Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Sponatenous Pnumothorax

Last time I posted it was regarding my sons mustache... Today I'd like to say I don't care what he has on his face... Today, I'm just happy he's home from the hospital.

Saturday morning he woke up and mentioned his chest ached. Not much more than that, not a lot of complaining. My husband and I just shrugged it off with a "You're fine, probably indigestion and a bit of post anxiety achieness." (He played his first live musical gig the night before and was pretty tense about it... but played wonderfully and was on a "Look at the money we made in tips!" high the rest of the night.) He mentioned the discomfort in his chest a couple of times throughout the day but didn't seem terribly distressed... We watched MADtv, he laughed and appeared fine before going off to bed. Around 1:30am he came into our room and said the pain had awakened him... We said, "Take a tums, that should help." (I know, amazing parenting skills dontcha think?) However, somewhere in the back of my head I thought, "Hmmmm, pain all day and tonight? Maybe we should take a trip to the emergency room." You see, my son is quite thin and the thought that ocurred to me was maybe it's his heart? So we made the 4 min. trek down to the hospital (it's nice to be close!)

Once in the ER we explained his symptoms. He was asked, "On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the worst pain you've ever known, what number would you say you're feeling now?" His reply, "That's a tough question, I really don't know, I guess I'd have to say a 3... But when I walked up the stairs it was a 4." A 3 or a 4?... Shoot, when I went into the hospital with the infected hang-nail (blood poisoning) I told 'em I was a 9! So I figured he wasn't too bad off. They sent us to x-ray not long afterward, which following a nurse, we walked to. A half-hour later the ER physician was telling me that my son had a hole in his lung or a 'Pnumothorax' and this meant his chest cavity was filling with air. They were going to need to insert a tube into his chest to vacuum out the excess air in order to allow his lung to expand and begin to heal. I was also told that gone undetected my son would have suffered greater and greater distress, his lung would've shrunk as the trapped air increased and the result could've pushed his vital organs aside.

This is a lot to digest at 3:00 in the morning! This is what was going on inside my head, "You mean you plan to cut open my son and stick a tube in him?"... "Are you sure you don't just want to give him an antacid and send us on our merry way?" Cut to me in the emergency room entrance calling my husband to arrange someone to stay with the girls (my daughter had a friend sleeping over that night) and get over to the hospital ASAP! Even as I write this it sounds like I was frantic but in reality I just went with the events as they unfolded... Listening and trying to understand exactly what was going on.

Most individuals who suffer from a tear or a whole in the lung have suffered some sort of trauma... Either a car accident, gun shot or knife wound. My sons tear ocurred spontaneously and I was told that it's not uncommon in someone with his body type... Quite tall, thin and lanky with long fingers. One of his nurses said, "I knew what you looked like before I ever laid eyes on you, when I read you had a spontaneous pnumo." You learn something new every day I guess.

Before too long my husband was at the hospital with us and an I.V. had been administered. That's when they started giving my son morphine to help ease the pain for the procedure. I now know for sure that my boy has never used drugs because of his reaction once the morphine took hold. He giggled uncontrollably at the feeling he was experiencing, "Whoa, this is Great! Morphine Rocks!" He had the nurse and I, well... in stitches. And what a comedian he was... At one point saying, "I wonder if this qualifies me for an 'Extreme Makeover - Home Edition'? Yeah right, poor sick kid who lives in a 5 yr. old home on a golf course community... I'm sure Ty and the gang'll be right over.

My son is the type that needs info to deal with unknown circumstances so he grilled the doctor and nurses quite extensively during the surgical process of getting the tube inserted. He kept asking, "What are you doing now?" and "How about now?" With the morphine and the local anesthetic he never felt a thing... Thank heaven! However, the pain and discomfort of having a tube hanging out of you for any period of time is in no way enjoyable. This is when I think about all of the parents who've had to watch their child in serious pain and distress and it makes me want to weep for them. I knew my boy would get better but what about the child going through chemo? Watching my son lay there with pain etched across his face made me want to reach over, snatch it from him and take it for myself... But the sad reality is all a parent can do is try and make their child as comfortable as possible. In our family we tell eachother "I love you" a lot... But the "I love you's" came out in a constant stream over the last few days... It's good to know, it's nice to say but it's even better to hear.

This morning the tube was removed from his side and almost immediately my boy became a new person, ready to jog laps around the hospital wing. Next week he goes in for a follow-up x-ray and visit with the doctor. We've been told there's a 1 in 10 chance this could happen again, but there isn't much we can do to prevent it... However, I can assure you if he complains about chest pain we won't be offering him a tums next time.

