When it’s hard to breathe…

A wide known rule to any flight attendant speech is the child speech…

In case of a loss of cabin pressure face masks will drop down. Place your face mask over your mouth and pull the straps. People with children put your face mask on first…

Or something like that… you get the idea.

Anyway I can say that the last few weeks I have really struggled with my putting my mask on and well… breathing.

This blog will be focused on my experiences the last couple of weeks and not my kid’s. She will someday grow up and be able to tell her story, in depth, on her terms (probably not on her mom’s dating blog… at least hopefully not). I’m only saying this because this will seem self involved but that’s because well this blog is. 😉

So a few weeks ago my daughter called me from her dad’s house and said she was having strong pains in her side. It was hard to breathe in from the pain. She called around 6pm and was able to talk to me so I gave her the usual “you’ll be fine” mom speech.

You probably pulled something in your side during your nap. Take a hot shower and roll up your heating blanket as a heating pad. If it still hurts tomorrow I will take you to see the Dr.

I then gave her the same speech when she called at 2am. I don’t really remember that conversation.

That would be a red flag for most parents but my daughter had called me twice the night before this around 5am to talk about her driving class… once for 10 minutes and then again for 2 minutes.

Enough for me to say…

And we are done. Love you!

So when she called right at 7am still in a lot of pain, crying hysterically, having a hard time breathing, I knew something was wrong.

I called off work, my voice shaking and picked her up. As I’m driving I remember thinking “should I be calling an ambulance? Nah! I can drive faster than them.”

This is the moment when the intense anxiety began.

I picked my daughter up and headed straight to Children’s hospital. We were brought directly to a room and a doctor seen us within minutes. He shook his head and scratched his temples as my daughter described her symptoms. He was stumped.

He ordered a X-ray and within an hour the doctor came in and gave us the news.

My beautiful daughter’s left lung collapsed to less than half of its size…

My reaction:

This was my actual reaction and words to the doctor.

How did this happen?

She doesn’t do sports, hadn’t had anything traumatic happen and was one of the most laid back kids I know. Not an ideal candidate for everything I had thought about a collapsed lung.

Apparently the doctor tells me this happens to tall and skinny young adults. More often in guys than girls. I tell my daughter it is “supermodel probs”

In these type of bodies, lungs form blisters (blebs) on the top of the lungs. Then when these blisters pop they create a hole in the lung. The air that is within the lung leaks into the chest cavity and pushes it down causing it to “collapse”.

The first step for a collapsed lung is to do a chest tube. An incredibly painful process of putting a plastic tube in my daughter’s side between her ribs that leads to the empty space in the chest cavity to allow the air to escape. The tube then leads to a machine with water that bubbles as the air escapes the chest cavity. The hope is all the air escapes, the bubbles stop and the lung heals itself.

The surgery for the first tube was planned for less than an hour after the test results. I watched my baby girl, terrified, going into a room full of about 10 people.

My sister, Avery’s dad and I were all standing outside of the room before she was put under. She had taught me (and her dad) some dirty words in ASL. In between the giant I love yous, her dad and I signed all the inappropriate phrases she had taught us. It broke up the anxiety and she was laughing. It was a moment.

It was in between another double dirty word sign that the nurse said,

Ummm.. you guys can go in there. We are still waiting on the surgeon.

We then all laughed for a while and walked in. We were doing all of these dirty signs, in a hallway, in front of 10 people and could have come right into the room.

The surgery came and went and the next few days are a blur. It was 4 nights of no sleep, pain levels no less than a 6, not being able to leave the bed for most nights and feeling absolutely, positively, completely helpless.

There is something that triggers you as a mama when your kid is white as a sheet, in so much pain she can’t cry and nothing you can do. I don’t wish it on any mama and feel beyond sympathy for mamas who experience this more than once.

My life for these days was living for the next event. The next dose… the next doctor visit… the next hour. Then after a few days of endless bubbles in the machine it was time for the next surgery.

