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So tired...

CR1954's picture
CR1954
Posts: 1392
Joined: Jul 2008

I am a stage III breast cancer survivor (2008)  I spent 14 months in treatment for that.  So, I am not completely unfamiliar with the toll that cancer and treatment takes on our bodies.

A tumor was found on my right kidney in March, and 12 days ago, I had a laparoscopic nephrectomy.  It was RCC.  The doctors are confident that they got it all, but will follow me closely.

My big issue right now is fatigue.  I know that it takes time to heal and I try to be kind to myself, but it seems that doing even a few simple things (washing dishes, a trip to the doctor's, even showering) really tires me out.  I nap a lot.

I don't remember being this wiped out after mastectomies, but I can also say from experience, that the nephrectomy surgery has been harder in every way.

My question is...is it normal to be so easily tired out?  Am I just not giving myself enough time?  Should I expect to feel this tired for awhile?  Or is there something wrong?  Any input would be greatly appreciated.  

Thanks!

CR

todd121
Posts: 598
Joined: Dec 2012

I felt that way for weeks. I've heard others say they had fatigue for months even. I'm still struggling with fatigue 5 months after my surgery. I'm not sure what the reason is, but it's there. I've asked my nephrologist and he's said it's not the lack of a kidney.

Did you have your adrenal gland removed? Did you have your entire kidney removed?

The kidney controls red blood cell production/circulation. Your other kidney should pick up the slack, but it may take awhile for you to get used to it. I now have a sightly below normal RBC an my hemoglobin is borderline (just barely normal). My doctor says that's normal for having one kidney. Anemia can certainly make you feel tired. I'm not sure that's what is causing it. It could be that. Depression. Just your body healing which takes energy. For me I'm taking an adjuvant therapy drug, and it might be a side effect of that. However, I've heard others here say they had fatigue for months after their surgery, so I think it's normal.

Hope you feel better.

Todd

icemantoo's picture
icemantoo
Posts: 1568
Joined: Jan 2010

CR,

Sorry uou had to join us for a second bout with the big C.

Assuming 1954 is your birth year, you like I had a laproscopic nepherectomy at age 59. Mine was 11 tears ago. This is major abdominal surgery. I would be surpised if you were anything other than fatiqued 12 days out. Generrally you will not feel normal until about 6 weeks. And that roller coaser ride, that will have to wait until next summer.

Give it time. you may soon feel like you can do most things, but not 8 hours per day.

 

Icemantoo

CR1954's picture
CR1954
Posts: 1392
Joined: Jul 2008

Thank you so much for your input! 

This surgery really seemed to have knocked the stuffing out of me.  I guess it boils down to my being an impatient patient!

Yes, they did remove adrenal glands and the entire kidney.  The doctor didn't feel that she could get clean margins with a partial.

Yes, I am 59 icemantoo.  My daughter kept telling me that I need to give it more time...I guess I really just needed reassurance.  I see my doctor again in a month, so if I am still feeling beat, I will bring it up to her, but in the meantime, I will just accept that I need to rest and give myself some time.

Thank you again!

CR

 

dhs1963's picture
dhs1963
Posts: 373
Joined: May 2012

The nephrectomy is a more invasive surgery than mastectomy.  Basically, the kidney is deep.  There is a lot of tissue to go through to get to the kidney.  And you adrenal system is adjusting to its new reality.  I did not feel like I had my energy back to 100% until at least 2 months post surgery.  Then, I got a surge of energy, and over did it.  I am still not back to pre-surgery status.  At almost one year.  But there have been more work done, as tbe doctors play wack a mole with my cancer.  I can not really say how much is related to the nephrectomy and how much from the lung resection.  But, I know at 6 months post nephrectomy I was not 100%.

rainsandpours's picture
rainsandpours
Posts: 101
Joined: Apr 2013

The fatigue you're feeling is normal.  We understand your urge to get up 'n go, but you need to let things heal internally, so take it easy for a bit :)

 

I've had 4 surgeries in less than 10 months, (but not kidney yet) and I've never gotten my gusto back.  The fatigue is crushing at times, but I've learned to not fight it, and instead to give in and have a nap when the urge hits.

 

True, I'm not as organized as I used to be, and I let things slide a bit (which drives me nuts as I'm a neat freak), but there's only so much that can get done when you're running on empty.

