RICHFIELD, Ohio (AP) — A 21-year-old Canton woman who nearly died from a vaping illness brought her story to Revere High School on Tuesday night before a small but engaged audience.
Caily Stoyanov told parents and students attending the meeting that after days of throwing up and feeling nauseous, she checked herself into Aultman Hospital in Canton on Sept. 1.
While in the hospital, her health declined as doctors struggled to diagnose her illness and find a treatment that worked.
“They started off giving me antibiotics, antifungals and antivirals,” Stoyanov said before her presentation. “I was diagnosed with double pneumonia.”
But the drugs— four antibiotics, two antifungals and two antivirals that were tried — didn’t work.
She was told her lung X-ray was more cloudy than the doctors had seen before. Her oxygen levels continued to fall.
“The doctor told my grandmother he’d never seen anything like it,” Stoyanov said.
The doctors placed her on a ventilator and took a biopsy of her lungs.
The meeting Tuesday night included Stoyanov and speakers from the district and Summit County Public Health. Revere schools have taken an aggressive stance against vaping among students, placing detectors in the high school and middle school.
Stoyanov first started to notice symptoms on Aug. 27.
Just 10 days earlier, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control had announced it was investigating 94 cases of vape-related illnesses around the country. It was the first mention of the illness most people had heard.
As Stoyanov’s condition declined and her doctors scrambled for answers, her grandfather suggested she tell them about her vaping. She spent 16 days in the hospital.
Stoyanov was confident vaping wasn’t the cause, but she told doctors she had smoked e-cigarettes and used THC cartridges.
“I was the first case they had seen,” she said.
Things began to make sense.
Stoyanov remained on a respirator and doctors started to give her steroids to help her damaged lungs repair.
Stoyanov still isn’t sure what particular cartridge or e-cigarette caused her illness. But she has some clues.
Doctors told her she had vaped vitamin E acetate into her lungs. Many of the now 1,479 cases have that in common. Bootleg THC cartridges are another common denominator.
“I thought I could tell the real from the fake,” Stoyanov said. “You think you can trust where you’re getting them, but you can’t.”
As Stoyanov recovered, she underwent breathing therapy and a multitude of tests.
“I don’t like needles,” she said. “I was pricked with needles five or six times a day.”
When her nurse, whose children attend Revere Local Schools, asked her to speak, Stoyanov said yes.
She had trouble walking again and had to do rehab work.
Tuesday, she told her story, talking calmly about what she had been through.
She said she may have long-term damage to her lungs, but the medical community isn’t sure, yet. Only time will tell.
Her message to young and old at the meeting: Don’t vape.
To date, 33 people have died of the vape-related illness, according to CDC reports.
Stoyanov was almost one of the first.
When her doctor talked to Stoyanov’s grandmother, he said as much.
“He told her they had come very close to losing me,” she said.
Information from: Akron Beacon Journal, http://www.ohio.com