Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Live Blogging Collapsed Lung 2007

Never one to trivialize serious health problems with a little bit of pointless technology, I've decided to live blog my time here at UW Medical as I get treated for my latest malfunction. I'm going to try posting the latest updates towards the bottom of the page, so read from the top down if you want to bring yourself up to speed.

Dr. Collapsed Lung Evil

Tuesday, Dec. 18th, 2007

8:45 am - Crap I've collapsed my lung again.

8:45 am - 1:58 pm - A lot has happened in last few hours from "pop" to "blog", so let's get down to it. If you remember anything about the last collapse, you'll know it happened ~ June 2005, early morning while I was in the shower. Once again, the shower was my downfall. It happened the exact same way... one moment I was lost to lather, rinse, repeat, and the next I'm wondering why it hurts when I breathe.

I knew almost immediately what had happened, even if I tried to deny it to myself at first. Ever the pragmatist, I packed for what I assumed would be an extended stay at the hospital. I caught the bus to the ER, they took a chest x-ray, listened to me a breathe and confirmed what I already knew.


I'm currently hooked up to oxygen, a IV drip, and an oxygen sensor on my left index finger that makes it a pain to type. I met with a thorasic resident and fellow about an hour ago and we talked about "the plan." Last time, the plan was to put in a chest tube to vacuum out all the air that had escaped into my chest cavity and allow the lung to refill and heal. This worked great once they got the chest tube in place (three tubes later), but apparently not well enough.

Now that I've had my second collapse, I qualify for the repeat offender treatment, where in they attempt to actually discover what's wrong with me instead of just patching my holes. Unfortunately, this involves some minor surgery and general anesthetic. The plan is to make a few small incisions on my right rib cage, go in with video cameras, and put it all on YouTube. Depending on what they see, there are a couple options. First, the tall skinny white boy hypothesis: tall, skinny males my age are susceptible to random collapsed, possibly due to a blip forming in the lung that is weaker than regular tissue and prone to popping. If they find such a section, they'll cut it out. If they don't find anything obvious, they'll toss some talc powder on my lungs (no really), which will aggravate and annoy the lungs, causing them to grow back fighting mad, stronger than ever.

Regardless, I'm still looking at 2-3 days with a chest tube here in the hospital. I'm currently on standby for surgery so it could happen any time betwee now and 6pm. I'll keep you posted.

2:17 pm - I need to use the bathroom... where did all the nurses go?

2:38 pm - Need a trusted source of information to tell you all you need to know about collapsed lungs? Why not Wikipedia? See Pneumothrorax.

3:20 pm - Still chilln' in the ER. If you're bored like me, reading back issues of My Year Of Flops on the Onion AV Club is fun.

4:03 pm - I think they are moving me to my room soon. Maybe there will be cable.

4:34 pm - I have been moved: room 4350. You can try calling me at 206-598-6288 if you feel like it. And yes, there's cable. My view was better last time though...

4:40 pm - The TV has one button. It turns it on... then proceeds through each channel in turn... and then turns it off. Oh for another button. Maybe I can have Amy bring in our universal remote.

Pulse Oxygen Sensor

5:01 pm - In a shocking development, my pulse oxygen sensor has been moved from my finger to my toe. Typing just got a lot easier and I'm still rocking 100% blood SpO2 level (and pulse of 72 bpm).

I'm riding a Stryker

8:55 pm - Things have been busy... not really. As I mentioned earlier, I've been on stand-by for surgery. As luck would have it, no spots became available, so I didn't get a spot today. However, I'm officially on the schedule for tomorrow at 1:30 pm, so the odds are good that I'll actually see some time under the knife. In the meantime, no surgery today meant I was finally allowed to eat something. Bonus points to Amy for scoring me a hot dog. Much tastier than what eventually came for dinner. I just did a few laps of the ward with the nurse pushing my IV behind me, which was good to stretch my legs, but now it's back to the bed.

Speaking of the bed, to answer Penney's question I seem to be sitting on a Stryker. Thanks for saying hi everyone. I apologize for moving from LJ to blog land, but ever since they sold LJ to the Russians... ; )

Wednesday, Dec. 19th, 2007

9:33 am - Glory be, I have survived the night. Not that there was ever much doubt, but it's mostly a question of whether I could take all the random poking and prodding that takes place when most normal people should really be asleep. This includes taking my vitals at 1:00 am and 5:00 am, a chest X-ray at 1:30 am and then a consult with my doctors at 5:30 am. Not to mention the fact that I kept dislodging my pulse-oxygen sensor from my toe, which always sets off a lot of annoying beeping (but no calls of Code Blue thankfully).

