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those who have had surgery


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I had a pneumonectomy (left side) in 02. Aside from the pain that I've asked about before just above the left breast i have another question. For those of you who have had similar surgery do any of you have "indentations or prominant ribs" I have a dip inbetween a couple of my upper ribs and my PCP said that is from them taking the muscles etc. out when I lost my lung. My tumor was almost like a concrete ball (according to my surgeon) and it was "cemented to my lung and heart due to the radiation (I had no tumor in my lung). My heart has also dropped down a little and it is very near the surface and I can feel my heart beat, which at times is rather creepy. On my last x-ray they said my right lung has enlarged and my intestines have moved way up under my rib cage I guess to try to fill that empty spot left by my lung. Has anyone else had anything like this? I wish they would give you a sheet of paper when you have surgery like this that would say "Here's all the nifty things that's gonna happen to your body when we do this".

Thanks everyone....

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Hi, Tami,

The problem is that all those nifty things than can happen don't always happen to everyone.

I had the right lung removed, and the empty space has filled with fluid, so it isn't completely empty. There has been a slight shift of the heart, trachea, etc to the right, but I can't feel the heart beating on my right side. I know of a few folks who have had more significant mediastinal shift who have some of the symptoms you've described, but they all had right side pneumonectomy, and there is a definite syndrome associated with that particular procedure. I'm not aware of a left sided mediastinal shift. Doesn't mean it doesn't exist, just that I've never known anyone who had it. My weird ribs are that way because one was actually removed in this operation, others were broken during previous surgeries, and one of them never healed, but did form callous on the broken end. It caused a lot of discomfort as it was jabbing me for the longest time. This is the third standard thoracotomy for me, so things are definitely amiss (or is that a mess?) in there.

Post surgical pain levels differ for all of us, because we all have different pain tolerance levels, different surgeons, different body types and builds. I think Judy B has the smartest advice on dealing with post surgical pain. If it doesn't abate within a reasonable period of time go to a pain management specialist and have them come up with a treatment plan. We should not have to live in pain every day.

Wishing you well,

Fay A.

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Thanks you for the information. I've also had three surgeries all during the course of 1 year with the last one removing my left lung. I had a huge section of my one rib removed in order for them to get the lung out--my surgery was in April of 02. This past April I had a chest x-ray and they found that I had broken another rib. :( I looks rather grisly on the x-ray as the one rib bone sticks way up--the two don't meet at all. They told me that eventually scar tissue would cover them. They think I broke the rib shoveling snow (lots of snow in PA this past year) they also were concerned that I didn't have much time to heal. I drove myself home from the hospital after the pneumonectomy and was back to work full time in a week. I lift things and carry things probably too much. My surgeon told me that rib fractures are pretty common especially after 3 chest surgeries. I think the left lung is supposed to hold the heart in place-my PCP told me that now that mine is gone my heart is just kind of flopping around in there--yuck! I guess I'm just concerned because I've been having this pain. It wasn't bad before but the last few weeks that broken rib area really seem to be stabbing me. It almost feels like a biting or scratching from the inside. Is that what yours felt like. When I roll my shoulders backward I can feel them clicking and grinding. It's a scary feeling. It's comforting to hear that others have had the same experiences and that some of these things are normal given everything our bodies have been through.

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Hi Tami.

One of the first things I asked other one lungers when I found this site last year was if anyone else has experienced the wierd things I had lived with for the 25 years since my left pneumonectomy. Most said yes, to one degree or another.

My doctor said the space vacated by my left lung would fill with fluid, then eventually solidify. Yes, it filled with fluid, but it never solidified;

depending on the activity, I get quite a loud sloshing sound coming from my chest cavity (comparable to a balloon half filled with water and shaken about).

He also said they cut out part of a rib and that it should grow back - it did!

When I flex my muscles in front of a mirror (and yes,I do this quite regularly :wink: ) and compare my right side latissimus dorsi to my left. the deformaty at the incision on the left side is quite noticable due to the muscle that was cut out. There is still some pain on this site when the chiropractor does his thing every now and again.

I haven't noticed if my heart has moved, but I do have a really strong heartbeat. Perhaps this is due to the fact I still have the same amount of blood in my system, but one less lung for the blood to be routed through.

When I read the paper, the paper has a noticable shake to it so you can count my heartbeats while I'm reading. Speaking of heartbeats, my resting heartrate is usually around 42 to 44 bpm, but this could be due to all my cycling.

I went for a lung capacity test last year and the technicians were astounded at how large my right lung was. They measured it to be 64% that of a two lunged man my size. And I use all of it during races.

My trachia has shifted to the left. It's real close to my jugular now, and when I open my mouth just right, I can get a continuous loud "chirp" that corresponds with my heartbeat. Good party trick.

And speaking of good party tricks, this is my best. My stomach has moved up into the "empty" space on my left side, and seems to trap gasses there in the upper section under the heart. This usually happens when I'm eating, and drinking, like at a B-BQ, and I feel quite full. That is until I lean to the left, which releases the gas, and let go with the longest, (sometimes loudest) burp/ belch you or anyone at the party has ever heard!! I ALWAYS excuse myself and plead medical reasons.

That's about it for my quirks. You learn to live with them. Take care Tami.

David P

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