A history of my spontaneous pneumothoraces

I did a 29 km run (145 minutes) today and a core workout. Feeling great but later this evening I suspect I’ve got a slight pneumothorax. This one isn’t big enough to affect breathing but it is unsettling getting these this often. Or am I being too sensitive about my lungs? Either way, makes it hard to focus on training!

Pneumothoraces have plagued me for some time. I had my first punctured lung back in 2006. It was the last week of my first semester ever at university. Admittedly I was feeling homesick and had already booked my flight home. It wasn’t to be and I spent the entire two week break confined to a Christchurch hospital bed. One day, out of the blue, I felt a sudden onset of sharp pain in my chest. I was in a chemistry lab at the time. I know. Clearly it was due to all the excitement of titrations! I left the lab to get some water. I started to feel light headed and dizzy. At this stage I knew something was not right and gingerly made my towards the health centre. I made it to the doctors and was rushed to the hospital as I was now having trouble breathing. A chest x-ray confirmed that my right lung was well collapsed. I had a chest drain inserted and a bunch of x-rays. It took longer than expected for my lung to heal itself. I was offered the option of surgery, but cannot remember why I decided against it. Things soon returned to normal, or so I thought…

My second pneumothorax happened sometime in October 2011. I had just wrapped up my Master of Engineering and was staying at home in Wellington for a week prior to moving to Auckland to start work. I was just walking and felt a pain I knew all too well. Unfortunately there wasn’t too much I could do about it. I soldiered on and eventually got it checked out. Yep. Another spontaneous pneumothorax! It was too small to warrant a drain and soon fixed itself.

Another one followed but this time was brought on by a run. I recall struggling to run anything more than 50 metres without having to stop and catch my breath. It was very concerning and I stopped exercising completely for a month. This was before my Ironman training.

From what I can gather, I’m of a particular build where pneumothoraces occur most often: Male… Check. Tall and slender… Check. Young… Check. Fit… Check! FYI I am not a smoker nor do I hang around smokers.

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