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Caring for Dad who had pneumonectomy -- Questions aplenty!!


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Hi all - so glad I found this board. I've been looking for days and finally hit it!

- Dad was diagnosed with lung cancer in July.

- Left pneumonectomy Aug 24, 2005.

- Surgeon felt he got all the cancerous growth, though a few suspicious lymph nodes.

- Retained fluid, gained 10-20 pounds, so went into hospital again for cathertization, and put on Flowmax.

- Catheter removed, back home. Up and down days where he catnaps a lot, but then stays up most of the day...walking, using spirometer.

- Appetite was up and down early, but then has been mostly down for a couple weeks now. That's probably the worst immediate problem. No appetite, so doesn't eat much. Doesn't eat much, so very little energy. Very little energy, doesn't feel like eating or exercising.

Gotta get him back on track! He is 81, very active before the surgery, walking 18 holes of golf at least twice a week. Now he walks to the bathroom and back and is very winded. Can't do steps yet.

There are 5 of us grown kids taking shifts helping out him & my mom, who has relatively minor health problems as well - primarily arthritis, so can walk fine, but can't reach things with her impinged shoulders. Dad was doing most of the care-giving until this came on him.

Would love any advice you all have to give, especially about appetite. I saw several posts related to acid reflux - I'll talk to him to see if his appetite symptoms align with that.

Thanks very much! :)

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hello j! I am very new to the pneumo world, as mom's surgery was only a few months ago but I can tell you that, complications notwithstanding, she's had some of the symptoms you describe - her appetite is definately diminished and she actually has developed a couple aversions to food she used to enjoy.

the windedness makes sense, when you think about it - one stressed out lung doing the work two fully functioning lungs used to. my mom was also healthy before her surgery, though she's much younger than your dad. in the end, her docs assure us that the only remedy is time and activity. they described walking and other light cardio as weight lifting for the new lung, to get it strong enough to handle her whole body all by itself. there's also nothing wrong with a little supplemental oxygen (took mom some time to adjust to that idea) if it encourages activity. mind you, she's had some other setbacks that have complicated things for her but it's the same general concept.

I guess the only 'advice' I would give is to keep encouraging him to get up and move, like we are with her. maybe a walk/golf cart combo to break the ice or something. for my mom, the mental battle is hand in hand with the physical.

I do feel for you, it's shocking to see such a change, even when there's such GREAT news about the cancer (as in, it's gone - you should celebrate that with your dad as much as possible!!).

feel free to PM or email me any time, and good luck! I will keep you in my thoughts.



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Welcome! If your dad has acid reflux, then Nexium or similar would help. My wife has taken it when she has been on chemo and it caused that temporarily.

As for eating, it is probably best to try small snacks every two or three hours rather than three big meals. It also lessens the nausea. You can use easy to swallow things like Ensure, Breeze, Smoothies, Frosties, blender stuff. Good that you guys are taking turns helping the parents out. Don

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If your Dad just had surgery on Aug 25 I wouldn't worry about the appitite for a while. I am a 59 year old male and love to eat but when I had my surgery on April 20th of this year (Lower Lobectomy) I had no appitite and the acid reflux for two months. Nexium cured the reflux but the pain meds killed my appitite for quite some time. Now, after the two months I got my appitite back and am pretty much back to normal eating wise. So Give it a little time. Is he on pain meds??? They really do kill your appitite.

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Just make certain that he is eating enough protein and getting enough nutrients so his body will continue to heal from the surgery. I went through a rough patch, and the only thing I could stomach was a few bites of plain tuna or plain broiled chicken (no spices, sauces, just the fish or chicken with a tiny bit of salt. I also ate a mixture of cottage cheese and white rice. Sounds gross, I know, but it is almost complete nutrition, very bland, and very easy on the stomach, and it didn't taste bad. Just incredibly boring. I would eat just a few bites of this because at the time a few bites is all I could handle. But an hour or two later I would go back and eat a few more bites of the food. If we don't take in enough protein we will not heal, and things just go from bad to worse.

Hope this helps. Tell your Dad that the gastric reflux is just part of chest surgery. But he shouldn't allow it to go untreated. There is Prilosec, Nexium, Prevacid, etc...Tell him to do what he must to insure he can eat and drink. Also make certain he isn't allowed to become dehydrated. It contributes to the formation of blood clots (DVTs)and folks like us don't need those complications.

Also, if he isn't getting up and moving around too much then make certain he does what I call the "Hike and Bike in Bed" exercise....have him pedal his feet as if he were riding a bike (extend the legs out with the toes pointed away from the body, then pull up the leg and have the foot flexed with toes pointing up towards the knee. This helps to improve blood flow through both the front of the legs and the back of the legs, calf and thigh. I usually do this for about 3 minutes about once an hour during the time I'm awake. I sit up as much as is possible, with my legs hanging down, and I continue to use the spirometer to help me gauge how my breathing is going.

Please tell you Dad that he isn't alone. This is no fun at all, but the end result will be worth the effort we have to expend to heal well.

Wishing you the best.

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Welcome! Just wanted to say hi and glad you found this board. My mom is 82 and was also an avid golfer prior to her dx. She hasn't had surgery but is just finishing up her round of chemo (done with the radiation, happy dancin' here) and is doing quite well.

How very lucky you are to have so many siblings! I have found that the support of family is vital for everyone's emotional well being. I don't know what I'd do without my siblings..

Your dad's appetite will slowly return and the advice about making sure he gets enough protein is really important. My mom has problems swallowing (one of the side effects of the radiation) and she makes milkshakes and mixes in a carnation instant breakfast or one of the supplemental drinks.

God bless you all and won't it be wonderful when we post that they played a round of golf!!!!!! Whew, hang in there...some days are easier than others.

Love and light


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Hi and welcome. I see you have already gotten good advice here re nutrition. My only other thought is that your dad may need supplemental oxygen. I used it for 2 weeks after surgery and used it while I was doing my walking around the block. I had a pulmonologist monitor my o2 saturation for a month after surgery. I am 61. Your dad is 81. He probably nees a little more time to get back on track.

Now that I think of it, I did not have much appetite in the hospital. I did when I got home though.

Don M

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Welcome...you will find plenty of help here. Bob had acid reflux during radiation and was put on protonix...it helped. He is also on an appetite stimulate because he lost so much weight...we met with a nutricianist who suggested it. Just some ideas to look into if your dad doesn't regain his interest in food....again, Welcome.... Diane

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Wow - didn't expect near the replies that you all posted! Thanks a million - you all are fantastic, caring people. I will print out the replies and let Dad read them...that should help him feel better, and give him encouragement that the appetite will come back, as will his strength. We got him off the anti-depressant and I noticed a change for the better almost immediately. I'll confirm tomorrow morning, to see if he had a better night's rest.

I will encourage him to get up and around a bit more. The more we engage him in conversation and the daily goings-on, the better he seems. By better, I mean more alert, more active, better sense of humor. He's even cracked me up a couple times today, just like the old Dad!

We go see the pulmonologist tomorrow after X-rays yesterday, so I hope he has a good report.

Thanks again to you all - you've really improved my outlook!

Take care and all the best to y'all - I'll be back! Anybody in Rita's path? Please stay safe.


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