Update from DownUnder


I left the manservant in charge of the kingdom after “cashing” in some of his frequent flyer miles to fly to Australia last Monday.  After a few hours sleep, and a lot of caffeine, I accompanied my son to see a specialist about his recent spontaneous pneumothorax.

Apparently the economist was born with congenital blebs which are air-filled blisters/cysts on the surface of his lungs.   These are typically on the apex (top) of the lungs and as mentioned before are more likely in tall, thin individuals- though the exact reason for this is not known.

Because these blebs are just like a thin walled blister  they can rupture, which leaks air into the chest cavity – this air changes the pressure inside the chest cavity and causes the lung to be pushed away from the chest wall and so to collapse.

This generally occurs in the age group 20-40 and occurs during “strenuous” activity.   The highest incidences occur in young men in the 20-30 year range, a time when young men are more likely to be involved in this “strenuous” activity.  After 30 they are getting lazier and after 40 apparently there is so little “strenuous”  activity that it is unlikely to occur or re-occur.

Having had it happen once there  is a 30% chance that it will re-occur and if so most likely in the 12 months after the first occurrence.   If it does happen again it will be “spontaneous”  as before – there will be no warning signs or symptoms to watch out for  –  but, as the Professor mentioned,   “he will certainly know what it is”  (alluding to the delay between it happening and my son seeking medical attention before!).

Anyway – if it happens a second time they will do surgery where the blebs are removed and the lung stapled off. The procedure is called thoracoscopy, bleb resection, and talc pleurodesis.   Under thoracoscopy an endoscope (camera) is inserted into the chest through a small incision – the bleb is removed (he made it sound like it is “sanded” away) and the section of lung under the bleb/s is sealed or stapled.

The second part of the surgery is pleurodesis where the lung is “glued” to the chest wall so that it cannot separate from the chest wall in the future.   A special type of talc and something called bleomycin is used.   This is apparently 98% successful at preventing a further pneumothorax.

So, after all the big words, the professor said that in a couple of weeks the economist can start easing himself back into his “strenuous” activities and continue on as normal.

But, the Professor added  “you should never take up scuba diving”…..

My son asked:   “What about sky diving?”

Heaven help me!  Looks like I’ll be drinking for years!

(I am travelling without a laptop and my kids and parents have limited download internet plans so please excuse my lack of attention here for another week –  I leave here on Saturday).



33 responses

  1. Oh dear!
    I guess the good parts is that it is well known, the responses to it happening once and then twice are well known and there are steps to be taken to prevent it ever happening again….but you are going to need really good drinking buddies for a long time if the economist is talking “skydiving”.

    My daughter did a tandem jump once. Her boyfriend (at the time) went with her so that I could stay home and drink. 😉

    • LOL – yes, I’m certainly going to need drinking buddies. The economist apparently had a sky diving jump booked but missed out when he was admitted to hospital that day! I guess he’s planning on re-scheduling! 🙂

  2. Oh. THOSE BOYS. Why do they do this to their mothers? Mine is presently on the road to San Francisco, helping a friend move down there. I bit my tongue and didn’t nag him about seat belts, putting up safety flashers if they have to pull over on the road, not showing the cash in his wallet at gas stations and dodgy cafes, etc. He wouldn’t listen if I told him, so I just have to hope he uses his “common sense,” which I think is really uncommon in the 20 – 30 age group for men.

    I am glad you were able to go out there and be with your son. It’s so much better to see them in person, even if they try to give you a heart attack by saying “skydiving” after a discussion about surgical procedures.

    Maybe Lauri and I can join you some time for a real binge! We can go to a classy bar and complain about our kids while running up a $100-per-drinker tab. 😀

      • I wanna toast to us. Us moms get so little appreciation in life, after nine months of morning sickness and maternity clothes, stretch marks, stinky diapers, that first day on the bus to kindergarten, then fast forward to drivers’ training and the first permit, the phone call from the police station, the party where you find out vodka and beer were flowing, college, another phone call from the police station….

