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Look Ma, a lung!!


Debi

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Holy crap!

I went to the Pulmonary Specialist today and it is the first time that I actually got to see my chest xray since surgery. SO, I'm looking at what looks like a normal everyday xray of someone with 2 lungs and I said to him, Doctor- are you sure this is my xray? And he said yes, its yours. I said to him, "but I only have my bottom lobe, this looks normal" and then he told me that your lung tends to expand and take over whatever room there is in the chest cavity. All along, I'm walking around thinking I have this little bitty bottom lobe and all this empty space and I have NO empty space. If I got in a pool I could actually float on my back without listing to one side. I look like a 2 lunged woman with 2 whole lungs. Is that awesome or what?

So I tell my son,just to make conversation, just because I thought he would think it wierd. Immediately his eyes light up, and he can't stop smiling. He had this air of wonder, his excitement totally blew me away, he couldn't believe that it had filled up the space, he was so relieved. He said he was so happy my lung came back, and he didn't even have to worry anymore and protect me from other people's smoke because my lung came back and my cancer was gone. It didn't stop there of course. He proceeded to tell anyone that crossed his path, with the same excitement as if he had just seen Santa Clause, that his mom's lung grew back (of course this drew some strange looks). Seriously though, I am just shocked. I don't talk about my cancer every day or about my lung. So for those of you that don't want to speak to your children about certain things, just a reminder, they already think about them.

And also, how come I didn't already know this about my lung? Jeesh. And a question. Does this mean that my lung is functioning like a whole lung now?? OR is it just minimally functioning as a lower lobe that just took up more room??? I know I should have asked the doctor more but I sensed I had reached that unspoken limit of questions line and I stopped (don't ask me why) :twisted:. Anyway, does anyone know what happens when it does this?

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Hi Debi,

You know what...I had a similar experience a couple of years ago. A doctor was listening to my lungs and he had his stethescope (sp?)on my back where my upper left lung would have been had I not had it removed, and he said,"Didn't you tell me you had your upper left lobe removed?" I said yes, why. He said,"I'm asking because I can hear really clear breath sounds all the way up here." And I'm telling you, he's listening way up high.

So, he put the stethescope in my ears and let me listen too. I couldn't believe it. And yes, I also felt a lot of relief. I've not seen an x-ray since I had my surgery, but I'm glad to know that yours looks pretty normal because I kind of avoided thinking about what that would look like.

I'm glad your little guy took some comfort in that. I think they worry more than we know.

I really don't know if it's functioning like a whole lung...I've never asked anybody. I'm just glad in knowing that the space is filled up and maybe I do have some good "capacity" on that side. Maybe that's the difference between when we first left the hospital and couldn't move that silly spirometer at all and now when it seems so easy. Maybe that's what expanded lungs give us. I don't know. I'm just happy that they did.

Cindy

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What a nice story Debi. your son's reaction is priceless. I have heard that sometimes new alveoli can grow into the expanded lobe over time, especially if one exercises a lot. Whatever, I am sure it looks nicer than a big fat single lung like mine. Yes, I have a big fat lung that expanded over to the left side a bit. I hope I grow some more alveoli there too.

Don M

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Hey Deb...last time I saw my chest exray...was a big empty whole there...but that was not to long after surgery....I will be looking at my next when to see if I have some more lung...ha

It warms my heart about the reactiion your little son took ...that was too cute...I guess we just don't realize how this all affected our kids...

Anyway...glad you got more lung....more lung means more breath.

You know Deb...my surgeon told me I would loose 11 percent of my breathing but it would come back eventually ...well happy to say I never noticed loosing ANY and my condo is on the 2nd floor and I do the steps a lot...but maybe that is what he meant...your lungs eventually expand...hmmmm

Thanks for the nice story...love your posts...Stay well Deb and God Bless....and that goes for everyone here on the board...

hugs to all...PamS.

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Hi Deb

My doctor told me that my lung would stretch out and fill in the empty space.

That was way back when it was first taken out and I was still in shock over the diagnosis.

I had actually forgotten about it until I read this post.

Seems like soemthing to important to forget but I guess it's also an example of why we should take notebooks with us to our visits, so we don't forget the important stuff.

Now I have to wonder, if we have 2 full sized lungs again, WHY are we still so SOB?

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Debi,I had my remaining right lung shifted to center and left side along with my heart.It also expanded quite a bit.It does help with SOB some but doesn't completely make up the entire difference of having both lungs.It does help compensate for the cancer and scarring in my remaining lung.

Isn't it amazing how much children know and care and we often times don't realize.

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Debi,

I saw my Xray just 3 months after surgery, and I too was expecting an empty space. I asked my doctor if he really removed half of my lung and he asked me if I wanted my money back. :D I work out everyday, and I still notice a difference in my lung function. I don't think it ever completely repairs. But I feel pretty good for a person with only 1 1/2 lungs.

