LAS COLINAS, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Christopher Machelski has learned that he is not invincible after all.
It is a realization brought on by a stint in intensive care at Medical City Las Colinas. His doctors have blamed the lung damage on vaping.
“When you read the news and it’s in Michigan you’re like ‘oh, it’s all the way in Michigan, it’s not going to happen to me’,” says Machelski from his hospital room Wednesday.
He is out of ICU, but doctors still don’t know whether he will have permanent lung damage.
Machelski says he was warned about the potential dangers of vaping, but he also admits that he promptly ignored those warnings until he got sick.
“The first symptoms were diarrhea, cold sweats, light headedness,” recalls Machelski.
He initially sought care at a neighborhood clinic and returned home, but the situation worsened days later.
“All I remember then was waking up outside my room, passed out on the floor, yelling for help.”
By the time he arrived at the hospital, his condition was critical.
Doctors say the previously healthy 28-year-old came close to being put on life support.
He had been vaping for four months.
“Shortness of breath, not able to move actually–he came in a wheelchair,” says Samer Fahoum, MD, a Pulmonologist at Medical City Las Colinas. “This is a very life threatening situation. If you have acute lung injury, low oxygen, inflammation of the lung, that can lead to major complications, including death.”
In spite of the close call, Machelski says he does not support banning e-cigarettes.
“Freedom is not always the ability to make good decisions. If you live in a free country, you should be able to make bad decisions, as long as it only affects you… so if people want to take that risk, that is up to them,” says Machelski.
However, he adds, “Children, minors, do not take the risk.”
But Machelski admits he was stubborn as well, so he’s warning parents to take note.
“These (e-cigs) are everywhere. You literally just need to log on to Snapchat, message someone, and 10 minutes– someone you know knows someone and you can have one at your door. It’s that easy to get.”
Machelski admits that he purchased products “off the street,” so he is also concerned that companies could be “demonized” in the escalating debate about the practice, without the facts that support the source of the lung disease.
“No matter what we do moving forward, this isn’t going anywhere,” he says.