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Post-op pain and breathing issues questions (update) Post-op pain and breathing issues questions (update)

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Unread 02-11-2008, 02:38 AM
Post-op pain and breathing issues questions

Hi everyone,

I have a three questions regarding post-op pain and breathing issues.

I am now 1 week post-op. I had a TAH, kept ovaries, took out cervix, and removed my appendix. I'm still on pain meds (percocit and ibuprofin). So, I'm able to manage my pain fine right now.

But, I have questions about the type of pain as well as breathing issues.

1) how do you know the difference between gas/bowel pain vs. surgery pain/pain caused by internal incisions/stitches, etc. I just get this pain all throughout my abdomen and sometimes it's much worse than other times. If I knew it was just gas pain, I would not worry. But, I get worried when I think this might be internal incision/stitches pain because I start to imagine that I've done something to pull something loose inside.

I'm following doctor's orders perfectly.... resting and laying down and getting up to walk several times a day, but this is just walking around my house. I haven't even ventured outside yet. I'm not over-doing it. I listen to my body, and when I'm up, the second I start to feel pain come on, or my body just gets really tired, then I go back to lay down.

But, sometimes I wonder if I'm worrying this pain I'm feeling is something going wrong with the internal healing when it really might just be gas pain, and I'm worrying for nothing. I've never had to deal with gas pain issues in my life. I've been lucky in that area, so this whole gas pain thing is new to me.

I'm definitely passing gas, and I starting having a BM on day 3 post-op. I AM trying to eat as much fiber as I can, and I'm taking stool softeners, drinking lots of water, and I just started drinking pear juice today to help things move even better. I have not had any problems having a BM, so I don't think I'm constipated, although I will say when I am trying to "go", I don't push, but it does hurt pretty bad as it goes through the lower intestinal track. I have to do some deep breathing sometimes when I'm trying to go because it hurts. haha!! (I know.... TMI... but I think on this site, it's OK to talk about BM....haha).

So, that is my first question, and some info to go along with the first question.

2) for those of you who had an appendectomy along with a hysterectomy, did you find you had much more sharp pain where the appendix was removed vs. the pain you felt or feel where your uterus used to be? Sometimes I think the appendectomy hurts worse than the hysterectomy. I just get these sharp pains on my right side, but only when I stand up to walk. I do get a radiating pain on my right side when I lay down, and it's a different pain than the lower abdomen area. But, when I stand up, sometimes it's so bad that I can't straighten out my right leg right away when I get up... it's just this sharp knife pain. I feel like if I straighten my right leg, I'm just going to pull something completely loose. But, after I've been standing for a bit, I can finally straighten my right leg.... but it just takes time. And, also my right hip bone hurts.... not sure it's the actual bone that hurts, but it's RIGHT where my hip bone is that hurts.... it just aches. I'm assuming all this pain on my right side is related to the appendectomy.

But, in my abdomen, it's just a dull ache and also a burning feeling sometimes. But no shooting knife like pain in my abdomen where my uterus was.... that only happens where the appendix was.

3rd question - breathing issues:

3) Does anyone have a hard time catching their breath and even talking when they stand up and walk around? This is another strange thing. I'm wondering if this is related to having an abdominal incision?? When I lay down, I can talk totally fine, breath just fine, and deep breathe just fine. But, when I go to get up, I feel like I suddenly just loose my breath, and I can only breath very shallow.. Once I get up to start to walk, I can breath a little deeper. But, I have found it's really hard to talk when I'm up walking around... I feel I can't get enough breath to talk, and when I do talk, it is really soft because I can't get enough breath to even talk loud. It's so strange. Is this normal????

I'm just trying to figure out if what I'm experiencing is NORMAL for 1 week post op for a TAH and appendectomy. And, also I'm trying to figure out if this sharp pain on my right side is a red flag that something is not right, or if it's normal to have a sharp pain where the appendix used to be.

I just want to heal right. I do NOT want to do something stupid that will cause me to not heal right and then suffer complications down the road. So, I am nervous when I feel all these different aches and pains and wondering if I SHOULD be nervous, or if this is just all totally normal and it just means that my body is healing right.

