Upcoming Lobectomy

I'm scheduled for a left lower lobe lobectomy on June 20th and am very anxious about what I've heard is terrible pain after the surgery. In fact, I've even considered cancelling it which I know would be ridiculous . I had a 9 lb baby without any gas or epidural and was fine.. can anyone tell me if this is the worst pain ever or is it tolerable? I will so appreciate your input!


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46 Replies

  • Sorry to hear Leigh, I am new here and just wanted to say there are wonderful people here. I welcome you for them. I feel for you and will keep you in my prayers, I think it's a time difference issue, please come back later.

  • Thanks so much Patti..I can't believe the kind support I've received from everyone. I feel very blessed. Take care

  • Hi Leigh.....

    I have had an upper right lung lobectomy, and quite frankly, I didn't suffer that much at all. I had much worse with kidney stones. In my case, the hardest part for me when I woke up and I had a tube in my throat, so I couldn't speak, and they had tied my hands down. It scared me at first, because I hadn't anticipated it. So make sure, just in case you are on a breathing tube, someone brings pencil and paper, so you can "talk" to them. Honestly, you will be on a lot of medication, and have a nurse close to you (I was in ICU as I guess you will be) and if you have pain, they give you a shot in an IV, and then if you feel nauseous, another shot, again in the IV, so you dont' feel anything, but you feel immediate relief. Truly, the medicine worked in seconds. Don't be afraid. I promise. Those nurses will be there for you. They know this is a big surgery.

  • I had my surgery 3 years ago. I won't lie and say it wasn't painful. My biggest pain was from the chest tubes. As soon as they came out, I instantly felt much better. I came home with one in. Of course, i was given scripts for pain killers, but didn't fill them. I realized the more active I could be helped. It's very easy to give in to pain and not move. I still have rib pain occasionally when I take a deep breath, but not unbearable. Im sure you will do fine. Good luck and keep us posted!

  • Thanks so much for your reply. Yes, the chest tubes seem to be a common refrain in terms of discomfort but I think I can handle that. Maybe not knowing what to expect and waiting around is making it scarier.. take care of yourself and be well!

  • The fear of not knowing is the worst, Listening to.peoples first hand experience here is priceless, Most of the time I am able to let go and let God for the rest.

  • Yes.. it's hard for God to give us anything when our fists are clenched in fear, trying to do it alone. But He definitely works through people and I'm so grateful for the people like you who've written with their support.

  • Hi,I had a left lower lung lobectomy,yes there was pain but for the most part pain medicine helped. Sometimes it felt like an electrical current type of pain, was put on Gabapentin and that helped. There was incisional discomfort

    The best part is that the big lesion is gone! It takes time to heal!


  • I appreciate your reply and you're right.. .I should think more about the good this surgery can do than fear. I'm so glad that you're well now... take care of yourself.

  • I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly the pain lessened after surgery. My surgical team did a great job and I was off pain meds two days after I was released from the hospital. Sounds like you're pretty tough so you'll do fine and the cancer will be gone!!

  • Wow... good for you! I'm going to hope I can be like you and I'll keep your positive thoughts in mind as I wait for this. Thanks so much for taking time to write me. Take care....

  • My husband had his upper left lobe removed May 2015. He said it did hurt however, that's why they give you pain/ moraphine drip & that helped. He had a drain tube in chest wall after surgery which was quite uncomfortable especially at night. (sleeping meds took care of that). As soon as the tube came out (6 days). It was almost instant relief. Of course they gave him a script for pain meds after he got home and only used them once. Healing went quite quick. So Leigh222, hang in there & try to keep busy with other things until the surgery. You will be in my thoughts & prayers for upcoming surgery. Jenni 🙏🏻

  • Thanks so much, Jenni, for your kind thoughts. I'll definitely take your good advice about keeping my mind off this prior to surgery ( at least, I'll sure try). I appreciate your prayers... take care.

  • Don't cancel your surgery- everybody is different and have different tolerance to pain. I had some pain immediately following surgery, and was given pain pills when I went home and took it when I needed it and shortly then after just took Tylenol if I had pain. Regardless of how much pain you may experience I know that you can handle it. Having a positive attitude really helps. So think positively and best of luck with your surgery.

  • Hi Steph... thanks so much for your kind words. It helps to hear that others think I can handle it.. I already feel more like I can after hearing from so many wonderful people. Who knew that a medical mountain, which is what I feel like I'm facing, could introduce me to such a warm and supportive group. Take care of yourself.. and thanks again.

