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Advice on surgery


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hummmm Advice, advice, advice!

1. Go to a party store and buy (1) party hat for the patient. You may

wish to buy more if the cheerleaders in the crowd with to wear one.

Make sure patient wears this party hat into the surgial room. All

the surgial staff will get a kick out of this and stress will be cut in


2. Make sure the surgeon has had a full 8 hours of sleep the NIGHT

before surgery. Just a safty thing! :shock:

3. Make sure patient is in GOOD humor before going into surgery.

It makes life easy for all.

4. Give LOTS of hugs the morning of surgery and tell the patient

you love him/her and then tell him/her you will see them shortly.

5. Make sure the patient has a small pillow after surgery to press

against the incision. If a comfort thing! And it works!!!!

If I think of more I will let you know.

Love, Hugs, and Support,


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Thanks for the advice... you crack me up girl! Although I dont know if I can get my dad into the party hat thing...UNLESS... maybe if its one of those stupid beer hats with the straws??? Maybe Ill promise to fill it up after the surgery if he is a good patient!!!

Thanks, and if you think of anything else... you know where I am!


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Here are Tiny's tips from May 27, 2004:

From Newcomers Forum, Posted: Thu May 26, 2004

Subject: Newly diagnosed, questions about surgery


Here are some ideas gleaned from my own experiences and those of others on the Board who have shared. Use all, some, or none.

• Don't be bashful about the pain medication. Pain interferes with the healing process. The trick is to take them before the pain starts, and then you are able to function.

• Get an epidural in your spine to help with immediate pain in the hospital, plus morphine, Demerol, or similar. I came home with Percocet. Take the pain medications regularly at first, and then wean yourself off as able. I kept a log so as not to “play games” with myself. (I was off all pain medications 3 weeks after surgery, but many people need MUCH longer. You and the doc will know.)

• When you first come out of surgery, it might be a little disconcerting because of all the things you will be hooked up to: an epidural catheter, a bladder catheter, an IV, chest tubes, EKG-wires, oxygen, perhaps a respirator, etc. It’s normal, and will be gone soon.

• The narcotics have a tendency to be constipating, so be aware and eat your fruits, veggies, and drink, drink, drink lots of water. Sometimes stool softeners or fiber/bulk laxatives such as Citrucel may be helpful. Someone else said that a home health-care nurse had an idea that really helped her. The nurse recommended drinking a small glass of prune juice each day and advised warming it in the microwave oven first.

• A heating pad helps afterwards with the pain when you are home; just use it judiciously.

• Lots of naps are permitted and encouraged during the day …healing occurs faster when you are truly resting.

• Get a pillow, or soft Teddy Bear, or something to hold against your incision when you cough or are riding in a car and you hit a pothole.

• Someone recommend anything by Bernie Siegel. All of his books are on tape, and he has several meditation tapes.

• Take a cheap calling card to the hospital.

• Someone’s cool suggestion (I didn’t have this procedure myself, but it sounds GOOD): Ask if this surgeon is trained to remove the lobe by VAT (video-assisted thorocotomy) If the tumor is surrounded by good tissue , you have never had radiation to the chest or chemo , you may qualify for this instead of the old way of making a big smiley incision over your back, and breaking a couple of ribs, etc. ( that is why a numbing epidural is so wonderful). The VAT procedure only involves making a couple of small incisions, and using a scope to remove the lobe of lung; there is much less scar, much less post pain, and quicker recovery. More and more doctors are being trained to do this newer procedure.

• Use the Spirometer religiously every hour that you are awake!!! I totally loathed the thing—I only had to LOOK at it and I would start coughing, but I persevered. I also charted the times I used it and what my progress was, and feel it played an important part in my relatively quick recovery.

• Exercise and walk, walk, walk, as soon as you are able. Right from the beginning, Fay A. recommends moving your feet and lower legs as if peddling an imaginary bicycle while in bed or seated for extended periods of time. This will help with circulation. Take those mini-walks several times a day. When you are stronger and steadier, begin taking longer walks. I charted my times and distances (i.e. like a whole block instead of 1/2 block J) and set goals for improvement. Someone else found an exercise program on the net for lung cancer patients that you might like to check out www.cancernetwork.com. They said the exercises helped a lot. I had my own routine of light stretches and light toning that I did.

• Soft, loose clothing will be the ticket. I wore NO underwear of any kind for a couple of weeks. Soft shirts such as fleece that open down the front are nice. My pants were knit shorts or flannel pajama bottoms with elastic waists.

• It seemed surprisingly chilly without a bra. When I finally decided I would try one again, I found I could not tolerate underwire bras of any kind. I found some Sports bras at Target that zip up the front, which makes them easy to get into.

• Someone gave me a long-handled loofa, which turned out to be a prized gift, because it allowed me to be much more independent in the shower. I could do my back and legs and feet by myself using the loofa. Fay A. says to buy an extra one and reserve the dry scrubber to scratch the incision when the site starts to heal and itch. At first, you may need some assistance in shampooing your hair--I did, or getting in or out of the shower or bathtub.

• As per Fay A. again: Many of us who have had surgery end up with Gastric Reflux problems, even if those problems did not exist prior to the thoracotomy. It can be pretty painful, and if the acid splashes high enough can actually reach the area where the trachea meets the esophagus, causing cough and other respiratory problems. Have the problems treated if it occurs.

• Fay A. again: Try to have the place where you will be resting the most set up so that the lamp, table, etc, are opposite the surgery side. You will be limited in how high you can lift the arm on that side for a while.

