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Thread: Shortness of breath post op

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Indianapolis, IN
    Posts
    106

    Shortness of breath post op

    Wanted to share my experience because I have not read about this on this forum.

    On June 30, I had a long (9 hour) posterior surgery. While recovering in the hospital I was given a spirometer and told to work on taking a deep breath. The physical therapist set the goal at 1000 ml and with practice I was able to get it above that from time to time.

    When I was released, there were no instructions at all about practicing breathing but I took the spirometer home anyway. After a few days at home it seemed that I was breathless a lot so I checked and noticed that it was hard to get near that 1000 ml mark. I practiced a lot but after a few days I started wondering. I had no fever, no cough, and no wheezing but I did not have enough breath to talk for very long on the phone. People could tell that I was easily winded and breathing hard. Walking and talking at the same time required some real panting. I thought it must be normal.

    Finally I called the doctor's office. I was told this was not normal at all. They scheduled an appointment to see a pulmonologist the next day. Yesterday I went through 3 hours of testing. They did all sorts of test, including blood tests, xrays and a CT scan. Luckily everything came back normal, except for my lung capacity. I was told there was some apparent obstruction which she did not really explain but she said that I had had major surgery and was early in healing and my lungs were just not filling up normally yet. She has put me on Advair -- an inhaled steroid. I asked about taking a steroid and was reassured that the inhaled steroids will not get into my blood stream.

    I have only taken it for one day but I have already noticed some improvement. I can talk without gasping and take a walking without huffing and puffing.

    To give you a little background, I was in pretty good condition prior to surgery. For example, during the last week, I visited my sons near Denver and went bike riding 20-30 miles at a time without any trouble at all. I could walk a mile in 12 1/2 minutes. No asthma. No breathing difficulties. So I was surprised to have this issue.

    The GREAT news is that it seems to be easy to fix whatever is going on.

    Sheri
    At age 56 my curves measured: 48/60/30 with lots of rotation and getting worse
    Posterior fusion T5-L4 June 30, 2009
    Excellent correction

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Posts
    455

    breathing

    Sheri,

    My goodness, that sounds pretty scary and a lot to go through. I find it interesting that you were told to get the spirometer at or above 1000ml's. I couldn't even get it to 500ml after surgery. No one ever even checked to see how well I was or was not doing with it. I still seem to have trouble taking deep breaths. I sometimes get a little short of breath not with any regularity. I do 30 minutes of cardio everyday.....I am 3 months post op as of this week :O) I have no trouble breathing during this time. It's only taking deep breaths and occasionally my breaths will come in short quick breaths....almost like hyperventilating but it happens for about 3 or 4 breaths and than stops. It's definitely better than right after surgery but seems to be lingering. I am assuming it will go away on it's own, it's still pretty early.

    Good luck with your breathing issues. Thank goodness that all checked out well! Take care and best wishes!
    Susan

    Diagnosed at 10, Boston brace from 11-13 yrs old.
    50* Lumbar w/ 5 centimeter shift to the left and slight rib hump...
    Surgery Date: April 15 and April 22, 2009
    X-LIF approach for disc repair L5,L4,L3,L2
    Posterior Approach for fusions L5-T5
    Dr. Fox @ Naval Medical Center Portsmouth
    Nice and straight now!!!!!

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