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Surgery scheduled! 😳


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My surgery is scheduled for April 21st. 
I think I am feeling a bit better about it for now. The waves of anxiety ebb and flow, of course. 

I’d love to hear all the things that helped each of you who’ve had the RATS or VATS, after you got home. I am particularly interested in that chest tube! My surgeon said it would come out the next day and I could go home if there are no issues.  How was that coming out? What are some things that helped you? I have ordered an armed pillow haha not with a weapon but had arms haha! To help prop me up in bed. I am super active and have zero desire to be laid up for days. My garden will suffer and break my heart!  

Someone had mentioned an electric toothbrush so I have that already. It’s my dominant side (right). Praying I can reach things and still do my own food and bathing. I don’t have a lot of helping hands around. I really need to hear surgery stories and recovery stories if anyone cares to share. 
I hope all of you are doing well 

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Short answer. Internet out. Chest tube removal is a piece of cake!  I found elevating my upper body in bed after surgery eased my pain significantly. I used a wedge pillow for that purpose. An electric toothbrush is a good idea. It was uncomfortable to brush my teeth and had to use my off hand. 

Stay the course. 


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I had  a VATS lobectomy. My impression is that VATS and RATS are pretty comparable in efficacy, recovery time, etc., and that the choice seems to depend on the surgeon's preference and the availability of the DaVinci equipment. I was discharged the day after the surgery, with my chest tube in place. Discharge with tube in is pretty unusual. I had an ongoing air leak and needed the tube, but was otherwise okay and ready to go home. My tube was attached to a Heimlich valve, which let air and fluid go out but not in, and a drain bag, which I had to keep upright and tote around with me. I had the sucker in for 10 days. The tube itself caused some discomfort, and occasional stabs of pain when I moved in certain ways--I quickly learned how not to move in those ways. My tube was taken out in the ER (on Thanksgiving day!) because it got plugged and the incision where it went in was leaking fluid all over. I still had a little air leak, but they decided it was slight enough that it didn't warrant putting in a new tube. Taking the tube out was,as Tom said, a piece of cake.

I also agree with Tom about the wedge pillow. I started out with a pillow with arms, which was more or less OK, when I was sitting up and awake, but sleeping on it gave me a stiff neck. I got a wedge, which was much better. It keeps your body from hips to shoulders in a straight line, which helps with breathing comfort. I used a small pillow on top of the wedge under my head.

Lou T has compiled a list of suggestions about surgical recovery, which he or someone else will probably send you.

As far as help around the house, you'll need to have someone with you for the first day after discharge. The hospital probably won't let you go home without sombody to be there. The main limit I had was no lifting of anything over, if I recall correctly, about 8 pounds. Also I wasn't allowed to drive until the chest tube was out and I was off opiod pain meds. These two things were related-- once my tube was out I had not much pain and only needed some tylenol. I could do a lot for myself, but I did need help to change the dressings daily on my incisions, since they were in spots hard to reach. I was up and walking around some they day I got home, and a couple of days after that, I walked around the neighborhood with my chest tube and bag hidden under a big raincoat.

If you have other questions, feel free to ask.

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Tom, it was you that mentioned the electric toothbrush! That’s such a great tip! Thank you. 

BridgetO, I’ve read your posts and feel like we have a lot in common. I’m thinking I might get a wedge pillow. This RA has my shoulders and neck a mess most of the time, perhaps the wedge pillow will help keep me upright enough to help me get out of bed- that’s a big struggle for me when I wake without the added surgery soreness. 
My partner will be with me but the help part is limited for various reasons.

I am 100% sure that once I am home, I will be able to manage whatever I need, Hopefully without the chest tube!  Did you do any breathing rehab? I’m doing an incentive spirometer now just for some lung exercise. It’s one I kept from the hysterectomy I had a few years back. 
I plan on meaning prepping to make that part a bit easier for the first week. 
how was it for you to get dressed? I already have a hard time raising my arms some days - did you wear something that buttoned up?  

Im not a fan of narcotics, don’t like the feeling. I only needed Tylenol / ibuprofen after my hysterectomy (also Da Vinci) for a day.  Hoping that will be the case with this as well. I have so many thoughts, I’m sure that’s normal, I appreciate you all so much! I’ve gone from hives from anxiety to absorbing good information and feel much more confident.  It’s so good of you all to hang around for long after your initial dx to help those of us who are on newly on this path. All of you are in my every prayer! 

Moo ❤️



Edited by Maryloumoo
Sleepy bad typing
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Hi Moo, I used the incentive spirometer and also a little piece of equipment that you breathe into that has a flutter valve- can' t remember what you call it. No other rehab. I don't recall having a hard time getting dressed. I think a loose-fitting t-shirt worked. Of course I don't have RA. It might have been difficult to get into something close fitting.

I'm not a fan of narcotics either. I think the chest tube was the main reason I used them. If you do end up using some opiods, be sure to regularly use a stool softener and/or laxative to avoid constipation.

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A lot of great advice already in this thread. :) The tube felt so GOOD coming out. It bothered me a lot while it was in there. Not super painful just very annoying and ouchie. I really had no issues other than my broken rib. That was a bit tender to sleep on for about a month. The numb patches where nerves were mucked with bugged me a little bit but not painful. My biggest challenge was bras! All mine were underwire. Way too painful to wear underwire so I quickly ordered a few wireless bras from Amazon. They were a lifesaver!! It was about five months before I could go back to my underwire bras. I do wish someone had clued me in on that because I was miserable before the new bras arrived. 

You sound a lot like me. I'm not a "layabout" either. 😆 I think that is a blessing in disguise. Get up and get moving! Try to get off the narcotics as soon as you feel comfortable. I only took them the first night home (besides when I was in the hospital post op). I truly believe moving helps healing in this case. Doing the breathing exercises helped a lot as well.

Wishing you the best and please let us know how you are doing post op!

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