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DMike's picture
DMike
Posts: 241
Joined: Nov 2011

Hi Everyone,
I had my open partial nephrectomy on the afternoon of December 6th. My Doc removed a 5.4 cm tumor and 25% of my right kidney. He had to do an open procedure because he said the mass was large and deep in the kidney. Things are going very well one week after the surgery. I'm feeling better every day, walking a lot and I'm weaning myself from the pain pills now.

I had my drain tube removed today and received my pathology report. I'm glad that drain is gone! The patho report was clear cell, Stage T1b and clear margins around the tumor. All good news to me. I feel like my life has been on hold since October 24th and I'm now ready to move forward and make the most of every opportunity.

I've been a very serious cyclist for the past 28 years riding a minimum of 5000 miles per year and upped it to 8000 miles last year. I was really PO'd when I learned I had cancer even though I had worked so hard to keep myself in shape and skinny as hell my whole adult life. But now I see the benefits in recovery. I can't wait to get back on the bike but will do it slowly with lots of walking first.

I want to thank you all for your posts. You have no idea how much you've helped me through this whole ordeal and I'm sure you'll continue to help. Sorry for the long post, it just feels like I'm starting my life over today! Thanks again!!

--David

icemantoo's picture
icemantoo
Posts: 1658
Joined: Jan 2010

David,

Welcome,

As you can see the surgery was not fun and the recovery will take its time. While you may be riding a bike soon the extreme stuff can wait awile. Relax and enjoy life.

Best wishes,

Icemantoo

DMike's picture
DMike
Posts: 241
Joined: Nov 2011

Thanks icemantoo. I thought about your "can't sugar coat the surgery" comment often during the first few days after surgery. It helped in understanding and getting this far. I appreciate you!

garym's picture
garym
Posts: 1651
Joined: Nov 2009

Hi David,

Sorry to make your acquaintance under such lousy circumstances, but happy to hear about the excellent outcome and that you are managing the recovery process so well, being fit makes all the difference. That's a pretty impressive cycling record you have compiled, you will be back in the saddle soon enough to keep it going and now you have many more years and miles to look forward to. When you do start riding again your brain may be saying go, go, go, but let your body set the pace for awhile at least. In the meantime you have earned a little R&R, you have the scars to prove it.

Good luck and God speed,

Gary

DMike's picture
DMike
Posts: 241
Joined: Nov 2011

Hi Gary,
Thanks for the kind words here and in your posts to others. My bikes live in the house and up until a few days ago, that room made me very sad when I entered it. Now as I move forward the joy is returning. I know it's going to be slow going for a long time but I'm going to try to enjoy every minute of it. Thanks again, David

ripper's picture
ripper
Posts: 28
Joined: Oct 2011

David,

Good News on your surgery and first week home. I went through pretty much the same procedure in June 2011. I have one piece of caution though, and it is to take the 2nd week slowwww! After 6 days in the hospital and after a full week home, I took the "It's OK to drive, get back to getting around" pretty serious. The next week of self cautherization for clots was the worst week of my life.

Take your walks, hold your side, get off the pain meds and on ibuprophren, and drink lots of fluids. -Ryan

DMike's picture
DMike
Posts: 241
Joined: Nov 2011

Ryan,
It's now day 10 for me and I continue to take it slow. I'm actually surprised I'm being so good at following the doctor's directions. My wife has been a big help in getting me through this and making sure I don't overdo. I'm also working on weaning myself from the pain meds and I love to walk, so it's getting better every day. Thanks for your help. --David

garym's picture
garym
Posts: 1651
Joined: Nov 2009

Hi David,

I don't know if you have ever heard of or perhaps competed in the National 24 Hour Challenge held each year in June, but it is held in my home town of Middleville. I'm always amazed by how far some of these riders can go in 24 hours. 24 minutes on one of those seats is more than enough for me.

Just curious,

Gary

DMike's picture
DMike
Posts: 241
Joined: Nov 2011

Gary,
Yes I have heard of the 24 Hour Challenge. It's kind of weird how I heard of it. We have a BMW motorcycle restoration shop(Bench Mark Works) in the small town of Sturgis, Mississippi which is near me. They even have a Strugis South motorcycle rally each year.
Well, I was on a ride through the area when someone with a vintage BMW on a trailer stopped me in the middle of nowhere to give me a flyer and a water bottle promoting the 24 Hour Challenge. He was down from Michigan having a BMW restored and was on the backroads heading north when he saw me and decided to ask me to attend.

