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VATS/robotic surgery: Right Upper Lobectomy


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My mom is having the robotic VATS surgery next month and I'm just wondering if anyone here has been through this particular surgery and if you can give me any tips on how I can make the recovery process easier on her.  Was there anything you wanted/needed during that time that would have made recovery nicer for you?  I don't have much experience with post-surgery recovery.  I, myself, would just want pain killers and good wifi!  But my Mom is 78 years old so I'm thinking she will require something different than me.  Any advice will be appreciated!

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I didn't have robotic surgery, but I did have VATS, and from what I understand, the two surgeries are virtually identical, from the patient's point of view.

One of our members, Lou, has put together a list of tips for surgery: https://forums.lungevity.org/topic/47249-thoracic-surgery-tips-and-tricks/

The advice that was most helpful for me was to get a wedge pillow to help sleep better at night, and to do the breathing exercises faithfully. Even though they make you cough, that's good for you because it helps clear your lungs. I had a minor complication after surgery--subcutaneous emphysema (aka "crepitus"), which is an air leak into the tissues under the skin. Makes you swell up and it's pretty uncomfortable, though not usually very dangerous. I had to go back in to get "deflated" with a chest tube over the course of a few days, but then I was fine.

I needed the heavy-duty painkillers for only a day or two and then ibuprofen was sufficient. 

My bet is your mom will come through it just fine.

 

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Never would have thought about a wedge pillow - great suggestion!  Thanks so much for that, the additional link of tips and info on your own experience with this surgery!  I used robotics and VATS interchangeably because the surgeon did so I thought it was the same thing.  My mom is having VATS specifically.  I'm going to go look on Amazon for a wedge pillow for her tonight.  I appreciate it! ❤️ 

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Yeah, my surgeon told me it was basically a matter of the surgeon's preference and the availability of the robotic equipment. My guy was personally more comfortable with the VATS, and his colleague at the same hospital liked using the robotic equipment. But both are done through tiny incisions (laparoscopic), with the assistance of a video camera. I think my surgeon (who was young and VERY on top of things) just liked doing the surgery hands-on. 

Well, I'm just paying it forward. Bridget O, one of our other members here, told me about the wedge pillow when I first joined back in 2017. I had mine by the time I had my surgery. It also came in handy a few months ago when I broke my collarbone. It hurt to sleep on my side, and the wedge helped me sleep on my back until I was able to tolerate rolling over. 

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Hi and welcome.

I had my VATS lobectomy 4 years ago at age 71. I found it fairly easy, as far as surgeries go. I was discharged from the hospital the day after surgery with a chest drain tube in place, since I had a persistent air leak. I was able to get around OK with the tube and drain bag. The tube was in place for about 10 days. Once it was out, I no longer needed any opiate pain meds. I was back to normal in couple of months. Occasionally my breathing sounds funny to me and i cough some  but I don't have any discomfort or shortness of breath. I think my experience with VATS lobectomy is pretty typical, other than going home with a chest tube in place.

Lou's list of tips is great. I would have sent it to you if LexiCat hadn't already. If you or your mom have  more questions and/or just need some support, let us know. That's what we're here for. And let us know how your mom is doing.

Bridget O

 

 

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Thank you, Bridget, for sharing your experience with me - I will share it with my Mom!  That's amazing you were able to leave the day after surgery.  Mom's surgeon told her it would probably be 3-5 days but that he did recently have an 82 year old who was ready to get out of there the next day so he discharged her. :D Support groups like these are so helpful.  I appreciate it.  Because of COVID, I'm not allowed in the hospital at all during all of this which is understandable but also upsetting.  I hate she's going to be "alone" from a family standpoint.  But I know the surgery staff will take good care of her.

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Wedge pillow. Pain pills. Hi-def TV and a loving wife got me thru my VATs surgery. It was exactly a year ago.

You will do fine. Wishing you the best.

Peace

Tom

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