fresh off a collapsed lung / by Sean Beauford

two weeks ago i had a really bad cough, which lead to some really bad pains in my chest, which lead to a life threatening collapsed lung, which lead to 10 days in the hospital and surgery. the great news is that i'm fine... now.

i'm fuzzy on the details but i remember waking up one day with really sore ribs, writhing in pain on my bed. as crazy as it sounds in retrospect, i didn’t think much of it. just thought it was a freak thing that would soon go away. i was hoping it was just a stomach thing or something.

that night though, while out at an event, i had a really bad cough and nearly fell over. luckily i was able to brace and catch myself, discretely clutching my chest. if i wasn't in public, it probably would've been a wrap as i'm sure i would've just hit the ground. but who wants to be the guy that collapses in the middle of a party? not i. so i survived that instance and was able to make it home, where i decided i should just chill for the night and make a doctors appointment in the morning. i'd much rather a scheduled appointment than wait for hours in an emergency room. i don't like sitting around for that long, tbh. so i slept on it. i woke up and while i wasn't 100% i wasn't in that much pain. i convinced myself that it would go away with rest and that i had more time than i really did. i was supposed to make a doctors appointment that day... but i did not. and i have no real reason why. idk yo, i just don't like having to go to doctors offices and hospitals. this particular day was my day off, so i only had to chill in the crib with my family all day which was so pleasant, any pains paled in comparison. 

the next day while at work, i could literally, barely speak without coughing a hundred times. it was awful, and obvious to everyone but myself that i needed to get help asap. i finally took my family's and co-worker's advice and by lunch time, i was out of the office and on my way to the emergency room.

turns out the emergency room wasn't as bad as i expected. i probably only had to wait about 10 minutes, which was the first of many good signs UPMC Mercy was going to take care of me. they called my name, took me into the room, asked what was wrong, i explained, they did an ultrasound, and informed me immediately that i had a collapsed lung. 

word!? an actual collapsed lung... and not bronchitis or something? like there's something actually wrong with one of the most important organs in my body... not only is not working, but it's actually collapsed!? alright, i guess.

the medical term for a collapsed lung, at least what i had, is pneumothorax. pneumothorax happens when air gets outside the lung and fills the space between the chest and the lung, forcing the collapse. sometimes it's caused by gunshots or stabs or fights or car accidents or other heavy jolts to the system. in rare occurrences it's a result of an air blister on the lung breaking, sending the air outside the lung, where it's not supposed to be. in cases like mine, all it takes to break this air blister (or bleb) is a bit of forceful coughing, which is crazy because you can't really see it coming or prevent it.

shortly after i was diagnosed, the doctors put a tube in my chest to inflate and repair the lung, so that they could eventually operate on it. this tube would remain in chest for the next 10 days until i was finally discharged from the hospital. this tube hurt. a lot.

i never imagined when walking into that emergency room that i wouldn't see my home again for 10 days. i didn't bring an overnight bag or anything. i went in on a tuesday and once i heard i had to stay a few days, i figured i'd be out by saturday at the latest. but that was until i knew how bad the collapse was. apparently the collapse was pretty major, even for a collapse which is already bad enough. the collapse was so impactful, my lung had begun to push against my heart. i was told that if i would have tried to put off getting help for even a few more hours, i might not have made it.

how crazy is it that i could be that close to death and not even know it? i wonder how many times that's happened. what i do know is that i'm extremely grateful that God looked out for me in spite of my stubbornness (stupidity). it's a big reminder that i should never take life for granted and that it's very possible for me to not have it. i'm not invincible. i will also never ever ever again put off going to a doctor or hospital when something feels that wrong. i'll definitely, probably over do it now and go every time i have even a hiccup.

this was my first time having to stay in the hospital overnight as a patient. i've actually never even been hurt before; no sprained ankles, broken fingers, torn muscles, no stitches, no nothing, so this was all super new to me. 

i learned a lot and gained a lot of perspective from my time in the hospital. because i had a hospital roommate my entire 10 days there, i have a deeper understanding of what it means to be compassionate and empathetic to people's problems. each of my four roommates did things that under normal circumstances would drive me crazy but because i was in a hospital having just narrowly escaped death, i was honestly just appreciative of the fact that i was alive to hear what they were doing. 

another thing is that any medicine or sickness-induced idiosyncrasy that may annoy me, may be necessary for their survival. i imagined that their loved ones would rather endure the loud snoring and bad smells than endure the loss of a father or uncle or brother. that thinking made it possible for me to be pretty much unfazed during my stay. this kind of thinking should definitely be applied to people in the streets.

we could all stand to be more understanding of what our fellow humans are going through. we can't always just look at how things affect us, especially if they actually don't (most of the time, they don't). there's usually a reason why the next person is doing this thing we say we can't stand. if we're able to put ourselves in their shoes or understand that it's bigger than us, perhaps we won't be so quick to judge or allow ourselves to be bothered.

one thing i like about hospitals (or at least UPMC Mercy) is the abundance of positive vibes. everyone is mad nice and sort of roots for you, wanting to see you do well. the nurses, the doctors, your roommates... there's a sense of "we're all in this together. good luck!" that everyone seems to automatically pick up on.

with me being there for 10 days, i felt like the OG of the floor. i seen patients come and go, and i got to be quite acquainted with the nursing staff, who were all awesome in case you were wondering. the doctor who performed the surgery is the man too. shout out out to Dr. Awais! and Celia and Brandi and Matthew and Cindy and Sheryl and Coleen and Tina and Megan and Yuva and Michael and Anthony and everyone else who helped. big big big thanks to all my family who visited (everyone who visited is family) - i appreciate you all so much. shout out to everyone who hit me up to check on me - that means a ton too. nothing is taken for granted.

i'm happy to finally be out of the hospital and back home. i'm anxious to start working again but per the doctor's orders, i must chill. and as much as i don't want to listen, i absolutely will. in a few weeks i'll be back on my feet and back out here but until then i'm taking it as physically easy as i can take it. surgery recovery is no joke, nahmean. "my body different, i'm breathin' different, you understand what i'm sayin'?"

also, i discovered this gem of a youtube channel during my last day. there's enough Michael Jordan era Bulls games on here to occupy all the spare time i'll have for the rest of my life.