David becomes an inpatient

Regular readers know that I don’t generally post about personal matters on this blog, but this touches on my professional life enough, I think, to mention.

I’ve never been admitted to a hospital as an inpatient before a couple of days ago. I’ve never had oxygen tubes in my nostrils. I’ve never had to press a call button to ask for help going to the toilet. I’m trying to see it as a learning opportunity and as an important professional experience instead of just a very unpleasant one.

I’ve been walking around for days with an increasingly uncomfortable tightness in my chest that started to move from discomfort to pain on Monday. A visit to an urgent care center near my home revealed a diagnosis that I hadn’t expected. My right lung had completely collapsed.

I don’t recommend it. It is very unpleasant.

It seems I’ll be here with a chest tube for at least a couple more days, perhaps longer.

My supervisor is discouraging me from doing any work, so I may continue to blog when I feel clear-headed because I find it a pleasant way to make time pass a little faster.

In the meanwhile: Any suggestions on how to make an inpatient stay more pleasant?

31 thoughts on “David becomes an inpatient

  1. Sadly, I don’t have any good suggestions to make your stay more pleasant. However, I did want to send my best wishes and thoughts for a speedy recovery. A collasped lung does not sound like much fun. I hope you get well soon!

  2. Damn! What’s the cause of something like that? Your prognosis is good, I hope, get well soon! (alas I don’t have any hints for you either, ‘cept maybe get some good books to read. I read Snow Crash for the first time last month – can’t believe it had never been recommended to me by another librarian, what with the powerful librarian character who shows up halfway through…)

  3. Last time I was in the hospital I painted my toenails blue, but that might not be the kind of thing you were looking for. Books are good — I got through Lord of the Rings for the first time because there was not. a. darned. thing. else. to. do.

  4. Oh no! I’m glad they can fix such things, but OUCH!!!!

    For passing the time, I recommend friending a bunch of people on Twitter and watching their lives scroll by. Alternatively, chat with people in the LSW Meebo Room (I can get you the URL and password if you email me). Singing songs that get stuck in nurses’ heads is always a satisfying revenge for the things they have to do to you, too.

    I hope you get back to normal soon.

  5. Ack, I’m sorry to hear this! Getting someone to smuggle in treats helps brighten the day in addition to the other suggestions and websurfing aimlessly on any thought that crosses your mind. I hope you recover completely and soon 🙂

  6. I was just thinking today I hadn’t seen you around!! So sorry to hear and sending get well soon vibes in your direction!

    Work on your Runescape skills!!

    I have delicioused a bunch of addictive online games here: http://del.icio.us/PhireAngel/games

    Otherwise, ask someone to teach you to knit–it’s relatively instantly gratifying and you get to wave metal needles at people.

  7. Dear Mr. David,

    It sounds like spontaneous pneumothorax. But there could be endogenous obstructive causes as well. If there is an obstruction within the airways that too can lead to something called absorptive collapse, in which case all the air in segments distal to the obstruction collpases. But in case of external aetiologies like pressure of air building up in chest cavity requires chest tube insertion.

    My best wishes for you to recover soon. Keep blogging as you like it or jus think of all those wishes that you wanted to fulfill but did not have had the time out of your job !!

    Best wishes.

  8. I’m sorry to hear these news. Best Wishes to get well rapidly. I saw one of your photos here in your blog weeks ago, you don’t seem to be tall and thin to get a spontaneous pneumothorax; however some friends here in the library says it happened after doing underwater fishing.
    Good Wishes

  9. Sorry to read the news – trust you will be fully reinflated shortly. In the mean time my tip… sleep sweet sleep. Fills time and promotes healing (check the evidence!)

  10. David: This is a most alarming and distressing occurrence. Please know that we in the library community value your work immensely and hope that whatever caused your current trouble is a treatable aberration and not the sign of something terribly serious and long-term life-threatening. You are an irreplaceable contributor to library improvement efforts worldwide. Please take care of yourself.

    Was there information in your inpatient packet about the library of the hospital you are in? If not, you could spend your time while in your sickbed writing a letter to the CEO of the hospital asking that he or she ensure that patients be informed of the existence of such valuable resources. And if there is no library in the hospital you are in, you could lobby from your bed for the establishment of one—just kidding.

