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Respiratory Arrest after effects
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Respiratory Arrest after effects

I was diagnosed with COPD 2 years ago and continued to smoke. On 9/6/08 I had a respiratory arrest and was able to get a 911 call in before I went out. CPR was administered and I was defribrilated. The ER doc said my lungs were completely filled with CO2. My recovery from the arrest has been remarkable and I am scheduled to return to work on 10/26. I walk each day, currently 1 1/4 mile getting my heart rate up to 125 or so. I use a nebulizer twice a day and am on the wean off dosage of the cortisone.
My question is about the discomfort I continue to have on the left side of my chest. It continues to feel bruised.  There are times during the day when the pain goes away but it is there every morning when I get up. I am a thin woman and had lost weight (down to 100#) at the time of my arrest. So far none of my docs can give me a satisfactory answer as to why I have the pain or when it will go away. (X-rays were taken and there were no broken ribs caused by the CPR).
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Persistent chest pain is common following cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and it can occur despite there having been no rib fractures.  Pain can arise from the cartilage that is attached to the front end of your ribs or from the intercostal nerves that run in a groove along the bottom edge of each rib.

Such pain could also originate in one or more nerves as they exit from your spinal cord.

You should request that your doctor refer you to a specialist, preferably an anesthesiologist who specializes in pain control, and may even be on the medical staff of a pain clinic.  That specialist can "map-out" your pain and determine which nerve(s) are the source of the pain.  He/she can then inject the nerve(s) with a local anesthetic and if the pain is relieved, then inject those same nerves with a substance that will permanently deaden those nerves and relieve your pain.

Acupuncture is another technique that has been advocated for pain relief and you would have little to lose by giving it a try, if you are reluctant to follow the first recommendation.

You had a very close call, with the respiratory arrest.  You should try to reconstruct the events of the 24 to 48 hours that preceded your arrest to identify what should have been warning signs.  That way, if you begin to experience those same warning signs again, you will recognize them and be able to seek medical assistance before you have another arrest.  You should also work with your doctor to prepare a written action plan to address worsening of your condition and true emergencies.

You should also make every effort, working with your doctor, to quit smoking if you have not already quit.
2 Comments
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Thank you for your response...After 6 weeks the discomfort seems to be easing up especially after I take my daily walk.  As far as smoking...never again! I can't say that I wouldn't like a cigarette and I think about it every day but the fear of what I went thru has kept me smoke free.  I smoked for 45 years and never went 24 hours without a cigarette.  I can't recommend a respiratory arrest followed by a cardiac arrest ( which I just found out about) as a method to quit smoking...but, it certainly worked for me.  The Lord put His foot print on my butt, sent me back to accomplish something...only time will tell what it is.
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