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Question for Lisa42 or anyone with liver resection?

lmliess's picture
lmliess
Posts: 331
Joined: Dec 2008

I noticed in one of your posts you had liver resection done? I am heading to MD Anderson next week for my mets to be removed by Dr Curley. 2/3 of the liver. I am starting to get anxious. What can I expect afterwards pain wise? Where do they actually go in? Front or back? I am still recovering from the colostomy surgery so I just wanted to get an idea how much this will put me back down?

Any suggestions or advise?

mom_2_3
Posts: 965
Joined: Nov 2008

lmliess,

I am now 6 weeks post liver resection. At the time of my surgery I had my colon resected, my gall bladder removed, my left liver lobe removed as well as wedge resection of the right (total of 40% of my liver) and I had an HAI pump implanted.

With respect to surgery I feel that right now I am almost fully recovered. The first week was tough but I had an incision from my sternum down to my c-section scar. I think there were about 40 some staples. The second day I was up and walking and tried to walk 14 times around our floor (which equaled a mile). I did not have an epidural for surgery but did have a pain pump attached to my IV that I could press every 10 minutes. I found that I just kept pressing it to keep the meds flowing those first couple of days. I also asked my night nurse to push it every time he/she came in and I found that really helped. The most pain I experienced and I still feel it slightly is around the bottom of my ribcage. My 2 liver surgeons are big guys (6 ft or so) and they joked about how much strength they used to pull my ribs up in order to access the liver. Basically that area just still feels a bit bruised.

My surgery was on a Friday and I went home the following Saturday. My colon surgeon came into my room and I was sitting Lotus position on my bed so he said I was ready to go home. I did go home with a Percoset prescription and found that I would go without it all day but take 2 at night in order to get sleep.

Make sure you have plenty of help around the house and take it easy. Give your body time to recover. I was pretty tired the first couple of weeks (mid-morning and afternoon naps). I thought of it as similar to carrying a baby. When I was pregnant my body sent the energy to the developing baby. Same for the liver. As it re-generates it will sap your strength.

I hope your colon recovery is going well and wish you all the best for your surgery next week. It is a phenomenal thing for the liver to re-generate.

lisa42's picture
lisa42
Posts: 3661
Joined: Jul 2008

Hi,

I think it was about a couple of months ago that someone (chemo brain- can't remember who- maybe Phil?) actually posted a picture of their liver resection scar. Not sure who it was- you may even be able to scroll through old posts on the board and try and find it- not sure about that, but maybe it's possible.

Anyhow... there are a couple of different ways they make the cut. I guess some do an L shaped cut. Mine is more curved than that- like an L with the two ends drawn out to make a curve. My scar goes from the middle of me right under my breastbone, curving down to the right side of me, ending up a little higher than my waist on the right side. I actually measured it by putting a string over the scar, then measuring the string on a ruler. It's 8-1/2 inches long. Some have talked about their stitches or about having staples- I actually didn't have any external stitches or staples (which amazed me)- I just had the steri-strips. They were amazingly effective and took quite a while to come off on their own.

I was in the hospital for 6 days. My actual surgery was close to 6 hours long. It sounds like you'll be getting a bit more removed than me. I had most of my left lobe (the smaller of the two) removed, along with a wedge resection taken out of my right lobe. Since that would have left my gallbladder hanging by a thread, they also removed my gallbladder.

The first day or two were kind of a blur. I remember that my mother in law felt insulted because I asked her a few weeks later why she never visited me in the hospital. She, was in fact there two different times within those first two days & I don't even remember it. I guess that's the anesthesia at work- kind of seems to cause some light amnesia (which could also be a blessing- but just remember to tell your loved ones that ahead of time, in case you say anything funny, repeat yourself over those days, or forget about what was said or who was there during that time!)

