We left off with the first time I had spontaneous pneumothorax(collapsed lung), yes I said first time. I got out of hospital in Jan 09, the second collapsed lung happened on the 10th of March the same year, only months after the first.
The doctors told me it was a possibility it would happen again, if I had what’s called blebs on my lungs.
“Blebs are small subpleural thin walled air containing spaces, not larger than 1-2 cm in diameter. Their walls are less than 1 mm thick. If they rupture, they allow air to escape into pleural space resulting in a spontaneous pneumothorax.” – Dr Owen Kang.
I thought I was working hard enough at healing that I could avoid it. I couldn’t. I was more paranoid, constantly listening to my breathing for wheezing, feeling between my collar bone and rib cage for any pockets of air. It’s safe to say I was driving myself crazy. I was on my usual walks, timing myself and I was beating my own records. I was half way around the block one day in when I felt this sharp pain in my chest. I had to sit down and could hear the wheezing straight away but I wasn’t sure if I was being paranoid like before if it was real this time.
I went home and was freaking out. But like the typical guy I am, I ignored it and hoped for the best. Turns out it was happening again, I could feel the air being sucked in still even when I wasn’t breathing but this time was a little different.
Back to hospital I go! They took me right in, did all the X-rays and the reason why it was different this time was because what happened the first time. The size in the chest drain they put in scarred half of my chest wall. Basically half of my lung was fused to the lining of the rib cage not allowing my chest fo fully collapse. They had to put in another chest drain an this time it turned out to be tiny, so already things were better this time. They also offering me morphine which I happily took. When they were putting in the chest drain, I was chatting away with the nurses like nothing was happening. This was a walk in the park compared to the last time.
I spent the next two days just relaxing. I wasn’t even in any pain this time, they offered me pain killers but I refused, I didn’t need it. My doctor told me that I might need key hole surgery to see inside and make sure I didn’t have any blebs. If I did have blebs however, it would go from key hole to major surgery so they could cut it all out.
After a few days I agreed to the surgery, We were all hopeful that it would just be key hole surgery but, I was wrong again. ( Warning this is where it gets graphic again ) I was freaking out being wheeled into the operating room, I was shaking so bad that I can’t even explain it. I had this overwhelming fear I wasn’t waking up. The operation did go from key hole to major, I was under for 3 and a half hours and they cut out half of my lung. leaving my with metal staples. I don’t remember waking up in the recovery room, I remember my room and a doctor telling me I had lost too much blood in my body and that they were taking me to ICU. I told him that it was okay and that I had just had major surgery so it was fine. it wasn’t.
I woke up some hours later still heavily medicated, I had family coming to see me and now that I think about it, it felt like it was the last time they might see me. I had so many drains coming out of me that I couldn’t get up. Turns out the surgeon nicked a vain in my chest and I was bleeding out, my doctors argued because one wanted to open me up again and the other didn’t. the one that didn’t said not many people survive a second time! He wanted to give me something to make my blood clot in my lung. I spent the next 2 days stuck in ICU, I luckily avoided going into surgery again. The blood clotted but another problem arose. I couldn’t get my lungs to expand fully because of clotted blood was getting in the way. It would be absorbed back into my body though and I would be able to do all my exercises.
The pain was unbelievable, after a few days they took the fentanyl away. I was now becoming dependant on pain killers. After I got out of hospital I went home not only with a giant scar across my black but one in my mind too. I couldn’t understand why it happened again, I couldn’t accept my own mortality and I wasn’t ready for anything. I spent the next few months trying to stop the painkillers and ease the pain, I completely left the world behind. I hardly came out of my room let alone the house and I had sleepless night. Music kept me sane. a year went by and I still hadn’t done anything with myself, I was still wallowing in self-pity.
I was watching a motivational video one day to see if I could get out of this mind space, in it the speaker was talking about someone being drowned, when they were brought up for air, they were told that you have to want you goals as bad as you want to breath. It was at that point it hit me. I wanted to act, its all I could think of when I was in hospital, its all I could think of when I was at home alone with my own crazy thought, I was making up movies in my mind, I was playing out scenes on my own. This was my life and I knew what it was like to be breathless now, to be so close to death that I could see the reaper . I wanted to act as bad as I wanted to breath.
Those words are still a massive driving force for me today, every time I look in the mirror without my shirt on I’m reminded of the worst possible time in my life. Now its more than just a reminder of the bad, it’s an unstoppable force to do good. I wanted to be able to change someones life even if its only for a second, just like tv/movies did for me in my hardest times.
I now appreciate the hardship I went through, it made me stronger mentally more thank anything imaginable. I hope you find your mental strength, driving force and that you would never have to go through something so hard to get it.