Geeking Out About Lungs

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Herds of Birds - click for link

Herds of Birds – click for link

I stood transfixed, with my finger deep in the girl’s chest.

She was breathing easier now.

With every breath, I felt soft, spongy lung tissue expand against my finger.

How incredible is that, I thought. Perfect lungs doing their job. Almost ruined by the knife of a callous boyfriend.

I had been slow on the uptake with intercostal drains. Until Tuesday, one ICD from start to finish could take me 45 minutes. But Tuesday I was in a zone. My hands knew what to do, and they did it. I even remembered to side-step the spurt of blood as I breached the haemothorax.

And because I was calm, I noticed the sensation of an expanding lung for the first time.

It was sort of a life-affirming moment. A little like delivering your first baby.

The nurse cleared his throat. “Doctor,” he brought me down to Earth. I zoned back in, and took hold of the drain he had been holding out to me for who knows how long.

Drain in.

Sutures in.

A few days from now the ICD will be removed and she will carry on with her young life.

But does she realise what miracles expand and deflate within her chest?

10 thoughts on “Geeking Out About Lungs

  1. Beautifully written, and well done! I also vividly remember my first (successful) chest tube -though it was not as wonderful a memory or outcome you have described.

      • Sadly, the patient was flown in after an MvA at highway speeds. They were already doing chest compressions when we got her, and as we were continuing the code and I was putting in the chest tube, they were looking up her identification and she was undergoing palliative treatment for stage 4 CA. We ended the code shortly after that😦. Very sad.

  2. Great story, and great experience!
    I remember being fascinated by the lungs in the cadaver lab. The were so soft! I can only imagine that alive lungs feel amazing.

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