Friday, November 04, 2022

Vaping Update

If there’s one lesson I hope people have learned and are learning in this internet social media age it is that are no founts of truth out there. Every media outlet, every scientific paper, every written and otherwise broadcast thing has a bias – whether deliberate or otherwise. In fact there is so much ‘stuff’ out there you can of course find papers, studies and articles to fit any particular bias you have. This becomes frustrating when you are actually looking for the ‘truth’ because you can find ‘facts’ on any subject that thoroughly contradict each other.

I recently stopped vaping (two weeks ago) and prior to that and up until now I’ve been trying to find out some truths concerning vaping and nicotine, and their effects on the lungs and cardiovascular system. You see, I don’t want to give up nicotine; I just want to give up having shitty lungs.

Medical articles on vaping are very often old ones about smoking retooled as anti-vaping propaganda. Rarely is the harm reduction mentioned i.e. vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking. Elsewhere all the old bullshit is on display about ‘popcorn lung’ (disproven) and deaths from vaping (people vaping THC with vitamin E) accompanied of course by the cries of ‘think of the children!’ Particularly egregious is the stuff out of the USA where states get pre-emptive damages from cigarette companies, which they budget for and don’t want to give up, and which they would have to give up if everyone stopped smoking by switching over to vaping. And when it comes to nicotine, it’s difficult to find articles about its effects that are divorced from its method of delivery – as with the vaping hit pieces, nicotine is conflated with smoking and demonized.

It is in the end a field loaded with misinformation, disinformation and malinformation as the apparatchiks of Twitter label anything from those outside of their political tribe.

So you have to do your own research, figure out what to believe and what not to believe, and come to your own decisions.

I started smoking at about the age of 15. I smoked for 38 years. Initially I smoked unfiltered roll ups until my chest started to get crappy and wheezy and to hurt. I smoked filtered roll ups until the same occurred again (about 10 years later). I tried to give up many times, cold turkey and with NRT. Ten years ago I was delaying the first cigarette with nicotine gum and using an asthma inhaler to open up my lungs enough to be able to sleep. Leaving aside all the other influencing events at the time, I took up vaping about 9 years ago and, with a few hiccups over maybe 3 years, stopped being a smoker and became a vaper. My health improved immensely. Supposed acne rosacea cleared up, constant eye infections went away, the asthma inhalers went in the bin and within a year I found I could swim a mile straight without having to stop and cough my lungs up.

All of this made me an advocate of vaping and I am still mostly in agreement with everything the vaping community says about it. It has improved the lives of and in many cases saved the lives of millions. Meanwhile it is under constant attack by vested interests in Big Pharma, Big Tobacco and from the politicians in their pockets etc. You can check back through my blog here to find my relevant posts on the subject.

One of the big things about giving up smoking is that suddenly being healthy is an option. Taking up jogging, when you’re still on a pack a day, is a tad ridiculous. It’s twiddling with the 10% of the problem while ignoring the 90%. Having stopped smoking I went all in on exercise regimens and within a few years was a lot fitter and healthier than I had been in preceding decades. This has continued with swimming, weight training, kayaking, and mountain walking and so on. A year or so ago I had a crack at doing some running because I felt I wasn’t getting enough of the out-of-breath cardio I needed. My lungs hurt and I got very wheezy so I though no, I’ll just ease into it. I tried HIIT to the same effect, then cramp and an injury knocked that on the head. I thought nothing more of the way my lungs behaved until recently.

Over the last year I think I may have had covid so that really messed with the signal. I thought the morning cough I developed might have been an outfall from that. Anyway it soon went once I was on the move and, damn it, I could still swim a mile with no problem. I guess it took a few months before I properly understood that my lungs were getting a bit shitty. And then it took a little longer to let Occam’s razor in and accept that the more I vaped on one day the shittier my lungs felt the next morning.

Note: I’m not unaware of timings here. My lungs got worse during the period of ‘The Pandemic’ and my reluctant trips for two vaccinations because the authoritarian cunts in control made it likely that I would not be able to travel. And, as is becoming increasingly evident, by lung problems could be related to either the vaccines or the virus. A big source of annoyance to me is that having had the vaccines and getting the required app/paperwork, when I returned to Greece, nobody checked them at the airport! Anyway, I have to put all that aside and look at the reality: more vaping = shittier lungs. 

There are options of course. I have learned that some people have a problem with the propylene glycol in vape juice. I learned how this can dry the lungs, but I also learned that the other component you replace it with, vegetable glycerine, does the same though to a lesser extent. In retrospect, I realise that when I made one attempt to reduce nicotine in the eliquid and just ended up vaping more, it made me feel worse. Interestingly, propylene glycol is in asthma inhalers and I have to wonder if maybe use of inhalers is related to adverse effects from the stuff while vaping. Also, with my distrust of the medical establishment on many matters, I have to wonder if many using asthma inhalers for their malady are in fact exacerbating it with their medication. 

But changing eliquids I suspect would a stopgap for it seems to me that my vaping is tracking the same progression as my smoking. Maybe I could cure present my problem for the next few years, but it would come back because, however you do it, you’re still putting irritants into the lungs – you are still causing inflammation on a regular basis. When I started talking about this stuff I also learned of others having the same experience and, in the end, only one option remained: give it up. Stop putting anything other than air in my lungs.

But the jury is still out on nicotine by other routes.

Note: I could not give up smoking with NRT but I could give it up with vaping. However, I am finding it very easy to give up vaping using NRT. Perhaps those who want to give up smoking should go this route: smoking > vaping > NRT > freedom. But I’m also aware that every stage of ‘giving up’, for me, has been instigated by noticeable damage and not simply the knowledge of future damage.