Collapsed lung-recovery time?

Reply Thu 26 May, 2011 08:57 pm
I'm not really replying to anyone specific here but just in general.

I'm a 19 year old University student and I've had 2 collapsed lungs so far. I had my first one on February 9th after coming back from a trip to Mont Tremblant (Ski Resort in Quebec). It was suspected that a bleb ruptured causing the collapse because of the pressure differential of their and my University town of Kingston, Ontario.

I went to the doctors and they said that it was collapsed maybe 10% and not to worry about it, just to take it easy and that it will re-inflate on it's own. I ended up not doing anything for a while (going to classes and stuff just nothing too crazy). It then got to the point where it felt as though it was essentially better. I was quite excited and then the night before an exam (no joke) I woke up a few times feeling bubbles in my chest again. I ended up just thinking maybe it was an off-day and went to breakfast before the exam. It turned out I collapsed in the dining hall due to the pain and stress of the collapse and the exam. I went to the hospital to be told that it had collapsed again. This time they still decided to do nothing as it didn't collapse fully but yet again another 10%. I got T3's to help deal with the pain and now about a month or so later it's still aching and is something that is most definitely not fun. I've come to the point now whenever I hear someone going on about being upset about a cold they have that it makes me almost angry... since they don't know how lucky they are that they just have a cold and haven't had to deal with this.

The doctors have all treated this as something that isn't severe so don't be too worried about it. I have had literally around 15 different doctors that have come to see me and a few thoracic surgeons due to the amount of x-rays I've received. EVERY doctor has told me the SAME thing. DO NOT SCUBA DIVE EVER. It will not result well.. you may get lucky but it's probably not worth it. (I mean you can't love scuba diving that much). You can still go swimming, drive fast, fly places, etc. Although you shouldn't do so until about 90 days. I was told by my Family Doctor... who if you met him you would be astonished with his knowledge on everything... (the kind of doctor who lives for medical stuff) that with almost anything that breaks or any kind of injury it will be about 80% healed in 90 days. So in about 3 months you will be about "good as new."

As per my recovery I am still in pain just about every day. Just started a part-time job in hopes of making money over the summer to pay for my apartment next year. The only time when it doesn't hurt or ache at all is when I'm sitting and doing something (playing a game) or something that gets my mind off of it. I'm hoping that my lung will get (obviously) although with the 2 collapses in the span of 3 months I see it happening again. If it does happen again I will probably receive some form of surgery. The surgeries that I have been talked to about have been chest tubes (which are pretty self-explanatory) and something that the name has escaped me. Although it is something that essentially they pump some chemicals into your chest cavity so it burns your lung which therefore makes scar tissue so it will attach to the upper part of your lung cavity so it can't actually collapse again. Another procedure which is apparently good but arguably more painful than the chemical (the chemical one being quite painful to begin with) is one where they go into your chest and cut off the large blebs on your lung. If you are unaware of how this works it is like this. Your lung is made up of millions of small blebs. They are so fine and minute that a small amount of air is capable of getting into each one. Sometimes people are born with abnormal blebs. They are more common in taller and thinner people because your lung is longer (because your taller) and there is more of a chance that they stretch out. When they are stretched out it isn't that they are just bigger but it's that the normal sized bleb is containing more air and stretching more. Since the same amount of cells that build up a normal bleb makeup the build of the larger blebs their cell wall is thinner making them more susceptible to pop. It's like you have a bunch of grains of sand (normal blebs) and then a small balloon (abnormal bleb) which can then pop.

If I could give ANY ADVICE it would be to take it easy... Really don't strain yourself until you feel comfortable. Also... GET INTO SOMETHING. You may think I'm contradicting myself although getting your mind off of it whether it be watching a series on TV, playing video games, hanging out with friends, etc. Just do something and you won't think about it and it will take some stress off of you.

I hope that my information has helped you as it has brought some comfort to me by learning it. If you have any questions please don't hesitate to send me an e-mail. My e-mail is [email protected].