Your son sounds so cute. My daughter wasn't even curious, of course she's turning 12 and thinks about nothing but herself! :D

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Thanks all for your replies-I'm glad I'm not alone in my total ignorance of my own body :wink: ! And Rochelle -that's the first thing I thought of, how I'm losing an entire litany of work excuses/jokes. You know me too well!!

I have to admit, I'm more amazed today than I was yesterday. I wish I could get it on a sonogram, like when you're pregnant, and you carry the pic around in your wallet. I'd be showing everyone, whether they liked it or not!!! This explains why when I had an xray at the ER a couple of times with bronchitis, the doctors asked which side my lobectomy was on - I just assumed they were idiots :roll:.

On a side note, Jan, I had one of those once too. Hang on, as soon as she turns 19 the aliens will release her and she'll be back to normal... :shock:

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Dear Debi,

This has to be one of the most uplifting stories I have ever read on this website. Wow! That is just so cool. You drew a vivid picture of your son's incredible joy. That is just one of the neatest things I've ever heard. I would love to see him and give him a big high 5 and you a big hug!

Love,

Peggy

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Holy Crap!

Ry is right!! No more one-lung excuses for you!

I love this story- but what about the ending? What did the pulm say about your lung function and SOB?

Hoping it was all good.-

Your little guy is TOO too cute.

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Yes the lung expands and it works better than one ordinary lobe perhaps it would take a while before it would compete with a normal lung.

Would you believe several years ago they were doing partial lobectomies to improve lung function on people with Emphysema or COPD. It gave more space for those lungs to expand - by theory.

Donna G

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Well you're busted.........we now have to give you a new name - Debi-one-lung doesn't cut it anymore!!

Too bad the "one freaking lung" excuse won't work any more.........but do they need to know???? Course you could always say that you have "an enlarged freaking lung" instead!

So happy for your son, he really is a wise little person isn't he.

So Debi-two-lungs (doesn't have the same ring to it does it) glad you're doing okay, it was great to meet you.

Geri

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My first x-ray after surgery was only a couple of weeks post op. I had been having really bad pain and my doc wanted to make sure everything was still ok in there. I saw it then. My entire left chest cavity was full of lung. I was breathing good at that time. Then came radiation a few months down the road. Because the bottom lobe had filled the space where the upper lobe had been...and they were trying to radiate where they had taken it out...the lower lobe was radiated fairly well. Thus a lot of wheezing and sob. It seems radiation is the gift that keeps on giving. Now I want to make sure you all understand...I am very pleased that I can breathe at all and very, very happy to be almost 3 years post treatment. Just wanted to share my experience.

As for you Debi, I love the story. You son sounds precious.

Nina

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Hi Debi,

Your story certainly is uplifting and brought a smile to my face. :D

You son is precious, enthusiasm is contageous.

Thanks for telling us, as I had no idea that could happen. :roll:

Maranne :wink:

PS. did you ever get that tattoo??

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Debi, thanks for your wonderful post. It also touched my heart as you explained your little boy's excitement! That was a warm and fuzzy feeling to me. This goes to show how children are wiser than we think! I know your little son must have made you excited also.

Thanks for the information about the lung fillig the empty space! I did NOT know that and I was so happy to read what you said about it.

Barb

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In answer to your question, my son is 7, he turned 7 in April.

He knew 3 years ago that I had surgery, and that my lobes were removed, although he had just turned 4 at the time. I left for a week and then when I came home and was recuperating from major surgery, there's not much you can hide. He knows very basic things: that I have had cancer, and had 2 lobes of my lung removed and that you shouldn't smoke. Somehow he knows that people die from cancer, but has browbeat me into saying I won't. He asks about people dying and I'll say some people do and he'll say "But not you mom, right?" and I'll say "well eric, nobody lives forever" and he'll say "But your going to live for a long long time right mom?" and this will go on and on until finally I agree that I'm going to live forever and never leave him. Then he goes on his way. I struggle with a need to prepare him that I could get sick again but just end up wanting to alleve the panic in him when he starts these discussions. I don't think he needs to know what 'could' happen.

So anyway, the conversation about my lung expanding was just because I thought he would think it were cool, he knows that my lung was taken, its a way of life- mommy has to stop and get her breath sometimes if we're walking outside, etc. If I happen to cough, he'll worry, and ask if I'm okay. I know what drives his behavior but we don't have specific conversations about cancer, there's really nothing to say at this point. That's why I'm glad the fact that my lung filling up the space somehow makes the world feel like a safer place to him.

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Love the Story. I saw my X-ray about 5 months after they removed the lung. I was asked to carry it to my appointment. Curious I pulled it out and looked as I walked to the elevators. I couldn't stop laughing. It was funny to look at one side being empty. I knew that the lung would expand. The surgeon assured me that my one lung would expand some to cover for the missing one but that it couldn't do all the work. I now have a blast when a doctor that doesn't know me listens to the right side of my chest and doesn't hear the normal sounds of a lung. I got a Cardiac Doctor the last time I was in the ER with my heart. She knew the lung was gone but forgot when she started listening.

Ralph

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