I'd love anyone's input, if you have any. :-) Thank you!!!!!
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Unread 02-11-2008, 03:52 AM
Post-op pain and breathing issues questions (update)

I'm going to address the breathing issue because that's the one that has me the most concerned. Shortness of breath can be a symptom of a blood clot. Call your dr. ASAP. If you can't reach your doctor call the ER and ask to speak to the doctor on call. At three weeks post op the risk of a clot is still there...I had one at exactly 3 weeks post op.

There may be other reasons for the breathing problem, but it's too risky to waste time trying to figure it out. Please call and let us know what the doctor says.
Unread 02-11-2008, 03:59 AM
Post-op pain and breathing issues questions (update)

Loves to run:
I am 9 days out so let me tell you what I have experienced. You will constantly feel little tugging sensations.. Occasionally I get a stabbing feeling. I have been quite regular so I don't think I have gas pain from bloating, but remember there are gases in your cavity from the anesthetic.
This takes quite a while to subside.. Usually a week, sometimes longer.
2) I had my appendectomy separate so I can't address the issue, except that I can tell you I had a lot of pain from that and did have that radiating pain you are referring to.. My doctor told me that could last up to a year, but with no explanation.
Everyone that calls me says my voice sounds much stronger this weekend.
so we all must have some breathiness after surgery... Remember they were in there quite a while... I am black and blue by my staple area.. This is major surgery, so give yourself time to heal and if I can answer anything else, feel free to e-mail me.
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Unread 02-11-2008, 05:29 AM
Post-op pain and breathing issues questions (update)

Hi Catherine,

Wow, that is a bit scary... my doctor is supposed to call me today, so when he does, I'll ask him.

I can breathe totally fine... big deep breathes, everything when I'm laying down or even sitting down. It's just when I go to stand up. I'm stilll hunched over when I walk, and I have been wondering if it has to do with how much work it is for me to stand and walk and the fact I'm not walking completley up right.

If I had a blood clot, is it possible that could only cause breathing problems while standing up, but not laying down or sitting down?

Anyway, I absolutely will ask my doctor, and I won't ignore this. I had never heard that shallow breathing can be a signal there is a blood clot! Scary.

I'll let you know what the doctor says when I talk to him. I do know this has gotten a little better over time. It used to be that I could not even catch my breath when I sat up. Now when I sit up, I can breath deep just fine. And, it also used to be that I would only take shallow breaths when walking, but now, I can manage to get a regular breathing in once I'm up for a little bit. But, what happens is when I start to get tired, or the pain starts to hit because I've been on my feet, then the shallow breathing just hits and I have a hard time talking.

so, I wonder if it's possibly pain related? Who knows... but thanks for bringing this to my attention. I will absolutely ask my doctor about this today!!!

Pattie, thanks for your response, too. Gosh, I hope I don't have radiating pain from my appendix for up to a year! I guess only time will tell that one.

Thanks! I look forward to hearing more responses. :-)
Unread 02-11-2008, 05:33 AM
Post-op pain and breathing issues questions (update)

If I had a blood clot, is it possible that could only cause breathing problems while standing up, but not laying down or sitting down?
I don't have an answer for your question, but I wouldn't take any chances when it comes to a blood clot. I was forutnate that mine didn't travel to the lung and therefore caused no breathing problems. I don't know how a pulmonary embolism affects breathing, but I would not wait for the doctor to call. Once a clot travels to the lung it can be deadly. It may not be a clot, but it's always better to err on the side of caution.
Unread 02-11-2008, 05:52 AM
Post-op pain and breathing issues questions (update)

I'm with Catherine on this one, LTR. Post surgical breathing issues are not the kind of thing you should give a little more time to. It could be nothing more than your body responding to the trauma, but in the event that it is a clot, fluid building in the lungs, or an infection spreading, it could become potentially life threatening. Please take an aggressive action on this and let us know how you make out. Your sisters are standing right beside you now and behind you if you fall. Good luck!