• Fay A.: You man need smaller, more frequent meals.

www.cancerlineuk.net. Click Lung Cancer...Click Patient Support. There's an article on going home after surgery. It is quite informative.

• Someone else suggested getting a set of good walkie talkies. That way the patient never felt like he was left "alone". He could always reach the other person in just a click of the button and saved them a lot of unneeded stress.

• When you get home from the hospital after surgery, it might be helpful if someone can help you get up and down. Those muscles that get cut are the ones you use to lift yourself, and they are really sore for a while. I found it worked best for me to sit in a firm chair, such as a dining room chair, rather than the soft, enveloping daveno.

• Some people sleep on the couch or in the recliner for the first week after returning home. It can be easier to breathe if your head is slightly elevated. Myself, I had a hospital bed right in the middle of the living room for a couple of weeks.

• Also after Early Stage surgery, it has been recommended that you do get adjuvant chemotherapy because of the significant number of people with micro metastases that the pathologist is unable to identify this early. There is still some controversy regarding this recommendation. Do your research; talk to your follow-up lung-cancer provider; get a second or even third opinion.

Hope some of these ideas are helpful.

Best of luck to you and keep us posted.

I will be praying for your dad to have an easy surgery, Jamie.



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Jamie, everyone had me very good tips. Just a few extra- He will probably have an IV in his neck for meds. Make sure it is changed after about three days by a RN due to high risk for an infection, that line is in your carotid artery. I looked pretty beat up after surgery. The tape holding my eyes shut left them black and blue. On the first full day, I had my catheter removed and had to get up to urinate. Men have it made with bed pans! Ha! Get up and walk as much as possible. This helps the lungs to expand, and get oxygen and blood circulated. Wear the stockings to prevent blood clots, which can kill patients as much as surgery itself. You do not get much rest cause nurses are in and out to check your vitals. That was motivation for me to get out of there. Sleep sitting up, propped with lots of pillows. sleep in the recliner when you get home. Take stool softners because the narcotics will constipate you. My doc sent me home on the seventh day. I only had hydrocodone for pain and was back at work in 3 1/2 weeks. Best of Luck!


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I especially vote for the phone card. One hospital stay I ran up a $300 phone bill using my MCI card.

Also, bring your own pillow. Nothing beats that.

Ask for something to sleep. It is not a given, and I never go into surgery without that . That includes the night before also.

Wouldn't hurt for you either.


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Dear Jamie,

Well, you asked for hints and by golly you got 'em! GOOD ONES TOO!

And yes, I would go with the Beer cap! Sounds like a plan to me!

Also, this will be the only time in your dad's life that he will here this:


He'll do just fine my dear! He has all of us pulling for him as well. Give him my best, and tell him if he can't or doesn't want to wear the Beer hat, then I guess I'll do it for him! :roll::roll: Oh the things we do to help others!!!!!! :wink::roll::wink::lol:

Love, Hugs, and Support,


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You've been given sound advice all the way around.

I would add: bring a favorite blanket or lap robe, something colorful from

home to relieve the tedium of the hospital room. Ditto for bathrobe, and slippers. May want socks,

feet get cold. If walking is a problem due to

arm or shoulder pain, ask for a sling and strap the sucker down before you go dancing. It helps.

I got a new pooh nightshirt for after the second day,when I was out of

the hospital "jonnies".

A wee bit of nice aftershave/ light cologne on a REAL handkerchief is nice.

a small animal or other stuffed character to "guard" the iv pole reminds

one of silly friends or grandchildren. Nice talisman to have.

All in all , no reason hospital stay has to be grim.

Epidurals are great.

Make sure and be aware (someone!) of what meds they have prescribed

for you orally, and make sure you get them.

Moving your legs around is a good thing.

Don't rely on hospital tv for entertainment. Keep small bills for the

hospitality lady, or at worst to bribe an orderly for a newspaper.

Good luck. As with all things, this takes time, but nowhere near as long

as one would imagine up front. Time passes quickly, especially if you nap!.



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Just want to thank everyone personally who wrote with tips and advice. I think all these will help. Friday my dad meets with the surgeon, and he is now very scared, as i think the reality of SURGERY is kicking in. Hes afraid that there will be a long painfull recovery time with all of this. Hes also not real happy with surgery in general (IV's, cathedars and all).


Thanks for the end line of your post. My dad really needs to hear that. Hes afraid of being down for awhile, and in pain. I always print out my threads so he can see for himself what people say, and Im sure he will be happy to hear that.


You allready know how wonderful your advice has been for me. Thanks again.


Thanks for the info. Im not through weeding through all of it yet though. There is ALOT!!!

Gail and Cheryl,

Great advice also. I keep hearing about that pillow thing and about walking helping. It must work!


Thanks for finding all that stuff for me! I would have never found it with all the posts on surgery. I dont remember seeing it the first time...

Just wanted to thank everyone personally. I dont do that enough.

Keep the tips comin'!


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Your welcome. Just wish he didn't have to go through this, but it's a GOOD THING he can. I know his fear and by Golly it's real. Please share this with your dad that we are ALL pulling for him and he will do just fine like the rest of us. NO PAIN NO GAIN! This to shall pass!

ALL GOOD THINGS COME TO THOSE THAT WAIT. Stay strong and by all means STAY POSITIVE! And when he's alllll better I'll have a nice cold beer with him! :) And YES the pillow thing real works!

Lots of TLC coming your way.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest Cheryl Schaefer

If not mentioned before, make sure he does the breathing exercises so pneumonia doesn't set it. Also makes for a speedier recovery.


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