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shortness of breath at week 3 of recovery


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Hello everyone.  I really am glad I found this site and appreciate the feedback that is provided by everyone, it has help me through various recovery steps of my lobectomy.

I am now 3 days into my 3rd week after lobectomy surgery.  I am noticing that just moving around in my home I am very short of breath and this week I am very constipated.  I am doing my breathing exercises with the spirometer, drinking lots of water and going on short walks outside. 

I am still taking 1000 mg of Tylenol once daily and 400 mg of ibuprofen twice daily.  I am attempting to ween off the oxycodone .5mg which I have been taking a night since June 4th.  I read that ibuprofen can cause constipation and know that the oxy does as well.  

 I do not have pain in my chest but do still have quite a lot around my 2 incisions (the drain tube site and the site where they removed my lung through the tube).  

Is it normal to be so short of breath just walking around my home?  

Thank you,



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Your question--"is it normal to be so short of breath..."--brought a smile to my face. I've found there is no "normal" in this disease. Everyone reacts to things differently. After my first open thoracotomy removing my right lung, I was up-and-at-'em lapping the ward with vigor by day 3. I felt mild pain in my suture plane and at various tube closures but nothing that required any narcotic pain medication. Then a well meaning neighbor visited with their children and I caught a "flavor of the month" chest cold that put me down hard. At the hospital emergency room, we learned the sutures of my bronchus stump ruptured and a good portion of my intake air was going into my empty right chest. That led to complications cubed and two more open thoracotomies in short order and six months of hospitalization. Pain never abated. I still endure chronic pain from subsequent surgeries today, 18 years after.

Yes shortness of breath should be expected recovering from surgery. Yours will likely be a short term phenomena because your cause is likely inflammation of very sensitive lung tissue. So, keep active and push yourself a little bit more each day and you'll get to normal (your new normal).

I've found that any narcotic medication needs to be accompanied with a regular regimen of laxative to keep things moving. I'd start it now and keep dosing until your digestive cycle returns to normal (this is likely an "old" normal).

It sounds like your recovery is "normal."

Stay the course.


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I agree with Tom about the need for laxatives with narcotic meds. If you wonder about what to take, give your doctor a call. As to the shortness of breath, has it gotten worse in the weeks since your surgery? If so, or if it does get worse, talking to your surgeon or pulmonologist would be a good idea.

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