As I headed out the door from work, headed home before going to the doctor, I felt pretty good. I had a 2.5 day weekend ahead of me, the weather was supposed to be good, and I was going to hopefully be on my way to a release from the pain I’ve been having in my back. Things were looking good.
I got to the doctor appointment early and was shown right in to a room. A nurse asked me a few preliminary questions, than had me change into some shorts in order to have a back x-ray done. After the x-ray, the doctor reviewed my chart, the x-ray, and asked a few questions. After clicking away on his keyboard, he told me I had intercostal neuralgia and I would need a shot of cortisone and physical therapy. I said “Is that the only option?” He replied, “Yes.” Alright then. He then off handedly said that they’d take a chest x-ray after just to make sure my lungs looked ok after the shot. ”That doesn’t sound too reassuring,” I said. “Don’t worry,” he said, “it’s just standard procedure.” Though I hate needles, I decided to trust his judgement and allow him to stick me in the back repeatedly with the needle.
While waiting for the x-ray to be taken, my side started to hurt. The pain continued to increase through the x-ray. When back in the examining room, I told both a nurse and the doctor that it hurt a lot. They said not to worry about it, that that was normal. After looking at my x-ray and “confirming” that everything “looked good,” I was sent on my way.
Not too long after getting home my side and back really started to hurt. I thought that some fresh air might help, so I stepped outside to take a walk. Within a few steps, I turned around and collapsed on the front porch steps. I had my wife call the doctor’s office, who, after again saying that what I was feeling was normal, advised that I should go to the emergency room. At that point, I would have gone no matter what they said. I was scared…it felt like I was having a heart attack. So we handed off our son to my mom and raced to the emergency room.
Here I’ll fast forward through a few hours. They took me into the emergency department, ran an EKG, took a chest x-ray, and there I waited. And waited. You know how emergency rooms are. In any case, a doctor finally arrived. After listening to my chest, she checked the x-ray and then delivered the bad news. My left lung was partially collapsed, and they would need to put in a chest tube to re-inflate it. The surgeon would be there in 20 minutes. They would perform the procedure right there. Needless to say I panicked and almost passed out. After a shot of morphine I calmed down.
The surgeon arrived shortly after. He was professional, kind, and to the point. He walked me through every step of the procedure, both prior to and during. After prepping my rib cage, he would numb the area with lidocaine and the perform the incision. After cutting open my rib cage, he would insert a tube through the incision and into my lung. I would feel a pop and hear air rushing out. I did and I did. It was a very strange sensation. After a small stitch, I was hooked up to a ventilator contraption and waited for my room to be ready. The entire procedure took maybe 5 minutes. I didn’t feel the cut. Thank God for drugs when they’re medically necessary.
I spent the next 2.5 days in the hospital, floating between different drugs, in and out of sleep. My wife and family visited when they could, and in between I watched TV. I couldn’t have been happier when the surgeon said I could spend the rest of my recovery at home.
So, needless to say I won’t be returning to that original doctor. Any follow-up and rehab will not be done through his office. Running? Well, that’s definitely out for at least a few weeks, so any plans I may have had of running an October half marathon are out the window. I could barely walk 100 yards today. Hopefully by the end of the week I’ll be recovered enough to pick up my son, because I definitely miss his hugs and being able to help my wife.
Moral of the story…if someone says they’re going to shoot you in the back, you better believe it’s going to hurt.