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Vaping leaves man ‘staring death in face’ and feeling like he’s ‘about to pop’
May 21, 2023
A former vaping addict was left "looking death in the face" and suffered excruciating pain in his left shoulder like "a balloon about to pop".
Jonathan Belcher from Covington, Virginia, started vaping at the age of 17. It eventually turned into a severe addiction, leading him to smoke an equivalent of "20 cigarettes a day".
The 22-year-old experienced a distressing episode of waking up breathless and enduring intense pain in his left shoulder.
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He underwent a challenging surgical procedure to extract a section of his collapsed lung, resulting in extreme pain and discomfort.
Jonathan was rushed to the hospital where he broke down in tears upon hearing that his left lung had suffered a collapse and contained a hole.
Trapped air was beginning to crush his lungs and heart as part of the condition known as a pneumothorax, so surgeons inserted a tube to remove it.
When his lung failed to heal naturally they removed an upper quarter of it in a life-saving op to close up the hole.
He admits he now struggles to sleep and his weakened lung leaves him feeling winded after simple tasks such as phone calls.
Jonathan said: "It felt like my shoulder was a balloon about to pop. I was really short of breath and any breath I took made the shoulder hurt worse but I didn't realise why.
"It was only two minutes to the hospital, but that was the longest and scariest two minutes of my life. I was truly looking death in the face.
"The moment they said, 'you can call your mum, your lung has collapsed and it's really severe', I just broke down crying."
Recounting the horrific experience, he added: "It sounds horrible, but I would really use any vape I could get my hands on, it was just so addictive.
"I smoked the equivalent of about 20 cigarettes a day."
After waking up in pain Jonathan was driven to hospital by a friend where they x-rayed his chest.
Medical professionals inserted a tube through Jonathan's chest and lung to push out the trapped air, before transferring him to another facility.
There, surgeons had to remove a portion of his lung because it had "died" due to the restricted flow of oxygen.
Jonathan was discharged on May 9 and claims the trauma of the incident was worse than the pain, as he now frequently struggles to sleep.
Although his lungs are now able to function on their own, they will be weaker for the rest of his life.
Now the former vaping addict wants to raise awareness about the potential dangers of using the devices.
Jonathan said: "I've absolutely quit vaping. The whole experience was terrifying, painful and so bad that I will never touch a device that produces smoke ever again.
"I completely understand that it's very hard to quit and the bottom line is it's addictive.
"But after the pain that I went through, the trauma that it created and the problems that it has made in my life since, the best advice I could give for trying to quit is think that this will happen to you.
"Don't look at it as if it happens, look at it as when."
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