  • I had upper left last year it's not easy worse part is the chest tube when it comes out its tolerable I had 10lb kids natural so you got this !! God Bless

  • And God Bless You for taking time to write me and giving me your encouragement. Much appreciated....

  • Please do not cancel your surgery!!!! If they are doing a lobectoctomy, they are looking at a cure. I had a left upper lobectomy on June 1, 2015. Yes, it was painful, but the medical staff did a wonderful job of controlling it. I even had an epidural at the level of the incision and controlled the pain relief there. That was in addition to the IV into which the nurses also gave pain meds. You will be given oral pain meds when you go home. You will find a recliner invaluable for several weeks after you are discharged. I slept In one after going home for several weeks. Although I still have some pain In the incision site and the chest tube site, it is very occasional and relatively mild.

    I have not regretted having that surgery. As a result, I got to meet my great grandson, who is now 18 months old and to see my younger grandson graduate from high school as well as have time with family and friends. This alone was worth the pain.

    I wish you the best and will keep you in my prayers. As you can see, the people in this community are welcoming, compassionate and knowledgeable. I hope you continue to post here. We help and support each other.


  • HI Jean...I am feeling so blessed to have found this group of wonderful, strong and caring souls. Your reply, and those of the others, has already helped me feel calmer and more able to face this. I'm so happy that you're surrounded by children and grandchildren that, no doubt, love you to bits. Take care of yourself and I will certainly continue to post as I go through this. Many thanks....Leigh

  • You are so right about the recliner. For many years before the cancer, i had been diagnosed with COPD and asthma. I have slept in a recliner a very long time!

  • I have never had lung surgery, but I have had body parts and tumors removed; surgery several times. I have also cared for many people post-surgery, so feel like I can jump into this conversation without offending. I found trusting the surgical and post-surgical staff was a big part of making the experience easier. I love the idea of talking to the staff about having a pencil and paper ready, in case, good idea! Everyone experiences pain differently, but just be honest with staff about what you need - they want to help. If you can have a loved one near, to be your advocate - always a good thing - I would certainly do that too.

    It is so natural to be apprehensive, but you sound strong and you know what pain is - you'll do fine! Trust yourself and communicate how you feel and all will be well. Good luck and please let us know how you are doing! We will all be waiting to hear. Hugs.

  • Thank you so much, Peggy.. how kind of you to send me these positive thoughts. You're certainly right.. I already think that most nurses are angels in disguise and I know I'll be in good hands. I feel very blessed that I've discovered this community of support. Take care...

  • My upper right lobe was removed 2 years ago. I was very scared but I learned to let go of fear by having a faith I never knew existed. Faith in my doctors and that I was very lucky they found it incidentally and I could get well. Experiencing all the doctors and nurses take such good care of me gave me strength to heal and overcome the pain. You can do this!

  • Thanks for taking time to write me. And good to know that your tough challenge put you in touch with a newly found faith.. that's probably the best gift of all. Take care!

  • Follow your doctor's advice. Take your pain medication and take time to rest and recouperate. Pray often. Get up when you are ready a begin taking walks. You will be fine!

  • Thanks for your encouragement.. you're right, I think half the battle is being patient and not expecting too much, too fast. And thanks for the reminder to pray often...take care!

  • Slee is right. Recovery is slow. My oncologist asked me on my first post op visit with him if I felt like I was run over by a truck. I responded that there were at least 2 trucks and they both ran over me twice. It will take time and your body will let you know how quickly to progress in your activities. I'm sure you will do well. Don't be afraid of those pain meds. They help you keep moving.

  • Jean, I agree with you! I used to tell my patients to take the length of time their doctors told them it would take to recover and then double it - then they would be closer to reality. Doctors try to give us hope and encourage us, so out of kindness I think they sometimes underestimate what recovery really feels like.

  • Good advice. My oncologist told me 6 months until I would feel "normal" when in reality it took over a year. Maybe his normal is different from mine.

  • The best, and most accurate advice I ever got was from a doctor who personally had experienced the surgery they were going to do on me. "Wear PJ's or lounge clothes 24/day while the pain is still difficult and you find it hard to function. That is a signal to yourself and to those with you that you are working at healing and that takes time." That was hard advice for me - I tend to jump out of bed early, shower, dress for the day, hit the floor running. Ha ha. Well, I learned quickly that she was right. We simply have to honor the fact that our bodies do their work best when we listen to them. Like so many others have said, rest when your body tells you to do that, and move when you feel restless. You know yourself well, and you've gotten this far - trust yourself completely! I do. This is tough stuff you are facing, but you are tough too. Allow yourself the time it takes, whatever that is. Caring hugs.