I have to admit after reading the flyer, I thought you would have to be crazy to subject yourself to that! The longest I've sat on a saddle is 7 hours and that's enough!

Interesting that you would ask about that!
--David

garym's picture
garym
Posts: 1651
Joined: Nov 2009

David,

It never ceases to amaze what a small world we share.

Gary

DMike's picture
DMike
Posts: 241
Joined: Nov 2011

Gary,
My thought exactly when you asked that question!
--David

msacher63
Posts: 21
Joined: Oct 2011

It is really, really good to be healthy and in shape before entering the club. I know it's easier said than done but be patient. I am a triathlon person myself (sprints mostly). I had my entire left kidney removed the way you had yours done. Surgery was Wednesday 8:00 A.M. Freaked coworkers out when I stopped in to say,” hi” at 5:00 Thursday afternoon on the ride home from the hospital and showed off my new 6 ½ inch taped over battle scar. Almost had an argument with my boss about returning 2 1/2 weeks later. At the 3 1/2 week mark I tried a 3-mile easy run. Not the smartest thing on my part but couldn't help it. My body let me know immediately to "knock it off". I gave it some more time and after 5 weeks I can do 1 or 2 slow runs in a week and even hit the gym once or twice (light weights). I physically feel outstanding but fatigue sets in quick when I push too hard. I know I have to ease up when I fall asleep 2-3 nights in a row at 7:00 and sleep through to the morning. So again, be patient. It will come. As I have heard all too many times over the past month and a half," You've just had major surgery. Give your body time to heal." Ya, ya, ya

DMike's picture
DMike
Posts: 241
Joined: Nov 2011

Thanks for the tips. I can't believe you walked in the office 1 day post surgery. Wow. I really believe I'm going to be patient about getting back on the bike. It means too much to me and I don't want to screw it up. I'm really glad to hear you are doing so well.
--David

foxhd's picture
foxhd
Posts: 2066
Joined: Oct 2011

You guys are on track. Just be patient. I'm also a runner and needed several weeks to begin again. This isn't like trying to peak for an event. Let it comeback slowly. Time to enjoy training and forget pushing. Something about using my workouts as a mental thing to "out run" cancer motivated me as I continued to improve. A few months later, I was running as good as I had in 10 years.

DMike's picture
DMike
Posts: 241
Joined: Nov 2011

Foxhd,
I'm still in the tough 2 week post surgery period, so it's really good to hear about people moving forward with training. Thanks, David

Olsera's picture
Olsera
Posts: 38
Joined: Dec 2011

Hi David,
I am new to the club as well. My surgery was 9 weeks ago open radical left nephrectomy 3cm Papillary. I am a 35 year old female. The first 2 weeks were rough but by the third week I was feeling pretty good. I walked a little bit each day and slowly I could do more & more. Now I have been doing good walks with steep hills in the snow & lots of cross country skiing the more I do the better I feel. You will be back in the saddle before you know it.

DMike's picture
DMike
Posts: 241
Joined: Nov 2011

Olsera,
Good to hear you're doing so well after your surgery. I really appreciate messages like yours. They keep me motivated. Thanks, David

Texas_wedge's picture
Texas_wedge
Posts: 2807
Joined: Nov 2011

This seems to be the thread most focused on getting back into sporting shape by suitable exercise. So, I'm after some of the wisdom of experience you guys have attained. Bearing in mind iceman's counsel, on another thread, that no 2 recoveries are the same, some guidelines would be appreciated.

Q1 What sort of warnings from my body that I'm overdoing it should I look out for?

Q2 What sort of consequences might result from not being cautious enough? On this point, the only info. I can remember is ripper's, above. I'm not sure I need all the grisly details but any more specific guidance would be welcome since I'm at exactly the stage he was when he paid the price - 6 days in hospital and a week and a bit at home now.

Q3 To mascher63 (who must be a freak of nature!), in particular, what sort of resistance exercises are sensible? I don't intend any clean pulls or flip snatches or even barbell curls, which stress the postural stabilising muscles, but am thinking of calf raises, half squats and isolation exercises for, e.g. triceps, biceps, delts. I fear that lat. exercises might be a bit dodgy?

