I’d been pacing the short distance in my tiny RV for hours, hanging off the edge of the bed & even doing head stands; all in an effort to clear my lungs and breathe. None of the ol’ tricks were working. Finally, in near panic, I fired up the engine & drove to the hospital. After securing the rig, I power smoked one last cigarette before shuffling into the ER. “What d’ya want?” the bored intake nurse asked. I managed to gasp: “I’m having trouble breathing.”  Something in my tone must have grabbed her attention. Peering up from her paper work, she took one look at me & hollered into the closed doors behind her, “triage!!!”


Forty years of smoking had come crashing down on me. Apparently COPD (emphysema & bronchitis) is like that.  Decades are spent “getting away with it”, relatively unaware of the alveoli dying off and then: BAM. Critical mass is achieved. The day before I had bicycled & walked miles, smoking all the way. Suddenly hospitalized, on oxygen & a metered steroid drip, I wondered whether I’d ever be able to do anything again. The 10 foot trek to the bathroom left me gasping & wasted. I spent the next month on oxygen, ever so slowly regaining my strength & mobility, though it will never be what it was.


Thus began my 8 year battle with smoking. Picking up that first cigarette after a spell of “Nicotine replacement therapy” provided life saving relief from a seeming pit of despair. I would be an ecstatic smoker for whatever time my destroyed pulmonary system would allow but, inevitably, my COPD would re-assert itself.  Though my friends & family found me nicer to be with when I smoked (testy despair is an unpopular social stance), they all feared for my life as I hacked, gurgled & spit up wads. The various nicotine substitutes became addictions themselves, at a much higher cost than my hand rolled burley and providing no relief. I came to believe that (for me) the primary part of this addiction is not the nicotine; it’s the habit: The divine ritual of puffing.


The e-cig was an untried fantasy and a costly investment in an unknown that had to be ordered from abroad. Then, last October, I had the opportunity to try one. I immediately invested in an over the counter starter kit. Though hopeful, I found that first e-cig to be a poor substitute for the real deal. I suspected that a more powerful product might work for me. (I smoked full flavors for 50 years.) After a month of obsessive research and nearly $300 worth of “trial & error”, I happily hit on my solution.


I have been smoke and craving free for 6 months now! I vape a variable voltage mod on the road & use passthroughs at home. I’m a big fan of cartomizers and have learned to mix my own flavors. The freedom is intoxicating and I’m having a lot of fun introducing others to this accessible miracle. My doctor is delighted and recently referred me to a Pulmonary Rehab Program, which was never going to happen while I continued to destroy my lungs with smoke. I’m free & finally able to begin recovery.


Darryle from California