Unread 02-11-2008, 11:26 AM
Post-op pain and breathing issues questions (update)

Hi Ladies,

Thank you for your help! Here's an update on the breathing issue (this is long, but I love to share details.... )

I called my doctor, and he is actually in surgery today, so I spoke to the nurse. She then spoke to the doctor on call.

The doctor asked me if I think this breathing issue is pain related, meaning when I feel more pain, I find it harder to breath and talk, so my body's reaction to pain. Or, do I think this breathing issue is NOT related to pain.

At first, I did not really know the answer because I am still in pain pretty much all the time. Not unbearable pain by any means, but I'm still on pain meds, and I always have this ache in my abdomen and other pains. So, I told the nurse that if I'm always in pain, how can I know if it's related to pain?

So, then the doctor said if it is pain related, then they want me to come into see my doctor, but he won't be in the office until tomorrow since he's in surgery all day today. In other words, if it's pain related, it's not an emergency, and the doctor on call felt it was fine to wait till tomorrow to see my real doctor IF this is just a pain issue.

But, the doctor said that if I do NOT think it's pain related, they want me to go to the ER ASAP. AAACCKKK!!!

So, I talked to the nurse longer on the phone. I was laying down when I was talking to her and talking and breathing just fine. I kept telling her I don't know what to do. I told her that I have a hunch it is pain related, but I really am not 100% since I always have pain. But, I also told her the thought of going to the ER and waiting to be seen, etc. etc., not being 100% sure this is NOT pain related doesn't appeal to me. I don't even want to be in a car right now, let alone wait at the ER for 2 hours to be seen.

So, I asked the nurse to tell me what SHE thinks I should do... I just did not know.

So, the nurse said, "let's do a test to try to figure out if this IS pain related. Get up while I'm on the phone and start walking around. While you're walking around, I want you to just constantly talk about what you are feeling at that moment."

So, I did that. I got up and I said, "I'm standing up right now. I feel pretty good. It's hard to stand up straight.... now I'm walking.... blah, blah, blah...." And, then about 30 seconds into it, I said, "now I feel my abdomen starting to tighten up more and feel heavy. I feel more achiness and it is starting to hurt more." At that moment, my breathing issue started, and I found it was hard to finish a sentence without stopping in the middle to take a breath. I also was doing the more shallow breathing, and she could hear that.

I continued this for a little longer, and then sat back down. when I laid back down on the couch, within 10 seconds or less, I was talking fine, my breathing was fine, and I told her my pain level was going down to the "normal" achiness.

After that conversation on the phone with the nurse, she and I both came to the conclusion that we think this is pain related only because the second she noticed a change in my breathing and so did I was the exact moment that I said I started to feel a different level of pain.

So, after this thorough conversation with the nurse, I told her that I'll make an appointment tomorrow with my doctor. It's at 2 PM tomorrow (pacific time), BUT I told her that the whole rest of today, every time I get up, I'd pay very close attention to what is the root of this breathing issue, and make note of it.

I actually just got up before I started this post to go to the bathroom, and I paid very close attention to how I felt and when this breathing thing started, and it was the exact same thing when i was on the phone with the nurse.... as soon as my pain got to a higher level, the breathing issue started. So, I'm now really feeling confident this IS a pain related issue, and nothing "serious" or life-threatening that would be an ER issue.

I told the nurse that if I feel at all today there is something more than a pain issue going on, I'll go straight to the ER. I promised her! :-) She felt very comfortorble with this plan, and she said to call them back for any reason.

So, I called my mom and dad (who live close by), and talked to them for a while. I told them all that I just wrote here, and they both think this is a good plan.... both my mom and dad think this is a pain issue going on with me, and nobody (even the nurse) doesn't want me to go to the ER unless I really feel it's an emergency only because I'm only 1 week post-op, and that'd mean traveling to the hospital, waiting for who knows HOW long to get in.... it'd just completely wipe me out, and would probably cause me to "over do it" for today. And, I don't want to "over do it" unless it IS a true emergency.

SO, ladies.... THANK YOU VERY MUCH for telling me to call my doctor! You guys are the BEST and I feel so incredibly blessed to have such an amazing support around me.... a faceless support. haha!!!