    Please take care of yourself. We readers really should scold you if we notice that you are blogging more than someone who should be convalescing should. But that’d be hard for us, as we all value your postings so much and learn so much from them. Still, as we want you in the best of health over the long haul we will just have to let you take it easy for a time. Best wishes to your wife, who must be torn between loving you with all her heart right now and wanting to wring your neck for overdoing to it to such an extent that your lung collapsed!


  11. You people are awfully nice. Thanks for all the well-wishes.

    To answer some questions:

    • Paul, Gaurav, Iskandar and Hope: It was/is a spontaneous pneumothorax. There no trauma and there is no sign of infection.
    • Paul: I loved Snow Crash and keep meaning to read Cryptonomicon, but reading books is a little difficult with pain meds.
    • Iris: Thanks, but I’m typing a little too slowly for chat (I move my right arm very little because I don’t want to pull on the chest tube).
    • Thanks for the links to games, Abs!
  12. Good Grief! Please get better soon. As for passing the time….
    -Good books
    -Get somebody to smuggle in pizza and real food
    -WiFi play around online…Second Life or just Solitaire.

    A friend of ours who was in hospital for a long time hooked his Sony PSP up the hospital’s TV and played video games.

  13. Ouch! and scary too. My brother had the same experience, but it showed up in the middle of class while he was teaching.

    Biggest problem is something that doesn’t require a lot of focused thinking. Recreational reading – scifi short stories are good. And solitaire even with real cards can be mesmerizing enough.

  14. I find it helpful to have visitors who bring gifts of love (or money), and this includes musicians from the music therapy department and the dogs from the pet therapy department. Do cats make rounds? Feline-based medicine?

    I hear some cats, knowing we need them because we are unwell, bring us gifts of birds. They mean well.

    get better,

  15. Feel better and get out of there soon. Hospitals suck, too many sick people.

    Also, don’t do that collapsed lung thing again.


  16. Yikes! I do hope you feel better soon!I can’t think of anything to add to the list of ideas, but if I do, I’ll let you know.

  17. My hospital experience is limited to an ED visit for a broken arm, but I found morphine made the stay a lot more pleasant (actually, while high as a kite, I advised one of the orderlies that he should try morphine “because it makes this place a LOT easier to take.” He said he’d consider it).

    If those mean nurses won’t give you enough drugs to make things fun, though, I highly recommend a personal DVD player or laptop, and a selection of good movies. Get well soon!

  18. Dear David,
    Just keep blogging, listening to your ipod, watching tv and dvd, invite as much company as you can bear, and when doctors or nurses come play the roll of patient very well. But remember when they are gone try to make the most of it.
    Get out of the hospital as soon as possible. And above all get well soon.

    Regards Dr Shock

  19. David, hope you’re starting to feel better. Do take it easy. I’ve offered you some suggestions from my time as a knee surgery/thyroidectomy/infectious patient, but might as well join the party here:

    -Outside food
    -Magazines/comics – pain meds and books don’t mix
    -See if the hospital library can bring you DVDs or the like – some do
    -Stay ahead of the pain – don’t let it get excruciating before asking for something
    -Clean yourself as much as possible. Hospitals always make me feel nasty.
    -Listen to your supervisor. I know it’s boring, but you shouldn’t be doing work. Except to sign off on review changes. Ahem. 🙂
    -Make sure to thank you wife for how wonderful I’m sure she’s being.

  20. You need a stuffed animal and a real quilt. Then you will be able to sleep, sleep, sleep….

    Bunnies are the best, imho. – CJ

  21. About ten years ago I spent a week in a hospital recovering from surgery. I took several books on tape and spent many hours flat on my back listening to them. In addition to books on tape/cd/downloaded from your local public library, try the BBC’s online service. BBC7 in particular has a wide variety of comedy, drama, etc. Beware of what you listen to, though. One of the books I listened to was Evelyn Waugh’s The Loved One. It gave me some very strange dreams. Good luck and get well soon!

  22. DR with the lung issue said: In the meanwhile: Any suggestions on how to make an inpatient stay more pleasant?

    Been hospitalized a few times myself. Best bet?
    Drug induced coma. Yeah, your trachea is sore but you don’t remember a thing!
    Wish I’d had this option on some of the nastier stays.

    Next best bet. Hypnotherapy. “You’re not in a hospital. You’re in a spa in belgium and the chest tube is a rejuvenation machine.”

    Get well soon and don’t hit your ins. max limit!

  23. Pingback: davidrothman.net » Blog Archive » NEJM Video: Chest-Tube Insertaion

  24. Pingback: davidrothman.net » Blog Archive » Pooped