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Rob's Lobectomy and Slow Healing


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Hi all to those that are aware my husband had a lobectomy on June 26, 2003. He stayed in the hospital 22 days and left Thursday 7/17/03 evening with one chest tube still in him. Well I had to take him back on Friday afternoon and stayed in ER from 1 p.m. - 9:45 p.m. He was readmitted much earlier but we had to wait on a bed. He couldn't sleep at home at all that night, he was short of breath (had been w/o oxygen for 1 week at the hospital) and he started swelling in his legs and feet. The chest tube was filled at the top section coming from his chest, however it would not drain properly into the leg bag they sent him home with.

The surgeon came to ER and readmitted him and ordered some test, found out his blood was too thick and called in the cardiologist and lung specialist again, the first diagnosis was possibly pneumonia because there was fluid on both lungs, the left for this surgery and there was fluid around his heart and left lung. The doctors have no answer why his chest tube will not stop draining, they feel the previous chemo and radiation may have changed him internally and the scar tissue may not be absorping the plural fluid as usual. On top of all this I lost a cousin on June 18 from liver cancer at the age of 47, lost a uncle here in Atl on July 2, from emphysma and on Thursday, my stepsister died in my hometown of North Chicago, IL.

This has been a helluva month, 3 close family members dying in 30 days!! while going through almost a month of this hospital stay with my husband. They are now giving him Heparin and believe the Atrial Fibrillation problem has worsened since his cancer surgery. They want to do a heart catheter next week to look for blockage. They also have vowed he will stay in the hospital this time until the remaining chest tube is removed. I believed he should have come home with some oxygen, but I dont' know if it would have helped with the swelling. I know he could not walk hardly 10ft without being short of breath, but he had done well walking around the hospital for 1 week without oxygen, and his level was about 98 when he left the hospital (w/o any exertion), but when I checked him in to the ER it was down to 84!!

Has anyone experienced anything like this with such a long length of time for a chest tube to stop draining?? And will his ability to move around without being short of breath continue forever?? The fluids are testing negative for cancer cells, cause there was some concern another tumor may have developed because of the fluid on both lungs. They are pushing lasix also now by IV and it has taken the swelling off his legs and feet since last night, I think they should have sent him home with a prescription for lasix. I believe CIGNA was pushing for him to be moved out the hospital but he is right back there. I am dealing with so much right now. We expected approx 6 - 8 weeks before he would be out and healed up and back to work and now that isn't going to happen. I cannot seek employment cause he wants me at the hospital daily for over 9 hours and he will need me home with him when he comes home. Our finances are shot, he is only getting 50% of his income from his employer for disability.

I want him to heal up and I know time is the only thing that will be the key. I truly count our blessings with the other deaths in the family, but I am so puzzled all this. I am finding more why they say the practice of medicine, cause out of all the specialists no one can explain why Rob's body is not absorbing the fluid and producing the extra fluid.

I am not a smoker and everytime I see someone in front of the hospital smoking cigarettes I have to fight to tell them they should put it out!! This lung cancer experience is not one I would like to see anyone go through. I know many here have been through many years of it and probably believe I am whining after a couple of months. I just need to let it out before it all eats away at me. I just want some help in understanding it all and knowing if I should feel guilty if I just don't go to the hospital for one entire day?? I am beginning to feel like I am part of the staff at the hospital, and I probably know all the nurses on the second floor. Please prayer for our situation and healing for my husband.

Bless you all,


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I had to stay longer in the hospital after my lobectomy than most, and they don't know WHY - but it was nowhere near as long as your husband's stay. I was barely 40 when it happened.

They told me to expect to go home around 4 days after surgery - but immediately after surgery, after only a few hours in ICU, my doctor told me I wasn't healing - I didn't understand what he meant at the time.

