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having surgery what can I expect afterward

nanaof7
Posts: 127
Joined: Feb 2009

the dr. has warned me this is not easy they are removing 1 lobe in my left lung. I am very nervous about the pain after the operation and how long recovery takes

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

The answer to that question depends a great deal on the kind of surgery you are having. I had my lowest right lobe removed with the doctors using a procedure called VATS (video-assisted thoracic surgery). Here is how the typical thoracis and VATS are compared in information provided by one cancer hospital:

"...the traditional open-chest approach (called a thoracotomy) typically requires 5 to 7 days of recovery in the hospital, with an extended recovery at home.

... thoracic surgeons offer a less invasive surgical approach called a video-assisted lobectomy for select patients as treatment of early-stage lung cancer. This video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) technique reduces a patient’s hospital stay to about 3 to 4 days and the patient experiences a more rapid recovery with less pain after surgery as compared with the traditional thoracotomy approach."

As I understand it, VATS is not available everywhere, and is not recommended for all cases.

In my case, the above description proved true, or would have, had I not developed a staph infection that complicated things and extended my hospital stay.

In my case, I spent about a day in ICU following surgery, and was on schedule to leave within that 3-4 day window with very little pain (the pain meds helped, of course).

I had two holes in my side at that time, for drainage, and a big smiley face under my armpit, where they actually went in, very minimally invasive.

Regardless of which surgery you have, you will almost certainly get some 'toys' to play with, all designed to help you improve your breathing. Referring back to those draining holes, it is likely that you will have a couple of 'pipes' coming out of your side and leading to a machine on the floor that collects fluids being drained from the surgical area. You will be carrying this around for the duration of your stay in the hospital, and it will go along with you on the three of four daily walks around the halls that your doctors are likely to insist on.

It is my understanding that the typical thoracic surgery (non-VATS) is quite a bit more invasive, based on things I've read on this board, and that, indeed, recovery time can be quite extended, not to add to what I know must be some current fear that you have.

Hopefully others can speak to that side of the coin if, indeed, that is the surgery of choice for you.

In any event, rest assured that at least one surver (me, now all clear!) believes that the surgery is the best of the options when available. I prefer that if they can take it out, then, by all means, please do so. Trust me, there are a number of lung cancer survivors who are WISHING that they could have surgery but cannot, due to the amount of cancer spread or other health factors.

Look at the silver lining, in other words.

Hope and humor!

Take care,

Joe

Greggriggs's picture
Greggriggs
Posts: 132
Joined: Dec 2006

I had a complete Lung Removed 2006.
I was scared to death .
But I woke up in Icu with no Pain .
I was in the hospital three night and one day.
The third day they took the epidural Out !!!!
In about 10 minutes I told them put it back .
The next day they took me for a walk dow the hall an I thought if this is how it is goin to be I do not want to be here.
In six weeks I was walking a mile

It has been three years an I am still here.
It is not a walk in the park but it is not that bad eathier.

The Chemo for me was worse than the Cancer.
Lotsa Prayers to you .

One day you will wake up an it will be all gone It should only take six weeks to be kinda your old self.
Greg

nanaof7
Posts: 127
Joined: Feb 2009

I have heard about the epidural and am not looking forward to them taking it out I also heard that taking out the drainage tube hurts too, I am glad I can have the surgery the dr told me its has a better cure rate then the chemo and radiation they had me on or even a wedge resection ( I think thats what it is called) so I will pray for the best and look forward to the end result.. thank you again for your help and support pat

catcon49's picture
catcon49
Posts: 398
Joined: Aug 2008

I had lower right lobe remove via VATS surgery. My Doctor from University of Pennsylvania, was terrific. No problems. I was home in 4-5 days. I slept in the recliner for a while but pain was horrible. I thought the constipation was worse than the surgery. Take the stool softeners. I was able to return to work 8 weeks later.

Greggriggs's picture
Greggriggs
Posts: 132
Joined: Dec 2006

Pat
My surgeon did not like radiation or Chemo. He told me it was my decision to do chemo , and like you he said surgery is the best it is gone when they cut it out.
Pat I was kidding abut the epidural it did not hurt to take it out I did not even feel it.

What I ment was they were putting morphine through it an I wanted it back.

