My Journey: 10 Months On

I find it really odd what can trigger a story for a blog post. Sometimes it’s a piece of unbelievably poor reporting, utter bantha poo-doo from ‘public health’ or just a random chat. A few nights ago some of us on Twitter had a yakety yak about some old e-cig devices, and it got me thinking.

I had initially planned to write one of these at the six month point, then again at the twelve month anniversary, as a kind of journal into the life of an average every day smoker, turned vaper.  Unfortunately, me being me I completely forgot to do the six month post (facepalm) so this will be slightly longer.

When I finally made the full switch a little over ten months ago, it was with an eGo and a CE4 clearomizer.  Pretty simple stuff for the time, but the conversation last night reminded me of my first try on an e-cig. A Liberty Flights 510-T back in 2009.  Working in IT, specifically data communications, I spend a lot of time on the phone to various other support teams.  One in particular handled broadband related stuff (amongst other things).

As with most regular contact, you get to know people you talk to. The chap I dealt with regularly also smoked, was a huge Eve Online player and had previously worked for BT (British Telecom), not that I held that against him…much ;-), but was also using an e-cig. Of course, back then I had no idea what that actually entailed or anything, so my friend gave me a discount code, some basic advice and left me to it.

Needless to say, it didn’t go well. I did try to use the 510-T in the Office or on the drive to/from work, or whenever I felt I wanted to have a smoke. It didn’t really blunt the cravings I experienced, more often than not I would take a few drags on the 510-T, then spark up a real smoke.  Within a few weeks, the 510-T was left abandoned in a drawer somewhere.  Maybe it was the juice I was trying to use, or maybe it was simply the wrong device. I don’t think I’ll ever really know the answer to that, what I had just didn’t work out for me.

I think that back then I still actually enjoyed smoking cigarettes, the sensation of inhaling the smoke, the ritualistic hand to mouth motions, even the habit of popping outside for a smoke with a cuppa to bask in the sunshine (when the sun deigned to show itself) and having a chat with my other smoking colleagues about non-work stuff.

Fast forward to current day and the hardware I have now. Two Sigelei ZMax (V3 & V5), a Sigelei 20W, MVP2, rDNA40, Hana, Smok M80, iStick 20W.  For tanks, I have 2 ProTank 3’s, 4 Aspire Nautilus, 2 Kayfun (a 3.1 and a Lite), and 2 Kanger SubTanks.  Each one of those a far cry from the initial 510-T I tried back in 2009, and a far cry from the CE4 I used in 2014.

It’s not a huge collection, but it isn’t small either.  I have plenty of options to choose from depending on my fancy at a particular time. If I want to just tentatively try a new juice, it goes in the PT3, small capacity so if I don’t like it I don’t waste juice I can potentially pass on to someone else.

The Nautilus was my all day vape for a long time, 5ml capacity would last my working day with about 1 1/2 ml remaining by the time I get home. I did switch to the Kayfuns for a while, mostly for the more flavoursome juices with some Japanese Cotton. The trouble with the Kayfun tanks, for me at any rate, is coiling. I just do not have time to re-coil and re-wick them regularly. I know I could get a coil-master and coiling would be easier, but even then I still wouldn’t have a huge amount of time to do it. Plus, when it comes to the hardware, I am just downright lazy.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of being able to finely tune the experience to an exacting standard, and many folks I know do use rebuildable atomisers over pre-built for that very reason.  The trouble for me is that I am just too lazy to spend the time in fine tuning my experience. I have hardware that suits my very generic needs, that is enough for me, I’m happy with that.

In the end, I used both the Nautilus and the Kayfun tanks side by side for a long time, until I got my grubby little mitts on the SubTanks.  Being a proud owner of not one but two mods with temperature control, one of my SubTanks has a Ni200 Coil head, whilst the other has a standard coil head. I like it that way, it gives me the benefits of temp control and the cloud output of a sub-ohm device without having to faff about changing coil heads or stuff like that.

There is a good chance that at some point in the future some, if not all, my hardware other than the Smok and VaporShark mods and the SubTanks and maybe the Kayfun Lite will be up for sale. I haven’t decided yet, it may be that I’ll simply pay it forward. Time will tell on that.

Looking back over the last ten months has been a bit strange.  I went through a phase of being a juice monkey, trying pretty much any and all juices I could get my hands on to find that ever elusive all day vape.  I even subscribed to Zamplebox for a while, but I simply couldn’t keep up with all the juice I was getting and ended up with about 20 or 30 unopened bottles of 18mg or 12mg juice I couldn’t vape because they were too strong as my nic level had decreased pretty rapidly. I tend to float between 3-8mg now, anything more and it is a little harsh for me.

