th3legacy63 karma2013-03-16 13:50:46 UTC
Tall, skinny male here (or I was at the time of this happening, 5' 11" and like 145lbs?). I don't mean to hijack your AMA, but want to share my experience and recovery with you.
I was sitting in my Aero 215 class about 6-7 years ago and had this happen to my left side. Thought it was heart burn or a pinched nerve in my back. Then it kept getting harder to breath and A LOT more painful. So I walk out of class and thought about catching a bus to the hospital. I get out the front doors of the Aero building, think I might be having a heart attack and decided to call an ambulance instead.
They sliced open my side in the ER under local anesthesia and stuck in a small chest tube. That didn't seem to do the trick and 3 days of hospital later, they put in a much larger tube (more like a garden hose). Another 3 days of hospital and a lot of drugs later, I was able to go home.
Some interesting thoughts on my recovery since then:
I am super paranoid about any chest pains. Heart burn and pinched nerves in my back/neck make me anxious as all hell that I'm relapsing.
I get pains around the scar on my side, most likely from the scar tissue. This makes me anxious.
I can never go scuba diving every again. This is what they told me in the hospital. I was all drugged up and didn't ask why. I'm assuming because of the positive pressure and my seemingly weak lungs. This made doing some hypoxia training (where they give you O2 via positive presure) for a flight test job pretty interesting. Positive pressure = forcing air into your lungs.
I was also very nervous to do any flying, but the job I had above had me flying in experimental aircraft at 40kft. So I had to just man up and trust my lungs would hold.
I still get kind of nervous flying.
There is some literature that would advise against high altitude hiking if you've had this happen. I've hiked 13k peak and spent a lot of time above 10k. This also makes me a bit nervous, especially when you're in the backcountry.
Although its caused me quite a bit of anxiety, I've never had another issue. I've had a few chest x-rays taken since the incidence and there have been no signs of any problems.
Hope this may help in your experience and recovery. Cheers.
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th3legacy14 karma2013-03-16 14:45:11 UTC
I don't recall inhaling quickly when it occurred.
This happened when I was 19 or 20. Not long after this happened I was back playing all sorts of sports and running and working out rigorously. I put on about 20 pounds of muscle the following summer to get to about 165lbs (trying to be less skinny). In all of these physical activities you tend to breath in pretty quickly.
Another thing 'crustyspot' mentioned in his post were sudden side pains. Who knows if its related . . . but I get these too and on the same side as my lung collapse. Its almost like a spasm and inhaling is super painful. It usually subsides after 1 or 2 breaths, but dam if that doesn't freak me out.
I'm pretty sure a majority of the post-event anxiety and pains are psychological and I would give you the same advice I try to give myself . . . 'Don't stress about it. You're fine.'
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