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richinsdakota

Question for thoracotomy vets...

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I wondered if anyones post-surgery instructions included stretching or "range of motion" excercises. And did u get instruction on how to do em?

Noone ever mentioned it to me after surg., and consequently I believe I healed with a tight restriction across chest muscles, which contributes to shortness of breathing as well as discomfort. Scar tissue, I assume..??

Just curious if this is unusual, to not get excercise ordered post-surgery. Thanx...Rich B.

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The only exercise info that I got was to walk. I guess they were pretty serious about it because they had me up walking the hallway in the hospital the very next morning after surgery. The other thing was that little plastic thing they give you to breathe into. I was told that it was very important to use it. I still pull it out and use it every now and then.

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Thx Carol...Yea, it seems they get u up walking fast to avoid blood clots, etc...but I think they tend to forget the little things that might contribute to the patients comfort and degree of function later...dunno. I wish, and recomend, Id used the spirometer (breathing excercise), longer and harder, and streched for like 18 mos. or so ...to give my chest maximum expanding capability..feels restricted now. Anyway, thx again. Rich B.

(sheesh, my spelling..heheh)

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Rich,

You mentioned arthritis in your spine. Could that same arthristis have something to do with the restriction that you are feeling in your chest? I had a rib bone removed during surgery and I definitely feel some restriction due to that.

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Hi Rich, I understand what you are saying, my incision felt like a tight belt wrapped around my chest at first.

I decided on my own to take yoga classes about 4 months after operation. It took maybe 2 years of yoga, but finally I could pull off my jacket by grabbing the sleeves behind my back - a major achievement! I still have some pain taking big breaths though. But like you, nobody ever suggested physical therapy of anykind.

I suffered from sob too, and no matter how much I walked it just didn't get any better. The end of this May I had angiogram and they discovered my right coronary artery was completely blocked and so they put in two stents. Now I can breath almost normal. Two weeks ago we were hiking in Yellowstone, some long steep hikes to the fire lookout etc, something I never thought I could ever do again.

At least one doc mentioned that it is possible the chemo and radiation irritated the interior of my artery just enough to encourage fatty deposits to attach and buildup. I am only 52 and heart disease does not run in my family.

Anyway Rich, sorry this is so long. I just wanted to mention that if you have any chest or arm pain upon exercise (even only sometimes like me) you might consider blocked artery causing sob. I passed all the stress tests and blood tests, but finally an angiogram caught my blockage. That was causing my sob.

I am so happy I can breath again. Barb

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Rich,

My Pulmonary Specialist did give me a specific exercise to do after surgery. He had told me to stand in front of a wall and 'walk' my fingers up the wall so that I would get more of a range of movement.

Funny now, thinking back, this seemed like such a difficult thing to do at the time....

That's about it though, besides blowing in that thingy. Spirometer???

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Thx girls; yea, I also sought advice from a phys. therapist, did some similar excersizes for awhile. Afraid I didnt stick with it long enuff. (hate labor intensive things). heheh

I have been thinking I should push docs for possible coronary issues tests, since I pass pulmonary function test,etc., with flying colors. Might be my prob. too. I see a pulmonologist in late July, I hope, so will pursue this possibility with him. I know a number of folks here have required stents after the thoracotomy, seems to be a side effect or something. And it actually causes shortness of breath, huh? Didnt know that.

Yes, Debi, that "thingy" we breathe in is called a spirometer. heheh Anyways, thx for that info, ladies. Rich B.

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11 years later, NOW I'm in PT!! :roll::roll: They didn't offer any of this stuff 11 years ago.

I have to admit though that the stretches they have me doing are really helping in my incision area and with the scar tissue I have in that area. They tell me it's very important to stretch in those areas or the scar tissue will attach to the bone and then you have soreness and in some cases pain. It's just a good idea to stretch every witch direction. Keep our muscles and tendons and blood flow moving.

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Hi Rich, Yes blocked artery does cause sob. The only thing that caught by blockage was that I was having some light pain down my left arm, but not all the time, just once in a while usually when walking under 20 minute mile.

The stress test with tracer, the echogram, EKG, bloodwork were all in normal range. I even went to ER when I had the pain, but they found nothing abnormal and sent me home with instructions on chest wall injury.

Finally my family doc had to call the cardiologist and ask for the angiogram. When cardiologist said it was so unlikely for female at my age, my family doc pointed out that my lc was even more unlikely (I never smoked). Who would have guessed.

Forget the other tests. The only test that finds a blockage is angiogram. And it is no worse than bronchoscopy, and getting the stents is nothing...one night in hospital....like a sunday picnic compared to what we've been through. I do have some worry that stents might fail one day, but will worry about that if and when. Plus I have to take Plavix (at $4/pill) once a day for a year, insurance pays.

It was worth it. I am so happy I can breath again!!!! Barb

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Hi Rich,

No personal experience to draw from here; but I do remember that part of Bill's post surgery physical therapy was to do some stretching exercises with a "bungie" type cord; pulling it up over his head and then eventually from behind his back. He was diligent about these exercises and eventually had very minimal tightness to the chest area...although he did still have some.

Best of luck to you.

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Hi Rich: I had 3 months of pt after my first surgry. I did not have any after my second surgery and apparently I did not need it. I can do most things ok. I just have some tightness.

Don M

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I had a full year of PT through NIH, and after two years I kind of stopped doing the exercises. The last couple of months I am really noticing the restrictions from the radiation induced fibrosis. I've been told that never stops: radiation is the gift that keeps on giving and giving.

I need to start mine again. Additionally, I had a pulley that attached to the door to do passive range of motion on my arms.

Now I have to have it on my back.

Useful. Stick to it , it works.

MaryAnn

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