  • Good advice.

  • Thanks Jean, Peggy and See...my doctor told me that most people feel back to normal within a month so I'll figure at least two and be happy if I beat that. I so appreciate your caring responses.

  • I had middle right lobe lobectomy last summer. Keyhole surgery....absolutely amazing. Painkillers controlled the pain wheel., i felt pretty rough for about 5 days ,,,had too much morphine i think!

    But i was never in pain. Chest drains felt weird coming out but didnt hurt and out in seconds. I was lucky Harefield hospital is so special.

    Don't listen to horror stories,,, i was warned i would be in so much pain,,,,but I really wasn't!

  • Hi Leigh,

    I had major lung surgery and a bronchoscopy in Dec. 2014--a complicated and delicate basilar compartmental segmentectomy of my lower left lobe. Yes, there's pain after any lung (or any major) surgery but it is and should be standard-of-care to be on a (in my case) a fentanyl pump, which controls pain before or just as it's starting, and that the patient controls, so pain is less and never unbearable. And the doses are calibrated so you can't ever give yourself too much pain medication either. If the pain is ever unbearable it may be a sign of something wrong or poor pain management. I was weaned off the pump after two days, and then local patches of fentanyl controlled the now less pain, plus as needed, minimal oxycodone 5 mg/325 acetaminophen (generic Vicodin) pills. I was discharged after 4.5 days in hospital, wearing a fentanyl patch (which came off after two days), spent about 3 weeks in a rehab facility, was off all oxycodone/apap after 10 days there (only used one at bedtime) while there), then home w/occasional oxycodone as needed, and then off to my superb PT. Until I could be well enough to go out to PT, I had my hospital's visiting nurse, OT, and PT every day or as needed. Since I also have no addictive brain receptors for any drugs such as oxycodone--I've never had a "high" from morphine, or oxycodone, or fentanyl--just pain relief--I can stop whenever I want and always use the minimum (without any withdrawal or dependency problems). So, good luck with your surgery, and be sure to ask your surgeon and anesthesiologist what pain pump you'll be on, etc. There is no longer any reason medically to experience severe pain after any major surgery if it's done right and there are no infections or complications... and even then pain should be controlled completely!

  • Thanks so much for your informative and helpful reply. I feel more hopeful and positive after from people like you. Take care.....

  • Thank you, Leigh for your kind words. I wish you the very best, a successful surgery, and a full and complete recovery! ;-) And very little pain or discomfort!

  • I too had my right top 40% removed via a thoracotomy. If your lucky and can have VATS its a breeze but I was not. Still the pain is bearable I mostly took Tylenol afterwards. Thr drain tube incision hurt mort than the big incision! I agree with the recliner, I slept in one for two weeks after my surgery. No one mentioned the shortness of breath you will feel at the beginning. You may feel like you can speak and breath at the same time. As soon as you are up to it start walking, this will really help with everything. Good luck to you, Im sure it will all be fine. Take Care,

  • Thanks so much for your reply.. much appreciated! Yes, mine will be a VATS procedure so likely less painful than what you went through. I do hope that you're doing better now and glad your surgery is just a memory. Take care....

  • Leigh222

    I hope are feeling much better post lobectomy. Give your self time to recover. Esther

  • i had my left upper lobe removed may 5,2017, there was pain once the tubes came out ,i have numbness and pain at the tube site than at my incession, im also on gapapintin,for nerve damage, im hoping to get better quick everyone is different how they go through surgery, good luck,

  • Thanks! My pain is resolving day by day and I'm now walking 35 minutes per day, so on the mend. I do hope your recovery is swift and you stay well. Take care.....

  • checking to see how u are doing after your surgery,

  • So kind of you... I'm actually doing very well. Back to work four days a week and the only reminder is some fatigue at the end of a busy day. How are you doing?

  • Oh Gram, thanks for reaching out. It is so great to hear from you Leigh! What good news. I imagine it was a long haul, but here you are!!!! Hugs.

  • Thanks, Peggy! This network was a blessing to me.. it gave me hope and connection. And, it is wonderful to see your beautiful smile pop up on my screen. Take care.

  • Oh, how sweet you are. Thank you. My heart is so happy knowing things are better in your life.

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