Good luck to everyone and remember, don't worry about it too much... take it easy and have fun with your life... it's not over just because of this.. Smile
Reply Fri 27 May, 2011 10:42 am
So I am a 15 year old, healthy, lanky, nonsmoker, I ran track and was really good at cross country, and two weeks ago I was getting on the bus to go home and I had all the symptoms people talked about here. I got home diagnosed it myself as Primary Spontaneous Pneumothorax but I didnt want to go to the hospital until my mom forced me to six hours after getting home. When I was lying down on my back and rolled to my left side, it was gut wrenching and felt like there was a piece of fish in my chest. After the X-ray they told me that my right lung was 80-90% collapsed. Funny thing was that because I was in such good shape I still had 99% blood oxygen content. They inserted a chest tube which was in for 4 days and my lung still hadn't sealed off yet so they decided to do surgery to remove the 'blebs', as well as others they found with the CAT scan. They made four small incisions, one was extremely small for a numbing medicine, and they put the suction tube back in for three days, but on the third they turned off the suction, my lung held it's own, and eventually they pulled it out. So they sent me home in crazy pain with swelling on my right side, and it's been another week of recovery at home and I still don't feel good enough to survive a full day at school. Seems more serious then most stories on here. But that's my recovery. I'm not sure if I will ever be able to run at the capacity I used to ever again. But I can hope, right?
Reply Fri 18 Nov, 2011 05:50 pm
idk where u guys r gettin ur stats from i jus had my lung collapse jus got out of hosptial 2day and was told only 10% at most of people whose lung collapse will experience this a 2nd time. i was hospitalized 4 days and to be in their any longer would just be a waste of money. if a recollapse is on its way there is no stopping it. you just gotta deal with it a 2nd time. also some 1 said they were asleep during surgery? ur lucky lol i was awake for it it was very very very painful. i also didnt have a thoracic surgeon do my surgery as there wasnt 1 available for the night so she had 2 do it twice lol lucky me.
Reply Thu 24 Nov, 2011 06:20 pm
My pnenumothorax was slightly different as it was caused by a puncture from a broken rib and was diagonosed as hemothorax, so I had blood and air removed, I have been told by the doctors here in Spain that anyone suffering any kind of pneumothorax has a 50% chance of experiencing another later in life. I was in hospital for 9 days with a chest drain in place. My lung collapsed 3 times because the rib kept touching the lung and stopping the hole from closing comletely. Luckily it closed, if not surgery was next on the list.
I have been home now for 10 days and still in a lot of pain, mostly from the broken ribs, but I keep getting sharp stabbing pains in my shoulder joint and collar bone and sometimes spreading as far down as my shoulder blade and upper back! Has anyone else had these pains AFTER the lung has re inflated? I find this the most un nerving pain because it is also a sympton of a pneumorthorax. It's hard not to be paranoid after experiencing one, especially as during the 3 times my lung was completely collapsed I couldn't actually tell. My only indication was my right lung felt "heavy" compared to my healthy left one!

appreciate any feedback on post pneumothorax pains!

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Reply Sun 4 Dec, 2011 04:22 pm
Well I had broken ribs and left lung was punctured I had tubes in out of me while awake but month or so I take a big breath and gets excruc even. iating pain on left side like a knife scoring the inside it happening at the moment very painful even though accident was six years ago
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Reply Tue 6 Dec, 2011 11:33 pm
u all are bitches i just got out of the hospital for my 4th one an it was 90% collapsed an geting on here seein if i could find any 1 tht need help an u guys just need tampons for u whining
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Reply Fri 11 May, 2012 07:19 am
Hi there, I'm a 35 year old woman with a collapsed lung due to lung disease. Is is fatal for me to have sex?
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Reply Wed 23 May, 2012 12:16 pm
Hi everybody,
As per regarding damaged lung's there is no any medicine or treatment to recover this. Only they can slow down the rate of damage. Once the damage done then this is forever. By using restriction on food and medicines can last long the guy.
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Reply Tue 29 May, 2012 02:48 pm
Hello. Healthy, ex smoker 40 yr old male. Am now 5 weeks out of surgery. Had to have a wedge resection after bacterial pneumonia caused significant necrosis as well as partial collapse. Had one chest tube before surgery and now have two more. Due to an air leak and too much fluid they sent me home with the chest tubes 3 weeks ago - after 30 days in the hospital,
From the first tube insertion (terrible) to the horrible pain in recovery this has been a awful experience. But I am here to complain so that's a good thing right?
I am looking for help with questions about nerve, muscle damage from the procedures; I have so much muscle control loss in a horizontal line from my left side across my stomach that my six pack is now a gut even though I weigh 18 lbs less now than prior to surgery :-( ...in addition the entire region surround the incision and the three tubes is completely numb on the outside (sadly - except for the actual tube sites) and very painful inside. Does anyone have any info on this?
Next, anyone have their tubes in this long? It's already been 5 weeks and unless they decide to do a lobectomy to stop the air leak they are thinking at least another month. And then many months toma year until the remaining lobe fills the lung cavity. I don't know if I should push for surgery to gt this nightmare over with (possibly reducing my risk for further infections or complications) or keep the remaining complete lobe and hope the empty space doesn't collapse again or collect fluid and become infected during the year or so . Help!!!!!
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Reply Fri 2 Nov, 2012 02:37 pm
Had operation for second collapsed lung two weeks ago, last collapsed lung 12 years ago. Feel as though I have aged 2o years in this time, get tired quickly and just general lack of energy. Did smoke, poor diet and long working hours as a chef contributed, have been told eating well is the key to recovery and of course no smoking. As for flying I had tickets booked to go home to ireland 3 weeks after the op but have been seiously advised not to go, although the doctor said I could risk it..he has said a minimum of 4 weeks is required, see how you feel, personally I dont think I want to take the chance.
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Reply Thu 14 Feb, 2013 09:30 pm
Hi there,
I am 17 years old, female, 5"3 and small and on the 1/1/13 I was admitted to Hospital with a spontaneous collapsed left lung. I was a smoker for two years before this. Due to the difference between me and what the usual body type is for this to happen, the doctors were very confused.

