that Guy had lost the use of one of his kidneys and had a 7.6 abdominal aorta aneurism. “I was shocked,” said Guy. “I had no idea smoking could do this.” He was immediately scheduled for surgery at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, where a stent was placed in his aorta.
The day of his surgery, April 5, was the last day that Guy smoked a cigarette.
Today, Guy continues to attend our Tobacco Cessation classes and is now preaching the benefits of quitting smoking (and the Aronia Berry!) to anyone who will listen. He also can’t say enough about the help he got through the 802Quits | The Vermont Quit Smoking Resource and Lisa Champagne, the program coordinator at UVM Health Center – CVMC. “Lisa would call to check up on me, to see how I was doing, making sure I didn’t need more gum or patches,” said Guy. “She was always encouraging, giving me words of inspiration.”
According to Lisa, many of the program participants will take the program multiple times. “They may not be wholly committed to quitting the first time, but just coming to the group, being around others who are trying to quit gives them the support they need to keep trying.”
In June, after Guy had been quit for over 2 months, he called Lisa from the middle of his Aronia patch. “I can breathe,” Guy exclaimed to Lisa over the phone. And it was not just the changes he was seeing in his own health that was making a difference in his life, after a long hard winter, Guy now had peace of mind.