Since the inception of HIPHI’s 808NOVAPE campaign in 2017, the alarming rise in vaping among…
A disabled model who suffers extreme muscle pain and weakness claims her condition was caused by becoming addicted to vaping as a teenager.
Vanessa von Schwarz, 20, started vapid when she was just 15 years old after seeing her friends smoking the e-cigarettes in the school toilets.
Vanessa still suffers from extreme muscle pain and weakness (Photo: Vanessa von Schwarz / SNWS
Before long she was vaping almost continuously and would start to feel nauseous and angry if she went too long without it.
Vanessa, from Los Angeles, California, said: “For some reason when I started vaping, naivety assured me my whole life was changing.
“I felt like it gave me something I didn’t have before; I was thinner, more confident, and I was sure this new me was all thanks to this little metal device I carried in my pocket.
“I struggled with a lot of anxiety, and I would consistently look at the vape thinking it was the only thing there for me at all times.
“That was comforting for me and made letting go even harder.”
The 20 year-old remembers vaping for the very first time in the toilets of her high school in April 2017 when she was 15 and said all the ‘cool’ girls and guys in her school vaped so she felt it was normal.
But she quickly developed a craving and reached a point where she needed to be around her device all the time.
She explained: “I enjoyed the physical head rush vaping would give me.
“Every time I took a hit of my vape, I felt like I was inhaling a big deep breath, one that actually satisfied my body and relaxed me.
“I started to truly believe that vaping had changed my life for the better.
“I definitely think the ‘child friendly’ flavours made the initial use of the vape so enticing. It tasted like candy and was truly delicious.
“After a while though, the fruity flavours became really nauseating and mint became the default since the flavour seemed to suppress hunger the most.
“My friends and I would never eat breakfast or lunch. We mostly just vaped away our hunger and cravings.”
‘Consistent migraines and nausea’
In May 2017, Vanessa started feeling the side effects and suffered from muscle weakness in her arms and legs.
She said: “I got out of bed that morning and instantly took a hit. After that, I woke up on the floor and I hadn’t remembered what’d happened.
“I’d clearly fainted, and I was fine, but it was so odd because that had never happened to me in my life.”
From then on, whenever she used her vape, she would feel weak in the knees, her fingers and toes would go numb and her heartbeat sped up.
In 2018 she developed migraines and consistent nausea after just a few hours without a hit.
Her weakness gradually got worse, but she managed to shrug it off until she took up a stylist job and had to be on her feet for up to nine hours a day.
The filmmaking student at The New York Film Academy recalled: “On top of the consistent migraines and nausea, I suddenly was unable to bend my legs fully without being in an immense amount of pain.
“I would come home from work in absolute agony, crying because of how badly my legs ached.
“My upper body became weaker and weaker, and as my legs grew weak and sore, so did my arms and fingers.
“It began to hurt just putting my hair in a ponytail, or even holding a water bottle was too heavy for my hands.
“I couldn’t lift my neck up when I was laying down, and when I’d fall because my legs would give out due to weakness, I couldn’t get up from the ground.”
Claire Schofield/National World