This Health Scare Story Proves Why You Should Take Your Regular Check Ups Seriously


Words, Denzel Bryan

Photography, Marcus Richardson

Recently, I experienced one the scariest and most painful moments in my entire life.

I’ve always been very healthy, and as of recently, hyper conscientious about taking care of myself with various forms of exercise. I try my absolute best to eat clean, I do cardio-based exercises mostly everyday as well as yoga, I consistently get checkups, and STD testing to remain safe, and I make home-made organic green juices to reduce my sugar intake. Through my late teens, and into my early 20s, I’ve always had a tall, slim, but strong frame. I had never been hospitalized for anything at all. The older I got, the more proactive I wanted to be about my health because I believed the choices I made in my early 20s as a growing adult would set the frame, and shape how I feel when I am older.

On Thursday, January 10th, I went over to a new friend’s place to just hangout, drink some wine, and enjoy their company. I’m not a smoker, and I do not do drugs, but I do enjoy a nice drink. A tall glass (maybe bottle) of pinot grigio does it, and maybe a tequila soda or lime when I’m ready to take the night by storm. This particular night, I brought over a bottle of wine while my friend had his own bar of drinks. The night went on, and we are both having a good time. My friend asked me if I’ve ever had a drink called “Moonshine.” I responded letting him know that I hadn’t, and he explained to me that it’s an extremely fermented version of alcohol that is high-proof - usually over 100-percent.

We decided to take shots of it. After those shots, him and I began to kiss. About 20 minutes later, he lays me back on his couch, and suddenly I feel this sudden excruciating pain in my chest. This pain was pain that I’ve never felt before. The pain ventured to the entire right side of my upper body. I let out a huge grunt, and began to clench my chest. The pain became so intense that I couldn’t take deep breaths. I couldn’t lay back, and I couldn’t sit up without feeling sharp shots of what felt like swords of incoming death.

I began to think that my friend drugged me and even asked him, because this truly came out of nowhere. He assured me that he didn’t, and suggested that maybe I was having a reaction from drinking so much. I knew that wasn’t the case. I am a drinker and this type of reaction I just knew wasn’t related to liquor especially since the only thing I was drinking was Pinot Grigio, and one shot of Moonshine.

My friend went on to comfort me by calming me down with affirming words. He gave me a heating pad to place on my chest which even relieved my pain a bit. I wanted to go to the hospital, and he offered to take me, but I thought maybe I was just a bit paranoid and the pain would go away. Through all of this happening, I was still feeling that bottle of Pinot Grigio, and I’m sure many can agree that once a bottle of wine is finished, we all become a bit more sexually charged. I know I do. My friend, and I continued our night as I pushed through the pain and finished what I started if you know what I mean.

I decided to stay the night. My friend took great care of me, and I felt comfortable. The pain was a bit lighter, but not light enough to make me comfortable. I could not lay on my right side at all, or on my back. It felt as if I were being trampled, squashed, and suffocated by a hippopotamus. A heart attack without my heart racing. Sleep was impossible, so I napped for a few hours and woke up very early around 6a.m. I woke my kind friend up to some fellatio which lead to us having amazing sex. Painful, but amazing. Writing this is bringing some laughter to me. To think, through all of that pain, I still found the courage, and determination to have sex. Not just lay down and be lazy sex. No - use your muscles and break a sweat sex. A true champion that I am.

Anyway, I took an uber home. When I got there, I burst into tears in front of my mother, and explained my pain, and discomfort to her. She immediately dialed 911, and within half an hour we were en route to a hospital in an ambulance. Upon arrival, all of the preliminary nurses, and assistants were asking me the usual questions that they would ask anyone. “Are you on drugs? Do you have anxiety?” All of these questions were annoying to repeatedly answer only to say, “No, I don’t.” The ER doctor checked my chest X-ray and said, “Well, we have a problem, your right lung collapsed.”

I’m sitting in the hospital bed very confused, annoyed, and frustrated. How is that possible? Again, I’m not a smoker, and even at the gym or whenever I workout, I don’t even heavy lift so that didn’t make any sense. The doctor explained to me that I would have to go into emergency surgery because if I waited any longer, I could die. The procedure had to take place without anesthesia, and they were going to cut me open to place a chest tube within my chest - sucking out the air trapped above my right lung.

Great, this sounds so fun and exciting.

The surgeon team explained to me that these things can happen to people with my body frame spontaneously without real reason. People that are tall and slim are subject to spontaneous pneumothorax (collapsed lung) because of the shape of their lungs. I do believe the moonshine may have triggered it, because of how staunchly alcoholic it is. The surgery commenced with the operation, and it was the most hellishly painful experience I’ve had in my entire life. I was screaming at the top of my left lung, because of course my right lung was out of order. Crying profusely. It felt as if I was being tortured. It felt like I was in a Saw movie trapped in one of Jigsaw’s traps fighting to get out. The surgery took about 25 minutes altogether, and I was told that I would be admitted into the hospital for the weekend. I could not believe that this was happening to me. I was completely distraught over the fact that it happened for no real reason as well.

The next night, I had a CT scan that showed that my lung was not expanding on its own. It was reliant on the chest tube and suction system so, I was told that I would have to stay longer in the hospital to have another surgery. The unsettling feeling, and pure agony of staying in that hospital unable to walk, move, or properly clean myself is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. The pain started to come in varieties. I felt burning sensations, stabbing pierces, aggressive sucking amongst other descriptive pains. The following surgery occurred on Monday, January the 14th. Thankfully, I was put to sleep, and the surgery went well. I stayed in the hospital for three days and was released on Thursday, the 16th.

Throughout all of the misery, I was surrounded by so much love from friends, and family visiting and comforting me the entire duration of this health scare. My loved ones were stuffing my face with every fatty food you can think of just to make me feel taken care of.  I am truly blessed to have selfless, and caring people surrounding me. I was discharged from the hospital in good condition aware of the recovery road ahead of me. The nursing team explained to me that I could not fly on a plane for two months, and to take it easy. Over time, I will be able to get back to my regular schedule with working out and being active, but currently, I will have to take things day by day. There’s no set time on when I’ll get better, but a speedy recovery is what I am putting into the universe.

The pain has almost virtually disappeared. My back now feels strained at times due to the digging of my internal organs in the second surgery. I still can’t sleep on my back or sides and my breath gets really short easily, but I am doing much better.

This experience opened my eyes in a way where understanding that health isn’t black and white. We grow up thinking simply that if you eat right, exercise, stay away from drugs, and take your vitamins then you will be in perfect health. The truth is that health is like the ocean; spread wide and deep with endless mystery that we are still discovering day by day. This was something that could’ve easily killed me if I wasn’t so diligent, and not because I live an unhealthy lifestyle, but because the human body can just sometimes fall flat for many unknown reasons.

It is a scary thought to ponder, but taking care of yourself is vital especially as a man. Do everything in your will and might to keep your body strong enough to handle those possible surprising health scares that can just happen. If I wasn’t so standardly healthy, then maybe I wouldn’t have made it out of surgery. Most men have a power and alpha complex that make them think that they are invincible . Most men think that you have to feel physical pain in order to be sick or in trouble, but there are situations where the body is silent and you won’t know unless you are proactive. Proactively reassuring your health with visiting specialists, and taking care of your body can save your life.