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By Raven I Profit - Dec 2017


There’s a fine line between actions that are good for you and ones that make you believe you are doing something good. In november 2012 moments after the birth of my college experience I wrapped a blindfold around my judgment and believed that cigarettes were good for me. By the time I got through my first pack a month and a half after my choice I was already feeling strange. Mild headaches became continuous, and I sneezed more often. I attributed it to social exposure- I was just under the weather. Two more months passed and migraines began to call me home- I saw lights flash when I closed my eyes and my head rang as though a tuning fork was stuck inside. This wasn’t what I thought it would be like. I thought I would become stronger, have better mental stability, and more energy throughout the day. I believed this because that is what I felt when I tasted my first cigarette.

By the fourth month I didn’t have a shadow of a doubt that cigarettes were not my friend. One morning I was smoking out my window and there was a stinging in my nostrils. I covered my nose and sneezed. Horror hit me when a migraine rang in my head, and saw bright blood glistening on my hand. For the rest of the day my nose bled without giving me rest, and for several days later I sneezed chunks of scab tissue. I tried to quit then, but the headaches became unbearable. I kept it to one a day, I figured if I lowered it from the usual two or three I was at least doing something better, but it wasn’t enough. My symptoms took over me and during an art intensive program where I was asked not only to keep up with a standard college curriculum but create 56 sketches, 4 final products, and work part time. Everyday my nose bled for a week, nothing lessened my migraines, and I suffered from a six week long sinus infection. Enough was enough.

I made an appointment with a specialist for month eight of this story and waited for the school year to close out. Dr. Allegra is one of the founders of North West Face and NW Nasal Sinus Center he started training at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston to gain his surgical residency and continued his education at the University of Washington for specialty training. He performs medical and cosmetic surgeries and several of my family members with nasal issues had seen him over the years. I was beyond nervous. As I sat there cotton swab, and a long thin light assess the situation. We decided a CT scan was in order and when I returned the news was grim. To check his hypothesis he took out about a four inch syringe with localized anesthetic and a pair of tweezers. To my dismay both of them went into my nose and pinched the interior of my sinuses. With a loud squeak he pulled the tweezers out and a chunk of scab tissue the size of my thumb nail was within its grip. The skin inside my sinuses had grown extra layers trying to protect itself from the blisters and polyps growing in reaction to the cigarettes.

The only option was surgery. They had to cut away all the extra tissue leaving my sinuses raw and grind out larger pathways for mucus to drain out of in the future. The recovery would be three weeks at the soonest for new healthy skin to grow, and I was going to have to prevent scabs forming by using an electronic neti pot to blast warm salt water over the raw tissue. When I think back I still can’t believe that a few cigarettes a day for eight months had caused this. The recovery was horrible- I’ve never been in more pain than I as was in the first week. My original belief that I was doing something good never felt so foolish. This was strengthened by the realization that if I smoked even a single cigarette I could easily wind up back in surgery, but even with that truth I could not stay away. I loved it, the way it felt the way it tasted, even the way the smoke got caught up in my hair. I didn’t want to stop.

A little over four years past and still I couldn’t stay away, and worse still I had discovered djarum cigarettes. They were harsh- and while the head aches didn’t return my nose began to bleed again. I was at a lost, I didn’t know another method that felt satisfying. By a happy circumstance I met Jack who is an employee at Phoenix Vapor Cafe. I had never heard of vaping before, and was excited to realize I might find a new, enjoyable method for intaking nicotine. He set me up with a pen style icare and tobacco flavored e-liquid. I kid you not, I smoked three cigarettes after that and then never again. Even the fear of pain and surgery had failed to dissuade me, but vaping did. It gave me everything I wanting including finding the fine line between an action that harming me and I believed was good, and one that gave me my health back.

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