Yes after a few days the machine was bubbling like a fish tank still. The doctors determined she needed more surgery. This time it was not just another painful chest tube. This time it also included removing a piece of her lung (where the blisters were) and scraping up her chest cavity so the area would swell to meet where the top of the lung was. This process was compared to a Brillo pad being rubbed against the inside of her chest wall.

Think an intense knee scrape,

in your lungs,

where you breathe.

Throw another new location of a chest tube in and it was the pain before times 10. This surgery did not have such a light hearted beginning. This time we knew about the pain… or at least we thought we did.

Her dad and I stood by her bedside after the surgery. She continued to say she can’t breathe. The pain is too bad and she needs help. I begged the nurse for oxygen for my daughter. Even if her oxygen level was high enough anything to help her.

The children’s hospital post op room itself is a chaos I hope most people don’t have to go through. I thought “this is barbaric.” The soul cries of the kids, beeps of the machines and talking of doctors and nurses. All noise that melds together and yet is distinct. I had to find a chair to sit down. The room, my kid and lack of sleep made my room start to spin.

When I did leave the hospital room it was just as bad. Seeing all the name tags with P on them made me feel sad. The P‘s stood for parents. All people in the same club, the helpless parent group.

My kid’s dad and I switched nights at the hospital after a few nights. We found the hospital chair = 0 sleep which = no help. Not an equation that was sustainable for either of us.

The first night I showed up and my dogs had shit and peed on my carpet. I did a basic clean up, shut my door and went to bed. In four or five I was back to the hospital.

The second night, I let my dogs out and one of them had a standoff with a skunk. He lost. The best part was the look of disgust when he walked past one of my other dogs and my dog gave him major stink face side eye.

The actual face of my dog Dougie after a few times washing him. I laughed at this. What else was I going to do? I couldn’t cry. If I did I wouldn’t have stopped.

After several days of the hospital chaos my daughters lung had healed and the bubbles finally stopped. She was released!

However, the pain didn’t stop for my daughter and we had several nights/days of pain, another trip to ER and more getting through “the next event.”

Throughout this entire time I kept my soldier face on. I could feel my emotions right at the surface of my skin. I could tear up and push it down quickly. This was status quo for me. My sister says “Jill your strength is how strong you are. What you need to work on is how strong you are.”

This was a skill I learned early on growing up with my dad. Once I cried, my dad had won. My dad was physically stronger than I was but I learned that I could fight back with a still face like no other. It didn’t matter what happened I wasn’t going to cry.

It’s not healthy but it’s me. Again something I’m working on.

So it was no surprise that last Thursday at work I’m once again feeling the emotions next to my skin feeling. I’m tearing up and pushing down as people lovingly ask about my daughter.

I leave work a little early and begin the drive home. I can feel this time that I’m sick. I’m dizzy and nauseous. Within a few minutes of the hour and a half drive I am throwing up. Then I’m ugly crying. I can’t stop either. Stuck in traffic, vomit all over myself and nose and mouth covered in snot.

I had lost it.

It was too much.

I was done.

It was at this moment the hottest man ever knocked on my window….

just kidding but I needed an emotion break

I called my daughters dad, he took her for the night, and called off work. I needed to cry and sleep. I needed to stop. Friday morning was no better. A terrible migraine followed and luckily my daughter was feeling a lot better. She even had enough energy to help me.

By Saturday, after two weeks, we finally had a lot more positive moments than negative. The pain was getting beyond tolerable and every “Ow” was because of a hit knee or other common reason. Plus I was able to just mentally and physically relax. I finally put my face mask on. I could finally breathe.


I would hate to end any blog without acknowledging the horrific incident that happened in my backyard and one of my favorite places in the world … downtown Dayton.

I am still trying to process and heal from my personal trauma. I know it is nothing compared to the traumatic situation that occurred but my emotional capacity is fragile at best right now. I need to distance myself from the news.

My daughter and I started at 3am on Sunday morning and I woke up every couple of hours to hear updates. It was too much and I could feel the healing that I was doing dwindle.

I can’t say what I think and feel about it very eloquently so I’ll leave it to a man that can:


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