Mesothelioma Surgery: Helping the Healing Process

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Mesothelioma surgery healing will vary with each person. But it is not a race. The most important thing you can do to help your mesothelioma surgery healing process is to honor it. Respect it. Give yourself all the time you need to heal.

You may be scheduled for a pleurectomy, a procedure in which the mesothelial lining of the lung and chest cavity is removed. Or you may be having an extrapleural pneumonectomy, the removal of the lung on the side of the cancer along with the pleural lining the chest wall on that side, the diaphragm on that side, and possibly also the pericardium (the sac around the heart), and nearby lymph nodes.

Either of these mesothelioma surgeries and other types of mesothelioma surgery is considered major. Healing will require you to do all you can to help your health care team help you.

Mesothelioma Surgery Healing Requires Addressing Pain Symptoms

Please do not try to minimize any physical pain you may feel following mesothelioma surgery.

Pain is exhausting. Untreated pain could slow down your mesothelioma surgery healing process. Even though you may want to downplay pain and other symptoms because you do not want to cause more worry to family and friends, please don’t.

Please acknowledge whatever pain you may experience. Tell your physician and nurses exactly how you feel even if family and friends are in the room. It is important so your health care team can help manage the level of pain you are experiencing. The best thing you can do for your loved ones – and yourself – is to make sure all your symptoms are addressed. This is the best way to help your mesothelioma surgery healing.

Mesothelioma Surgery Healing in the Hospital

Here are some things you can do to help your mesothelioma surgery healing and speed your recovery while you are still in the hospital.

Clearing secretions – After mesothelioma surgery, it is crucial to keep the lungs clear of secretions. This helps the healing process by increasing the flow of oxygen and helping to prevent infection. You will be asked to take deep breaths and cough to help accomplish this.

Pain management – Several methods may be used to control mesothelioma surgery pain and keep you comfortable. It is vital for you to be as pain free as possible so that you are able to cough and take deep breaths. Your nurses will monitor your level of pain and your need for pain medication. They will probably ask you to rate your pain using a pain scale. That means you will assign your pain a number based on how severe it is. This will help the nurse attending you to understand how much pain you are experiencing and how much medication to give you.
Activity – Getting out of bed and moving around will help with mesothelioma surgery healing and prevent complications. Walking and moving can help clear secretions from your lungs, boost your circulation, and help with muscle strength. The staff will help you sit up in bed and possibly get out of bed the day of surgery or the day after. A staff physical therapist will help you take your first walk in a few days and help you progress to walking several times each day.
Diet – You will likely not want to eat after having surgery. But nutrition is important for mesothelioma surgery healing. Sipping liquids will be your first step. Your diet will start to include solid foods when you are able to tolerate them. Good nutrition will help restore your strength and promote mesothelioma surgery healing.

Mesothelioma Surgery Healing at Home

Mesothelioma surgery healing once you are home will take time. It may take 6 to 8 weeks to get your energy back.

You most likely will be told not to lift or carry anything heavier than 10 pounds (about a gallon of milk) for 6 to 8 weeks after mesothelioma surgery. You may be able to take short walks. Slowly increase how far you walk. If you have stairs in your home, set up your home so that you do not have to climb them too often.

Remember you will need extra time to rest after being active. If it hurts when you do something, stop doing that activity.

For the first 6 weeks after surgery, be careful how you use your arms and upper body when you move. Press a pillow over your incision when you need to cough or sneeze.

Have a friend or family member pick up any medication prescriptions you receive so the medication is home when you get there. Take the medicine when you start having pain. Waiting too long to take it could allow the pain to get worse than it should.

You will probably be given a breathing device to help you build up strength in your lung. It does this by helping you take deep breaths. Be sure to use it as directed to help your respiratory system recover from the mesothelioma surgery.

Healing from major mesothelioma surgery will take time. Pain management, rest, moderate activity at a level outlined by your physician and good nutrition can help. We wish you and your family the best during your healing recovery from mesothelioma surgery.

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