Saturday, April 07, 2012

lung surgery recovery

"He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot, will be victorious.” 
Sun Tzu, ‘The Art of War’
At the theoretical half way point of recovery from lung surgery, the word itself remains somewhat alien after decades of spouse caregiving for Multiple Sclerosis.

Me feeling a little better each day is strange, almost guilty, contrasted to decades of MS caregiving where ‘progress’ is measured in slowing decline.

Though after three weeks not every lesson learned is a quandary. Foolishly trying to be ‘muy macho’ I kept the pain meds in the bottle - until the first time I coughed or accidently rolled over on my surgical side while sleeping, then I grabbed that Oxycontin like a baby grabs its bottle. … Though unlike a chronic illness, hour by hour it does get better. Yesterday, I only took two (2) ibuprofen.

For me, mainly it’s my ribs that were retracted for surgery that ache and ribs take time.

Essentially recovery is about not stressing my incisions. I have lifting restrictions. My surgeon’s anecdotes of repairing lung hernias for those who do not listen were deterrent enough for me. Not lifting more than 5 lbs - also means no pulling, no pushing, no sliding, etc of anything over 5 lbs for six weeks.

While I do not need assistance with my activities of daily living, our adult daughter has been a godsend for grocery shopping, lawn mowing, etc. even things I never foresaw such as lifting the weights weekly on our grandfather clock.

Exercising and strengthening lungs ... When I woke up after surgery I was handed my very own Voldyne 5000! Actually it’s rather fun once you get the hang of it, inhaling steadily to try and keep the bobber suspended in the “best” range.

Walking is unrestricted. I’ve currently built up walking to a mile twice daily, stretching it each day. Pre-surgery I walked two miles most days of the week.  

I must confess that in our parallel universe I have found it helpful in my healing that Patti’s outings from her care facility, now made possible by our daughter, have only fallen off about one day a week during my recovery.

related entries:

when caregivers get sick - lung cancer Mar 24

Patrick Leer
Caregivingly Yours, MS Caregiver @


  1. You're looking great Patrick. But you are wise to really listen to the surgeon's advice and restrictions and to follow them; temporary restrictions are better than permanent impairments if we don't allow our bodies the time to heal. It is good that your daughter is able to step in temporarily during this time to help out too; definitely a godsend indeed!!


    1. Learning patience! Who says you cannot teach an old dog new tricks :)

  2. Good to hear you are recovering well. Yet, remember to follow your dr's recommendations. You have been blessed with a wonderful daughter!


    1. There were moments in the teenage years the word 'blessed' and daughter might not have come out of my mouth at the same time. However now days I am in awe.

  3. Patrick, It's good to know you're healing -- even if the course is slow. Continue to get well, and follow doctors' orders. Happy Easter to you and your family!

    1. Thank you and happiest of holiday wishes to you and yours.

  4. Glad to see you are continuing to improve with each day. Hope all of you had a Happy Easter!

  5. Hi Patrick... you know my postings are only sporadic of late, but I did post yesterday, and while on my blog, I looked to see who I could visit, saw your posting was recent and clicked. That's when I discovered that you had had lung surgery to remove a cancer. I read on through previous postings to catch up... and glad to hear that you are getting better each day. This kind of healing takes time (my mother had lung surgery many years ago, and my husband had major lung surgery about 20 years ago). The pain does ease up... take something for the pain as needed. You are doing exceptionally well, and your attitude is inspiring. My prayers are for your continued recovery. Bless your daughter for picking up the care of her mother during this time (with outings and such). Get well... you are looking fabulous in that photo. Take care, Patrick!

    1. Hi Bea! Great to hear from you. Thanks for the encouragement. I'm coming down the home stretch of recovery.

  6. I really appreciate this post. I’ve been looking all over for this!


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