Gee.... it just never occurred to me to call the doctor about this. This is my first major surgery, and I guess I just assumed that this was normal.

My husband also has never been through any kind of surgery nor has he ever helped anyone recovery from surgery, so he also never thought about me calling my doctor.

But, the good news is that it SOUNDS like this is not an emergency situation. The nurse really felt confident after being on the phone with me for a while and actually HEARING what happens to me when I have this breathing issue, and hearing me tell her HOW I felt at that moment that this very likely is pain related.

But, I told my mom that I'd call her in any little event that I feel there is something else wrong. She can be at my house in 10 minutes, and my husband's work is only 5 minutes away, so I have people right near me who can come get me to take me to the ER if I feel I do need to go today.

But, I feel at peace right now about waiting to see my doctor who did the surgery tomorrow.

Maybe he'll give me a new pain med.... maybe the Percocit is not doing the trick? Who knows.... but all i know is that I've discovered through my thick skull that this is NOT normal, and so I need to figure out another way for pain managment I think to keep from this happening.

I'll keep you all posted!!! This site is awesome! If it weren't for you guys, I doubt I'd even have an appointment with my doctor tomorrow!

Thank you!!!
Unread 02-11-2008, 11:40 AM
Post-op pain and breathing issues questions (update)

: Yay LTR!!!!

Applause to you for calling. We sometimes tend not to want to bother the doctor if it's not really a problem. However, that's what they're there for. After a major surgery anything can happen. A hysterectomy is not without risk, so we must remember to stay on top of anything that causes concern. If it's nothing, that's ok. We're not the trained medical professionals. The doctors are. We need to trust our instincts and at the very least when there's something that troubles us, the experts can set our minds at ease. Good job! Please let us know what the doctor says tomorrow.

Unread 02-11-2008, 11:59 AM
Post-op pain and breathing issues questions (update)

Thanks Tracy. It is true that sometimes we don't want to bother the doctor. I have always been the kind of person where I will not go to a doctor until things are really bad. haha. It's just the way I've always been.

But, in this case, I just am on a mission to heal RIGHT and not have any set backs. Of course, we can't always control the set backs, but in this case, I called the doctor literally at 8:30 AM when the office opened.... I just want to make sure I'm doing evverything right, and not being dumb about this recovery.

So, thank you again for advising me to call the doctor (all of you who did). It wasn't that I dind't want to bother him in this case, but I just really thought this was NORMAL. When this is my first major surgery ever, I have nothing to compare it to, so I just assumed this was normal.

I guess this teaches me a lesson that I should never assume!! :-)

I'll keep you all posted on what the doctor says tomorrow.

Take care.
Unread 02-12-2008, 10:28 PM
update on me - shortness of breath issues

Hi everyone,

Yesterday I posted that I have been having shortness of breath when I stand up to walk, and I asked if anyone else has experienced this.

Well, Catherine and "Good Thoughts" (Tracy) replied and told me to call my doctor or go to the ER because this could be a sign of a blood clot.

So, thank you Catherine and Tracy for telling me to call my doctor!! I did call my doctor and my doctor said to come in to see him.

So, I went to my doctor today, and I honestly fully expected him to tell me that this was all pain related because I'm still having pain and still am on pain meds 8 days post-op.

Well, just the walk from the parking lot, to my doctor's office waiting room, and then to the examining room, I was definitely experiencing this shortness of breath, so my doctor saw it first hand, which is good, I think. This way I did not have to "describe" what happens... he SAW and heard my shortness of breath.

Well..... I did not expect this, but he told me to go STRAIGHT to the ER! He told me this is not normal, and he said also for how fit and healthy I am, he said I should not be experiencing this. He said he has patients who have hysterectomies who are not fit and not nearly as healthy as me who are doing much better than me at this point.

My doctor told me he feared I did have a blood clot. He said I may NOT have a blood clot, but he said he cannot send me home having shortness of breath not knowing for sure there is not a blood clot.

So, my husband and i drove to the ER (it was just down the street).