My boy is sleeping now... All legs and arms draped across the family room sofa. A peaceful look on his face replaces the pained brow that was there yesterday. Before he drifted off he said, "Oh man, I've wanted to get in this position for 2 whole days, it feels so good." We're all pretty tired and it's nice to have lasagna from the next door neighbor baking in the oven so I don't have to worry about making dinner. Even though the last couple of days have been exhausting and stressful it makes my heart swell to be reminded of how many wonderful people we have in our lives who care so deeply for our welfare. The kind words, the offering of meals, the flowers, the hospital visitors, our friends taking care of my daughter and getting her back and forth to school, the phone calls offering support... It makes us feel so humbled and grateful and above all thankful.



Blogger lime said...

i am soooo glad he is fine now. it is a terrifying thing. and though yo umanage the crisi with grace it is afterward that it smacks you in the face. giving thanks for your family....

2:40 PM, May 03, 2007  
Blogger Margee-Martha-Marsha Pick-One said...

Thanks Lime... I'm grateful I haven't had to deal with many of those crisis moments and knock on wood that we won't have to again... But it's those moments that do make you appreciate everything you have.

2:54 PM, May 11, 2007  
Anonymous Edwin Newn from Singapore said...

Hi there. I have just been discharged from Hospital wit Pnumothorax as well. I understand how your son feels and been thru. The doctor advised that there is a 30% chance it will reoccur again. It is indeed a terrifying event but a lesson to all that life is precious. I, myself will take great care with what I do now knowing fully that it will/may happen again. My best wishes to your son and family.

12:30 AM, May 06, 2008  
Blogger EmBee said...

Hi Edwin and let me first say, I'm happy you're doing well.

I wanted to address your comment because my son was told the same thing after his 'Pneumo', there was a 30% chance it could recur. He did indeed have a recurrence 7 months after the first. I thought it important that you know his recurrence came while he was sitting at the breakfast table eating waffles.

My son isn't athletic, he's a computer programmer. He doesn't do a lot of strenuous activities that tax his lungs. He IS tall 6'2" and very thin, roughly 120 lbs. We were told that 'Pneumos' are common in people with this build.

After his 2nd 'Pneumo' we saw a specialist who informed us the chances of a 3rd recurrence now went up to 90%. None of us wanted to take the chance of it happening again. I imagine you know well the pain involved and the fear medical help may not be nearby if/when it does occur. This is why my son opted for surgery to correct the problem. It's called a VATS procedure, which stands for Video-Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery. Going through the surgery was as difficult as dealing with the original 'Pneumo' but we've been assured that there is no longer a chance for a recurrence... In the right lung at least. We take heart in knowing he's never had any issues with his left.

I wish you well Edwin and hope this information helps. :-)

8:22 AM, May 06, 2008  
Anonymous Edwin Newn said...

I've heard about the surgery. I opted for it but the specialist recommended I let it heal on its own since it's a first time occurrence. If there is a second, it's straight to the operating table. That being said, I recovered eventually. I hope that there would not be a relapse but things are uncertain.

On the day I was discharged, a guy got admitted to my ward with the same condition. I thought it was his first till he told me he was discharged 3 days before and now he's back awaiting surgery. That really shook me up. 3 days! And the thing that hit me was that it was a different lung. Therefore, he has 2 lungs that has been hit by it. Wow. Cutting it close.

Anyway, I hope that your son will recover quickly. Well wishes and God Bless!

2:30 AM, July 20, 2008  
Blogger EmBee said...

Glad to hear you healed Edwin and hope there are no recurrences. It's the guy with both lungs you mentioned that I worry about. We had never considered there might be a problem with both lungs for my son, until the doctor, post-procedure, mentioned that at least my sons right lung would never be a problem again. The notion that he might've had both lungs collapse at the same time never occurred to us and frankly I'm glad for it because I would've been a nervous wreck otherwise.

I should note that my son is now 6 months post-surgery and while still extremely thin, has had no problems with his lungs. So yes, thank you for your well wishes and I too wish the same for you... And that poor fellow you met in the hospital.

11:15 AM, July 20, 2008  
Anonymous Edwin Newn said...

2 Years has passed.. And my left lung gave way again. Went for the Surgery. Hurts like hell. Am officially out and have a healthy left lung after 1 week in Hospital! Haha

9:18 AM, April 22, 2010  
Blogger EmBee said...

Hello again Edwin,

Sorta hoped I wouldn't hear from you again... At least as it pertained to your lung health but yep, I remember all too well having to watch my son go through the post-operative pain.

Here's the good news... You won't have to worry about it anymore, at least that's what the doctors told my son and so far so good.

Wishing you a swift recovery Edwin and a future of happy healthy lungs!

8:41 PM, April 22, 2010  

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