“Is Coughing Blood Normal?” – Corey Janoff, USC Lacrosse


"Is Coughing Blood Normal?" - Corey Janoff, USC LacrosseThe season is almost over, and although I’ve had some minor bumps and bruises, nothing has caused me to miss any action from a game. That is, until our game against Chapman last Friday.

As most of you probably know, Chapman is right up there with Michigan, fighting for the top spot in the club ranks.  Bottom line, they’ve got a sick squad.  I played in the same league in high school as a handful of their guys, and they were all All-Americans in Oregon.  I was looking forward to seeing those guys again – it’s always a fun little reunion every year.

Anyways, we got to playing and we were holding our own in the first quarter.  We had the lead at several points (I think it was tied 4-4 at the end of the first).

Corey Janoff#20 Alex Rice and #5 Corey Janoff / Photo courtesy of The Athletic ImageTowards the end of the first, on a dead ball situation, I subbed out of the game to get a breather.  When I got to the sideline, I started coughing (I thought I had some of those black rubber turf things in my throat or something).  Turns out, I was coughing up blood.  Not a lot, just about the equivalent of the amount of saliva you could spit out of your mouth.  That was weird.  I wasn’t in any pain.  I didn’t take any hard hits.  There was a ground ball situation at one point where I got knocked to the ground, but it wasn’t a hard hit or anything.

I thought maybe I had a cut in my mouth or a bloody nose, but that wasn’t the case.  I kept coughing to see if more blood would come up, and sure enough, the more I coughed, the more blood I got.  I’m no doctor, but I don’t think blood is supposed to come out when you cough.  I also noticed that when I breathed in deeply, my chest felt kind of compressed and congested.  Something wasn’t normal here.

I went over to the trainer to get some advice and she checked me for broken ribs and whatnot.  Like I said, I wasn’t in any pain – I think I’d know if my rib was hurting.  She thought everything was fine and told me to sit out until halftime and if it wasn’t better get better by then, sit out for the rest of the game.

Okay lady – Internal bleeding isn’t something you just “wait out” on the sideline to see if it gets better.  Granted, it may get better on its own, but it’s not the most prudent option.  What if this was the first sign of something serious?  It’s probably better to be cautious than wait until I pass out to do anything about it.  I’m sure Chapman has a top-notch training staff. But no, I’m going to listen to someone who knows what they’re talking about.

So I gave my dad a call (who is a doctor).  I explained to him the situation and he told me I needed to go to the ER and get a chest X-ray.

Me: “But Dad, I’m not in any pain or anything and I’m completely coherent. I don’t feel dizzy or short of breath.  The trainer thinks I should wait and see if it gets better by halftime.  Besides, I don’t want to be stuck in a hospital in Orange, CA, about an hour away from my apartment in LA.”

Dad: “Corey, you need to get it checked out.  If you have a collapsed lung or (insert some other medical jargon here) you need to get it taken care of.  This isn’t something you wanna mess around with.”

Here’s where the story gets even worse.  It’s the second quarter of an away game, and I’m looking around for someone I know that’s not involved with the game who can take me to the hospital.  The only two people who fit the bill? The girl who lives next door to me and my ex-girlfriend (who is friends with my neighbor…unfortunately), who I absolutely hate.

Lacrosse healthDid I want to put my health in front of my conscience and ask them to take me to the hospital?  I seriously contemplated ignoring my dad’s instructions to go to the ER to avoid the hours I would have to spend in close proximity to my ex, but I figured if my neighbor was there too, it wouldn’t be so bad (she and I are tight; she could be the mediator). 

So I asked them to take me to the hospital.  The ex jumped at the opportunity to take me (not surprising, since she is a crazy psycho &*$%! and thinks one day we will get back together).  My neighbor decided to stay and watch the game since she is getting with one of the other guys on our team and wanted to watch him play.  Damnit! Plan backfired.  Now I would have to spend the evening in a hospital (which was already unappealing) with my crazy ex girlfriend (even worse), and nobody else…I think I’d rather bleed to death.

To make a long story short, we spent about three hours at the hospital, most of the time waiting.  Luckily I got to wait alone in a hospital bed for part of that time.  And thank God my x-ray’s looked good and my vital signs checked out so they could release me.  They didn’t want to do a CT scan, since they didn’t think it was worth the risk of the radiation, especially since I appeared healthy (I had stopped coughing blood at this point). The car ride home was miserable since she wanted to talk about us. I wasn’t having it.

I guess I could have, and probably should have, stayed at the field and waited it out.  But you know, if I did have something seriously wrong, it was probably a smart move to get it looked at.

Now I’m just going to go punch my neighbor in the face for hanging me out to dry.