Jonathan Belcher, a 22-year-old from Covington, Virginia, is speaking out about his collapsed lung caused by his vaping addiction, asserting that vapes are just as harmful as smoking cigarettes.
Belcher started vaping at the age of 17 and soon developed a severe addiction, consuming the equivalent of “20 cigarettes a day.” Last month, his health took a drastic turn for the worse when he woke up breathless and experienced excruciating pain in his left shoulder.
“I woke up that morning feeling like I was dying. I was terrified and had an overwhelming sense that something was seriously wrong, although I couldn’t pinpoint what,” said Belcher.
Describing his symptoms, he added, “It felt like my shoulder was a balloon about to burst. I struggled to breathe, and every breath I took intensified the pain in my shoulder, though I didn’t understand why.”
Despite the short distance to the hospital, the journey felt like an eternity for Belcher, who felt as if he were facing death itself. At the hospital, doctors delivered devastating news: his left lung had a hole and had collapsed.
Belcher’s condition, known as a pneumothorax, caused trapped air to compress his lungs and heart. Surgeons had to insert a tube to remove the air, but when his lung failed to heal naturally, they performed life-saving surgery to remove a quarter of his left lung and close the hole.
Belcher vividly recalls the heartbreaking moment when he called his mother, hearing her screams and cries. Reflecting on his addiction, he stated, “It may sound terrible, but I would use any vape I could get my hands on because the addiction was so strong. I was consuming the equivalent of about 20 cigarettes a day.”
His medical records now include a diagnosis of spontaneous tension in the thorax resulting from vaping.
As an assistant nurse, Belcher struggles to sleep, and his weakened lung leaves him breathless even after performing simple tasks, such as making phone calls. While his lungs can now function independently, he anticipates lifelong weakness in their capacity.
Belcher, once addicted to vaping, is determined to raise awareness about the potential dangers associated with using these devices. “I have completely quit vaping. The whole experience was terrifying, painful, and so traumatic that I will never again touch a smoke-producing device,” he emphasized.
His message to others is not to consider such incidents as isolated occurrences but rather to recognize the possibility and act accordingly.