I spent a couple days in ICU. The epidural thing wasn't working like it should have been - I spent many hours in pain and it took quite a while before they figured out I needed to have something - they figured it out eventually, gave me medicine for pain, took out the spinal thingy -

My doctor went on vacation or somewhere ?? a day later - so the doctors that would visit me each day in my room were fill-ins. At day 7, the fill in doctor got very angry with me before there were still air bubbles happening in the box attached to the suction thing - He told the nurse I should be up and walking each day, etc. etc. and she was kinda' angry back at him, telling him I walked the halls back and forth, back and forth, again and again, and wasn't laying around - I just cried because I'd done everything they told me to , walked around all the time and wanted to be out of there so bad!!

I was supposed to be home for Christmas but didn't happen. It's a 2 1/2 hour drive home - in GOOD weather - over the mountain - we had had some snow and it had become not very safe to drive back and forth on it -my ex , taking care of my four children, one which was about 2 and still nursing but abruptly weaned because of the surgery - they tried to come and visit every day but he was unable to get a babysitter most of the time - he would bring the children with him - but the visit got to be dangerous to make because of the snow on the mountain - it was exhausting for them all - he'd drive 2 1/2 - 3 hours...visit a couple hours.....they were all miserable sitting in that hospital room during that time - .......then drive back 2 1/2 - 3 hours.......just to repeat each day - it was JUST TOO MUCH - My heart broke but I could not expect them to place their lives in jeopardy on the mountain each day until the weather broke - and to be so miserable each day -

They stayed at home a day or two without visiting - any day it was possible they came but it was just too much to do it every single day -

The hospital had some special kind of meeting - several doctors - including the chief of staff or something - my doctor was called back in from where ever he was - I went through some kind of procedure where they go in and look at your lungs through a tube or something while I was doped up higher than what not - they talked about going back in and doing a second surgery, to find something to sew up better I guess?

My doctor yanked out one tube - I stayed another week - After 14 days in the hospital, they sent me home with one chest tube still in, with some kind of valve thing on it, and a rubber glove tied to the end. Seriously. Each day I had to change the rubber glove as it would be filled to some degree with fluid.

I kept the chest tube in for another two weeks - so was like that for a full month. I'm the only income my family had - and as a teacher, there is NO disability pay, nothing more than the few days of sick leave that were already all used up. :(

Very scary position to be in financially, but we were provided for - people sent money and food and we didn't go without and bills didn't go unpaid - I was amazed. People were very kind -

Finally after a month that chest tube came out -I knew it would a day ahead of time as it stopped draining FINALLY - and when it stopped draining it became so unbearable - the pain meds - STRONG ones - didn't touch that pain - but once that tube came out, I got better and felt better increasingly by the minute!! What a relief.

The doctors don't know why I wouldn't heal. They said it happens to a small percentage - and sure enough, I looked at the papers they gave me prior to the operation and it mentioned that a small number would have that problem requiring a longer hospital stay.

While I was there, a friend of the family visited. He told me about his experience of a few years earlier - he had gone in for a simple gall bladder operation - nothing major, just in and out thing - and he had to stay in there for 8 days - they told him a 1 day stay - it turned out to be 8 - he wouldn't heal up enough to be sent home - it took 8 days before he did - they don't know to this day what happened, or why - but at 8 days he was all better, went home and all went well then . During the time, he was scared silly.

Something I had happen - after several days of being in the hospital - I started into a VERY DEEP depression. Yes, it was upsetting to be stuck there but this was more than just being upset - I began to cry and could NOT stop - They finally gave me antidepressants -which began to work in just a few days!!

The friend of the family I told you about above - during his 8 day stay he had with that 1 day gallbladder -he went - at super fast speed - into a major major deep depression - all of a sudden when that happened. He had never had a problem with depression or emotional upset or anything in his life before - they said it might have been an off reaction to some of the anestheia .......??

He had to be on antidepressants for several months after, as I did as well -

It's upsetting when the doctors don't know why something is happening or how to fix i t-

But God made things better.

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