A nursing assistant claimed VAPING gave her pneumonia and left her dependent on an oxygen tank to breathe as an investigation is launched into an epidemic of mysterious lung illnesses linked to e-cigarette use.
Aubree Butterfield smoked the highly addictive, nicotine-packed e-cigarettes "constantly" for three years until she began vomiting and coughing up blood.
Doctors diagnosed the 25-year-old with lipoid pneumonia when they discovered vegetable glycerine, a common ingredient in vape juice, in her lungs.
The rare condition occurs when fat particles enter the lungs.
Aubree, of Ogden, Utah, USA, still needs an oxygen tank when she sleeps and runs errands.
Health authorities launched an investigation on Friday after almost 100 people in at least 14 states have been hospitalized, with some in intensive care and on ventilators.
Most of those stricken were teenagers or young adults.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said officials were working with health departments in California, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Wisconsin, to determine the cause of the condition after "a cluster of pulmonary illnesses linked to e-cigarette use" were reported in recent weeks.
Aubree began vaping three years ago while a student at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah.
She said: "My roommates both vaped and I wanted to vape too.
"When I first started, I would vape constantly, I wouldn't put it down.
"I thought it looked cool and it helped my anxiety, but towards the end it made my anxiety worse." She spent around $100 a month on her vaping habit and enjoyed the fun, fruity flavors.
"The flavors tasted and smelled good," she said.
"I liked blue raspberry, watermelon and bubblegum.
"I spent probably around $100 on the cartridges and replacing my vape when it broke." Despite never having smoked a cigarette because of the known health risks, Aubree said she didn't worry about the potential harms of vaping.
"I've never smoked a cigarette in my life," she said.
"I knew that they were bad for you and that they were very addictive so I thought, 'I'm not even going to start'.
"But I really wasn't aware of any negatives around vaping.
"I knew nicotine was addictive but vapes seemed so safe." Earlier this year, Aubree tried to kick the habit after her parents Michelle, 52, a tech recruiter, and Steve Butterfield, 55, a basketball coach, and her boyfriend Asa Howe, 26, a dispatcher for a plumbing store, voiced their concerns about her constant vaping.
She said: "My boyfriend told me: 'Aubree, I really don't think this is good for you, there haven't been studies about the safety of vaping, you are going to be a statistic.'" But Aubree found she could not quit entirely and instead hid her vaping habit from her loved ones.
"I was hiding it from him," she said.
"I would just do it when I was driving to and from work." In February, she began to experience symptoms which doctors were unable to explain.
She said: "I was constantly throwing up.
"I had really bad joint pain and terrible headaches.
"I didn't have any energy.
"I even got a colonoscopy and endoscopy and nothing was found.
"I started to feel a little bit better but then in June I got really, really sick.
"I couldn't even walk because my joint pain was so bad.
"I would just lay in bed and roll over and throw up blood.
"I had really bad night sweats to the point that my whole bed was wet and I'd wake up freezing.
"I had a migraine that didn't go away.
"I lost my appetite and I had really bad chest pain.
"I felt like I couldn't breathe, like I wasn't getting enough air in my lungs.
"My neck was super stiff and I couldn't move it - I couldn't turn my head fully.
"I slept for hours and hours and I was still so tired." Aubree was admitted to Ogden Regional Medical Center on July 11 where medics performed an X Ray and told the nursing assistant she had contracted a virus.
A few days later, as the symptoms showed no signs of improving, mom Michelle took Aubree to Brigham City Community Hospital in Brigham, Utah.
Aubree said: "They did a chest X-ray, an EKG and blood work.
"Doctors said my heart was super inflamed and that they were scared I was going to have a heart attack.
"My liver was inflamed and there was fluid in my lungs." Medics at first believed Aubree was suffering from an autoimmune disease that was attacking her respiratory system.
But as she struggled to breathe through the night, the next morning she was life flighted to the University of Utah Hospital because her oxygen levels were so low.
She said: "I got there and they didn't know why my oxygen levels were so low.
"I had a chest X-ray which showed that there was fluid in my lungs." Doctors performed a bronchoscopy, a procedure where a camera is used to examine a patient's lungs.
Aubree said: "They pulled the fluid out of my lungs and tested it.
"They did another chest X-ray and at that point they asked me: 'Did you ever smoke?
Did you ever vape?'
"I was so embarrassed.
"I had told my family and my boyfriend that I had quit.
"I was completely honest with the doctors.
"They told me that they had found vape oil in the fluid they had pulled out of my lungs.
"They explained that I had lipoid pneumonia and it was caused by vaping." Sean Maddock, a fellow at the University of Utah Hospital's Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine program, said the hospital had treated a number of patients for conditions that "seem related to vaping" in the last two months.
Maddock said: "Our big concern is that we just don't have a good sense of what exactly in these vaping products are causing these illnesses.
"All these cases had oil breakdown and tissue.
"We presume based on everything else…that was most likely caused by the vaping." Aubree was given an antibiotic IV, high doses of steroids and pain medication to fight the pneumonia.
She remained on six liters of oxygen.
After a week in hospital, she was sent home with an oxygen tank and given four liters to get through the night and two liters for the day.
She expects she will need assistance breathing until October.
Due to her illness, she cut down her working hours to part time and had to put her studying for her registered nurse certificate on hold.
"I wear my oxygen tank when I'm out and about and when I'm working," she said.
"I'm only on one liter now but I need it when I'm sleeping because my oxygen drops a lot.
"The doctor has told me that I should be off it in October and my lungs are on the way to a full recovery." Despite the harrowing consequences of her vaping habit, she admitted that she still craves e-cigarettes.
Aubree said: "I've given up vaping but I crave it like crazy.
"Every time I see someone vape it makes me want to do it." She is sharing her story to make other young people aware of the dangers of vaping.
She said: "I don't want others to go through this.
"It's been really hard.
"I want to raise awareness so people can look out for the symptoms. "But I just think vaping is a bad idea now."
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