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Epidurals...how painful?


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I had mine put in in the icu/recovery room. By then, I was so out of it, it didn't matter.

In general, the only thing I ever feel at surgery prep is the first needle prick with the relaxer. After that, I am a goner, so I have no idea if installing the rest of the hardware is painful.

I think it did a great job of keeping me from being in pain, but it did not reach all my areas. For my upper back, which was tweaked from whatever position they had me in during surgery, I really wanted, and finally got, ibuprofen. I also managed to tweak my forearm thinking I could maneuver myself in the hospital bed by looping my wrist thru the side rail for leverage - don't do that! Ask for help.

If you think the weekend might be tough, you might ask for some anti-anxiety meds to get you through. You would not be the first. Are you already in prep mode for Monday? Off certain meds, getting ready for the pre-operative diet, that sort of stuff?

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When I went in for surgery, the anesthesiologist put the needle in for the epidural before they wheeled me in. For me, they placed a small needle in my upper back, near my shoulder blade and it didn't hurt a bit.

After surgery, it did a really good job with the pain once they got the meds regulated. It did dislodge once, and without the medication it was delivering, the pain was huge in a matter of minutes, so I know the epidural is a very good thing.

Good luck to you with your surgery and recovery. Next week at this time, you should be well on your way to getting your life back to normal.


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I had an epidural when I had whats called a "cerclage" when I was pregnant. Needle stick was nothing!!!! You'll be fine!!!

As far as the catheter goes - remember that once they remove it, many woman come down with urinary tract infections so if you have any burning or anything, contact your doc for antibiotics.

I know we've all said this - but I want to say once again that your attitude is absolutely terrific.


Please keep us updated!!

Hugs - Patti B

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Hi Everyone,

thanks for your words of encouragement. I'm really starting to freak out a little bit as the idea of all these needle pokes and the pain for post op is becoming more of an impending doom rather than a distant obstacle to "one day" go through.

Sorry, I don't mean to sound negative. I didn't get much sleep last night and am rather tired. Very stressed out.

Ts, my pre-op evaluation is tomorrow morning, so I think that's when they'll tell me what sort of diet i'm supposed to be on and things like that to prepare me.

So, right now I'm just living regularly, day to day, feeling pretty much like a sitting duck now hahaha.

You all said it's doable, and the pain's tollerable with the meds... I'm sure I'll be fine... I'm just feeling a little bit like a baby right now hahaha.

Anyways, thanks again for all of your support and words of confidence and encouragement. I really really appreciate it.

Love, Melanie

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Since you have already been told that they can't do VATS - I can't speak exactly to your pain. Like others I woke up with all the "tubes" in place or I don't remember them now. I know I was awake when they took the chest tube out - but even days later I didn't remember any pain. I have had VATS twice - once in June and once in August of last year - so I know partly what you can look "forward" to. Take the pain medication every chance you get in the hospital - you will need it and it's there for a reason. Once you are home don't just stop - taper so you can regular dose if it is still hurting too bad. Most importantly - you should realize that all this 'feaking' out is normal - and you should - it's a scary scary operation for a horrible disease. But you are young, other wise healthy and have a bunch of people here rooting for you. That said, you will feel like a truck ran over you for a while - but every day you can look back at two days ago and realize I am getting better - I might just survive. Then one day you won't have to compare today to tomorrow cause it's so much better. Well that was / is my experience. My thoughts and prayers will be with you on Monday - I'm sure there are a lot of us here pulling for you - we can't wait to hear from you on the healing side of this mess.


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Hey Melanie - from my perspective I would say the IV would compare to the epidural - I didn't think it hurt at all.

As to the freaking out and not sleeping and anxiety ... I would be concerned about you if you weren't doing all the above. This is absolutely the most nerve wracking thing anyone can go through and honestly, the fact that you are dealing with it as well as you are absolutely amazes me.

I also had a very positive attitude, but you know what ... there are moments and will continue to be moments when negative thoughts, bad feelings and sheer fear will invade your mind. Embrace those for the time you need to and then get back to the kick &$& attitude that you typically have. I can't tell you not to worry because I did when it involved me - all I can say is I am here for you to listen and to help you get back to that positive side when need be. I also found keeping a journal to be a HUGE help to me during that time. I did not want to burden/scare my family with my dark thoughts and fears and that is when I would write and write and write. It would help purge those emotions because truly, we do need to let them out in one fashion or another in order to regain sanity.

Hang tough sweetie - you're almost there!



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Melanie, my hubby had an epidural and they kept it in place almost the entire time he was in the hospital . He never complained of pain, so it is really a good thing. I had one when I had my last baby and all I remember was a little pressure. You CAN do this. Keeping you in my prayers. I'm a big baby, myself and I understand, but you will ROCK this.. :)



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Hi Everyone,

I just came back from my pre-op assessment. I spoke with my anesthesiologist about my fears regarding the epidural. She said when I go in just ask for LOTS of freezing haha... and then it'll just be pressure like you said, Sue! That's not AS scary I guess.

Sincerely, Melanie

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One thing that may help you with the needle sticks - I'm a big baby about needles, hate 'em. For my surgery, they wanted a garden hose in each hand. The nurse who put 'em in got 'em first stick AND with minimal pain. The staff they have for the big surgeries (big money for the hospital) really know their stuff. If I could have that nurse for the contrast IV when I go for CT scans, I'd have no fear, but the techs scare the heck out of me.

I remember they put the epidural in before I went for surgery, and I was scared, but I felt just pressure after rolling on my side for the insertion.

After surgery, I felt the most pain in my right shoulder (surgery on right lung). Horrible pain, it was caused by being on the table for over three hours with my arm extended over my head, muscle discomfort... Didn't have any surgery pain until the next evening, when the good stuff started to wear off. Discovered that the actual pain was caused when the chest tubes moved.

One more bit of advice, when they tell you to take a deep breath before having the tubes removed, take one as deep as you can and try to relax...

My thoughts are with you, but I KNOW you're going to be fine.

Hang in there,


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Melanie - everyone is so different that it's hard to say how it will be for someone else, and I know some people have a hard time with the surgery. When I had surgery to have my lung removed and had an epidural, they put the epidural in while I was out for surgery. They kept me in intensive care for 3 days, and I was so "out of it" I didn't feel a thing. By the time I really woke up and was moved to a regular room, I didn't find it too bad. The worst part for me is that I can't tolerate morphine and got really nauseasous - but they switched me to something else, and it was tolerable. I was able to go back to work part-time in 4 weeks -- although I was super tired.

Best of luck with surgery and I will be thinking of you.


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