First a chest drain was inserted attempting to remove the air that was on the outer of my lung and hence re-inflate it. After 5 days of this, little progress had been made as the lung was not healing itself.
After a CT Scan it was shown that on my lung were Cysts. Two of large size (2-3 cm).
Then I was told I was to go into surgery the next day to both remove the cysts and repair the lung.

On the 10/1/13 I had surgery.

After the operation I had two more tubes in my body to make sure all the air was out of where it was not supposed to be. After a day of having these tubes in, it was seen that my lung was inflated and therefore the tubes were removed.

I was told that the next day I would be going home.

But after another X-ray that afternoon, it was seen that the lung was still leaking and not fully repaired. So another tube was placed into my chest.

After 3 more days of the third tube, it was removed and I was released on the 17/1/13

I was back at work on the 25/1/13. I have to remember to breathe between speaking and can't do much physical exercise as my lung is still weak and if I laugh a lot I get out of breath. But other than that... recovery has been quite smooth. It took about 2-3 weeks before first the pain then the tenderness was gone from where the surgery was , but now I am able to move freely. I was given strong painkillers as well as panadol but found them inaffective so i didnt use them.

I quit smoking completely.

So yeah. That's my story.
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Reply Sun 24 Feb, 2013 11:29 am
42 years ago I was serving in the Air Force. I had a spontaneous pneumothorax and the doctors thought I had a cyst or blebs on my right lung so they placed a chest tube in my upper anterior chest and down into a jar of water. Over the course of the next two weeks they did this procedure twice then finally sent me to a Navy Hospital for surgery. The traditional thoracic surgery was performed with a 14" incision incising/cutting through my intercostal nerves and three major muscles, latissimus dorsi, rhomboid major and trapezius. All this to find no cysts nor blebs but instead a piece of bone from my sixth rib. 42 year later I still have a 14 X 4 cm area of numbness to my anterior chest, inferior to right pectoralis major muscle and a one inch right shoulder droop.
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Reply Sun 10 Mar, 2013 04:28 pm
I am 19y.o, very active and very fit. I suffered from a collapsed lung in late November 2012. It was spontaneous but likely related to extreme stress, sleep deprivation, and a nasty cough. I was in the hospital for 3 weeks for 3 different procedures (3 chest tubes and finally surgery). On getting out, I spent about 2.5 months just resting. I have recently gotten back into extreme conditioning during the past month and a half. I can swim intensely again( even do underwater exercises) and participate in Krav maga workouts and full contact sparring. I would say track, water skiing, snorkeling would be fine as long as he can perform intense exercise again without feeling sharp pain or collapsing. I would not suggest scuba diving or sky diving as there is extreme pressure in both and it would greatly increase the risk of the lung collapsing again.

As always, let his body be the doctor, if he says he is fine, he is fine. collapsed lung and lung surgery/chest tubes are some of the most excruciating pains out there, and so we who have had it have learned a little about our bodies pain thresholds and are therefore a little better at gauging our limits. if he needs to stop, he needs to stop and he will know it. A few sharp pains here and there is probably just the healing process, I had quite a few and will still have them on occasion on either side of my chest.

Most importantly, listen to his doctors (lung specialists, not just pediatricians) and listen to him.
Reply Sun 21 Apr, 2013 02:52 am
Hi There, I'm a 23 year old Female, non smoker, very healthy. I suffered two collapsed lungs in the space of three weeks last December both treated with aspiration. Although my lung didn't collapse again after December, a sharp pain in my back, bubbling in my chest and general discomfort never deceased. After a CT scan and informing my doctor I need to be able to fly they decided to operate . I had the weakness cut out, stapled, lung scraped and stuck to my chest wall, I was home within 4 days. I have been home from hospital for 2 weeks now, the pain has been pretty unbearable, I have struggled with side effects from most of the strong pain meds so I'm only on co codomal at the moment trying to deal with the discomfort. I am worried about after 2 weeks still not feeling any better, the original pain in my back is still present, nerve damage on my side and stomach, I count myself lucky I work from home as there is no way I feel well enough to get back to reality yet.
I was just wondering if anyone had any realistic timescale of feeling back to normal? And if anyone had flown 5/6 weeks after their operation? I need to be able to fly for work.

