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27 year old male. I suspect COPD and/or Emphysema. Very scared.

For years, I abused my lungs. Smoking a cannabis/tobacco combination out of a bong. I shudder at the thought. I was taking very large hits, and even holding them in until nothing came out... It is difficult for me to say that publicly, because of how stupid it may make me appear, but at the time, that was my form of self harm. That is my reality. Eventually, I quit smoking tobacco, but I continued with the cannabis, and in large amounts. At a certain point in time, I started to feel short of breath when smoking beyond a certain amount, and coughing was frequent/violent. So I limited my use to an extent. At the time, I attributed the shortness of breath to the benzodiazepine withdrawal that I was going through, thinking that the cannabis was aggravating it, as I had experienced the same symptoms related to the withdrawal syndrome. (I am still going through withdrawal, which muddies the waters more than a bit still) Eventually, this violent dry coughing transformed into a wet cough. Every time I would take a high temperature hit from the bong I had been using religiously, I would immediately erupt with fluids draining from my sinuses into my throat, (that aspect, attributable to allergies I've acquired), but I also began to experience mucous production, seemingly originating in my lungs. I would cough for 30 - 45 minutes at a time. This was accompanied by chest pain, slowly increasing with time. My lungs felt incredibly stressed by this, and I would even cough up small amounts of blood here/there. Eventually, I decided the juice was no longer worth the squeeze. So I quit smoking entirely. Not too long ago actually. But in doing so, I realized that the cannabis I had been ingesting was keeping the lyme disease I thought I had put into relative remission at bay. So, I dipped my toes back into cannabis, but not with smoking. Merely with a vaporizer, with max temperatures only reaching 422 degrees, give or take. Relative to smoking, it has not made me cough, but I did notice shortness of breath again. Immediately after, and carrying through into the next morning/early afternoon. I again, I think, falsely attributed this to an exacerbation of my diazepam withdrawal. Until last night that is. I confronted the possibility that this was a lung condition, and my symptoms seem to line up with that of COPD and/or Emphysema/chronic bronchitis. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't crushed in that moment. In the morning, I often cough up mucous that has built up overnight. It is never clear mucous, but tinged with a yellowish/green color. My chest feels a bit tight as well/painful (though the pain I feel could easily be a digestive issue or nerve pain related to lyme, as I have been taking antibiotics recently and have major GI issues as well), especially after recently using the vaporizer. This morning, I have been yawning/breathing deeply/seemingly struggling to get a full breath, but it was not accompanied by the usual comorbid symptoms that I would associate with a spike in withdrawal. That struggle to get a full breath seems to be dissipating slightly now heading into early afternoon, but I am scared, to say the least. I already have so many issues with my health, and in the past, I have not been able to tolerate edible cannabis, for it has been far too strong, and threw me back into withdrawals. But at the same time, cannabis seems to be the only thing that has ever truly kept the debilitating symptoms of chronic lyme disease at bay. I'm not sure what is worse though. Lyme, or withdrawal. Assuming I have a lung condition/conditions, which seems likely to me, I do not want to exacerbate/progress it with continuing to use a vaporizer, because shortness of breath is nearly intolerable to me, but at the same time, it is intolerable living with the symptoms of lyme disease. So I am at a loss. I still have not even begun to live my life, after being sick for so many years, and I feel like I have majorly let my family and myself down by abusing my body. I don't want my father to see his son pass from the same conditions he swore to never incur himself, after watching his mother/father die from smoking. I feel a profound sadness right now that I have never in my life felt. If these conditions are truly irreversible, I have no words to describe the heartbreak that makes me feel. Should I just stop using the vaporizer now, and just try to take edible cannabis? It may have a negative effect on my withdrawal, but at least withdrawal has an end in sight, right? And, lyme/MCAS has a possibility of remission. Whereas, the more I choose to aggravate a lung condition, the worse it will get, and the faster it will become worse as I understand it, right? Is that sound logic? Is this truly irreversible? I should also mention, I lived in a home infested with black mold for the majority of my life. I believe this in some ways, has contributed to my poor respiratory health. I would like to think that mold is the sole cause of these respiratory issues, but I was a serious abuser of my lungs via smoking. I find myself crying as I write this, and maybe I should be stronger, but right now, it feels like everything is falling apart. The idea that I may have ruined any semblance of a healthy future for myself is nearly unbearable. Thanks for reading, even if you didn't make it this far. - Anon

  1. Thank you for sharing! Please don't feel stupid or ashamed to tell us your story, that is what we are here for. We have all done things in the past that we are ashamed of. You should definitely reach out to a doctor, we can't give you medical advice but it is never good for our lungs to inhale anything. Trying a different route would probably be best in my opinion. I'm curious if any of your other family has a history of lung disease? This link is to an article that I have written about a genetic form of COPD. I hope this helps! Again, please get some medical attention, it's so much easier to get on top of things so you can get feeling better and get a hold of whatever you could have going on. Best, Jackie (moderator) https://copd.net/living/rare-disease-day

    1. We do recommend to reach a medical professional for your situation. We can offer support in here, but not medical advice. I wish you all the best!

      1. Hello stayingalive404
        My heart goes out to you with your struggles. I can understand some of your pain as I quit smoking cigarettes cold turkey. My medications have been adjusted and some we cope with one day at a time.
        I'm with Leon, in recommending that you reach out to a health care professional.
        Coping with COPD, Lyme disease and medications to help you, does need to be evaluated. Have you seen a doctor or a pulmonologist? That is necessary for your overall health, this person can help you.
        I hope that you keep us in the loop and let us know how you are doing.
        Janet (site administrator/COPD.net)

        1. Hi (Anon) - you've shared quite a complex and involved story here with the community, and we appreciate your candor.

          You may be aware we cannot provide medical advice or diagnostics over the internet (for your own safety), but your extensive and genuine health concerns certainly warrant a reply.

          You mentioned a number of true issues and these, as you've said, can certainly be frightening. Several of the symptoms you've described may actually be the result of a variety of medical conditions.

          My suggestion would be for you to reach out to a health care professional. You may benefit from a complete and thorough history, physical assessment and proper diagnosis. Once this is arrived at, a treatment plan and medication regimen can be provided. This may then help you move forward with your health.

          What do you think?

          All the best,
          Leon (site moderator COPD.net)

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