Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Pneumothorax and cigarettes

My husband once had a spontaneous pneumothorax. For you layman's (as I was before the experience) that means his lung spontaneously collapsed.

The amazing part of the whole ordeal, because it was an ordeal, was we didn't realize right away. You'd think if one of your lungs collapsed you'd know. Well, we were busy moving. He felt like he was having a heart attack but that passed. The pain subsided but he was still short of breath. No biggie. Our son's 3rd birthday party was later that day. Had to keep moving. Death does not come before the 3rd birthday, at least not if you don't know it.

I tried to make my husband feel better. I assured him it wasn't heart attack. At least I was right about that. I put vicks on his feet like his Mother always does and gave him Mylanta. Yes, I gave my husband with a collapsed lung Mylanta. I am, and forever will be, a bitch!

Honestly, I thought he was being a whiny wuss. I was 5 months pregnant with our second, moved to a new apartment with only the aide of my Mother, was raising a 2 year old, and he was complaining. We were all exhausted. In my defense, he never said he was short of breath. Never. That is a BIG red flag.

So 2 days went by and he woke up on Monday with a fever of 40 degrees C (104 F). Mr. Rant never has a fever and even if he did, that was high for 7am! I told him he was going to the hospital, all this was too weird and this fever was not ok. He insisted on going to work.

What would any woman married to a stubborn Brazilian man do? Call their Mother! I so called his Mother. She drove in, with his Father, from the country to take him to the hospital. Of course it was around lunch when they arrived and there's a hospital close to my place, so you can guess what happened. They walked to lunch, ate, and then walked to the hospital. Imagine everyone's surprised when he was immediately admitted and an emergency procedure had to be done.

Turned out, that day he felt like he was having a heart attack, his lung had collapsed. It had been collapsed so long that he developed bacterial pneumonia. His collapsed lung was also compromising his good lung and it was, at the time he went to the hospital, about to collapse. I was told if he had not gone to the hospital, he would have died in bed next to me that night.

What a lovely picture. I had a 2 hr long contraction after that news. Especially because the way the doctor told me was by slicing his finger over his neck and making a dead face. Talk about a special kind of bedside manner.

So what saved him in all this? How did he last so long, especially being so active?  He has never smoked. His lungs are strong and healthy, besides the whole collapsing thing.

While I quit smoking during my pregnancies, I returned later. I consoled myself with the fact that I didn't smoke around my kids. But after this happened, my view of smoking changed. It became realistic. Of course that wasn't quite enough. I still love the little nasty bastards.

Then I went to a get together at my friend's place. The other American in the room happened to be a Thoracic Surgeon. Guess what topic we got around to. And guess who put me in my place.  It's really hard to ignore good old medical facts/stories. That combined with my experience with Mr. Rant, I couldn't ignore the importance of the lungs any longer. They are sensitive beasts who will bite back if you don't take care of them.

And while I miss smoking, and love it, I have quite. It's been a week and a day now. No cheating, no sneaking around, no smoking. I think about it often but only really miss it about 4 to 5 times a day. And when I say miss I mean that I have to mentally talk to myself about why I am quitting. Seriously.

It's freaking ridiculous to "need" something like this. That is one of the main things that keeps me going. I shouldn't need it! So here's to 8 days and going strong!!


  1. still have nightmares about that week...talked to a woman that said when her child was born the placenta was black and stunk...the doctor asked if she smoked during her pregnancy and she said justa little...how many packs a day was the baby smoking and imagine its cravings after birth....not lungs but had to comment.

  2. You keep going Rachel - you won't regret it. I am 3 years and counting on never going back... did get a bit fat though ;-)

  3. Me too Mom!

    Ben- totally know what you mean with the bit fat! I already have a little belly. Better a little belly and a long life though ;)

  4. wow. that's SUPER SCARY. and um yeah, love the bedside manor (did you beat him when he was done telling you that little piece of important info??)

    GOOD FOR YOU that you've quit!! we lost my MIL 3.5 years ago to lung cancer... her mother also died of lung cancer, and both were smokers... in the year and a half between being diagnosed with lung cancer and losing her, it had metastasized to her brain and kidneys, and in the last few months she also had several strokes... she had just turned 51... and she died 3 days after Hubs turned 27. She & my FIL had just celebrated their 34th wedding anniversary... she left a gaping hole, and she has several grandkids that will never meet her on this earth (mine included.) it's not fair.

    Cancer is a nasty bitch. Quitting smoking is THE BEST THING you could ever do for yourself, your Hubs, and most especially, YOUR KIDS.

    Thank you for sharing, and thank you for quitting, and I'll be here to support and encourage you anytime you're feeling weak. *HUGS* and GOOD LUCK. you can do this lady, I know you can!

  5. Hang in there, Rachel! It's a great decision if you think that there are 435,000 deaths per year in the U.S. due to smoking and its complications. And one of them is cancer - the leading cause of cancer death is lung cancer. Scary! Are you chewing some type of nicorette (nicotine gum)? They help a lot! Sorry for the lecture, I'm a pharmacist and do a lot of skmoking cessation counseling ;)

  6. Why not have this at arms reach (no pun intended) just in case?


    Makes a world a difference, believe you me.

    Don't forget these bad boys as well.


    Hell all is fair in love and war right? So just use what you have to use.

    Plus if you dip you look really really cool ( I wonder why my sister-in-law no longer allows my pep talks during family lunches).

  7. Congratulations Rachel for 8 days! I hope you will resist and not be more tempted to smoke, good luck!

  8. Congratulations! Quitting is SO hard, but you can kick it!! Stay tough.

  9. Dear Rachel,

    It's the best thing you could do for your life, just think of your kids and how long you want to be able to enjoy them and their kids and your husband in the future and you won't go back to the nasty little habit.
    You are brave and you will succed, you have a very active life style and your weight will stabilize soon.
    It will be easier and easier to stay away from cigarettes, nowadays is illegal to smoke in most places, so you won't be seeing and smelling the stuff as often and that will help you too.
    Great, smart decision! :)


  10. Congrats! Keep up the tough work- My husband has been trying to quit for years so I've seen how hard it is to not reach for the pack when times get stressful. Stay strong little root!


  11. Good for you for giving up those pesky dirty little buggers! Don't go back! I quit five and a half years ago and to this day it's one of my proudest accomplishments. It hasn't always been easy, but anytime I have an urge, I just think about how disappointed I'd be in myself if I had one, and how I would have to start my 'quit' clock all over again. Hang in there x

  12. Thanks for the support guys! Staying strong. Like Sara said, I really don't want to have to start quitting all over again!

  13. wow, that is one wicked story. I think if Ricardo just collapses a lung, I do collapse one too!!! Glad he is better and it really shows (your story)us not to take our hubbies for granted.

    congrats on the cigs, i AM also on day 8. supper crabby.

  14. Good job Nina!! The cranky will go away, especially if you allow yourself to eat all that crap you are craving. Once the cravings are gone, you can go back to being good ;)

    Yay, we are quitting smoking buddies!

  15. I had to quit drinking to quit smoking. They come as a pair for me. I lost weight but I farted all the fucking time at first. Bjos -Charles formerly Tokyo now in SF

  16. Really? I had to lay off wine for a bit but all is good now