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Recovering from surgery

Ann Cronin

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Good evening, all,

Had the lobectomy (upper right) on March 8th. I've always considered myself as having a high tolerance for pain but this surgery kicked my butt! So many folks who have posted about their surgery experience seem to have had a much quicker, certainly less painful recovery than I've experienced so far. Today is the first day that I'm feeling a significant decrease in pain level and was actually able to decrease my dosage in pain meds. I was starting to get worried because I know the narcotics are not going to be prescribed for long. Up until today it was rough waiting for that 4th hour to take another dose.

The rapid biopsies from mediastinoscopy (spelling?) did not show a positive result on any additional lymph nodes so the surgery was a go. Mine was an open lobectomy and the entire surgery lasted 8+ hours due to a lymph node that gave the doc a problem. Apparently it was the size of a golf ball, hard as a rock but was stuck to the bronchial tubes and had to be carefully peeled away. Ran into a problem with my lungs clearing so I had to have a bronchoscopy to remove a large mucous plug day 3 post surgery. Was so glad to get all the tubes out day 4! Finally was able to come home on the 6th day. 

Lot's of pain (finally feeling some relief today). In addition to the constant discomfort, So many zings, jabs and little "shock" like feelings as well. Already having numbness here & there. Most of the numbness is down center and right of chest. Even some numbness coming and going in my arm?? Is that normal? 

I won't have confirmed stage until I follow up with surgeon and we go over the pathology report. I am definitely having chemotherapy but not sure about radiation yet. On average, how long after surgery does the chemotherapy usually start?

Thanks in advance for your input!!

Just keep swimming, all!




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You had a rough go I surgery and some of the complications will indeed increase your recovery time. 

Depending on your overall health, post surgical chemo is normally 30 to 45 days after surgery. 

Unfortunately, the sings and numbness are normal. Let us hope they abate as you recover.

Good to hear from you and....

Stay the course. 


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I had a lobectomy, upper right, on February 16, 2018, at M D Anderson. The surgery was VATS (video assisted thoractic surgery.....robotic surgery). It is less invasive. I did not have the complications you had. Surgery was Friday. On Sunday, chest tube removed, released to hotel. Home on Monday. The first two weeks went smoothly, using pain meds, except Tramadol. The last 2 1/2 weeks were tougher. As pain meds lessened, pain along right back and at chest tube site increased. I allowed the pain meds to lessen....thinking I needed to be tougher. I have since learned from my primary doctor that this pain could continue for a year. I needed to monitor my pain level. I am now taking gabapentin, 200 mg, am and afternoon. I take 300 mg at night. I take extra strength tylenol as needed. I use Salon Pas patches as needed. Warm showers ease the pain also. Now, I am feeling comfortable enough to do the breathing exercises, walk the dog and do work around the house. I have to be careful not to overdo it and let the pain come through.  I go back to M D Anderson this week to meet my new oncologist for a treatment plan, meet with my surgeon, and a nutritionist. You have a right to be as pain free as possible. Talk to your doctors.

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Hi, Ann--good to hear from you!  I'm sorry surgery was so rough on you.  I, too, had a much easier time of it, but sometimes they just don't know until they get in there.  I'm glad the pain is starting to let up a bit and hope that continues.  Be sure to do your breathing exercises, even when it hurts.  They will help get your breathing back to normal, which will help you get moving when you're ready.  The right kind of exercise (mild at first) will help, too--ask your doctors and nursing staff for suggestions on that.  

Hang in there--hope you get good news on the pathology report!

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 I'm sorry surgery was so tough but I understand. I had the open lobectomy as well.  I had a feeling like I'd been kicked in my upper shoulder and side for quite some time.  My surgery was two years ago and I still have some nerve issues.  My first chemo was almost 30 days after surgery.  It's a big surgery and the body needs to recover.  

Hope you start feeling stronger soon.

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Thank you for posting an update, Ann. We'll be thinking of you and hoping for good results on your pathology report! Hope you feel better soon!

As always, we are here for you.

Digital Community Manager
LUNGevity Foundation

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