The situation is still pretty much the same. Surgery is scheduled for roughly 1:30 pm and I'll probably go in two hours early for prep. I'm not sure how long it will take, but my press secretary Amy Wheeless will be handling all questions at that time.

On a side-note, I realized I can see the Allen Center from my window. I can never escape that place.

7:19 pm - I survived the surgery, but I am currently losing the war to stay awake versus my pain killers. I will try to update, but this could be rocky. Actually, it will be a lot like writing an English essay at 3 am back in the days of undergrad... write a sentence... fall asleep at the keyboard for a minute... wake up and write another sentence...

The surgery was a success. They found a bleb, a blister like structures on the surface of the lung, that is prone to popping. They successfully removed the bleb, mechanically scraped up the inside of my chest cavity so the lung would adhere better as it grew back, and patched me up. All told, the procedure probably took less than 45 minutes.

Fixing the bleb is a good thing, because there is a much better chance that this won't ever happ again. My doctors were happy, so I am too.

The downside to the surgery is that my mouth is super dry from anesthesia and the various drugs they gave me. No matter how much water I swish around in my mouth, it still dries out again. It will be nice when that resolves itself. The next annoying thing is that my stomach is a little rocky after surgery. I can eat and drink, but I feel a little weird and get a little burpy. Burping with a couple holes in your chest is not really pleasant. Better than nausea I suppose.

Shout outs to Neva for visiting me this morning, bringing donuts and good cheer. She also helped take care of all my gear while I was in surgery and also loaning us her car for a while. Shout outs to Micah for visiting as well. Whoo just passed out for a bit ;) Micah gets bonus points for putting up with my rambling, morphine-induced conversation.

Ok... I'm going to sleep some more ;) Final shout outs to Amy for taking care of me. She wins.

btw they moved me to a new room: Room 5228 with a phone number of 206-598-6759.

Thursday, Dec. 20th, 2007

12:47 am - I'm waiting for my 1 am check up and a last shot of oxycotin before I head off to bed, so let me take this opportunity to answer a few frequently asked questions:

Does it hurt? Yep. They're big fans of rating your pain on a 0-10 scale, where zero is feelin' good, feelin' great and 10 is frowny face on fire. Though it's all subjective, I was rocking a 2 for most of yesterday and I'm currently hovering around a 4 or 5. The pain is always the worst when I breathe... so I try not to do that. The pain is mostly from my chest tube... a rubber hose about the size of my thumb running through a small incision in my rib cage to a vacuum pump on the wall. The vacuum sucks out any air that has escaped into my chest cavity, allowing my lung to re-inflate and heal up.

When will you be better? My doctor seems pretty optimistic, saying I might have the tube out tomorrow, which would be much faster than last time. Possibly discharged on Friday and mostly back to normal by Saturday. We'll see how it goes.

Can you fly after a collapsed lung? No... probably the worst part about the whole thing. Flying after a collapsed lung is dangerous because the pressure change can cause trouble for your lung. The no-fly order only lasts a few weeks, but it's enough to put a major damper on getting home for Christmas.

Are you high on pain killers right now? Nah, I'm still waiting on that night cap of a double shot of oxycotin, which should knock me out for the night.

Any crazy accessories you get to play with? The deep breathing exerciser is the strangest by far:

Deep Breathing Exerciser

That's a picture of the one I used the last time I was in here, but my new one looks just the same. The idea is that you suck on the tube for as long and hard as you can, getting the little yellow floaty thing to hover at the top of the column. It's just as inappropriate as it sounds...

What's your least favorite thing on the TV at the moment? Those Comcast big-ole-expensive phone company commercials. I want to set the television on fire when I see them.

What's your favorite way to waste time on the Internet at the moment? I'm a big fan of Desktop Tower Defense, a Flash-based strategy game. Otherwise, Google Reader and all the feeds are my weapon of choice.

Are you high on pain killers NOW? Yep! The nurse just brought me my meds for the night... crazy sleep here I come.

11:08 am - Big news on a busy morning. The odds are looking better and better that I will actually get out of the hospital today. As in the six hours. It's insanity, but apparently I am making a pretty speedy recovery from my surgery.

