While I was awaiting VATS surgery on my left lung in The Royal London, I sent out a Facebook message asking if anybody knew of anyone who had experienced Spontaneous Pneumothorax in the hope I might be able to talk to them and find out what lay ahead for me. I did so not expecting a reply. It was more out of desperation really, so it was a great surprise when a friend of mine messaged me saying her husband had experienced two collapsed lungs in nine years and had also gone through VATS surgery to prevent it from happening again. She said he would be happy to talk to me…
Graeme’s kindness, spending long phone calls to me while I was in hospital, talking me through my worries and fears and describing his own experiences have been invaluable to me. Doctors only know so much. They can tell you the medical side but they cannot tell you what It really feels like….
Graeme recently told me he’d also written about his experiences and sent me an extract. I asked if I could post some of it on my blog… Another lung story – to go along side my own!
Graeme wrote this piece about his constant post operative hiccups while in hospital on the 27th of January, 2014 at 02:43am…
‘Hiccups. We’ve all had hiccups at some point in our lives. Occasionally they can be amusing, they can be startling, they can sometimes be combined with a burp leaving you feel as though are about to disapear into a ball of surprise that could only be made worse by farting too. Then there are the hiccups that just won’t stop no matter what you do. Holding your breath for thirty seconds, sipping cold water, drinking upside down, trying to scare yourself etc. You try and you try and they just stay there. Those are the sort of hiccups that I have been having now for DAYS.
I’ve recently had myself a bit of lung surgery thanks to couple of decades of smoking and an annoying habit of having my left lung spontaneously collapsing on me. Now I should point out that this has only ever happened twice and nine years apart at that but that is apparently two times two many and nine years too often. The way to fix this is to basically glue the lung to the chest wall as well as having a few bits shaved off this has resulted in me having three (keyhole surgery) holes in my chest and the sudden belief that I am a Bowling ball.
As part of this procedure it was necessary to put a couple of drains in my chest these came in the form of tubes connected to a few bottles at the other end to catch all the juice as my lung re-expanded. Being a Trekkie I immediately changed my name to ‘Huw’ and did my best to rock the ‘Borg’ look. It has also bizarrely left me with some pretty persistant hiccups. One of the night Nurses (a charming chap called Charlie) informed me that as a result of the surgery the Phrenic nerve may have been nicked or irritated and that could well be why I was having so much trouble but that there was little that they could do and that the removal of the drains may well cure the problem. Today was the day to have them removed. As I had two in they wished to remove one at a time so that they could x-ray my chest between the removals to make sure that no air was escaping into the chest cavity risking another collasped lung. The first one was removed at 12:30 yesterday afternoon and for the first time in 12 hours my hiccups stopped.
You have no idea the relief I felt, the bouts that I had been having were lasting an average of 6 hours so a break from 12 hours of hiccuping was beyond welcome. And that was the way things continued into the afternoon, I thought ‘Charlie was right, it was just the drains and that bloody nerve being tickled.’ I continued thinking that right up untill the point my foot caught on the other drain as I swung myself into bed and damn near ripped it out of my chest, the hiccups returned and they returned with a vengence from 14:30 to 18:30. They then buggered off until 20:30 last evening and have been here ever since. I’m tired, my throat hurts, my chest is really sore thanks to the holes and all the bloody hiccuping but the Morphine I have been prescribed is ace.
I don’t even know why I have done this as my status update but at this point I’m willing to try anything to get my mind off it. I’ve even been brought a cup of Peppermint tea in the hope that it will first alleviate the hiccups and second help with all the accumulated trapped wind the hiccups is giving me. However if anyone has any suggestions I am all ears but I would like you all to consider one thing.
Despite the pain, despite the discomfort and even despite the sheer bloody annoyance of it all, this is still not as bad as this earache I had once. Even coming out of the surgery, as drugged as I was I remember thinking quite clearly that this was not as bad as that earache. An earache so bad I had to remind my beautiful wife of it as she expressed her own discomfort during the birth of our two sons.
Seriously, it was bad.
At this rate I have a strong suspicion that I will be survived by my hiccups.
Anyway suggestions welcome, if you smoke, stop, if you don’t, dont start.
I am still hiccuping.’
Graeme Casey, January 27th 2014.