Tuesday, June 9, 2015
When it comes to primary spontaneous pneumothoraces, I do not fit the textbook profile. According to the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons, PSP is up to 10 times more common in males than in females, with an annual incidence of about 20/100000 patients per year. Risk factors are tall stature and low body mass index, and most often occur during adolescence or soon after. Smoking is also a risk factor. I, on the other hand, am a small 5'2", 120ish pounds female. My first pneumothorax occurred the week before I turned 35. I have never smoked. I have always been relatively healthy, citing an excellent diet and a busy lifestyle that I like to pass off as exercise. I live Salt Lake City, Utah -- a beautiful place, but one with horrific air quality -- and after owning a successful floral design firm for 10 years, I am now a stay-at-home mom to three kids ages 2-11. As far as lung issues in my family history go, I had a younger sister who suffered from Cystic Fibrosis and passed away at age 12, and a grandmother who battled lung cancer. But that's it. I've only known one other person whose lung collapsed spontaneously, which has made this journey a rather lonely one. Its easy to find medical information about the hows and whys of PSP, but despite the abundance of patient message boards floating around on the internet, I have struggled to find specific, detailed, first-person accounts to help me know what to expect as my condition progressed. One can only provide so much information in a paragraph, and so everything I did read blurred together with redundancy and left me with little comfort.
As I laid in bed three weeks post-op expressing this vein of frustration, my husband suggested I relate my story in the detail I myself wished to read, in the hope that I might fill someone else's void. And so what follows are the chronicles of my own journey with chronic PSP.