Reply Thu 16 May, 2013 02:26 pm
You had to stay in hospital 4 days for 10% lung collapse?
I had a needle biopsy and had a 15% lung collapse and came home 2 days later.
I'm in pain and can't do much without getting out of breath.
What does this mean? It means no two people are exactly alike.
I'm 57 years old.
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mike hunt
Reply Wed 29 May, 2013 01:48 pm
Ya, I was in a very serious, major, critical, life threatening accident recenlty. Out of nowhere a drunk driver reveresd into me in Brooklyn. KAPOOYA! I didnt even have time to put on the brakes. In addition to a collpased lung, I fractured ribs and now suffer from hemorrhoids. I now have to sit on an ass pad and walk around like Iron Man for more than a month now.
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Tex Guthrie
Reply Wed 5 Jun, 2013 07:01 pm
On my eighty-fourth birthday (May 19, 2013), I suffered a spontaneous collapse of my left lung (a "pneumothorax") and, thanks to a near inability to breathe, underwent hurried, emergency surgery (no operating room, no scrubs, rubber gloves only, this-is going-to-hurt-but-it needs-to-be-done NOW, no waiting!) performed by an amazingly talented pulmonary specialist who just happened to be pulling ER room duty at Scottsdale Health Care (Shea) hospital when I arrived.

Big-time pain, BUT, ten seconds after punching a hole between my third and fourth ribs and inserting a tube that allowed air trapped between my lung wall and my rib cage to escape, my left lung re-inflated and I could breathe normally.

I was 'kept prisoner' three more days "for observation" while the tube was kept in place "just in case" and now feel ALMOST as well as I did prior to the incident (old, but alive).

No one could give me an even remotely good reason for the occurrence—though my wife, Clare's snarky remark ("too damn many birthdays!") could be the culprit.

So, notwithstanding the trauma, the adventure seemed to result in a happy ending.


During a follow-through with a pulmonary specialist a week after my discharge, the doctor dropped a bombshell on me: "Yes, Mr. Guthrie, you may continue visiting the gym and you may spend time at your five acres of tall pines in Eastern Arizona, elevation, 7,800 ft." (which we just did over the last four days), "but you may not fly in a commercial airliner for another five or six months as pressurization of the cabin will definitely put you at risk for a repeat pneumothorax."

Damn, damn, damn! There goes skatey-eight thousand frequent flyer miles spent on pre-planned, pre-paid flying trips. I haven't been in the mood to argue with the yo-yos at AA just yet, but must do so soon.

Does anybody have experience with ever-so-difficult-to-deal-with, chinchy-assed American Airlines regarding their willingness to re-deposit ff airline miles back into their account based upon doctor's orders following a pneumothorax?

Any response to this question via e-mail ([email protected]) would be sincerely appreciated.

Grounded in Scottsdale
[email protected]

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Ruby Rivas
Reply Tue 29 Oct, 2013 09:07 pm
I am 56years old. Had a bad gallbladder attack, went by ambulance to the emergency room. I had surgery 12 hrs latter. Went threw surgery fine. After surgery my lower lungs collapsed. I was in the hospital for 7days. Had very hard time recovering. Now it's winter, I'm worried that if I get the flu that my lungs will collapse again. Or I will have a hard time with my lungs. What are my chances of this happening?
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Reply Wed 2 Apr, 2014 08:32 pm
Hey Wilso/IrunfastXC. Just read your posts. I'm a 36 y/o singer who hikes, surfs, backpacks, tele skis and rock climbs. I'm also tall and lanky. 6' 3", 180 or so. In good shape for my age. I ruptured a bleb shoveling snow in Feb and ended up having the same surgery you did. They did something to rough up my chest wall to attach my lung so it wouldn't collapse again. Not sure if they did that for you or not. I was just wondering how your pain is now? It's been 8 weeks since they operated on me, and I still have swelling, numbness in my ribs in the front and pretty disabling knots in my back muscles. Just curious to know if your pain got any better. I feel like I've been rearranged internally, and am wondering if I will ever feel "normal" again. Anyone with any experience, please feel free to chime in, Thanks guys!
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Reply Wed 2 Apr, 2014 08:41 pm
Hey Gemma. For what it's worth, I am in your exact same boat 8 weeks out. Same procedure, same constant pain in my ribs up front and in my back, neck and shoulder. Really stinks. I hope someone responds with a "yes. It gets better."
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