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Finding Pneumo
The Pneumothorax Community
Oh wow! 
28th-Jun-2006 11:21 am
I had no idea there was a community here for PT people!

I suppose it's intro/storytime, then! :)

I'm Becky, 22 and I've been dealing with this for four years.

My first collapse happened in May 2002, when I was spending the night at a friend's house, shortly after I graduated from high school.

At the time there was no pain, just an odd feeling of bubbles in my chest and my right arm was a bit sore. It went away in the next couple of days so I didn't think it was anything really serious.

Over the next few months it would happen again off and on, even happening while I was in Canada and thousands of miles away from home. I ended up falling off a bike and rolling down a steep hill, which in hindsight probably exacerbated my condition. o_o' Since, when I flew back home, the next time I had a collapse it was The Big One™.

This one happened at the end of August, on the day Mom and I were to go and pay for my college tuition. I woke up in the morning feeling extremely crappy, weak and short of breath. She thought I was just being stubborn and was mad at me because I'd been snarky to her the evening previous, so she yanked me along anyway.

In the bursar's office I had to sit down and I was stark white when she came back. We were only a few minutes into the drive home when I had her pull over so I could throw up.

About that time it finally kicked in that 'hey, maybe she's not just being a brat', so Mom phoned our PCP and got them to see me ASAP. When it was time to see the x-rays, my doctor pulled my mom and I into a small room and gave us the bad news.

Now, we've probably all seen x-rays online of people with tension pneumothoraces, where one side of the chest is just this black, transparent hole. That's pretty much what my x-ray consisted of, a full lung on one side and blackness on the other, a 75% collapse. My doctor informed me that he would be phoning the local ER ahead of us and made copies of the x-rays for us to take along.

I got lot of "wow, you know that SPT is more common in guys, right?' from the ER team and I was tucked away in my own room in triage while they waited for a room upstairs to open. They gave me oxygen, which helped immensely, and stuck me with an IV.

In the evening they inserted a chest tube and stuck a Pleur-Evac box at the end of my bed, which was forever a source of amusement for me, since I could point out to visitors how much fluid was draining from my chest and therefore gross out a lot of people. When you're in hospital for a week with no progress, you tend to find various ways to make the time pass by quicker. ;P

Anyway, I was in there for a week and my lung was being a complete and total bastard, refusing to remain inflated, so I was scheduled for surgery! I had... VATS, is what it's called? It's the one where they make the tiny incisions, at any rate. They lopped off a ginormous bleb that had formed at the tip-top of my lung, closed the hole, threw on the talc and packed me off to CCU.

I wasn't in a whole lot of pain, just really subject to a deep-seated ache in my chest and totally out of it from the anesthesia. My family was waiting for me and when my mom turned away I climbed out of my morphine haze long enough to order her not to cry. Which, when your kid has five million tubes coming out every which way, has an oxygen mask on and looks like death warmed over, will only make you cry harder.

They gave me a morphine clicker, which was pretty spiffy and almost turned into a bludgeoning device when the nurses deemed that I needed to be rolled over onto my right side, to help press my lung against the inside of my chest. That hurt something fierce, but I was too proud to cry and settled on giving the Hairy Eyeball of Doom to the crew that had been elected to roll me over and stuff pillows beneath me, because Lord knows I was not about to do that crazy nonsense on my own.

Once I had recovered from the anesthesia and my pain was manageable, I was rolled back upstairs. They tilted my bed slightly so I was lying at a slight angle to the floor and it would again encourage my lung and my pleural lining to make up and be friends again.

A week later, I was given the okay and my IVs removed and the chest tube pulled out. I had never seen it before it was inserted, so I was amazed at how HUGE that sucker was. It had to have been just shy of twelve inches, but I digress. They kicked me out of hospital within the hour and I was already bouncing around like a maniac again.

For three years I had no problems and had been assured by my doctor after surgery that I would never have another collapse.

Yeah, right. Last summer I had a small collapse, on the same side, before I had to fly out to Florida for vacation. That one hurt like fire because of scar tissue and I had sustained a bit of nerve damage from the surgery. It soon healed up on its own and I went on vacation, where it collapsed again when I was going to bed.

