Enough is enough!

After a handful of spontaneous pneumothoraces something had to be done. The probability of reoccurrence increases substantially the more pneumothoraces you have. It felt like I was getting one every fricken fortnight! Today I have an appointment with a surgeon at Auckland Hospital. I’ll come prepared with questions like:

  • What are my options?
  • What is the typical time I’ll spend in hospital after the procedure?
  • How long until I can resume exercising?
  • How long until I can fly again?

Any long term health affects?

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.

Dominating the bike ride

Today I reached an important milestone. I have finally done a bike ride greater than 180 km. I started in Hillcrest and met with the 6:45 am Albany bunch at the top of Albany hill and did the Helensville loop (http://www.bikely.com/maps/bike-path/Helensville-loop38224). I did the second lap solo and made my way back home. The 191 km took me 413 minutes. I was slower on the second lap, as expected after going solo and having already done 95 km. Needless to say today has been a huge milestone towards my IMNZ preparation!

The long road home

Due to my recent pneumothorax, I couldn’t return to Auckland by airplane. The only way to make my way back to the Big Smoke was to travel by land and sea. This morning I’ll catch The Coastal Pacific train from Christchurch to Picton, followed by the Bluebridge ferry from Picton to Wellington. Fortunately mum and dad live in Wellington, so I’ll stay the night there. Tomorrow I’ll catch The Overlander train from Wellington to Auckland, catch a Taxi from Middlemore Station to where I parked my car, and then finally drive to the North Shore. It’s going to a long two days!

Graduation and iffy lung

I’ve been down in Christchurch for the last few days. Tomorrow, I’ll be graduating and receiving my Masters of Engineering. As I’ve already been to a graduation ceremony before (for my Bachelors of Engineering) it’s not too big of a deal for me. But the occasion is still very much so for the family. I’ve got the folks flying down from Wellington, as well as some of my extended family and friends from all over the show to attend this. They want to witness my moment of glory!

That could have all went to custard.

For old times’ sake, my good friend and regular gym buddy hit the gym today. I was feeling great, but become somewhat light-headed half way through a seated leg press set. I stopped, sat down and had a sip of water. The dizziness continued and I became increasingly light sensitive. Something was not right. I tried to make my way to reception to ask for help, but passed out a few steps later. Oxygen deprivation I guess. An ambulance arrived and I was taken to hospital. As I had suspected, I had just had a pneumothorax. A chest x-ray confirmed this, a small 20 mm pneumothorax on my troublesome right lung. Due to the circumstances, namely tomorrow’s graduation, I was compassionately discharged from hospital.

The following day I was able to attend the graduation, to the relief of my parents, without too much issues breathing. The pneumothorax wasn’t big enough to warrant a chest drain and was left to sort its self out.

Learning to swim (again!)

Everyone knows how to run. Whether this is an element of a team sport, jogs around the park, during physical education (P.E.) classes, or merely to catch up to a bus after arriving late! Most people know how to ride a bicycle. In many parts of the world, cycling is a principle mode of transportation and a popular recreational activity. Not everyone can swim.

Due to New Zealand’s geography, most Kiwis live within reach of the ocean. Accordingly, most parents enrol their children into swimming classes. I learnt to swim when I was in primary school. But for some reason or another I have since forgotten! An Ironman contains a 3.8 km swim so it’s vital for me to become a competent swimmer!

Today I enrolled myself in a swim class. From this morning’s one hour lesson, I sense that I’ve got a long way to go before I could even swim 3.8 km, let alone this followed by a 180 km bike ride and a 42.2 km run!