"I work in Eastern Massachusetts, so I have the opportunity to visit hospitals in Boston, Springfield and Albany. I didn't consider going to another hospital - I could get all the care I needed right here."
Mark Tully, 49, was no stranger to respiratory issues. He endured bouts of asthma all his life to enjoy sports and stay in shape. Six years ago, he was clocking a respectable three to five miles a day at 7.5 miles per hour on the treadmill. He started noticing a slowdown and greater difficulty breathing as he reached his late 40s. He wasn’t particularly alarmed, but he knew something wasn’t quite right.
That something grew terribly worse last summer when the strain on his lungs for even short distances at a jogging pace was becoming unbearable.
“I was coughing so bad I started passing out.” At the urging of others, he went to see Daniel Doyle, MD, chairman of BMC’s Pulmonology Department. Doyle treated the cough but immediately saw something far more serious. He ordered chest x-rays, a CT scan and set up a consultation for Mark with Christian Galvez, MD, a thoracic surgeon at BMC.
What Dr. Doyle suspected and Dr. Galvez confirmed was that Mark had a giant bulla or bubble in his lower left lung. Sometimes called vanishing lung syndrome, giant bullae can take up a third or more of the space around the lung. The condition more typically appears in chronic smokers with emphysema, but can develop in healthier patients like Mark.
Dr. Galvez removed the affected lobe using Video Assisted Thoracic Surgery, a minimally-invasive procedure that has been proven highly effective in such cases. BMC is a leader statewide in its use.
“It was little scary, but the prognosis was good and at least I finally knew what was going on. I had been attributing my lack of lung capacity to asthma over the years. It was not a hard decision. They told me, ‘You will increase lung capacity with this procedure,’ and they were right.”
By year’s end, Mark was well on his way to resuming the exercise regimen he enjoyed years ago. His goal is to outrun his new bride in this year’s Fourth of July parade route race in downtown Pittsfield.