 

 

foxhd's picture
foxhd
Posts: 1932
Joined: Oct 2011

Be patient. This is a big insult to your body. The invasiveness, the damage to soft tissue, the physiological changes you have to adjust to. Everyone is different but it takes time. Just don't push it. But take it as it comes. Still rest without guilt. Build your activity slowly and it will all seem normal again.

MDCinSC's picture
MDCinSC
Posts: 574
Joined: Feb 2013

I understand completely! I'm 66.

When friends ask how I'm doing, I tell them that I can do anything I want at this point, for fifteen minutes.  Then I need to nap for an hour and a half to make up for it!

I have the worst case of cabin fever on record, but when I do go out, I can't wait to come home and catch a nap.  I'm told this will go on for a while.

As everyone else has mentioned, this is major organ removal.  You can't take that kind of hit and bounce back to run a half marathon. 

Take your time and let your body recuperate at its own rate. It will let you know when it is ready!

Congratulations on a successful surgery!

CR1954's picture
CR1954
Posts: 1392
Joined: Jul 2008

Yes!  That's exactly it!  I feel very well when I get up in the morning.  And then I get worn out, just taking a shower!  Or making the bed.  The trip to my doctor's to remove staples, sent me to the recliner for the rest of the day.

It sounds like I will just need to keep telling myself and my family, that it will take much more time to gain energy back!

Thank you again!  You have all been so wonderful and I appreciate your responses!

CR

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

Yes, it's exactly as you have concluded. 

It may be worth considering taking a supplement of CoQ10 - a vitamin-like chemical produced by our bodies which is crucial in the energy production in the mitochondria of all of our cells.

 

dhs1963's picture
dhs1963
Posts: 373
Joined: May 2012

Before taking any suppliment, talk to your doctor....it may have undesireable results for your situation.  

NanoSecond's picture
NanoSecond
Posts: 532
Joined: Oct 2012

I certainly concur that one should always discuss whatever supplements or drugs one is taking with their doctor(s).  However, there are still far too many medical professionals who either do not understand or do not care about nutritional or dietary approaches that can help augment targeted, chemo, or radiation therapies.  It is shameful.

Taking CoQ10 supplements is a prime example of this.  First off, Coenzyme Q10 is a crucial co-enzyme that is at the heart of every cells metabolic processing.  It has numerous important functions including the generation of sufficient energy from nutrients (food). In particular it helps cells utilize oxygen. This allows a cell to carry out all its normal functions amongst which includes synthesizing new molecules vital to life.

So guess what?  As we all age the amount of CoQ10 will decline. This is completely "natural". This means it is likely defiicient in all of us.  Without it, cells themselves can become "fatigued" (yes, I know, this is a very simplistic explanation.  If you want the gory details just open any undergrad textbook on biochemistry.  It is usually covered in chapter 2).  When cells are lacking basic energy so is the entire body.

But it can get worse.  Are you perchance taking any statins?  All statins reduce the amount of CoQ10.  That's a double-whammy.  BTW, did your doctor mention this when he recommended taking them in the first place?  I bet not.  And yet the manufacturer of Lipitor discovered this little hidden gotcha long before it was even approved for the marketplace.  And what did they do?  Well, they quietly filed a patent for a version of Lipitor that combines it with Coenzyme Q10 within the same pill.  How clever.  But then they never brought that particular version to market and they never publicized their finding.

That is why many cardiovascular experts (at least) no longer have much hesitation recommending CoQ10 supplements to their patients: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/10079157/Food-supplement-could-help-reduce-heart-deaths.html

But when it comes to some oncologists...

Well, if you are dealing with an oncologist who does not understand (or care) about the basic metabolism of tumor cells and how they always differ in their metabolism from that of normal cells then I suggest you probably should not be relying on their "opinion" when it comes to nutrition, diets, and/or taking certain supplements.  That does not mean you should conceal whatever you are planning on consuming or actually doing in this regard.  It just means that you should (in fact, must) think for yourself.

Some "natural" sources of CoQ10 in foods include wheat germ and dark green, leafy vegetables like kale and spinach, and "organ" meats such as liver, tongue and heart.

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

Talk to your doctor - agreed - your doctor probably needs all the education you can give him on such matters.Smile

MDCinSC's picture
MDCinSC
Posts: 574
Joined: Feb 2013

How is your digestion? 