Checked in, I got a room.... and they did an EKG, they drew blood and did a blood clot test, they did a chest x-ray, they did a CT Scan, and then they did this lung scan that required me to breath in this gas stuff, and it also required them to administer something through an IV. It was pretty wild. They also did tests to check for infection and any other thing that could be related to things not healing right inside of me. They were extremely thorough.

All of this took 6 hours!! Yes, I was in the ER today for 6 hours.

But, here's the good news..... everything came back normal!!

I do not have a blood clot and there is no infection! I'm SOOOOO happy and thankful. I was really worried, especially since my doctor didn't even wait a second more to send me to the ER.

So, the ER doctor told me he is sure this IS pain related. He said that it is natural when you're in a lot of pain to lose your breath. He said for me to have this kind pain 8 days post op is unusual, BUT he then asked me if my bowels/intestines are back to normal.

I told him that I'm having BM's now, but still am having a lot of gas pain and bloating type pain.

Well, one thing my doctor told me (this is my ob/gyn, not the ER doc) today that I did not know until today is that the path report came back and my appendix was very infected. But, not only that, he said that my appendix was twistes and wrapped under the intestines.... it was not laying in the position that it should have been. He told me that it was more work for him to remove my appendix than it was for him to remove my uterus, and as a result, he had to really move my intestines around a lot more than normal.

SOOOOOOOO, this makes sense now.

The ER doctor told me that sometimes bowel pain is hard to pinpoint when you've had abdominal surgery because all of the pain from surgery and the bowel seem to radiate all over, so it's hard to know the source of the pain. But, the ER doctor suspects that since my doctor had to really move around my intestines to get to my appendix, that it is taking longer than normal for my intestines to get back to normal. He said even though I'm having a BM each day, my instestines are STILL getting back to normal, and it is painful when the intestines are not back to normal.

he also said that right now, other organs are settling down and moving into position since there is new space (where uterus used to be), and he said this can be painful, too, depending on the person.

So, the ER doctor thinks I'm experiencing extra pain, and he said when I stand up, everything might start to shift inside of me that is still trying to get back to normal. He also said when you stand up, your bowels start to move more (stuff inside that is), and that can cause more pain if the bowels are not back to normal. He said that shifting as welll as the bowel still getting back to normal and as well as the other organs still trying to "settle" can be very painful, and this is on top of the surgery recovery pain.

So, he said since they've ruled out a blood clot and any infection, that he's sure that I'm experience more pain than normal when i stand up and this knocks the wind out of me. He said this should start to get better this week, and he feels by the end of the week I might even be off pain meds.... he said my bowels SHOULD be back to normal by next week given how much trauma they went through.

SOOOO, this is all so interesting. So, apparently, even though you are having a BM, your bowels are still trying to get back to normal. This explains why i get REALLLLLLLY bad pain when I feel something traveling through my intestines (just before I need to have a BM). I'm eating a ton of fiber, drinking pear juice, takign my stool softener, and I'm still having bowel pain. But, now I know all that my doctor had to do to remove my appendix, it makes sense why my bowel was very much in shock. It was not a "textbook" appendectomy.

So, I'm all good. There is nothing scary going on. Thank the LORD! No set-backs at all.... just have to deal with some pain. My doctor gave me a refill on my Percocit, so that is good.

Thank you SO much Catherine and Tracy. I know the outcome was good, which IS good, but I just want to thank you so much for bringing this issue to my attention that this is NOT something to be ignored. I had NO idea how serious this issue COULD have been until you both told me that this could be serious.

My doctor told me a blood clot can be fatal, so that is why he wanted me to go to the ER immediately. I was thinking while I was at the ER before I knew the test results that if this IS a blood clot that Catherine and Tracy did an amazing thing for me! But, like I said, even though it wasn't a blood clot, I'm still SO thankful I got it checked out.... so thanks again!

Oh, and on a side note, the pathology report also showed I did have adenomyosis, on top of some fibroids imbedded in the muscle wall.... I also had fibroids in the uterus, as well as appendicitis! So, I can't even imagine how I'm goign to feel once I'm recovered.... a life w/out pain sounds amazing!

Take care... thanks everyone for your support and help!!


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