Q4 What forms of exercise have people found most beneficial? With temperatures likely to stay below freezing for the next 3 months (in N.E. Scotland) and the prospect of sporadic winter gales, neither cycling nor running is attractive at present. Walking is, I suppose, the no-brainer and I've just done a pleasant 2m. with my Wife (despite heavy scots mist). I'm keen to resume rowing indoors (have a Concept 2D) but am a bit chary of starting yet since it's very easy to kid yourself you're taking it easy when you're not. I'll probably try some squats on my Nautilus Smith machine soon and some light isolation work with dumbbells but I think garym and foxhd might agree that for a 'grip it and rip it' merchant it's too early to swing the golf clubs. (Putting practice would probably yield a better scoring payoff for next season anyway.)

Q5 How soon? (I know - how long is a piece of string?) Several of you guys (and gals!) have come back amazingly by taking it gradually but progressively. At 69, after an op. that turned from lap. to open surgery, took 4 hours longer than expected with a lot of unanticipated bleeding and has me with a main incision that's just shrunk (via abdomen deflation) to 9-10 inche, I'm realistic about how quickly I'll recover. However, do you have general guidelines on how to step it up? Maybe there were physiological feedbacks that told you when you could sensibly up the ante?

I'm keen to join the ranks of you never-say-die sporting survivors so any help will be gratefully received, even if it doesn't address any of the questions I've put to you all.

t.i.a.

T.

foxhd's picture
foxhd
Posts: 2066
Joined: Oct 2011

Here is my recommendation. First, I am a physical therapist. I have worked with people like ourselves for over 30 years. With that understood,I have learned a lot. #1. People confuse exercise with rehabilitation. It is not about getting stronger . It is about getting our strength back. When our bodies have to deal with a health insult such as injury, surgery or disease, it puts us into a protective mode. Like when you slam your thumb in a door and due to pain, you can't move it. Your strength didn't go away. It was inhibited...The basic trick is this...Start to do things that are normal. Learn to get up by yourself. Learn to walk without a limp. Shower. Go for a walk. Restart your hobby. Soon enough, you body recognizes that things you do are normal and won't hurt you. If you do too much, your body goes back into protective mode and delays your progress. Pushing yourself doesn't yield results. As you heal, you become able to increase your activity. A conservative approach will produce maximum results... We are not training for a marathon. That is a BIG difference.....There is a lot more detail than that, but I am trying to keep it simple.

garym's picture
garym
Posts: 1651
Joined: Nov 2009

My rehab/recovery process was complicated by the injuries from my accident and the surgery required five days after my nephrectomy because of those injuries, so I'm not sure how much benefit my story will be. My "normal" routine consisted mainly of walking 4 miles minimum daily and weight lifting. My stamina for distance returned quickly, but it took several weeks for my pace to approach where it had been prior to the accident. Weight training took longer, I started with empty bars and worked only on range of motion. Whether it was walking or lifting I let pain be my guide, if I felt anything even close to debilitating I stopped or backed off, when I could work through it comfortably I pressed on. Shaving a few seconds off my pace or adding 5 lbs (max) to the bar became my goals. It was helpful to track my progress on paper and easy to see that slow and steady produced the best results. One other thing, I was off all pain meds before I started lifting, but again I was dealing with structural damage and felt I needed to clearly understand my limits without the masking of meds.

Texas_wedge's picture
Texas_wedge
Posts: 2807
Joined: Nov 2011

foxhd and Gary - thanks, my friends. What a boon to have a pro. on board.

I imagine fox will approve pretty much of how Gary went about it. I hope so because it represents very much what I had in mind for my own rehab. The temp. here unexpectedly shot up to 9C this afternoon (newcomers to Scotland, dismayed by wind/rain/snow, are often told 'If you don't like the Scottish weather, wait ten minutes!' ) so my Wife and I took a walk. She uses the excellent iPhone app. Runkeeper Pro and it revealed that we walked 3.12 miles in just over 1hour 35 minutes and we both thoroughly enjoyed it.

The meds masking issue is very much on my mind and I may defer doing any weights work until I've seen my GP, reviewed my morphine dose level and had his thoughts on the topic. Fortunately he's got a lot of rehab experience with national level pro sportsmen so I'd be daft not to heed his advice.

