We've all heard that using e-cigarettes is considered much safer than smoking real cigarettes. I convinced my husband to switch to one after years of him smoking because I wanted him to be around for a long time.
But for Alan O'Brien, smoking an e-cigarette almost killed him, and he's lucky to be alive. O'Brien was taking a quick hit of his e-cig before work, when all of a sudden he couldn't breathe.
"I had two minutes before I had to start work so I think I was just trying to squeeze in a smoke," he said. "I went at it with a bit too much gusto and the mouthpiece came off and went straight down my throat. I was choking. I couldn't breathe. Panic set in as you can imagine."
"I didn't have another staff member coming in until 11:30. It seemed like an age but I couldn't breathe at all for about 10 to 15 seconds," he continued. "I finally grabbed a breath and I tried to sick [sic] it out, but I could feel it stuck."
O'Brien continued working until paramedics showed up, and had to convince doctors at the hospital something was wrong. Because the lodged piece was black, it was hard to find on the x-ray.
"They asked me if I could have coughed it up, but I knew I hadn't," he said.
It turned out that the nozzle was lodged in O'Brien's trachea, and one tiny shift would have collapsed his lung.
"I was breathing through it and if it had gone sideways I would have been dead," he said. "If it had slipped in, it could have collapsed the lung, which could have very quickly been fatal."
Doctors knew that O'Brien needed surgery, but because he had eaten an egg sandwich early in the day, the operation had to be postponed. He was held in intensive care overnight until they were able to operate. O'Brien underwent a bronchoscopy to remove the nozzle.
"People say smoking will kill you, but maybe I'm better sticking to the cigarettes. It seems it might be safer," O'Brien said. "The drag I took must have been powerful. I guess I just went a bit [over the top] with it. I can joke about it now, but it was pretty scary. Initially when I couldn't breathe it was utter panic. But then I was whistling as I was talking. I thought 'I can't go on like this for long, it's ridiculous.'"
O'Brien is now fully recovered, but plans to avoid e-cigarettes for the time being.
"I think I'll play it safe for now and stick to the cigarettes," O'Brien said.
[H/T: Fox News]