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Finally have a surgery date


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After having 2 CT scans, 2 PET scans, 2 Pulmonary Function Tests and a CT Guided Needle Biopsy ( over the course 6 months time), I finally got to see a thoracic surgeon today and we scheduled a surgery date for January 28th. My doctor told me that he would be doing a Thoracotomy with right middle lobectomy/right upper lobe wedge resection with possible lobectomy/ mediastinal lymph node dissection/CRYO ablation surgery. I was hoping to get the VATS surgery because I read that it’s less painful and has a shorter recuperation time but my doctor said the more involved surgery is what I need. Luckily my lung nodules are very small ( both under 3 cm) so I caught the lung cancer early and expect to have a good outcome.

I was wondering if anyone else on this forum had this type of surgery and how you felt when you came home from the hospital? I live alone and  have no one to help me around the house so I would like to know what to expect. Any info you have would be helpful to me. Thanks for listening.

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I had a thoracotomy to remove my right lung. This was before all the new methods were introduced. I was up, out of bed, after the 2nd day and lapping the ward with hospital physical therapy. I was also introduced to a device called a spirometer and encouraged to keep the ball "elevated in the tube a little longer" 6 times-a-day by my friendly neighborhood respiratory therapist who additionally administered albuterol treatments every time he looked in. I was discharged day 6 after surgery and would have been fine save for an infection that set in a week after discharge. You can read my medical history at the foot note to understand my "complications."

Lou T was kind enough to post his surgical tips and tricks here. I do suggest reviewing. 

Stay the course.



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  • 2 weeks later...


I hope the Tips Tom referred to help you out, but if you have any additional questions before your surgery please post them here.  As a group there is very little we haven't seen or experienced.  You'll do better on this than you think.  Of course it's not a "walk in the park", but take it easy, listen to your medical people and you'll find yourself recovering more quickly than you expected.


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Hi JerseyRose! Tom has given you great input and Lou's compilation of tips is fantastic and comprehensive! I'll just give you some idea of what my experience was like as someone who also lives alone. Although I had family to pick me up and drive me around, I was by myself for the rest of the time.

I had a RATS upper left so my procedure was different but most of the prep and recovery tips are the same.

The wedge pillow is a must for breathing well at night, and I'm really glad I got one several weeks before the surgery so I could get accustomed to sleeping on it.  You can also pile up a bunch of pillows if you haven't gotten a wedge. My pulmonologist recommended I not only use the wedge but elevate the head of the bed so the whole thing was angled.  I used bed risers but you can use cinder blocks or anything solid and stable.

Even though I was sleeping elevated, getting out of bed was extremely difficult and painful and a major 15-20 minute ordeal.  So after struggling with it for two weeks, I bought an electric powered reclining chair.  (A Barcalounger, on sale at Costco!)  Once I got the recliner, I slept in it and was able to automatically raise to a full sitting position and then push with my arms to get up which reduced the pull and strain on my incisions. My dog has now claimed it as her own. LOL 🐾

Other than that it was fine... I was able to walk/shuffle around the house on my own, shower, make my meals, and do other basic activities. Just make sure to do all your heavy lifting stuff and cleaning before you go in so everything is set when you come home - they tell you not to even vacuum for several weeks.  Walking and moving is a must but lifting or strenuous activity is not.  (I also had my dog stay at my mom's the first 3 weeks so she wouldn't jump on me and I wouldn't be tempted to pick her up.)

A few other tips: My surgery was in July at the height of my state's first covid surge, so it was very different than a normal hospital stay, and yours may be too.  I brought my own masks, to put on whenever anyone came in my room, two for each day, plus wipes, and a bottle of hand sanitizer. The other thing you may want to bring is an extension cord because the outlets may be very far behind you and hard to reach.

And bring slippers for when you do your walks and bathroom.  They'll give you the non-skid socks but to me it's gross to walk on the dirty floors and then get back in bed with whatever I just walked through on the soles of my socks! I had the freebie airline slippers and threw them away at the end of my stay. Cheapie flip flops would work too.

Oh and if you don't have one already, get a Pulse Oximeter to check your oxygen and heartrate, and use the spirometer they will give you to do your breathing exercises. And take it one day at a time, you'll get through it AOK! Best wishes for a successful surgery and quick easy recovery! 💜


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Hi Jersey Rose - 

I had an upper left lobectomy almost 5 years ago. You've received lots of good tips here. As you will be by yourself, anything that you can do to place chairs or side tables closer to where you'll be sitting is good. They'll be something to lean on as you stand up. 

My pain was manageable and I was able to walk a little more each day. Using that spirometer is key to making those walks easy. Post-surgical constipation may be an issue so be mindful. Just remember to tell your medical team if something doesn't seem right.

Let us know how your surgery goes. Wishing you luck - 

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Great suggestions! But if you're on opiate pain meds, you might not want to wear flip flops because of the hazard of tripping and falling. Best to have something that will stay securely on your feet. My lobectomy was VATs and I didn't need morphine or other such high-powered drugs. But when I had surgery for an unrelated cancer, I was on IV morphine for several days and I was pretty loopy! 

Bridget O


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