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Living with one lung





Everybody is different. Healing process is different. Muscle memory and strength is different. Pain tolerance is different. I write from MY perspective. ALWAYS listen to your body and your Surgeon. - Charen's

My left lung was completely collapsed from a Cancer. There was nothing they can do to try to save it. So a Thoracic Surgeon cut my back open to take my left lung along with several lymph nodes.



The first couple of days.

My Pneumonectomy was done on Tuesday July 6, 2021. It took about 7 hours for the Surgery itself. I spent one night in the ICU before they moved me to a regular room on Wednesday afternoon. I left the Hospital on Friday July 9, 2021 around lunch time. I got back to work I believe on August 2, 2021.

A nurse woke me up super early in the morning or probably in the middle of the night that night after my surgery in the ICU, I'm not sure, to give me a breathing exercise tool and taught me how to use it. She told me to use it several times a day every single day to strengthen my right lung.

I sat down with a little help Wednesday early morning, the very next day after my surgery. I had a pretty good biceps from helping my Husband loading feed in and out so I used those muscle to pull myself up holding on to the Nurse's hand instead of using my back muscle. I was off the catheter and heart monitor on that very same morning.

After a chest X-Rays in the morning and Surgeon visit, they made me trying to get up and sit down on my own. I made it so they kicked me out of the ICU. LOL


Fresh after the Lung Removal Surgery

They took me off off the self-administered pain killer machine once they moved me to the regular room despite how it pissed my Surgeon's off. I think he thinks that it's WAY too soon and that it's unnecessary to let me feel all the pain. Most of the time I sat down on my bed instead of laying down. With all the meds, it wasn't that I feel in pain. I simply felt more comfortable sitting down. Maybe because it releases pressure from my surgery site.

I walk around a couple of time a day as instructed, feed myself, uses toilet and felt ready to leave Hospital by the 3rd day.



Day I left the Hospital

I took my pain meds right before my Husband drove me home and even with that, my back and my chest area were hurting badly. He drove as slow as he can and I tried to control my breathing to ease the pain and we finally made it home.

Soon as we arrived home, he helped me taking off my clothes and we noticed the left side of my body was swollen. Like, bad. From my arms down to my groin. I didn't have any fever but the swelling looks pretty bad. My groin was about 3times its normal size I almost cry seeing it. We called the Nurse and she told me to go to the ER but since I don't want to deal with another car ride, I told her we'll wait until tomorrow morning. She agreed but told me that if I have a fever, I need to go straight to the ER. The swelling worry her. It worry us too. I just can't make myself experiencing another ride.


Thankfully, by morning time, the swelling was already improving. And by Sunday (I left Hospital on Friday), it had completely gone down.



The first couple of weeks

It took me one weekend of staying in my bedroom before I got bored and start moving around the house causing everybody other than my Husband to freak out. And to be honest, I stayed in bed all throughout my first weekend at home because I didn't want my Husband to throw me in his Jeep and drove me to the ER. But since the swelling had gone by Monday, I started getting up and about. I instinctively opt out from using my left side of the body even though Doctors and Nurses specifically told me to use both side. I walked and moved around OK. I can climbed up stairs, squat down to pick up stuff and helped myself up to stand up. A lot slower than normal pace but it's do-able. My only struggle was to get in and out of the bed and position myself to lay down.


I started only taking the pain meds before bed after about a week. For the rest of the day, I took Ibuprofen.

I moved around nak*d for the first couple of week unless when we're expecting visitor. I didn't like the feel of the fabric rubbing on my surgery site and I was alone at home most of the time anyway.

My several times a day breathing practice still hasn't shown any progress at all by the end of the week 2 post surgery and it rise up a couple of bar on week 3.


About a week after. I was watching my Husband cleaning with music ON and he start dancing with me. You can see how I stiffen up my back and top-half of my body and he was being super gentle but it's doable.

I took a couple of hours of nap and usually already fell asleep around 9PM everyday. My body was healing and I'm giving the rest and food it needed. I ate often but mostly lighter food in a small portion.


I went back to visit my Surgeon around the 20th day post surgery. It was supposed to be 2 weeks but he was booked. Hospital was busy after the whole Covid lockdown thing.

My Surgeon checked the Surgery Site and cleared me to go back to work whenever I feel like. As a Secretary, there's not much muscle I would be using at work.

But I was in pain from 1.5hour drive to the hospital and another 1.5hour drive back home. I took my still half full pain med that night and decided to take another week before I go back to work.


Back to Work

Going back to work wasn't easy. I was happy to be out of the house and able to make money and keep my Health Insurance but the travel to and from work wasn't something I look forward to.

I had my boss drove me home around lunch time the first day. And for the next couple of days, I had my in-laws picking me up a little bit after lunch.

I would take my pain meds and go straight to bed taking nap once I got home. I was tired, hurting, and mostly in a very bad mood.

After 2 weeks, I finally managed to finish a full day work for a full work.



After 3 month

I had another surgery on October 2021 where they cut a couple of inches of my lower back muscle to remove my Cancer so my recovery was kind off restarting itself by this time.



After 6 month

I was pretty much doing most of the normal stuff after 6 month. I helped my Husband on our forever journey on self-renovating the house, walk around the ranch, walk and bathe my dogs, going to the beach, went fishing, etc.

I rode my motorcycle, tackle some jeep-trail, good stuff.


Things I still held myself from doing was lifting a heavy stuff above 20lbs and working out.



After 1 year

Most article I read before my surgery said that I would get tired easily and have a permanent shortness of breath. Luckily I experienced none of that.

I got back doing my regular HIIT work out after a year. Just like any first work-put you did after long time of no work out at all, it was painful. My lung and muscle felt like burning and so on. But again, I can still do that. If there is any change, I actually feel like I breathe better now after they removed my collapsed lung.

I feel better, stronger, healthier.


My surgery site healed perfectly. Most people I talked to complained about itching sensation deep inside. In my case, I felt that only like once or twice in an entire year.



Again, these are my experience from my shoes. It does seems like I have a high tolerance for pain but low tolerance for medicines. I'm a small 5'0" ft 103lbs girl who had never use any recreational medicines, so pain killer meds works great for me.

You don't have to torture yourself but I guess I wanted to be able to "hear" and "feel" my body. I don't want to be numb because I might be overdoing some chores if I do.


If you're here because you're getting ready to get a Lung Removal Surgery, don't be afraid. The recovery felt like a breeze compared to how bad you're feeling right now.


If you're recovering from one, remember to not spoil your muscle but take your time. You do need a good blood flow to heal properly.



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