I tend to be a bit too cavalier and need to remember the difference between being macho and being too macho (=stupid). So I'll take to heart fox's "A conservative approach will produce maximum results." and garym's "slow and steady produced the best results." I guess you could regard that as a consensus!

foxhd's picture
foxhd
Posts: 2066
Joined: Oct 2011

T-W., you have it right. Yes, I do think Gary had the right approach. Another way to look at this is,...In 6 months, will it have mattered if you got back to normal activity in 4 weeks or 10 weeks? Not likely. Again, you are not trying to peak for a marathon. Pushing is not how to improve. Slow progress allows your body to say, "Hey what I did today was OK. I'm not hurting myself. Doing it again tomorrow is not a threat to my well being." When I felt a little better after surgery, I went through my regular ex. routine without weights. Actually did presses and curls with nothing. Same motions as usual. Little by little, it all returned. If I had pushed, then It could have been several weeks longer. People talk of "muscle memory" like in a golf swing. Muscles don't remember anything. Your nervous system does. Give it good feedback. It will allow you to reproduce previous performance when it isn't in protective mode. (lots of golf analagies here.) This is the point to remember. ...."Practice doesn't make perfect unless you practice right."

jhsu's picture
jhsu
Posts: 78
Joined: Sep 2009

I lost one-third of my abdominal muscles below the nearly 30cm open nephrectomy incision, you can tell by the un-evenly deflated belly. They started to grow slowly back recently (after more than 3 years). But that part of skin still feel numb as of today, I guess that part of nerve was damaged when they made the cut.

Jon

Texas_wedge's picture
Texas_wedge
Posts: 2807
Joined: Nov 2011

Jon, I'm a little curious to know exactly what you mean in terms of your muscle loss, so maybe we can compare notes. Was yours left or right kidney and where was the incision made?

I had a right nephrectomy 18 days ago. It started as a lap. but had to be changed mid-stream (quite a big stream, I'm told!) to open surgery. Apart from the 3 little lap. wounds, I have an incision that, after deflation, now measures 22cm. It starts 4cm. above my navel and 8cm. right of it and runs horizontally round to roughly below my right armpit.

It sounds to me as if yours may have been a lot lower. I'll get it confirmed soon but I think they had to go into my torso a lot higher than they'd expected.

My bodyweight is now 3 or 4 pounds less than before my op. and my waist is down to 32 1/2 inches - only slightly larger than it was. I've regained definition on abs. and oblique muscles to pretty near normal and was able to sleep comfortably on the incision last night.

It sounds to me that I've been lucky so far in the sequelae I've had from my op. and that you were not so lucky. Could you tell me a bit more about your op. I hope you eventually get back to fully normal feelings but some of these things take a while to come right.

T.

Texas_wedge's picture
Texas_wedge
Posts: 2807
Joined: Nov 2011

I just have to repeat - what a boon it is to have a pro on board!

The received wisdom is that you can tell a serious athlete by the way he behaves when he's injured. The longer term view that you've suggested makes perfect sense.

I'm banking on the MDX-1106 to ensure that you're around for a very long while and continuing to help others with both your common-sense and your professional expertise.

Thanks again Fox.

DMike's picture
DMike
Posts: 241
Joined: Nov 2011

"Another way to look at this is,...In 6 months, will it have mattered if you got back to normal activity in 4 weeks or 10 weeks? Not likely."

foxhd,
This is exactly my philosophy for getting back on the bike. 28 years riding without a break means I can use this time to heal slowly and everything will be fine down the road. Thanks.
David

foxhd's picture
foxhd
Posts: 2066
Joined: Oct 2011

You are all welcome. This is what this forum is about. I often tell people that what you do to recover is important, but it is knowing HOW to get better that is the trick of the trade.

earnric's picture
earnric
Posts: 34
Joined: Jan 2012

Hey David,

Just read your post... I'm in a similar boat. Just had a 3.5 cm tumor removed from my left kidney, on 29 Dec. Still recovering.

I'm a triathlete and completed the IRONMAN Arizona course on 20 Nov, 2011 ... So weird to be diagnosed and in surgery only a few weeks after completing a 140.6 mile race.

I go back to see my surgeon next week... Hope I get a similar good report!