My surgeon described my surgery as a major wrestling match because my kidney was far larger than they anticipated.  I have this mental image of her with both feet on the table and both hands in my torso pulling and yanking Cool!

I find, perhaps due to major organ rearrangement, that my digestion seems to be off and the oddest things upset my stomach terribly.

If anyone else can speak to that I'd appreciate it!  I carry ginger chews now to keep it in check! LOL

Michael

doctap
Posts: 1
Joined: May 2013

As to that it's probably better that we don't know.  On 5/3 I had an open direct surgery which a surgen friend of mine described as barbaric.  In any case, three weeks and two days out I'm feeling much better than I would have suspected.  I cannot eat as much as before as the NPO period lasted three and a half days and srunk my stomach.  I also don't know why but foods I used to like now either turn me off or just don't tast good.  On a positive note, I feel better every day and can sleep on either side without discomfort.  Pain has been replaced by discomfort and my only concern is getting up every hour and a half during the night. 

MDCinSC's picture
MDCinSC
Posts: 574
Joined: Feb 2013

My reaction has been identical!  I'm down over 10 pounds since surgery and  though I am doing my best to eat more and more healthy, portion sizes are down and the uneasy stomach feelings  interfere!

Ah well, I was a little on the chubby side anyway!

metal_rabbit
Posts: 13
Joined: Apr 2013

I was 202 lbs before the surgery, 188 lbs when I got home 3 days later. Have dragged myself back up to 192 lbs by eating like a horse, though several people have remarked that I now eat much more slowly (not a bad thing).

The blood pressure a good one too: I had high bp before the operation (on the day I was 165/105). I lost nearly 1.5 litres of blood during the operation (about a third of all of blood in my body!). No transfusion, but the following day my bp was 88/64! Now, 2 and a half months later, it's sitting at a healthy 125/80.

Funny old world

Peter

metal_rabbit
Posts: 13
Joined: Apr 2013

My surgeon said he needed to create an opening large enough 'to have both hands deep inside to get at everything'. Which explains why he needed to get my rib out of the way too!

Offered me a viewing of the operation (everything is recorded nowadays). I declined.

Peter

faithlou's picture
faithlou
Posts: 38
Joined: Jan 2013

Huhhh..I remember those days.  Measuring my progress by, could i take a shower and brush my teeth without pooping out?   Would have to brush the teeth first because I was out of steam after shower. (lol shower/steam)  No stenght to dry off after shower, fall into bed wet.   But finally able to brush teeth, shower and dry off and get dress.  yeah...  It took awhile.  So take it slow and listen to your body.  Rest when you need to.  You will be back before you no it.  Oh btw get somebody else to wash those dishes for awhile.  Cool

Galrim's picture
Galrim
Posts: 278
Joined: Apr 2013

Took me 2-3 weeks before the fatigue started to wear off. Also, just a thought, having the adrenal gland removed may extend the recovery phase somewhat? Considering their functions I assume that could be the case.

Quote:

"They are chiefly responsible for releasing hormones in response to stress through the synthesis of corticosteroids such as cortisol and catecholamines such as epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine."

Wishing you a speedy (or speedier) recovery :-)

/G

Eims's picture
Eims
Posts: 420
Joined: Feb 2013

hi cr54,  i had my nephrectomy in january and when i initially had the op i really underestimated the tiredness or should i say total fatique!!  i slept for ireland!!  it is 5 months since my op and it seems i have taken a step backwards but what everyone has said including my doc is that it can take up to a year to get over it fully so i am trying to go with that!!  i suppose the reality is our bodies have taken quite a shock physically and mentally too and it is only natural to feel tired.  i have tried to go back walking a bit to try and build up my strength again and hopefully it will return.....thinking of you and i hope that helps....

eims x

CR1954's picture
CR1954
Posts: 1392
Joined: Jul 2008

Boy, thank you all so much for sharing your experiences!  You have given me a lot of great information!

I guess the take-away on the fatigue issue is to take the time necessary to recover.  And not to feel badly if I can't do everything right now, because it will all get better!

I'm so glad that I came here and asked for advice. 

Thanks again!

CR

Fizziwiz's picture
Fizziwiz
Posts: 42
Joined: May 2013

I am so glad you posed the question. 

I had a total r neph, and a l oopherectomy (ovary, due to a mass there, call it a twofer) on may 13, and I am pooped! All the time!

thanks for asking for me, and thank everyone for supporting me!

~Liz

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