The early part of my vaping life, I suffered immensely from the phenomenon known as shinyitus.  Shinyitus is a terrible affliction that necessitates purchasing shiny new mods and stuff.  Who ever told me that vaping is less expensive than smoking did not ever mention this terrible affliction.  It’s terribly dangerous, it must be regulated!

Fortunately, the bouts of shinyitus are now rare so my bank balance is thanking me, considering that at the current price of a pack of 20, I’ve saved (huh) about 3,800 GBP, which to be fair for ten months, is a pretty hefty chunk of change.  Trouble is, I don’t actually know where those “savings” have gone.  A mystery that will never be solved I suspect.

Shinyitus aside, the last ten months have been one hell of a ride and I can see at least the next ten months being just as much of a roller-coaster ride.  I joined several Facebook groups, of which there are bloody hundreds of the damn things for vaping.  I didn’t bother with the the forums themselves, I stopped using forums completely a long time ago, way to much like hard work.

To start with, I just sat in the virtual corner along with the potted plants and observed the comings and goings of the various people involved.  The #vapemail deliveries complete with the occasional Red Card of Doom; which always highly entertaining to watch ;-), the bouts of shinyitus experienced by many, but underneath all that there was just a huge sense of family.

As with all families, there are of course outliers. The black sheep that seek to be the constant irritant in Uncle Tom’s side.  They are the ones that you wouldn’t want to invite to parties because of that thing they once said to someone else that might cause a bit of a ruckus. But it doesn’t matter. Hundreds upon hundreds of folk from all walks of life, of all ages have made a thriving and vibrant community.

Diving into this vast community seems a little daunting with such a wide spread of different people, but it really isn’t at all. There are so many really friendly folk that will always lend a hand if you get stuck or have questions. For me, the stupidest question is the one that isn’t asked. Some may see some of my early questions as daft, I don’t care. I couldn’t find the answer on my own, so I asked. In doing so, I learnt something so that in turn I might be able to help someone like me in the future.

I’m still learning. There is a lot of stuff to learn, especially if like me you fight the ridiculous regulation proposals and such. I make mistakes, so what. I learn from those. A couple of months into my vape life was terrible debacle that was COP6. I had no idea how bad it was until then.

I’m not going to turn this ramble down memory lane into a rant, or even a semi-rant. I missed the whole TPD shenanigans, I caught the COP6 debacle. I turned to various folk within the Twitter and Facebook communities and asked a whole bunch of seemingly stupid questions, but I learned and I learned quickly.

Whoever would have thought that I, a heavy smoker, would have had my last ever cigarette ten months ago? Certainly not me! Yes I dual used for a few days, thanks to my previous experience with the 510-T, I wasn’t particularly convinced that I’d be able to make the switch.  I still had 4 packs of Mayfair Superking sitting at home. Within three days, I still had 3 1/2 packs left.

I kept the smokes around for a while, even carried the half pack around with me almost as a punishing trial to see if this newer e-cig (compared to the 510-T) would actually do what I wanted to do, give me the sensation of smoking, the ritualistic side, maybe even prevent the wanting to have a cigarette. I didn’t expect to be vaping for long, perhaps a year at most before stopping that too. The initial ‘endgame’ for me was total cessation.

I was wrong in that. I enjoyed smoking, and I enjoy vaping, the sensations and flavours, but I do not need to vape. As odd as that sounds, I’ve gone several hours without touching my personal vaporiser where I would never have been able to do that when I smoked. It really is quite freeing to realise that I’m not tied to any kind of ‘addiction’ or addictive behavior. I simply enjoy vaping, it really is that simple.

In joining the vaping community, I have made a whole bunch of new friends that I value very highly. Folk like the lovely Lorien who encouraged me to start this blog to put my thoughts down. The outrageously awesome VapeMeStoopid who will answer any question, no matter how daft they may seem.

The ever brilliant and sparkly Shannon who always manages to put a smile on my ugly mug, the brilliantly forthright and blunt Fergus who, with just a few words makes me stop and think, the wise ol’ Neal and so on. There are simply too many to name, these are just a few, the ones I turn to the most if I have questions.  If they don’t know the answer, they know someone who does.

Ten months is the longest I have been without an actual cigarette, I do not crave them. I do not miss them. I have no objections if/when others spark up around me.  I know all too well the draw that tobacco has. Do I wish those folk vaped instead? Of course I do, but I’m not going to force them to make a choice it is up to them to make the choice for themselves.

For the right now, I’m happy with the choices I have made, and I’m also damn proud of my vapefam.