I developed chest pain two Saturdays ago while lying in bed (we had slept in instead of going on our usual run). I gripped my chest all the way to Fort Green for a doughnut at the Brooklyn Flea. Surely it's just a pulled muscle, I thought. l had to ask Shawn - repeatedly - to slow down on our walk to Brooklyn Heights Saturday afternoon. And then on Sunday morning, as we started out on our run, even a light jog caused an excruciating vise-like sensation in my chest. The possibility that this was a muscle pull grew dimmer with each footfall. After only a few blocks, I dejectedly threw in the towel. I was pissed that this mysterious chest pain was cutting into my running - so pissed that after some anxiety-inducing Googling, I decided to spend a beautiful afternoon in the emergency department to get to the bottom of it. Shawn thought I was being a bit of an alarmist.
I'm glad I sought out good care instead of heading to the closest hospital. An x-ray and an ultrasound showed that I had primary spontaneous pneumothorax (a partially-collapsed lung), and before I knew it, I was being sedated in order for two cardiothoracic surgery fellows to insert nine inches of tubing into my chest cavity (via a space between my ribs). For three days, I stayed at the hospital as fluids (mainly blood) were suctioned out of me into a little box that went everywhere I did (and because that tube was so painful, everywhere consisted solely of my gurney and the bathroom 10 feet away from it). As for the cause, it could have been a fluke, or pulmonary endometriosis, which I met all of the criteria for.
I had a collapsed lung and all I got was this lousy pillow
Between Sunday and Wednesday afternoons, I was often distracted from the pain and boredom by sweet emails, texts, calls, gifts, and visits. Shawn was a fixture at my bedside, winning the nurses over after an initial Terms of Endearment-style tantrum about my staggeringly high blood pressure (it was 180/110 at first) and lack of pain meds. He brought me my favorite foods because the hospital meals were unsurprisingly awful, and tried to steer guests away from questions about my health and toward gossipy, lighter conversations. At the time, I was thankful it was in me that hospital bed and not him, but then it dawned on me that my husband actually had it worse than I did. He was so terrified for my health, and hated those times when I was in agony, that the whole experience took more of a toll on him than on me. I hope none of my loved ones ever have to spend time in the hospital - it's awful for everyone involved.
This contraption helps me build up lung capacity