After my 4 am chest x-ray and 6 am consult with the doctors, they decided my lung was looking pretty good, so they took me off active suction to see if the lung would stay up on its own. The lung seems to be holding strong. I just got back from my most recent x-ray about 10 minutes ago, and if it looks good, the chest tube is hopefully coming out next. That's great news because the chest tube hurts like hell. Who knew cutting a hole in your side and sticking a large tube in there would be so painful? Oh wait, I did from the last time this happened. At least I wasn't awake for the resident wiggling his thumb around the hole in my chest like last time. Seriously.

Since my lung has been doing better, my nurses have adopted a take-no-prisoners attitude to get me ready to go. They kicked me out of bed, made me walk around, and I even had to eat breakfast sitting in a chair. So much for breakfast in bed. There have also been a number of unmentionable acts committed in the name of getting my digestive system back in gear after the surgery. For your sake, I will not elaborate.

Thanks to CC and Jeremy for coming to visit me last night. I was mostly out of it the entire time, so I am thankful they didn't write embarrassing things on my forehead while I snoozed. I'm pretty sure Amy had the Sharpie ready to go.

It feels great now that my mouth is not nearly so dry. Last night was just painful... I needed to eat something so I could start taking Oxycotin without getting nauseous, so they brought me Jello (good idea) and saltine crackers (bad idea). Remember that eating contest where you try to eat three saltines in a row without drinking any water? Remember how that's mostly impossible? Trying to do it when my mouth was not producing any natural saliva was particularly tricky. Thank goodness for the Jello.

12:53 pm - The chest tube is out! Now there's something I'm glad I only have to do once today.

3:04 pm - The latest x-ray is in... the news is good... I'm going home!

Addenum - Read it here.


Tommy Vernieri said...

I hope you recover from your pneumothrorax soon. Taking the bus to the hospital seems ridiculously hardcore to me.

Penney said...

What kind of bed are you on!? I work for a hospital bed company ya know, I keep the beds safe. All I saw in the picture that you took of the sensor on your foot was the footboard of the bed. It almost looks like it could be an older version of our Advanta frame. Maybe not though. Get well soon!

cp said...

dude, seriously, stop sabotaging your lungs to get chicks. it gets old.

hope you get better soon man.

John Borwick said...

Ei yei yei! I'm sorry to hear about your lung!

I appreciate your play-by-play of what's going on. I wonder what the hospital thinks--somehow I doubt modern medicine has prepared itself for this level of documentation.

I'm glad they're doing some problem analysis in addition to patching you up!

Candida said...

I think you should be the spokesman for Metro now. "I took the bus when I had a collapsed lung, the least you could do is take it to work in your pristine condition..."
Hope you are feeling better. Jeremy and I are going to come visit later. I'll try to bring you treats. Get well soon!

shani thunders said...

brian, brian, brian. sigh.

good luck today!

d said...

I love the play-by-play. calling soon, take care.

Samantha K. said...

"Live Blogging of Collasped Lung", eh? Sounds like an A and E special.

Didn't know you were broken yet again. You and Ms. Amy need to quit it with the mud wrestling.

Get better!

Amy said...

Brian Ferris is totally drugged.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see you're doing so well! But sad that you won't be in NC for the holidays.

Adrien Treuille said...

Feel better soon! We need you to play ultimate with us. --Adrien

yay.email said...

I second what Emily said. Is Christmas really Christmas without a Ferris? ONLY TIME CAN TELL.

ekb said...

hey great news brian! way to recover!

Harvey said...

In Junior High, Brian went 3 weeks without taking a shower and his lung did not collapse. Coincidence? I think not!

shani thunders said...

Damn. Good job getting better fast Brian! I feel like a moron I just sent you a get well card, and you don't even need it. THANKS A LOT.

Unknown said...

I stumbled upon this while sitting in my hospital bed after being here for 7 days now with a pop'ed lung.. this is my first one .. finally off suction after 6 days x-ray looks good but the machine says i still got a leak so they refuse to take my tube out and let me go home.. tommorow i will be here 8 days .. this is annoying very very annoying.. cant wait till it happens again!

Misstree said...

While searching the internet about this subject I ran into your blog. I went to visit my friend in the hospital today who also has a collapsed lung. She's only 21 and it just popped while she was walking on campus. It's crazy all the new medical terminology you learn when you're in the hospital or visiting someone there. I loved the live blog idea. I'm definitely sending this link to her. I'm not in the hospital, but I rather enjoyed this post. Thanks for sharing!