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Need help with lung removal Surgery healing questions.


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may 2002 diagnosed with NSCLC in left lung. Did chemo for 3 months to reduce size. Had pet scan showed no spread, had bone scan showed no spread, had brain scan and showed no spread. Had surgery on Aug16, 2003 Had lower lobe removed. Chest lymph node biopsies showed no sprerad. No spread into the plueral fluid. 2 Days later doctors said they had to go back in and take the whole lung because of some cancer cells on the bronchial tube. Aftersurgery they told me there were no cancer cells in the last part of the lung they took out and nothing in the vein that fed the lung and that the upper margins on the bronchial tube were clean. i am still having trouble with pain where thery took out 2 sections of ribs and they front and left side of my chest are numb and sometimes sharp pains like the nerves are starting to fire again. I get really winded when I try to walk for 20 minutes. Constantly turn over at night because of soreness. Is there anyone out there that has had similar surgery and help with some of my post surgery questions. How long does it take to heal? I am still on the percoset pain medicine. 2 weeks ago I cut the dose in half. Was and still am haveing stomach problems. Any help would be greatly appreciated. It is really tough going thru this without a personal caregiver with me 24/7/365.

Thanks,

DougS

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Doug,

I understand your concern and wanted to let you know that I think everything that you are feeling is "normal" after surgery. I only had 2 lobes removed, it seems like your surgery was more involved than mine.

I am just over the 4 month mark and my right side and front is still numb, although at times I experience all different types of pains and feelings in that area sometimes without warning! :roll: I also still have trouble sleeping on my right side because it is uncomfortable. The incision in my back is completely numb still. I also have numbness of various degrees on other parts of my body, although I think that this is a reaction that I have had to my epidural.

My surgeon told me that this surgery is a huge surgery, between the cancer, incision, anesthesia, etc, there is a long recovery period. Muscles, nerves, etc have been cut...people recover in different ways. The best thing to do I guess is to listen to your body. If you get winded after walking for 20 minutes, accept that for today and try again tomorrow for 21 minutes. I get winded after a hard day of running around at work, and I get upset that if I address a group, I am breathless after about 10 minutes of constant talking. However, 4 weeks after surgery I could barely make it through Walmart and thought I would pass out at the cash register.

I try to remember that it is going to take awhile to heal and I will most likely not get back to "normal" whatever that is.....I have a new phrase that I stole from another member here.. I am at my "new normal"!! (Thanks Gail! 8) )

I no longer take pain pills..I pretty much stopped taking the pills a few weeks after the surgery. My pain was bearable...I had more trouble trying to sleep at night and accepting the fact that I had cancer. I'm not sure about the stomach problems...I had problems right after surgery but then was okay. Could the percocet upset your stomach maybe?? Have you asked your doctor about your stomach?

Glad that you found us Doug and hope you keep posting.......

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Doug,

As my surgeon told me, "This is the worst surgery a person can have." So, recouperation takes awhile. And for you, the docs went in twice! Goodness. Don't compare your experience with others who hiked or biked, or did amazing feats. You will heal on your personal time frame. Do what you can do, increasing as you are able.

Good luck!

JudyB

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Hi Doug,

My husband Buddy was operated on 9/11/02 and still has on a 1 to 10 scale with 10 being the highest a rate of 7 for pain. He had his whole left lung removed and had to have 3 ribs cut. They are now thinking about giving him a nerve block to take away the pain. First we have to see about his colon problem that showed on the scan. He has said over and over if he could just get ride of the pain. He still sleeps on the couch so he can kind of prop up his back some for the pain i suppose.

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Hi Doug,

I had my lung removed in June 2003. I too had the same questions as you. Basicly my doctors gave me the same info that Debi posted above. I was told that it would take a good year to get back to normal. I tried to return to work at 8 weeks and again at 11 weeks but was unable to do so. I have a lot of stairs to climb (5 buildings with 5 stories each and no elevator) so since I was short of breath I could not climb but 1 flight before I had to rest. i am now 5 months post-op and can breathe better but not perfect. I am not on O2 or inhalers and the doctors tell me I am doing good.

As far as the pain, I still have some in my back area. It comes and goes. I am now taking 1 or maybe 2 pain pills a day to tolerate the pain. I hurt right below the breast. This is where the incision starts and stops. My breast will get numb at times.

Hopes this helps you answer your questions. Stay with us and keep us updated. As you can see there are others her that are going through the identical thing as you. Good Luck.

Bruce

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Hello Doug:

Welcome to the group so happy you found us. And a big welcome to the 1-lungers club. :shock::shock::shock: Yea, not something I ever wanted to be a part of but so grateful now!! :)

I'm the hiker that Judy refers to, the family pic was taken 8 weeks after surgery hiking thru the rainforests of Costa Rica. Sounds good yea, but nobody said it did'nt hurt, cause it did and at 2 & 1/2 years out it unfortunately still does. I do wanna tell ya that it well get better, it certainly does but as for "normal", I 've learned that's just a setting on the washing machine. :P

OK, some advice, the belching like a beer drunk truck driver and the constant upset stomach are things I also experience. Better now, try over the counter meds, like prilosec, zantec, etc,. They help, you may want to speak to your doc about it also and see if you can get something stronger. I still use the zantac. Also, try cutting back on the pain meds. Might be tougher for you cause of the ribs, but I like tylenol PM at night before bed. I use 1 now but was taking 2. Helps with the tossing and turning. Also, use a heating pad from time to time.

The breathing is gonna take some time, I was 50 and a smoker when they took the lung. It's better than it was, but stairs still drive me nuts, ya gotta just slow down and that takes some time. I also used a stationary bike for the first 6 months to build stamina. That helped. Also, don't know where you live but be real carefull with winter colds, the flu ( get a shot), and sinus problems. They can really knock the hell out of you. If you come down with anything, see the doc, they put you right on antibotics which is a must for us.

OK, now I'm rambling, I see you sent me an e-mail, I'll reply on Mon. morning. I guess more than anything just know your not alone!!

God bless, be well and again welcome

Bobmc- NSCLC-stageIIB- left pneumonectomy- 5/2/01

" absolutely insist on enjoying life today!"

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Lots of good advice and information here, Doug. Have you tried alternating the Percocet with plain acetaminophen? Ask your doctor. Maximum amount per day is 3 gms, which equals 6 extra-strength tablets. And remember Percocet contains acetaminophen.

Those persistent post-thoracotomy symptoms are a problem for many people, as you can see from the replies here. Slowly try to rebuild your strength with exercise. You'll get there.

Best of luck to you, Teresa

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Hi Doug,

In response to your questions,:

I still sleep on the side opposide the surgery, or else on my back. If I forget and sleep on the surgical side my arm goes numb.

I still have a large area of numbness over the breast and under the arm. I think I'm stuck with it.

I cope with pain daily -- I had a more extensive surgery, but I take 900 mg neurontin, 50 mg vioxx and 60 mg extended release morphine for the pain. I still feel the weather changing, too. It does work, I can live with medicated pain at a 2 or 3 on a scale of 0-10.

I do what I have to do.

I get short of breath -- some of it is from the radiation, some of it is that I smoked 27 years. The pulmonist said I had some obstruction and some restriction. When I'm well I can do okay, just not too many stairs, but if I get ill esp with a cold or other respiratory bug I get very winded fast. Then I use the inhaler, sometimes the nebulizer additionally, and if it is severe ( several times the first two yearst post surgery) I'll do the prednisone course, which helps the lungs enormously. The edema and the mood swings while tapering off this drug make me want to avoid it if at all possible.

Good luck, and best wishes.

You are in good company.

MaryAnn

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