Today I thought I’d pull up a chair and have a very serious discussion. For some, it might even mean the difference between life and death. I thought if maybe what I have to say might save one life, it’s more than worth it.
Because it could have easily cost me mine.
I wrote a blog post a few days ago about how tired of the world I’ve become. Not the kind of tired where one desires sleep, but the kind of tired that makes one want to give up, give in, and say “screw it”, once and for all, with finality.
What I stopped just short of mentioning is just how close to the edge I was.
I’ll admit it, right here: I was contemplating suicide.
I didn’t know why. I figured that maybe I was just tired of not getting anywhere and it finally caught up with me. I thought maybe it had something to do with age 40 being just around the corner and fearing that I wouldn’t start out the decade in a positive light like I had done for my 30s. I thought maybe the years of over-work and under-sleep were taking their tolls, and I saw no relief on my horizon.
Any or all of that may still be true, to an extent.
But just today, I came upon another nugget that may very well have solved a big chunk of the problem.
A couple months ago, I wrote another blog post about vaping and how it brought my brain back online.
At the time I wrote these blog posts, I had no idea that the 2 would ever be related.
I’m now almost 100% sure of one thing: they are.
It’s not that vaping itself is bad. Done properly, it’s probably harmless (as far as I can tell).
Repeat after me: vaping is not the devil. 😉
But there are some potential pitfalls.
Where the problem comes in is this: a lot of people who vape are new to it. It’s a relatively new thing. And it involves Chemistry and Physics–two subjects that are enigmatic to most people, including myself. (I maintained a 3.9 GPA through undergrad and pre-med, and I still forgot a lot between then and now.)
So there’s not a lot of knowledge out there about it. A few people know how to do it right, but there are many more who don’t, and they’re (unknowingly) doing it wrong (including myself).
I thought I was doing everything right. I was doing it all wrong, but I didn’t know I was doing it wrong. Because it felt right, and I didn’t know how else it was supposed to feel.
I didn’t know. But I didn’t know that I didn’t know.
I learned a few things from a relative expert at a local headshop, but let’s face it–they sell (ahem) a variety of things. Vape kits and juices are just a small fraction of a rather large and diverse inventory.
Today, I went to a vape shop (that deals exclusively with atomizers and custom vape juices and all the accessories), and I picked the brain of the employee working there. I had found them online while doing a Google search for “vapor shop + San Antonio” and read the reviews and ratings, all of which were stellar, especially in the neighborhood of customer service.
As fate would have it, I completely misplaced my atomizer yesterday, so I needed a new one anyway. No better time to start from Square One than today.
I sat down with the guy at the counter, who was very soft-spoken and helpful. He did not make me feel like an idiot. 🙂
I told him what happened, and the difficulties I’d been having, and I needed to start from scratch, with a new vape starter kit that is better tailored to my needs, and to be shown how to use and maintain it properly.
What I learned astonished me. And it literally could have saved my life.
Apparently, you’re supposed to change the coil every 10 days or so, if you vape a lot, which I do. You can stretch it to 2 weeks if you don’t vape as much.
I’d had my former atomizer for almost 2 months. And I had never changed the coil at all.
If you don’t change the coil on a regular basis, it can get warped. Vaping liquid can get caught in it, producing the dreaded “spitback” that I was having trouble with.
Something else happens then, too. The coil can begin to oxidize. Many atomizer devices (including mine) are designed to hold coils that are made with a nickel alloy.
My partner was with me in the vape shop. And unbeknownst to me, he silently made note of that.
I described the effect I desired from an atomizer, and we picked one out. He walked me through basic usage–something I hadn’t gotten before–and I chose a vape juice and some accessories. He said that this atomizer did not use a nickel coil.
I couldn’t believe how smooth it was. No spitback, no burning my tongue, just a good, proper hit. It was lovely. And it was far different from what I had come to expect from am atomizer.
It had been a frog-in-boiling-water situation; my experience had gotten so crummy so slowly that I didn’t even realize just how bad it had become.
On the way back, my partner said something like, “did you catch the part about your previous coil containing nickel?”
I knew instantly where he was going with this. I’m not a physicist or a chemist, but I am a doctor; I know that nickel is a toxic metal. And if it was getting charred with each pressing of the atomizer button, I was breathing it straight into my lungs…and brain.
An idea sprang to mind.
“Please,” I told him as I slowed to a stop at a red light, “google ‘nickel exposure + depression’ and tell me what you come up with.”
No freaking wonder.
I had experienced every one of the above symptoms.
With each pull, I felt irritation in my chest and throat. I had even had a frontal headache on a couple of recent days. And we all know about the depression that emerged seemingly from out of nowhere over the past month or so.
- No nickel coils!
- Change the coil regularly (whether it’s made of nickel or not)
- Go to a real, specialized vape shop for real supplies, real instruction, and expert advice; don’t take the well-meaning semi-advice from the local headshop or YouTube.
- If you think something might be wrong with your atomizer or you’re getting spitback, go to the vape shop and get help right away.
- Never underestimate the hidden causes of depression! Heavy/toxic metals are a huge unrealized source. And heavy metal poisoning is REAL. And the symptoms can sneak up on you!
Case solved, as far as I can tell. 🙂
That doesn’t mean that everything will magically go away. The world is still a tiring place. But maybe, just maybe, I can now build a little extra resilience toward it. 🙂
Epilogue: Vitamin C is a nickel antagonist, meaning that Vitamin C counters (or acts against) Nickel. Other nutrients help, too, although I’m not sure exactly what they are. Once I find out, I’ll share the info somewhere, either here or on my professional blog.
I’m starting on large doses (divided throughout the day) of Vitamin C today. I took my first dose about an hour ago. 🙂
Bonus: I accomplished Steps 1 and 2 of the to-do list at the bottom of yesterday’s post today! 😀