Memorial Day always seems to have a way of snapping life back on track.

A few months past the popped lung, single again, and an open agenda led me into the long weekend this year.

With some of my best girlfriends at my side, we embarked on Indianapolis during the weekend of the "greatest spectacle in racing".

New friends were made, cocktails were enjoyed, parties were thrown, shenanigans were had.
It was seriously the most I have laughed in months. I was genuinely having the kind of carefree fun I had been lacking for far too long.

And as I laid my head down on the pillow last night, I just smiled. Because at that point, everything in my life was exactly as it was supposed to be.



Pop Goes My Lung: The Biggest Struggle

I was so eager to get out of the confines of the hospital I never once considered that I would no longer be on constant pain medication, complements of my IV, nor would I have a handful of people at my beckon call any time I needed something.

I also didn't consider the fact that without that pain medication, the two incisions through my rib cage and the fact that my lung had been purposefully beaten and bruised would actually hurt a LOT more.

[ Pop Goes My Lung Part 1 // Part 2 // Part 3 // Part 4 // Part 5 // Part 6

It was somewhere around a week before I literally left my parents recliner. I literally couldn't get out myself if it was reclined, because I just could not use any of my core muscles without crying in pain. I had to have my mom or dad help me get up out of a chair any time I needed to go use the restroom, or eat. I slept in the recliner just because a bed was SO uncomfortable.

Even worse than the physical pain though, was the emotional side. It wasn't until I was back home at my parents house that it really hit me what I had just been through. I mean I woke up on a Friday morning just like every other week before that except my lung was no longer functioning. And then I had a weeklong rollercoaster of emotions when I thought I was recovering, and then learned I was getting worse, and visa versa. And then in one fell swoop I was being taken to a different hospital and rushed into surgery in the lingering hours of the night. And then... THEN.... after being constantly watched, monitored, cared for, they up and sent me home to handle it all on my own. (Granted, I wasn't on my own, my mom once again rearranged her work schedule so I was rarely left alone at their home, and my dad and LT put in their fair share of babysitting time)

So I spent somewhere around an entire week or two in tears. I was in pain. Coughing would hurt, breathing would hurt, moving would hurt. And to top it off the pain medication they had me on was making it worse. I couldn't sleep. I would get an hour or two at night. And when I did doze off, I was having the most vivid, outlandish dreams that would wake me up. I was struggling with the mental aspect where I knew my lung was well enough to go home, but my body wasn't recovered enough to be normal again. I was mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted. And it was scary.

People would crack jokes about "oh aren't you back at work yet? Slacker!" and it would send me off the edge into a crying fit.

It was a few weeks before I ventured out of their house. At least four or five weeks before I was able to be up walking around in a semi-pain free state. Six weeks before I even made it back to work. Over six weeks before I even returned to my own house, and even then I had my mom or LT staying with me.

Truth be told, as I sit here writing this today, two months to the date of my spontaneous pneumothorax, I still struggle with it.

I still get SO frustrated that I am not back to "normal". I don't have the physical capabilities I did. I'm still not able to be completely independent. I can't even mow my own grass for god's sake. And for the girl who has always been too stubborn to ask for help, this isn't an easy thing to face.



Pop Goes My Lung: Finally Free!

There's a certain sense of humility that comes with your mom wiping your butt at the age of 25.

[ Pop Goes My Lung Part 1 // Part 2 // Part 3 // Part 4 // Part 5

But, the alternative was my male nurse doing it. And while Nurse Josh kicked ass, I didn't really want him in the literal vicinity of my ass. So, every potty break my lovely mother was graced with the task of official TP'er.

TMI? Letsbereal, you'd all be in the EXACT same position had your vital organ spontaneously pneumoethorax'ed itself.

Anyways, on to less obtrusive topics, following surgery the respiratory nurses came in every few hours to get me to blow into this machine to test my lung and prevent pneumonia or something. I don't remember. I do remember I hated her. HATED. I would cry and moan and beg them to go away because that machine was the most painful thing I had ever been asked to do (I'm allowed to say this because I've never been asked to PUSH while birthing a child, obviously that would trump all)

I logged another weekend at the hospital, watched a snowstorm from my third floor window, puked up everything I tried to eat, and abused the heck out of the morphine drip on my IV. The weekend sucked. Worse than the weekend before where I just leisurely lounged in the other hospital, unaware my lung was being a little conniving jerk not healing on it's own.

I had so many tubes hooked up to me I felt like a science fair experiment. I couldn't even move in my bed without needing help to rearrange everything. Getting up to try and sit in my chair was an event in and of itself. "Roll'er outta bed!"


After a few days I was finally able to move enough to get out of bed and attempt walking. I felt like Baby Bambi toddling around the halls.

I continued to have chest x-rays daily, and I was graced with awesome xray techs who let me sneak peeks of them. My lung seemed to be doing what they wanted it to, and they took me off the wall suction. We all held our breath (ha, had to do it) that my lung would remain inflated on it's own without the help of the suction!

Finally on that dreary Monday morning, my most favorite resident doctor, Luis, came in with a nurse and two biohazard bags. With a big grin on his face, he announced he'd be taking out my chest tube! This was it! That meant my lung was reinflated! I was healed! My grin grew to rival his. Until he started putting latex gloves on and prepping the area, and I realized he would be taking out that chest tube, without any numbing or knocking me out.

I think I may have broken the bones in my mom's hand squeezing them so tightly. But after a few seconds, and the weirdest sensation I have ever felt, suddenly I no longer had a plastic tube shoved into my rib cage!

They removed my IV's and art-lines, they (gasp) let me lose the hospital gown, and put on real clothes for the first time in two weeks. They had me sign some forms, set me up for an appointment two weeks later, told me not to go jump out of any airplanes, and just like that sent me on my way.

Of course, as with all things in my life, I should have known this would not go as smoothly as expected. I'm Chelsea. I can't just have a gaping hole in my lung one week, and be fine the next.