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SHORTNESS OF BREATH AND DEPRESSION

DONCARLOS
Posts: 66
Joined: Jun 2009

As some of you know, I had surgery and part of my right lung was taken out on June 30, 09. I later was given a OSTREOSCAN and the Oncologyst told me that there is no area in my system with problems and that the entire cancer was taken out. No Chemo no radiation. I don't pay much attention to my breathing but at times I feel that its short and when I take a deep breath I feel the pressure in my chest. I have also become a little depressed even after the good news of no trace of cancer. I realize that my surgery was a short time ago and that I am 77. I just want to know if any one out there had any shortness and for how long????

DonCarlos

MichelleP's picture
MichelleP
Posts: 254
Joined: May 2009

I don't have any info to offer regarding your surgery, but the shortness of breath is a BIG concern. I hope that you call your doctor asap please? Let us know what happens!

stayingcalm's picture
stayingcalm
Posts: 656
Joined: Feb 2007

What Michelle says is definitely the right thing to do - ask your doctor as soon as possible. I never had lung surgery so I'm not familiar with its aftermath - I imagine there would have to be some shortness of breath because you've reduced lung function, but if you're just noticing it now then it could be something new that needs to be checked out.

Also, when you have a disease that robs you of your normal breath, as I do (emphysema), depression is almost a given - breathing is such a fundamental part of living that when it is taken away it wreaks havoc with your feelings - especially giving you the "fight-or-flight" sensation. Having an inhaler is a great help when you feel like that. I don't know what the line is about surgery patients using inhalers, for all I know its expressly against the rules, but you could ask...

Deb

(and congrats on the zero degrees of cancer!)

soccerfreaks's picture
soccerfreaks
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

These ladies, as always, give good advice, DonCarlos. I would add that, as one who has experienced surgery myself (removal of the lowest right lobe) I am familiar with the occasional shortness of breath.

An anecdote first: Following my lobectomy, I was stricken with a staph infection (MSSA) that was far worse than the original surgery. This resulted in my spending nearly the entire month in the hospital along with a second lung surgery). Sometime during all of this, I came out of the bathroom one night late, all of my pipes and bags and contraptions in tow, to discover that I could not breathe at all. I was in panic mode, as stayingcalm suggests and as you must well know, DonCarlos. The good news was that my wife was in the room. The bad news was that she was sleeping AND I couldn't talk. Fortunately, she heard me gasping or whatever I was doing, woke, and alerted the nurses while getting me to sit and calm down.

As a result of enduring my ribald and even sick sense of humor for longer than any human being should be forced to, one of the nurses, upon learning of my situation suggested to me that it 'must have been a really strenuous session in there!" which got me laughing, somehow, and to this day I believe that got me breathing again.

The thing is, I determined, at least to my own satisfication (despite their queries as to whether I had some psychological hangup about bathroom, the evil wenches (:)), that it was having to bend over for toilet paper...over and over again because it was located in one of those thief-proof boxes. I was getting one sheet at a time, to be blunt, and I needed more than one or two. All of that bending over, I think, is what did me in.

Which is by way of wondering if your breathing issues occur only when you do certain things? I do not know if it is normal, but if I bend over for too long, I too can lose my breath. If I carry overly heavy bags (dog food comes to mind, the huge bags), I can lose my breath.
In addition, depending on the extent of surgical removal, DonCarlos, other stuff moves in to fill the void. (Nature abhors a vacuum.) This might also affect your ability to breathe normally, particularly when you are engaged in activities such as those I mention above and similar ones.

Since you had lung surgery, you almost certainly were provided an inhaler at least for a brief time in the hospital and perhaps for awhile at home too. You were probably also given some 'toys' (spirometer?) to assist with regaining sufficient breathing. If you are like me, you quit exercising with them, quit the inhaler, at the first possible moment. Talk to your doctor about hooking up with an inhaler again, talk to him/her about the wisdom of doing the breathing exercises on a continuing basis.

Just a few thoughts.

As for the depression, my friend, cancer is sufficient cause for depression and is in fact well known for it. Additionally, of course, you were in a knife fight that you could not win (surgery) and I would not be surprised if you suffered from post traumatic stress disorder or something along that line.

