Saturday, March 20, 2021

The Real Story About Vaping


In 2015 I was rushed to the emergency room, unable to breathe, choking as I aspirated food into my lungs, and convinced this was going to be my last day on earth.  I was hospitalized and diagnosed with COPD.  It was singularly the most terrifying day of my life, so I'll never forget the trauma.  The first thought that ran through my head when I could breathe again, was my five children would be without a mother.  After three days in the hospital, I'd had plenty of time to think about my life choices.  

Regret was at the top of my list because I knew at that moment, I'd failed my children who depended on me for everything.  Looking back now, I know I was failed by my healthcare providers as well.  There was an option they never mentioned to me that could have saved me from the diagnosis.  Yes, it was my choice to start smoking in 1985, but when I tried to quit smoking, they didn't offer me all the solutions.  I was told to use nicotine patches, those didn't work.  I was told to try Chantix, which almost killed me after putting me in a state of depression that made me want to take my own life.  Gums, hypnosis, counseling, in the years that led up to my COPD diagnosis for Chronic Bronchitis, none of those solutions worked and I returned to smoking each time.

The miracle cure for me didn't come from a physician, my pulmonologist, or any medical personnel I'd spoken with over the years as I fought to overcome smoking addiction.  What changed my life forever came from a friend I'd spoken with on social media.  She told me how this thing called vaping had helped her finally quit smoking after many failed attempts of smoking cessation.  

At this point in my life, I was desperate.  I couldn't walk to the bathroom without giving out of breath.  I had to sleep in a recliner because I couldn't breathe while lying down.  I didn't want to spend my life choking when I ate, and the depression was overwhelming.  The inhalers I was using would only give me few minutes of relief before the horrible feeling of not getting air in my lungs started again. I'd even lost my singing voice which had once landed me a spot on the Midnight Jamboree in Nashville, Tennessee, and allowed me to tour the United States with a televised singing showcase.  My life was falling out of control and I saw no way out.

I'd driven by a new vape shop in town more than a few times and honestly?  It reminded me of some head shop, and I brushed it off as some joke.  I was forty-six years old, a football/baseball mom, those types of places weren't for people like me.  My COPD diagnosis changed that attitude because I was desperate for anything to help me live to see my children grow up.  I finally took the advice of that friend who told me about vaping.  The day I walked into that vape shop was the last day I ever smoked a cigarette.  After ten years of trying unsuccessfully to stop smoking (I'd spent 15 years not caring to quit before that), I'd finally found something that gave me the chance I needed to succeed.  

The vape shop owner was a man close to my age (46 at the time) and I handed my phone over to him with the friend that suggested vaping on the other end of the line.  She told him what kind of setup to give me, an i-Stick 30 and an aerotank (an older mouth to lung tank).  He walked me through the process of setting it up and filling it with e-liquid (the liquid that is used in a vaping device), and I walked out of that shop using it, and never looked back again.  I'd chosen a custard-flavored e-liquid with 18mg of nicotine in it, and the flavor was really incredible making me want to keep inhaling the sweet taste. 

Anytime I'd think about craving a cigarette, I'd use my vaping device and that desire would go away.  In the beginning, I used it as a lifeline, vaping constantly to keep my mind off the cigarettes that were killing me.  No one was more amazed than I was that this little vaping setup was helping me not want to smoke.  Over the next few months changes were starting to happen, and I finally felt that I found the solution to my cigarette addiction because my health began to improve.

Two months after I started vaping, I was no longer coughing all the time.  I was able to lay down in a real bed, and not sleep upright in my recliner.  I wasn't getting out of breath walking to the bathroom.  My singing voice slowly returned.  The thought about picking up a cigarette was completely gone because I felt so much better.  For the first time since I was seeing a beautiful light at the end of the tunnel and knew I could beat this addiction that was destroying my life.

Six months after beginning to vape, my pulmonary function tests were showing such huge improvements that it was almost like I hadn't been a smoker all my life.  The inhalers were no longer needed, my oxygen levels were in normal ranges, and I simply felt better.  After three years my pulmonary function tests show the same lung capacity of a person that never smoked.  That was supposed to be impossible with COPD, but I'd found a modern medical miracle because of vaping.  In the five years since I started vaping, I haven't had a single diagnosis of Chronic Bronchitis, or Pneumonia.  Prior to vaping, it was every three months I was on medication for one or the other.

This is my real story about vaping.  The one the media doesn't want to be told, or the politicians wanting to be shared.  During my journey into ending my addiction to cigarettes, I've met tens of thousands of people that shared the same success story.  The vaping community became a family as I went through my journey, and I consider every single person that vapes, my brother and sister.  We come from all walks of life, and there are millions of us out there that discovered (without help from our medical professionals) that vaping can save lives.  I've talked to so many COPD survivors that have had the same success I have had.

My advice to you if you're an adult smoker, is to give vaping a chance if you've tried every other product and failed to stop smoking.  Vaping might end up being your miracle cure as well.  These days I'm an advocate for vaping because it's very hard not to support something that gave me the air I breathe back.  If I can help you on your journey to quit smoking, I'm always here.  My vision of a perfect world is where people quit blowing smoke and discover that there is a solution to the epidemic of cigarette smoking.  I support all forms of harm reduction, but vaping was what saved my life.

Reach out to me on Twitter, Facebook, or drop me a message here.  If you want to know how to quit with vaping, I will do everything in my power to help give you the same education my friend gave me many years ago.  You don't have to die smoking cigarettes.  There IS another way.  Thank you for letting me share my story.

All My Love,

Michelle Hughes


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