You will do well God bless ya lotsa luck.
Greg

Mother Goose
Posts: 1
Joined: Jun 2009

I am 8 weeks out of surgery and still experiencing pain. Sometimes it is ongoing and sometimes it is sharp-shooting happening any where from under my left arm to my back, just behind the bottom of my shoulder blade. How long can it be before I am pain-free?

nanaof7
Posts: 127
Joined: Feb 2009

WISH I COULD HELP YOU, I AM STILL UNCOMFORTABLE, I WAS GIVEN PAIN MEDS. AND EXERCISES TO DO
I NOTICED IF I MISED MY MEDS I DIDNT DO MY EXERCISES SO I HAVE TO FOLLOW ALL INSTRUCTIONS NO Matter what hang in there

MadelynJoe's picture
MadelynJoe
Posts: 96
Joined: Sep 2003

Dear Nana:

I am a 4 year NSCLC survivor. I had my lower right lobe removed in June of 2005 using the Laprascopic method and did not have a bad recovery period or too much pain. I just had three small icisions which healed reasonably quick. They gave me too much anesthetic (spinal block) and I remember waking up from surgery, speaking with my husband and my doctor and then an hour or so later I stopped breathing! They revived me but I ended up spending 3 days in the coronary care ICU and then another 5 days on the heart ward. I still did not have much pain at any time.

Subsequently, I underwent several chemo treatments to ensure that no cancer cells remained in my body. I would encourage you to see an oncologist for his/her recommendation as to whether chemo would give you higher survival odds. I am 4 years and one month cancer free and last week after my CAT scan, my oncologist said I had beat the cancer!

Best regards,

Madelyn

penguins
Posts: 6
Joined: Jun 2009

I had my left upper lobe removed in Feb. of this year. I was in ICU for 7 days and the pain was well controlled. I am now 4 months out and back at work and back to training in the ballroom also. Take the time that you need to recover, but also start getting your mind set to get healthy again. Tell yourself that today I will walk to the neighbors driveway but tomorrow I will walk past it to the bush on the other side. Keep the goals small, and stay confident. The pain does ease in time,although I am still uncomfortable at times, it does ease up. I seldom take any pain meds now, mostly tylenol. I want to encourage you to stay strong and focused on health...you can do this and get thru this....it just takes time, but don't give up.

kjmconway's picture
kjmconway
Posts: 7
Joined: Jun 2009

I had my upper right lobe removed. I asked if the surgeon had broken my ribs or something as I hurt so badly. He said no. When I returned to my pulmonologist he took new xrays, and showed me the before and after, and where they removed two of my ribs. So no he didn't break them, he removed them. Also I had asked how long the scar would be, was told about two inches. HA HA it is at LEAST 6, but the good news is I am breathing. However my surgery was May 6, and there is not one moment of the day that I do not hurt. Every way that I turn Every way that I stand, lay. They do not give me pain pills, and my lung dr told me that I will always from now on have an ache there. I start Chemo on the 13th of July, and as I am preparing myself for what lies ahead, I have to wonder...as with my surgery...what they are not telling me going in. I don't know what to expect.

pkl54
Posts: 6
Joined: Jul 2009

I was sorry to hear you were so uninformed about your surgery. Sometimes I wonder where surgeons leave the part of their brain and heart when talking to patients. The part that is good at cutting must "cut" out the part that would tell most people that they need to give patients good information about what will happen after not just on the table. VENTING! My husband has non-small cell lung cancer. We've been to the oncologist but how do you know you need surgery? Would an oncol. tell you or does he want to keep your ins. card at his office instead so doesn't recommend surgery? We saw a pulmonologist but when we got the cancer diag. and he was out of town till next week, we asked for a referral to oncologist. What do you and other think?
God Bless
Pattie

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

Pattie,

You know you need surgery because the doctors you trust advise you that you need surgery. If you do not trust the doctors your hub has now, you are (well, he is) free to find new ones, and his current team of doctors would probably not only encourage it but suggest others if asked.

I do not understand your query regarding oncologists with respect to keeping the insurance card to avoid surgery. Did I read that wrong? Why would an oncologist want you to avoid surgery unless he/she thought it was not going to do any good? My oncologist has been involved in both of my surgeries and never seemed to have any qualms about either. I don't get that one.

Even in my befuddlement, I would advise that you get a new OncoMan if you do not (if hub does not) trust this one. (I would, however, strongly suggest that you first consider whether you are simply seeking a yes man...you don't WANT a yes man!).

As for what I think, I think you rushed to judgment, as is typical for all of us when we get such a horrible diagnosis. You will learn soon enough that waiting is the hardest part, in some respects, but something we have to deal with.

I am a survivor of NSCLC myself, by the way, had the lowest lobe of my right lung removed (and this was my second bout with cancer), and never doubted my doctors, OncoMan, PulmoMan, HeartLungSurgDoc, none of them.

They are my friends. They saved me.

I am NED (No Evidence of Disease).

But, definitely seek new doctors if you and hub don't trust these guys or like their bedside manner.

Best wishes to hub and his family.

Take care,

Joe

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