We all know that everyone’s mesothelioma is as unique as their own fingerprints. I visited three patients this week, and there is no doubt that each recovery is as unique as the patient. Although the patients all had similar surgery, their recovery has taken its own course.
The first patient I saw was a man who was staying at a local apartment which he rented for his wife and himself. He chose this option because he traveled from another state and it suited his needs. He had surgery approximately one month ago, and he has had clots and one readmission since his original discharge.
One of his biggest issues is his lack of appetite. Nothing tastes good and he is not interested in eating. He was placed on an appetite stimulant which hopefully will improve his nutritional status. They are anxious to return home, but they both realize that this is the place for them for now. Attached to him is a pneumostat [chest drain] waiting for his lung to heal. It is a device that can be uncomfortable and a nuisance, but it allowed him to be discharged from the hospital. He also has complaints of tenderness and pain at his incision site and across his abdomen.
Usually patients have numbness and then a tingling uncomfortable feeling. Although he has weaned himself from the narcotics and is improving, he was unsure of his physical complaints. As I explained, nothing is normal, yet everything is normal.
The next patient I saw had surgery about two months ago. His hospitalization was lengthy because of infection. He finally made it to rehab and was so grateful to be there. He was grateful for his new environment as well as his previous hospitalization. He was full of gratitude and felt fortunate to have come to a place where someone could treat his disease. His stay at rehab was a couple of weeks, but he was planning on being discharged within the week. He was anxious to get home and to be around his family and friends.
The last patient I saw had been at rehab for approximately seven weeks. Unfortunately, her progress was slow. Her surgery was about 15 weeks ago and she was very de-conditioned. Her body was weak and she required the assistance of a ventilator to help her breathe. Another factor that seemed to cause issues was her anxiety. Often times her anxiety inhibited her progress. This week she was able to be off the ventilator for 3.5 hours – a huge accomplishment. Her home is not close to rehab so her visits from family and friends are regular, but not as frequent as we all wished for her. Although this has been a long road there is hope and improvement.
We know that patients struggle with mesothelioma and the recovery, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. We all have our own unique stories to tell.