        I need to lie down. I will take a nap, and when I get up I will pour myself a tall glass of wine.

        • Hahahahaha!
          You make me laugh and tear up at the same time!

          You want to know what? I know that we were three of the best moms that ever mommed.
          Aaaaah. 7:30 pm. Red wine time, then early bed….this fretting about old doggies is wearin’ me out! Calli’s responding to her meds today…so….one day at a time!

  3. I hope your son will recover very quickly and not reofend. You can have a glass of your so good australian wine to celebrate his recovery.
    Do you know what happens now : my firefighter-rescuer clearer, is on departure to … Japan ! … Our sons make us creazy ! …

  4. Oh my goodness! How scary. I’m glad you were able to get down there so you can know the full story and get to see your son and…sorta…ease your mind…? What a terrible thing to have to live with as such a young, active guy. Um, and as that guy’s mother! Best wishes to him and to you!

  5. I’m glad to hear where you have been. (I was wondering.) Have a wonderful time visiting allll your family. I will say a prayer for your son that he will continue to get stronger until he is completely recovered.
    Know that I have missed reading your blog.
    Denise 😉

  6. I’m so glad to hear you and the economist are well. You must feel so much better to have gone with him to hear the details.

    What did the doctor say about sky diving??

    Those sons know no limits.

  7. Good gravy. These kids… they owe us infinite amounts of something(?) for the agony they put us through. Keep drinking. It’s what separates us from the apes and keeps us from eating our young.

    PS: I’m glad there’s a solid diagnosis and plan of action for the economist of action.

  8. Maybe he will get one of those high speed motorcycles too and sky dive out of it onto a windsurfer with a big sail. (my son loves to do dangerous things too – “I dove off this waterfall…” “I want a motorcycle”…”we went hiking for a week and this blizzard came”…nowadays I think it goes through one ear and out the other on me, I am immune after being worried for a couple of years)
    The surgery sounds simple actually, so if it turns out he needs it, that will be cut and dry.
    “After 30 they are getting lazier and after 40 apparently there is so little “strenuous” activity that it is unlikely to occur or re-occur.” LOL…aye. I can couch for that.

  9. Oh wow! I’ve treated a few guys with spont. Pneumo’s. They are always in total shock, because like your Doc said, most are really tall and lanky and in fairly good shape…and pop! suddenly they can’t breathe too well.

    Best wishes to your son for a full and uneventful recovery

  10. That is fascinating and amazing how well they can fix the problem if it reoccurs. Hopefully it won’t but it must be a relief to know what to expect and / or knowing what to DO.

  11. That does sound scary but his attitude is a bit amazing, even if it does drive a parent to drink. Skydiving? I hope he was kidding.

    It’s good that you were there for him. 🙂

  12. I’m glad you got to go to Australia to see him and get information in person. So hard to get through things like this from the far side of the world.

  13. I suppose zip-lining is right out…

    The doctor probably expressly forbade scuba diving because of the pressure it puts on the lungs – my cousin got the bends and was bed-ridden for over six months.

    But it looks like with good sense he – and with good wine you – will be just fine.

  14. OMG Emjay what a string of ordeals you’ve had this month! Why mothers drink indeed. Well, the good news is you guys caught all this in plenty of time. Modern medicine is great at turning many medical problems into no big deal these days. May your son be fully recovered soon and may you have total peace after all this! Hugs.

  15. This has been a learning experience for all of us Emjay. Hope the economist can modify his own behaviour, particularly during the next year or two ……I suppose it’s too late for you to take the wooden spoon out of the drawer to dissuade him from skydiving?

    I wish him good health and no further recurrences.

  16. Hi, Emjay.
    Excuse my long absence from blogging.
    Once we have a child, whether it is he or she, we seem to be destined to be tested in many ways. I am happy that there is alway a balancing drink for us. lol I hope your son will be able to go without the complicated procedures you mentioned above.

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