Fred Suggests a Frank Discussion About Post Op Recovery!

By “Pal” member, Fred, from the USA

“A frequent concern that arises among patients who are planning to, or have had CRS and HIPEC, is the length of time required to recover.  A corollary to recovery time is what “recovery” actually means.   Before addressing these issues, I should emphasize that each patient’s experience will differ depending on a host of factors (e.g., age, general health, extent of tumors, type of cancer, invasiveness of surgery, etc.).  There is no simple rule of thumb to determine an expected recovery time.

What is recovery?  How do patients and surgeons define “recovery?”

This question is one that never occurred to me in my initial discussions with my surgeon; as a result there was a misunderstanding.  He did not mince words regarding the seriousness of my condition and the necessary surgery.  However, he indicated that I should be back to “normal” in a few months.  The problem was his idea of “normal” and mine were different.  I viewed “normal” as my state of health prior to developing the disease.  His notion was apparently being able to return to work and everyday activities free of the disease. 

In brief, my post operation weight dropped from about 150 to 109 before recovering to 118, which is my new “normal” (permanent weight loss is a common result of the surgery) and the necessary removal of various organs and sections of organs has had a major impact on my digestive system, which in turn has affected my quality of life in certain ways.  As I’ve often joked, I’ve developed a close personal relationship with my bathroom and have become much more aware of the locations of public facilities.  Thus, in one sense I’ve never “recovered” from the surgery; I have not returned to my prior state of health.

However, I did return to work, returned to my nature photography, and took up competitive table tennis after a 30 year hiatus. I am physically able to do most things I did pre surgery, including working out at a fitness center several times a week, but am acutely aware of the limits due to the digestive issues.

Time frame for recovery

My particular surgery was about 10 hours. I spent almost a month in the hospital before being released, then another few days a week later due to dehydration. 

At home, I began walking around the neighborhood gradually lengthening the time and distance as I felt stronger   I was able to return to my desk job on a part time basis 3 months after surgery and on a full time basis a couple of months later. 

I began doing my nature photography carrying very limited equipment about 4 months after surgery and a full backpack about a year after surgery.

Recovery, the “new normal”, and Senior Olympics!

I retired 14 months after the surgery and began playing table tennis at a local club soon after, winning two bronze medals and a silver medal in the local senior Olympics and a bronze medal for my talent level at the 2011 U.S. nationals this past December. 

Looking back, I’d say full recovery for me, which I’d define as reaching my new “normal,” took about 9-12 months.  As noted above, and as a former economist, I again emphasize that I represent just one data point.  Recovery time will vary considerably across individuals.”





Articles posted in “PMP Pals” and on www.pmppals.org are written from the perspective of patients and their family caregivers and are not intended to substitute for licensed professional legal or medical care. Each patient is unique and should seek the counsel of a licensed professional for their own specific case. Copyright © 2012 by Gabriella Graham/PMP Pals’ Network/All rights reserved. Visit us on the web at www.pmppals.org