Once home, my recovery went a lot better than I had expected that it would. The first few days were awful- going from the hospital bed to my own bed was good in a way and bad in a way. Boy, had I missed my own bed, but boy, was it hard at first to turn over or get up out of a regular bed. I surrounded myself with lots of pillows, which helped.
It will pass and you will get stronger and stronger each day after the first week or two are over. Gently push yourself. Not too hard- you don't want to overdo it- I learned not to overdo things the hard way & had a setback with some pain for a few days by bending down and trying to do too much. Let people help you! But DO work on walking and trying to do a bit more each day, without pushing yourself too hard. Listen to your body and don't do more than it tells you that you can do! Make sure to get plenty of REST! The overwhelming feeling of fatigue will hit you hard at first and for a while, but it will go away.

I had my surgery in May and in early August I went riverrafting on my family vacation. Not that I'd recommend you do that, but that gives you an idea of how I recovered. By mid July (two months after my surgery), I was really feeling pretty good and had a lot of energy- more than I had experienced in that whole prior year of being on chemo, doing radiation, etc.

If you have any other questions, just shoot them my way!

Take care,
Lisa

Monicaemilia's picture
Monicaemilia
Posts: 455
Joined: Nov 2006

Hi: I had a liver resection in July 2007, where I had 70% of my liver resected. I was really psyched about the pain, but it was quite manageable. I did need help with the getting up, down, sometimes turning, because they opened my abdomen like an upside down T. I never realized how much I used my abdominal muscles. However, I was on a 12 hour flight with a 2 year old on my lap six weeks later. Not that I would recommend it, but definitely doable. I was walking to the bathroom by the second day, and walking the halls by the third. You will be fine. Just don't psyche yourself up, it serves no purpose, trust me. Monica

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
Posts: 4907
Joined: May 2005

Hi,
I had a liver resection and a hepatic pump installed in Sept 04. They went in through the front. The big "L" scar is from that. The other one to the left of that is where they put the hepatic pump that administered chemo directly to the liver. The lower scar is from the colon resection. In all, it took about 9 hours to do. I did not feel great afterwards at all. They want you up and about the very next day but I was only able to take a few steps. The next day I faired better but I did not set any distance records at all. It is very important as you probably know to get up and walk. The more you walk, the faster you will walk out of the door. I had some complications with the pain meds and them slowing down my bowels. They actually stopped so that kept me in the hospital much longer than I should have been. That was an awakening for me that things may not always go as first expected. I have had other experiences where I've gotten out faster than they said too. Narcotics are notorious for slowing down the bowels. The pain went away but it took a while and I still have some numbness in that area and mild discomfort. But it worked and I've been all clear in the liver (where the removed 60-70% of it) since then. I only have lung issues now that are tolerable. I am still on chemo too. I hope my experience has been of some help to you.
Best of luck to you, you are in my thoughts.
-phil

I hope the photo isn't too much but a picture can be worth a thousand words as they say...

lmliess's picture
lmliess
Posts: 331
Joined: Dec 2008

I think this surgery may be easier than my first. At least I hope! I think it just freaks me out they are removing so much of an organ! And I have already experienced firsthand the bowels slowing from pain pills and that is no fun! We are driving from Kansas to Houston in my in-laws Suburban so I will have the whole back seat to lay down on.
And that scar is not bad! Like my husband said, they are battle scars!

thanks again for your input!

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
Posts: 4907
Joined: May 2005

The liver is the only organ that will regenerate in a person. It may not be the exact same size, but it returns to function at 100%. You won't notice a thing (except a giant scar). It was a frightening, yet totally amazing operation they did on me. If this had happened 10 years ago I would have been a goner. Science has grown in leaps and bounds the past few years. In the last 5 years Avastin and Erbitux have come along and they have kept me on top of the wave of technology.

I am waiting for some little kid to ask me what happened to me while I vacation at the beach with my family. I just want to tell them a shark bit me, but I fought back and beat him!

I'm sure you will do fine, you are strong.
I'll be rooting for you.
-p
I almost forgot, you are very welcome. I'm glad I could be of help with this.

