Greetings, visitors to this infrequently-updated blog. As I don’t spend much time doing exciting things anymore, I’ve decided I either need to write vicariously through my father (more on that in a second) or end up having more diseases and maladies. So just like last July, I decided to have my left lung collapse for a second time – hooray for a new pneumothorax! The difference was that this time I didn’t wait for two weeks after the first stabbing pains shot up my left side; I knew what it was immediately and I went into the doctor the very next day.

What I thought would be a quick confirmation of the partial collapse and then a surgery schedule/release turned into a week-long stay in the hospital and a lot of time in bed with IV catheters, chest tubes, stitches, spinal epiderals, and catheter-catheters (yes, that kind). I’d never been under general anesthetic before, so that was kind of fun to discover that yes, it’s just like how they say it is – one second I’m lying on a a hard table in a gown, and the next I’m staring up a bunch of different faces and wondering why there are so many wires running into me. It really was as instantaneous as a switch being flipped.

It's definitely an upgrade in drama from the previous hospital stay, where all I had on me was a breath mask!

After another 3 days in the hospital recuperating and slowly learning how to walk again while being on intense painkillers, I was released back home on Friday and have been trying to keep on the mend. The last time I had intensive surgery was when I was 7 or so when surgeons merely had to pull some glass out of my chest (punching a window is never a good idea) and those were relatively shallow cuts. This time, my entire left lung had to been deflated and blown back up over the course of a few hours. Every time I try to take a deep breath I feel like my ribs are in a vice, and there is a 5″ square patch of skin on my chest that’s completely numb because the chest tube incision required that a bunch of nerves in that area had to be severed that led to that area. It might take 2-3 months for those to grow back, even after the scars themselves have closed over (hopefully!)

The pneumothorax occurred just a few days after one of the most unusual Thanksgiving dinners I’ve ever been part of – and I’m counting roasting a turkey in a 50 gallon oil drum buried in the Jordanian desert sand in that one too! My father has been sent to Antarctica – specifically the South Pole – for work on the Ice Cube Project. He’ll be doing some drilling there to plant the optical sensors that he helped build during his normal work here in Wisconsin. He left just a week before Thanksgiving, so we had an internet-powered teleconference with him while he was in layover in New Zealand. He could see and hear us from our laptop on our side of the ocean, but he could only type back to us (his laptop wasn’t equipped for transmitting anything but text, unfortunately). So he watched us as the 7 of us at the table carried on with our usual boisterous conversation at the table, and I glanced at the screen occasionally and transmitted dad’s questions and comments to the rest of the table so that they could ask him new ones.

As dad is normally the main chef for Thanksgiving, it was amusing watching mom holding the laptop’s webcam up to the turkey so that dad could inspect its moisture levels, and demurring the state of the drippings left in the roaster to a screen (especially when she was just reading what he was saying and not telling the rest of us, so it looked like she was just having an argument with herself).

Since then, dad has since arrived at the South Pole and presumably he’s set to work! I’ve created a posting account for him here on this website (there might as well be a 2nd Heise on, right?) but I see there aren’t any drafts in the admin section of the website yet, unfortunately. He’s a great writer (where do you think I get it from?) so I hope that if he has time, he’ll share more of his thoughts on the incredibly unique experience of a 5-week driller down at the South Pole. To be honest, I’m jealous – it’s an incredible opportunity that such a tiny percentage of humans will ever experience, and he didn’t even need to sign up for a year-long contract down there in the frozen wasteland – just a little over a month!