How e-cigs saved Morecambe woman’s foot

Carol Starkie and Elvis Burton. Both say their health has improved dramatically since quitting smoking through e-cigs.
Carol Starkie and Elvis Burton. Both say their health has improved dramatically since quitting smoking through e-cigs.
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Seven months ago Carole Starkie was told if she didn’t quit smoking she’d lose her foot.

Meanwhile her partner Elvis Burton was informed that if he didn’t stop smoking he might suffer a fatal heart attack or stroke.

In the same week, Carole and Elvis resolved to quit.

Now both of them are looking forward to a healthier future, saying that turning to e-cigs has turned their lives around.

Mum-of-two Carole, 53, went through 50 cigarettes a day after starting smoking 22 years ago.

Then she was diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy – nerve damage in the fingers and toes – and charcot foot, a type of bone deformity.

“I had to have the middle toe of my left foot amputated,” said Carole.

“Then because I was still smoking, I had the second and fourth toe amputated.

“I’ve lost the archway completely. My consultant said if I didn’t stop smoking I would lose my foot.”

Elvis, also 53 and, Carole’s partner of two years, was also diagnosed with a serious smoking-related illness.

After smoking since the age of 14, he was told he had polycythemia, a condition where the blood is too thick to move around the body.

“My partner was told to stop smoking otherwise he would end up with a massive stroke or heart attack,” said Carole.

“He bought an e-cig, the next day I bought an e-cig and we’ve never smoked since.

“Smoking has done a lot of damage to us. But now my asthma is under control. I still struggle to walk but I feel much healthier. I used to get chest infections but I don’t any more. And there’s been no more deterioration in my foot.

“I’ve been totally discharged and we hope next time Elvis goes to have a blood test he will be discharged too. His health has also dramatically improved.”

Carole and Elvis thanked the Up In Smoke e-cig shop on Lancaster Road in Morecambe for helping them in their battle to stop smoking.

“I had years of going through the NHS, trying to quit smoking so many times and couldn’t do it,” she said.

“It’s all down to these guys who have supported me. I used to spend £15-16 a day on cigarettes. I’ve worked out that going onto e-cigs has saved me £3,300 a year.I now hate the smell of smoke too.”

E-cigarettes have been growing in popularity since they first went on sale in the UK in 2007. A study showed that in 2015 2.3m people in Great Britain used e-cigarettes and for half of these, ‘vaping’ was used as a means to quit smoking. But the use of e-cigs has divided health professionals and anti-smoking lobbyists, as their risk to long-term health remains largely unexplored.

In next week’s Visitor, how new tighter laws coming in on May 20 will affect the e-cig business.

nUp in Smoke will host a Vaping Awareness evening at their shop on Lancaster Road (near York Bridge) on Friday, May 19 at 7pm. All welcome.