One woman has said she’s “glad to be alive” after her vaping addiction left her on a ventilator with a life-threatening lung condition.
Amanda Stelzer, 34, started vaping seven years ago when her friends all started doing it and the flavors gave her a “buzz”.
For seven years, Amanda took two four-packs of liquid cartridges every week or the equivalent of more than one cartridge per day. She eventually ended up in the hospital.
She visited an emergency room in October 2019 because she was having trouble breathing, experiencing severe lower back pain and feeling like her heart was “beating out of her chest”.
Despite extensive blood and urine tests, the doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong and sent her to hospital in an ambulance.
Within 24 hours of being there, Amanda was put on life support.
Amanda, a cashier from Delaware, Ohio, USA, said, “I cried because I was in so much pain. I was so scared.
“The last thing I remember is someone handing me a form and basically saying I had to sign this if I wanted to live – that was the consent form to get life support.”
Amanda was on a ventilator for about eight days, with doctors warning the family she could stay that way for at least three months.
They were still unsure of the cause until her mother asked a nurse if this could have anything to do with her vaping, prompting them to scan her chest.
Amanda was subsequently diagnosed with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), a life-threatening injury in which the lungs cannot supply enough oxygen to the body.
Medical staff confirmed that her ARDS diagnosis was a direct result of vaping.
After spending another two weeks in the hospital, Amanda was discharged, but was unable to work, see friends and family, or be around people who used cigarettes and vapes for six months while her lungs recovered.
ARDS is a serious condition and will affect her for a long time – another illness could lead Amanda to the hospital again.
It was recommended that she use nicotine tablets as her body was still healing but also experiencing nicotine withdrawal.
After her time in the hospital, Amanda suffered huge financial losses and psychological problems.
She said: “I was lucky enough to own my car at the time and my insurance covered my treatment, but I still got into a lot of debt.
“It was depressing. I was happy to be alive, but sad that I couldn’t work and be around family and friends without a mask.
“It was inconvenient to have to disinfect everything and ask people to stop vaping or smoking in my neighborhood.
“I even lost two friends because they refused to quit.”
Amanda now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of this experience.
However, her health is currently “great” and she is in the best position she has ever been in – with many supportive friends and relatives around her.
She has vowed never to touch a vape again and hopes her experience will be the wake-up call someone else needs.
Amanda said: “It seems innocent until it isn’t. You never know what could happen – I thought it was no big deal when I started.
“It’s dangerous and I don’t want anyone else to go through what I went through.
“People may not want to see or hear it, but if it helps just one person quit, I’ll be happy.”