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Help-SOB and coughing


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I am not sure if this is the correct forum. My husband is 4 weeks post surgery (left upper lobe removed) and he started coughing a lot yesterday and it has continued today (first time since surgery). It is a productive cough. He is very short of breath today and concerned. Now he did see his oncologist and radiology oncologist today and they both thought his lungs sounded good and his treatment related CT looked fine. He has no fever but his pulse-ox was 94/95. We have a call in to his thoracic surgeon to see what his thoughts are and if he needs any meds to help. I do wonder if anxiety over the doctor visits and upcoming chemo/radiation are causing him to have s.o.b.

Do any of you who have experience with this scenario have recommendations to help him breath easier?

He is also going to start pulmonary rehab. therapy next week so hopefully that will help.



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Hi Barb,

No history of heart problems. His surgeon called and thought part of his difficulty could be related to laying on his back this afternoon for an MRI of his brain (hoping he will be a member of the empty head club :) )and to try sitting upright which seems to be helping. A shower also helped. We are to watch for fever and if he is struggling to breath go directly to the ER.

I feel so helpless watching him struggle. Sure would be nice to be able to turn the clock back a few months or maybe a few months forward with the idea he will completely recover from surgery, chemo, and radiation.

Thanks for reading.

Mendy (who would like to be able to make everything better for her dh)

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I remember the first few weeks after surgery. I couldn't lay flat, either. Have him keep an eye on what he's bringing up, don't want anything bloody... The shortness of breath could be a bit of anxiety and a bit of getting used to be short of lung. I still have days when it's rough catching my breath - especially after exerting myself by walking uphill or upstairs.

He does need to clear out any crap that volunteers to come up, it's better in the long run, as that crap can lead to pneumonia - the bacterial kind. He should keep using the spirometer he came home from the hospital with, also.

I found the first few weeks out of the hospital to be a very stressful time and a time when the monsters crawled out from under the bed (good thing I had to sleep on the couch and those monsters could chew on my hubby's toenails and not mine!). If he's having anxiety, maybe he could benefit from Xanax or another anti-anxiety medication. I needed a sleep aid and the anti-anxiety for a while after coming home - I was afraid to go to sleep for fear I wouldn't wake up!

Plus, I noted your signature line states he's 49 with a 30 year smoking habit. If he just quit smoking, his remaining lung tissue will be trying to clean itself out. My father had issues with coughing and phlegm when he last quit.

Good luck!


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As usual, sage advice from Snowflake. Ditto on everything.

Try fanning the face to relieve his shortness of breath - a small portable fan can be very effective for physiological reasons (not psychological) that have to do with stimulation of nerves in the face.

A pulse ox of 94-95% is good. No worries there. But that doesn't mean he "shouldn't" feel short of breath. This is a normal response, but keep an eye on it and phone the physician if it gets worse.

Maybe an expectorant would help - there are over-the-counter ones and prescription ones. Start with the over-the-counter version (with the dr's. okay, of course) and if that is not enough, get a prescription.

Make sure he is taking in enough fluids, too. This will help liquefy that nasty mucus that needs to come up and out of his lungs.

You will get through this. Best wishes, Teresa

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Not long after my surgery I could not take 3 steps with out becoming winded and having to stop and rest. I called my doc, who said "your appt. is Fri.,I'll see you then." When I got there and the onc saw how high my heart rate ,I was put in a wheel chair and rushed to surgery. I had a pericardial window put in the top of my heart to allow the fluid to drain due to a an efussion in my lungs and heart.

I quit my onc then and there. I started searching for alternative treatments. I hope everyone considers them. In close to 30 years, cancer patients are still using the same chemo for first line treatment- ,which includes a platinum based drug. I know of nobody cured by it. It only buys time. We all know surgery is our best chance at a cure, but few qualify. I don't mean to discourage anyone. Just consider your options. And you do have options no matter what the doc says.

God Bless,

Cheryl Ferguson

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