Her breath cut short, a sharp pain shot through her chest. The room seemed to be spinning around her. Junior Portia Renee felt these symptoms before she learned that her left lung had collapsed.
Portia was working at the register of Warner’s Deli midday Saturday, Aug. 17. In shock, and confused about the situation she was in, Portia told the managing staff and they assumed she was just having a panic attack. However, she knew it was more severe.
“It felt like I had just torn something in my back or I broke my collarbone all of a sudden. I would have never had guessed it had anything to do with my lungs until it was hard to breathe,” Portia said.
Immediately, Portia’s mother, Gina Renee received a call from the staff while she was at home. Gina ran to her car, went to Warner’s Deli to pick Portia up, and rushed to the hospital.
“I ran in and said ‘Please come help me. My daughter can’t breathe,” Gina said.
Patiently waiting for an hour at KU Med, Portia learned she had a bleb on her lung. A bleb causes air to leak into a space on the lung where it creates pressure and causes a collapse.
“It took [the doctors] forever to figure out what was going on,” Gina said. “They weren’t taking it very seriously. All I wanted was to figure what exactly happened and why.”
Portia had a chest tube placed and was released from the hospital three days late. The tube was placed by cutting into her chest and threading the tube through a metal rod.
“Seeing my sister the in the shape she was in was very scary,” Portia’s sister Margaux Renee said. “She’s normally a very outgoing, upbeat person so it was weird.”
She returned to school the week after she was released and resumed her weekend adventures with her IB friends playing frisbee in the park.
Portia was in the chemistry room while teacher Mr. Bardwell was teaching a Chem 1 class. Sitting patiently at the desk in the back of the room, Portia waited while doing her Chem 2 homework. Abruptly, she felt a sudden pain in her back and neck. In that moment she knew exactly what had happened.
Her lung had collapsed. Again.
Jokingly, Portia suggested as an experiment she would run as many laps around the classroom as she could to see how much pain she could take. Beginning to walk around she took one short breath and found out she needed to gome home.
The Renee family was extremely disconsolate. When Portia woke up from having chest tubes put in (for the second time in three weeks) she noticed her brother standing by her hospital bed clutching a big bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups he brought for her. She watched her mother harping at the nurses for not helping her get out of pain. The thing that stuck out the most however, was her dad crying. She had never seen him like that before.
After going through putting a chest tube in twice, Portia would now have to go through a more intensive surgery due to two lung collapses. The doctor will make an incision between her ribs, surgically staple off the collapsed part of her lung and seal up the functioning part. This surgery is supposed to prevent another collapse from happening even if another bleb is found on her lung.
“It’s still scary though because even if the surgery is successful, it’s literally still like a coin toss as to whether or not my lung will collapse again,” Portia said.