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Recovery from Mesothelioma Surgery Looks Different for Every Patient

The definition of recovery is a return to a normal or healthy condition, according to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. A complete recovery is something everyone who has ever been diagnosed with mesothelioma is striving for more than anything.

In early March, I visited a patient who was in rehab after her mesothelioma surgery. Mrs. X  was frail, lacked energy, had a poor appetite, and was fluid overloaded in her extremities. She was sitting in a chair and she could not wait to get back into her bed. She said it had been very difficult to recover from the surgery. I told her that this was her new beginning and she actually did look better since leaving the hospital.

The next visit found her looking better, sitting in the chair did not seem to be as difficult, although sleep, or the lack of it, was now an issue. The combination of physical therapy, lack of appetite, and being sleep deprived was affecting Mrs. X’s overall outlook. As I helped her back to bed, however, I was pleasantly surprised at how well she moved. She was just days away from discharge and to being home and closer to her sons – and she couldn’t wait.

Once she was home and I showed up for my first appointment with her I was pleasantly surprised to see that Mrs. X looked her best yet. But, she surprised me by saying that she almost canceled because she was very tired. She wanted to know if it was normal to be so tired. I reassured her that fatigue is a very common complaint for many mesothelioma patients. Mrs. X was relieved that she was progressing, but she hated not knowing what to expect.

What does a normal recovery from surgery look like for patients mesothelioma treatment? Unfortunately, there is no easy explanation or any given path, and everyone’s recovery is just different as their mesothelioma. Some patients are in and out of the hospital within 10 days, yet others can spend weeks or months in the hospital before they are discharged.

Emotionally, recovery can be like a roller coaster ride. Fear and frustration can take their toll on both the patient and the family members. As different issues come up such as readmission, pain and exhaustion, it is important to recognize what emotions these events are triggering  and where they are coming from. Talking to other patients, loved ones or health care providers can help to put things in perspective, and hopefully, ease some of the stress.

Spring is here and it is time for new beginnings. Mrs. X is on her way to her “normal recovery”  with her own unique journey with mesothelioma.

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Last Modified: February 20, 2019

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