Recovery is often a long process that requires a lot of patience in order to beat mesothelioma. For many patients and their loved ones, the rate of recovery can be lengthened if they focus on issues that prolong progress rather than the obstacles they have already overcome. Often times patients become fixated on similar challenges time and time again.
One challenging and frequently seen obstacle is a chest tube leak. During surgery, a chest tube is placed on the operative side where the disease was. This chest tube helps the lung re-inflate until the lung can function independently. It is closely monitored by x-rays and a device that shows whether there is a still a leak. In order to treat and overcome a chest tube leak, ambulation is used as it is very important to help the lung re-inflate. Unfortunately, the treatment must take its time.
Another obstacle that patients sometimes focus on too often is oxygen saturation. Usually a patient is preferred to have an oxygen saturation level above 92 percent. As this number is easy to understand, families and patients often focus on it. In addition to oxygen saturation, drainage from a device and the amount it outputs can also be focused on too much.
Although there are some obstacles that patients should not stress heavily about, the number on the scale is actually very important. A patient’s weight tells whether they are losing weight because their caloric intake is not where it should be or possibly they are retaining fluid and may need fluid restriction or a diuretic. The number on the scale can also be an indication for how well the patient is breathing
If a patient is staying in the hospital, often people will become focused on lab work. For example, maybe an elevated white count could indicate infection. If the white blood count is at a dangerous level, it could indicate that the patient is very susceptible to infection, otherwise known as immunocompromised. This can happen to a patient if they are receiving chemotherapy as there are many adverse reactions related to the drug. Additionally, another issue that patients quickly focus on is urine output as it is again another area that is easily understandable. Certain amounts per hour are expected and we monitor lab values that also reflect the work of the kidney. If the output is too low, often patients are easily upset.
It is wonderful to see patients and loved ones engaged in the overall health of the Mesothelioma patient. Lab values, chest x rays, weights, and shortness of breath are all very important in the overall health of a patient. Often times, patients, loved ones and medical professionals can get so hyper-focused on the patient’s abnormal issues that they forget to look at the patient and their successes. Before you become overwhelmed and start letting your mind go places it does not need to, remember before all else, look at your loved one. Ask yourself are they in distress? Are they uncomfortable? Certainly, if there is something that needs medical attention, reach out to someone. If you are unsure and your gut tells you to get help, then do so. The worse thing that can happen is nothing. No one is going to fault you for trying to be on your game.