I am not sure where you are, Don Carlos, but in most places in the USA you can contact support groups and talk to people who have either gone through what you are experiencing or are professionally trained to help you with it. If that is not sufficient for your needs, Don Carlos, do not hesitate to ask your doctor to refer you to a therapist. Please consider this: you have beaten one disease (cancer); do not lose your joy of life because of another (depression). The latter is treatable too.

Hope this helps.

Take care,

Joe

Glenna M's picture
Glenna M
Posts: 1580
Joined: May 2009

Hi DonCarlos,

Just wanted to congratulate you on the good news....hearing no trace of cancer must be the greatest thing a doctor can say to a cancer patient :)

I really can't give any advice on the shortness of breath other than to repeat what everyone else has already said - CALL YOUR DOCTOR!! I experience shortness of breath after climbing stairs or if I walk too far but I haven't started treatment for the lung cancer yet. I will be undergoing 4 or 5 Stereotatic Radiosurgery treatment within the next week or two.

I finished chemo and radiation for the larynx cancer a month ago and am "recovering" quite nicely as far as eating and not being as exhaused as I was before the treatment. I haven't had a scan done yet but I know things must be better as I have my voice back (I had almost completely lost my voice for a few months) and I no longer have the constant ear and throat pain I was experiencing before the chemo and radiation. I was also told by the radiologist that the chemo had shrunk the tumor in my lung. All good news.....right?? Then why do I still wake up some mornings feeling anxious and sad when I have so much to be thankful for right now? I've come to the conclusion that I am experiencing all the sad emotions because I did not deal with this emotionally in the beginning. I spent my time trying to be strong for everyone else (I've still never cried over the original prognosis) and I completely ignored my own feelings. Did you possibly keep your feelings inside and now they are surfacing? I don't think I would consider myself depressed but I do know that I'm not the same happy person I used to be. Maybe I never will be, maybe that's all part of what cancer does to some people. I know it bothers me when people say "you're so strong...I can't believe how well you are doing". I'm not strong and I'm not doing well I just don't want to wear my heart on my sleeve and depress everyone else around me!!

Hang in there DonCarlos, it will get better with each passing day, but if you feel depressed you may need someone to talk to who can help you get past these feelings. As much as all of us care and want to help you we are not qualified and posting here is not the same as sitting down and talking to someone who is there with you. Kind of like talking on the phone, I would much rather sit down face to face with someone when I'm talking to them rather than over the phone.

Sorry, I think I got off on a little tirade here - LOL - what started out as a short note to you ended up being a long story :(

Please take good care of yourself and post again so we will know how you are feeling.

Best of luck, Glenna

PS - SoccerFreak - it is so nice to see you posting again - I've really missed you. Keep up the good advice and the humor. You are so good for all of us!!

DONCARLOS
Posts: 66
Joined: Jun 2009

I want to thank all of you very much for supporting my feelings. I ralize that Anxiety does cause some Shortness fo breath and so does depression. My shortness is not that I dont have enough air . it is that when I take a deep breath I feel the pressure. I breath Ok normally unless as I said I feel a little depressed or starting a panic attack. I take a little Xnax like one half of mil. .5 and I often feel better. I sleep well, so I feel that if I can control my anxiety I may do better. I do not have that WHIZZING sound that I had prior to surgery and I don't caugh as much, (Almost ever). I thank you all and I will try to relax myself a little more. The doctors don't want to see me until December, however my Onc. will see me in October.

Thanks and you all be well.

DonCarlos.

DONCARLOS
Posts: 66
Joined: Jun 2009

I just returned from my regular Doctor's check up. He finds me in excellent health. BP is 100/80. No signes of problemks in my lungs no sounds of phlegm or whizzing sounds. Me weight is down but has been the same for the last two months since the Surgery. Perhaps a little higher (perhaps a pound or two). He even suggested I get my flu shots early and I was afraid to but he told me that I need to so I went to the Pharmacy and the Pharmacist also told me that I should...SO I DID. As I told him that when I feel a little short of breath I get concern and just take a little Xnax 1/2 a pill .5 and in a few minutes i feel a little better so he feels that its my anxiety working on me, however, if it gets shorter or difficult I should immediately go to my Oncolo.

Be well

DonCarlos

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