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snommintj's picture
snommintj
Posts: 602
Joined: Mar 2009

I've had two liver resection in the last nine months. They got 70+% the first time and 40% the second time. I think I only took 2 lortabs the 1st surgery and none the 2nd. I do have a fairly high tolerance for pain and enjoy some level of pain every now and then. The liver infection I got after my 2nd surgery is a horrible. I had surgery the 13th of Jan and am still dealing with it. Good Luck I'm sure you'll do fine.

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
Posts: 4907
Joined: May 2005

Hi Nana,
I just want to let you know that I will be thinking of you and your upcoming operation. The pain is relative. I find that the longer I am in the game, the more my definition of pain has changed. I adjusted.

Having off before an operation is the best, I always enjoy the time off and how the effects of the chemo go away. I feel normal again. It's too bad it's often followed by more chemo but whatever it takes to get NED has to be done.

Again, good luck and I'll be thinking of you
-phil

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lisa42's picture
lisa42
Posts: 3661
Joined: Jul 2008

Hi Nana,

I'm coming up on a year on May 13 since I had my liver resection- hard for me to believe it's been almost a year! My scar is now fading to nicer light, whitish color and the numbness on and around the incision area is almost gone. The water from the shower used to hurt when it hit a certain spot along my scar- I'd always hold my hand over that spot to keep the water from "blasting it". I just thought about it now- I haven't had to hold my hand over that spot in about a month or two- it doesn't hurt or feel weird in that spot anymore. Yeah- time does heal!

You take care and I'll definitely be thinking of you and praying for you as your surgery date gets closer and closer! I know you'll do fine.

Hugs,
Lisa

lisa42's picture
lisa42
Posts: 3661
Joined: Jul 2008

HI again,

I just realized that I forgot to comment on your question about what to expect about the pain afterwards. I was given an epidural in my lower spine for the pain & I really think that is the way to go. Unfortunately, my epidural worked its way out of my back the second night- which is supposedly not a usual problem- I don't know if they didn't put it in right, or what happened. So, I ended up in a lot of pain the second night & then it was discovered that the epidural had come out. This made me realize how much it had been helping, since I went from no pain to quite a lot of it once it was out of my back. Don't worry about yours coming out though- supposedly it doesn't happen very often. I then was switched to IV pain meds with a pump button that I could push when I needed more of it. I did get sick from one of the IV pain meds I was later given, with nonstop throwing up for a couple of hours (can't remember the name of it- sorry). Once they changed the pain med, I was fine again.
By the time I left the hospital- 6 days later- I really didn't have too much pain anymore. They sent me home with pain pills, but I only took them for the first couple of days. After that, Tylenol and ibuprofen were good enough, except at night- I did take the prescrip. pain pills at night only for almost the first week of being home, but then was worried about becoming dependent, so stopped taking them (I don't actually know if it could have happened so soon, but I was a bit paranoid about it).
Your body speaks to you- so listen to it and don't overdo it!

Blessings,
Lisa

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
Posts: 4907
Joined: May 2005

It's too bad you can't bring them home with you. My first two I had were not done well and they either feel out or they missed the spot. On my last lung operation last July, the one I got was amazing. I went from having 3 drainage tubes in my lungs and the day after the surgery I walked 3 miles! That was 21 laps around the floor of the hospital. After they too the epidural out, I wasn't getting the same mileage right away but I soon got back to walking a lot and I soon walked out the door.
I'm sure you will do fine...
-phil

robinvan's picture
robinvan
Posts: 1014
Joined: May 2007

I had a liver resection in October 2004. About 2/3 removed. right lobe. The incision followed the lower margin of the ribcage from my right side to just left of the sternum. A nice curve. Sorry I don't have a picture!!

I was in the hospital for 1 week. No complications. A truly life-saving procedure.

As has been mentioned, the liver is an awesome organ, I've had great regeneration and am enjoying a full life.

All the very best to you next week. You will be in my thoughts and prayers.

Rob; in Vancouver

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