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spontaneous pneumothorax
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spontaneous pneumothorax

I've seen a few other posts regarding this issue, but my situation is a little different.

I was diagnosed (by x-ray) with a spontaneous pneumothorax due to blebs back in November 2007. I think the doctors said I was about 25% down; whatever it was, it was enough for them to insert a chest tube. I got to keep it in for a week because this all happened two days before Thanksgiving. The follow-up x-rays showed that I was perfectly reinflated, no problems. Then I started hurting again once the hydrocodone wore off.

Now here's the confusing part: The pain that led up to my collapse was the same pain I'd been having for nearly three years prior to being diagnosed. That pain started with symptoms similar to those of a heart attack. I had sharp, sudden pains in my chest and a tingling down my arm. That day I was taken to the ER. The only test performed there was an EKG--no x-rays, which sounds odd now that I think about it. Unable to find anything, the doctor sent me home with some extra strength naproxen. The pain went away for a while, but often recurred on a smaller scale. Sometimes it was in my shoulder, and sometimes it went all the way through to my back--always around my chest on the left side. This continued until the collapse in November, when the pain came back even more strongly than the initial onset years before.

Was this also a collapse? The doctors couldn't say, nor could they tell me why it happened. Hence the name "spontaneous," right? There were a few differences in the type and severity of pain, but overall the two worst instances were very similar. Both times, the pain was worst around my chest and down my side, along the ribs. Also, in the years in between, the pain seemed to linger around my upper chest, in my shoulder and even so deep as to penetrate through to my back around the same point.

As I said, the pain returned after my "re-inflation." Some of it is the same as before, mainly that part around my shoulder and chest as just described. It's a little duller now, though that might be due to pain killers. However, there is a new pain, one that feels as if it's in my lungs. I went back to two different doctors about this. One ran a plethora of tests with no results: CT scan, echocardiogram, pathology, everything but pulmonary tests (which, in hindsight, may be needed?). He believes the pain is from an inflamation (inflammation) of connective tissue in my ribs. The other, who ordered the x-ray which discovered the pneumothorax, simply told me that the pain is from pleurisy resulting from the pneumothorax. Is he right? Is that really all this mysterious, recurring pain could be? I certainly hope so, but can't help wondering if it is in fact some greater, sinister condition. If so, wouldn't that have been found through the other doctor's testing?

One final complication: I have had linear morphea, a form of the autoimmune disorder scleroderma, since I was about six or seven years old. Every doctor I've talked to has told me that this has nothing to do with my pneumothorax, but I'm throwing it out there for consideration nonetheless.

Questions, comments, and advice--anything you may have to say on the matter--are welcome.

Oh, I almost forgot--the doctor who says I'm only suffering from pleurisy prescribed me some Lyrica for the pain. I hate it and want to get off it. I don't like pills at all.

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