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Mom-in-law having tough time post-pneumonectomy

kfore
Posts: 1
Joined: Mar 2007

Hi, guys. I'm finding this a very informative sight. I want/need info about post-pneumonectomy recovery. My mother in law, who is 70 but otherwise healthy until recently, was diagnosed with lung cancer early Feb following a bout with pneumonia. (The pneumonia was a blessing because they wouldn't have found it otherwise). She had her left lung removed almost exactly a month ago. Post-op, she had no appetite. The meds she's on (and I have no idea what they are, but none are chemo yet) made her nauseated so she lost her appetite. Tried Ensure to supplement, which helped some. She didn't eat for 3 days before they discharged her, but sent her home any way. Had home health care coming in about every other day, but either she disguised how little her intake was, or they didn't ask the right questions. Regardless, she has been back in the hospital a week for dehydration/malnutrition. Of course, there has been some muscle wasting because of this, so she is now getting physical therapy and tube feedings to help boost her up. She still has a very decreased appetite, and she's showing signs of depression/sadness/anger. I feel these are "normal" emotions under the circumstances. I realize her recovery is up to her, but want to hear from a patient's perspective what you went through, what it took to get you better, and maybe even suggestions on how I can help her without enabling her. My sister in law keeps reminding her of the fact that she lost the lung because she smoked, that she's back in the hospital because she wouldn't do the things at home she was supposed to and "sugar coated" how things were going. OK, her way of dealing with her own emotions, but I think it's time to back off "mom" and encourage her, not keep reminding her why she wound up in this position. Am I right? or is tough love the way to go. She's a strong woman who's been beaten down by this whole situation, but she's also very lucky - that horrible pneumonia is what found the cancer, she was downgraded from a stage 3 to a stage 2 (originally they said it was inoperable), and her lymph nodes were clear. Her remaining lung, though it has early emphysema, is compensating well. She is trying now to get stronger, but it's such a tough effort it's adding to the depression from just the whole procedure and being trapped in the hospital for nearly a month. I feel I'm a more neutral party since I'm the daughter in law, and I am thinking she might need to journal her feelings since she won't really talk about them (or cry, or scream, or anything). She's shown the poor pitiful me side already, and she keeps reitterating how she could have died if her brother hadn't gotten her back in the hospital when they did. I don't know whether to interpret this as a plea to feel more sorry for her so people will ease up on her, or if she has to say it out loud to herself to remind her how much work she has ahead to recooperate from the damage done by not eating and which led to her not doing her walking, etc. like she should have. Any advice from one that's been on the other side? I would appreciate any input.

beatlemike
Posts: 55
Joined: Jul 2005

Hi,Im Mike and had my right lung removed in aug.05.Your mom in law sounds like I was. It is very very hard to eat for a long time afterwards. It will slowly come back a litle at a time. She has been thru alot.Sounds also like she could use a antidepressant. I am on lexapro now and it has been a lifesaver for me. Before that all I did was cry and worry.I also smoked and I get very pissed when people act like well so you brought it on yourself then. That is the last thing your mom needs to hear. There are alot of overweight people in the world also. Do they all deserve to die from heart attacts? We all drive cars that we know we could die in but we dont all say well they asked for it when someone gets killed in a auto accident. I know this is a hard time for your family and my thoughts and prayers go out to you all. But please be pationte with her,she really has been thru alot and she would eat more if she could. Also ask your doctor about it. May God bless and watch over you all.

Plymouthean's picture
Plymouthean
Posts: 264
Joined: Jan 2004

Hi. Originally diagnosed as inoperable/incurable, I was sixty seven when I went through chemo/radiation/surgery for nsclc. My bout with tube feeding, etc., came prior to surgery, as a result a radiation treatments. My esophagus was damaged, and I couldn't swallow. I was hospitalized for three weeks, and finally was able to eat by mouth. It took great effort on my part to be able to eat normally.
Post surgery, I had a pretty bad time. It's a serious operation, and it takes time to recover, at that age. I was depressed because I thought that the healing was taking too long. I was given antidepressants for about six months.
Your mother-in-law does not need the "it's your own fault" treatment. Regardless of how she got the cancer, it is what it is. It has to be dealt with without blaming her. Neither does she need excess sympathy. Encouragement is the key. She needs breathing exercises and physical exercise (walking, if possible). Maybe the "browbeaters" could pitch in and assist and encourage her to exercise, even just a little, a couple of times a day, increasing the duration as she feels stronger. With exercise, she should begin to feel a little better each day, and that will be encouraging to her. Praise her every success, because nothing succeeds like success.
I'm 5 1/2 years out, and I can tell you, it wasn't easy, but it is do-able!

BILL914
Posts: 21
Joined: Jul 2005

I found my own situation similar to what your mother in law is going through. I too had pneumonia. A follow up x-ray showed something suspicious which led to identifying my stage 3A NSCLC in my left lung in Dec. 2004. I was told that they did not plan to operate. Instead, I went through 6 weeks of daily radiation and 6 weekly Chemo treatments. At the end of this, they decided that I responded well to the treatment and they would do a pneumonectomy (removed my entire left lung). I was 60 at the time. Once I returned home, I could not eat. I went from 175lbs to 149 lbs. Eventually, I forced myself to take in food. I am now 185 pounds and would like to loose 10. It's no fun going through the recovery but I think I had a little luck and lots of encourgement from friends and family. You mother in law just has to believe that she can do it and she will.

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