After Care Requirements for a Lung Transplant
Recently there has been several members who have inquired about the post-operative requirements following a lung transplant. After enduring idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) for about a year, I received a single lung transplant on December 4, 2015. The operation was performed at the Cleveland Clinic by Dr. Gosta Petterson. I felt comfortable with this doctor, and I knew I was in good hands. I met him twice from what I can remember. The first time was in the operating room; Dr. Petterson walked in and the surgical team snapped to attention. I was told this was going to happen by the anesthesiologist fellow who had placed an arterial IV in my wrist, however, I didn’t think the doctor’s entrance would be this dramatic. Dr. Petterson then spoke to me and the team while everyone looked at the monitors standing with their hands behind their back and at attention. I said to myself, “I am in good hands.”
The next thing I remember was waking up a couple days later in ICU and my wife standing over me telling me how great I did. I was then moved to the transplant floor and the recovery process began. I was not in a lot of pain; 4 or 5 on the scale of 10, so I had them remove my morphine drip. A fentanyl patch on the incision did the trick. Nurses were amazed, but for some reason I have always had a high tolerance for pain.
Physical therapy would start slowly and eventually evolve into climbing stairs. I was in the hospital for 18 days. They wanted to release me after 10 days but I was draining too much out of the last chest tube. I went home with a drainage bulb, and my wife was responsible for emptying. It is amazing what comes out of our bodies. While recovering in the hospital I was responsible for setting up my medicines everyday so I could get used to the process for the transition home. Having placards and knowledgeable nurses made the task simpler.
I knew beforehand the do’s and don’ts post-transplant. The main ones were no more working in the yard; mainly the dirt because of mold spores . No more raw fish, no runny eggs for at least 6 months, and I had to make sure my meat was was cooked at the appropriate temperature. I had an education session with the transplant pharmacist as well. He went over the various medications associated with transplant and the medications used to fight infection, rejection, and a host of other possible abnormalities occurring in your post-transplant recovery. The one thing stressed the most was the importance of taking your medicine regiment on time. The pharmacist stated there was a 15 minute window before and after the scheduled time slot of taking your medicine. Patients who adhere to this rule greatly increase their chance for longevity.
On other online support groups I have read, there were patients who didn’t want to be evaluated for a transplant because of the requirements for the rest of your life. I can attest this has all been well worth it for me. I have embedded the Cleveland Clinic’s page detailing what happens after a lung transplant.
Would any of you be deterred of being evaluated for a transplant because of the strict requirements?
What are your thoughts on receiving a lung transplant and following rules for the rest of your life?
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