That one almost caused a full-blown panic attack, as I'd never been awake to feel the whole process happen and it scared the daylights out of me. It was small like the last and I recovered soon.

I had hoped that was the last until this Monday morning, when my left arm started to hurt. I went to work and felt a small air bubble slide up my side when I picked up a bit of trash from the floor.

Yesterday I called in sick so I could rest and here I am today. I'm feeling a lot better since I've been in bed now for almost two whole days, but I'm still incredibly disappointed. This nonsese just has to happen at the worst possible times. :\ I'm done with crying and whining about the 'unfairness' of it all, but arg! I'm healthy! I was in marching band when I was in high school! I eat right and don't smoke and I'm not underweight or overweight and this is just really frustratingly Not Cool.

Tonight I'm going to the doctor so I can get x-rays taken and we can see how bad this one is. It doesn't feel as bad as the one I had last year and I feel almost nothing today, so hopefully that means I'm well on the mend.

Whew. I'm glad I was able to tell all this and fume a bit to others who know what it's like. I can be pretty humourous about the whole situation, as the irony is utterly, depressingly hilarious, but it still sucks. :\

Does anyone have the urge to whack people over the head who blather on about "oh, but you're so tall and skinny! You're perfect!"? [-insert eyerolling on my part-]

I'm glad to be here. :3
28th-Jun-2006 07:19 pm (UTC)
Does anyone have the urge to whack people over the head who blather on about "oh, but you're so tall and skinny! You're perfect!"?

I think I'm going to start carrying a large metal object for just such occassions.

Glad you found us. I was pretty suprised to find this group, too. I hope your current pneumo situation works out okay, but it sounds like you might be looking at another surgery. :( The doctors have always told me that every time you have a collapse, the chance you'll have another one in the future increases.

If it helps any, you're not alone. Let us know how things are going next chance you have. Keeping my fingers crossed for ya.
29th-Jun-2006 02:28 am (UTC)
If it helps any, you're not alone

It totally helps to know that, actually. Seeing the statistics (1 in 100,000 women a year, eek!) can make you feel really, really lonely.
30th-Jun-2006 03:41 pm (UTC)
Wow, that's some stat. I never knew that.
28th-Jun-2006 08:13 pm (UTC)
I didn't realize I'd get so many members when I made this community hehe

Glad to see yet another female here! You had your first one around the same time I did! (Mine was June 2002, my very last day of high school) and I've had...I think....5 since? I had the VATS as well (yes that is the 3 incisions one) and I'm waiting to hear my next surgery date. It's really disappointing when a surgery doesn't work, eh? I was told I only had a 1% chance it would collaspe again after VATS, and it's collapsed 3 times since then (they didn't give me a tube or surgery until my lung had collapsed twice.)

I know what you mean about the tall/skinny bit....ugh!

Anyway, good luck and welcome again :P
28th-Jun-2006 08:49 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I heard the same thing in the ER about pneumothorax and males. It's like they give them a manual on pnemothoraces in med school and that's all it says in it.

Your experience sounds very similar to mine. I haven't had any problems in over five years, though, so I hope you will have the same kind of luck.

A big problem I had after my pneumo was costochondritis - it's inflammation of the cartlidge around the ribs. Turns out it's very common in people who've had previous pneumos and feels exactly like those air bubbles and soreness feelings in a small collapse. Luckily, it is not too bad and can sometimes be kept at bay with ibuprophen or some other anti-inflammatory. What you experienced Monday may be just that. *hopes*

I also know what you mean about it being unfair. I've never smoked and always tried to eat healthy, and that was what I got to show for it? On the other hand, though, I can see in retrospect how it made me a stronger person. And, in a weird way, even prepared me for college.

Good luck - I hope you make a full recovery.

14th-Sep-2006 10:16 pm (UTC) - hi!
So i dont get spont. pneumos or anything but im a student RT and very interested :) In school they taught us all about them. Well, in about a 10 min. lecture haha. But yeah. they were like. COMMON IN MALES!. thats about it :P
15th-Sep-2006 02:47 pm (UTC) - Re: hi!
haha I knew it!

Nice to meet you! This is definitely a good place to learn about pneumos if you're studying them. I'd be glad to answer any questions you might want to ask about my particular case, and I'm sure others here would as well.

Good luck in your studies!
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