Rick

Texas_wedge's picture
Texas_wedge
Posts: 2807
Joined: Nov 2011

Just shows how sneaky KC is - complete the Arizona IRONMAN and have major surgery less than 6 weeks later. Don't enter for any more 140 m. races for a bit yet, please! However, you're well placed for a complete and rapid recovery.

I'm probably not alone in wondering how soon after the race you got the diagnosis and what led to the investigation that threw it up.

foxhd's picture
foxhd
Posts: 2066
Joined: Oct 2011

Impressive stuff. Good luck. Goes to show that being an athlete or even just being in good shape isn't enough to keep away the cancer demon. I have a friend who is fat, lazy, and actually does call watching tv his hobby. Always says to me," I don't care how much you exercise, I'm gonna outlive you anyway. Everyone in my family lives into their 90's" He is so lazy, that he will actually ask you what time it is even when he is wearing a watch just so he doesn't have to go through the effort of looking at it. True story.

DMike's picture
DMike
Posts: 241
Joined: Nov 2011

Hi Rick,
I understand how it feels to hear you have the big C when you know you have taken great care of yourself. It sucks, but being in shape will help us recover faster and get back on the bike (in the water, on the road also for you) sooner. I just finished my morning 1 mile walk and it gets easier everyday. Hang in there.
I go back to see my surgeon next week too. We should put together our plan for future CT scans etc. at that time. And I can talk to him about slowly getting back on the bike. I hope to be riding again in March.
I hope everything goes well for you and you have a good report!
--David

earnric's picture
earnric
Posts: 34
Joined: Jan 2012

Thanks all...

Yea, you think you are in great shape and then you get this diagnosis... Talk about taking the wind out of you.

As for how I found out: I went to the doc about 2 weeks after the race because of some new, persistent stomach problems. Thought I might have gotten a bug from the lake water during the long swim... She ordered a CT scan for my gall bladder and that's when they found the 3.5cm mass. I was pretty amazed.

I just wanted it out of me asap. The hardest part was forcing myself to consult a couple of different surgeons. I finally decided on the robotic laproscopic partial (saving as much of the kidney as possible). The surgery went well, but I developed an ileus on the day I was supposed to go home -- and I started vomiting (day 2 after surgery). Talk about horrible. Anyway, I had to spend 3 more nights in the hospital until I could get some food down.

I hope you get back on the bike soon! While I won't be doing an IRONMAN this year, I hope to be able to compete in some olympic distance events by summer... even tho I won't be in great shape.

jhsu's picture
jhsu
Posts: 78
Joined: Sep 2009

Rick,

Don't worry too much about it, but listen very closely to what your body has to say to you just like the constant feedbacks during the course of one of your endurance races.

I have stage IV RCC with radical removal of the left kidney and partial left lung wedged out in May 2008. I done my 2nd 1/2 marathon in Nov the same year. And finished my 1st full marathon in March the next year. And I just finished another marathon this weekend.

Life is fair to everybody in this context, athletes or not. Whatever happened to us already happened, put it in behind and live on.

Jon

earnric's picture
earnric
Posts: 34
Joined: Jan 2012

Thx Jon...

I'm gonna do just that: listen to my body and slowly get back into training. I hope to be able to race later this season (oly distance), but I won't push it.

Man, stage IV ... With some lung removal. That had to be a rough recovery. Sounds like you are doing AWESOME now tho ... :)

Once I get past this first post-op visit, I think I'll have an easier time of putting this episode behind me.

Thx for the encouraging words!

Rick

Texas_wedge's picture
Texas_wedge
Posts: 2807
Joined: Nov 2011

Many, even comparatively young, patients find it takes them anything up to about a year to really get back to normal. Now you're at the other extreme, being superfit and perfectly equipped for optimum recovery. BUT, if you get tempted to push your luck remember 2 things:
(a) read what happened to another superfit athlete msacher63 - Mark laid it out in the opening entry in his thread "getting tired"
(b) if you start to overdo it we'll set the foxhd on you and you wouldn't want him tearing into you, now would you? :-)

earnric's picture
earnric
Posts: 34
Joined: Jan 2012

The Texas... :)

I'll definately look up those posts by msacher63. I see my surgeon Thur so we'll see what he says about running/swimming/biking. I'm sure I'll have to wait another 3 weeks or so before even jogging.

Thx for the tips!

Rick

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