After your pneumonectomy, recovery begins in the ICU, where healthcare providers will make sure that you wake up from the anesthesia without problems. You will likely stay in the hospital for several days, with doctors making sure that your recovery is progressing. Once you leave for home to continue your pneumonectomy recovery, you will be given instructions with regards to driving, medications, and activity level, among other things.
After the pneumonectomy, most patients go to the intensive care unit (ICU). Other patients go to a recovery room and then directly to a regular hospital room. Your healthcare team will closely watch over you and the other patients in the ICU.
Your doctor will talk about your surgery with your family or friends. They will be able to visit you in the ICU at scheduled times, and should expect to see you surrounded by monitors and other special equipment, like the breathing tube and machine.
As you wake up, you might feel some aches and pains in your chest and throat. Sometimes during recovery, patients may shiver or feel sick to their stomach. Both of these symptoms may be caused by the anesthesia. Your healthcare providers can give you medication to help these problems go away.
You may still have a breathing tube in place after the surgery. Some people find it a little strange to breathe with the tube in at first, but it usually feels more normal after doing it for a little while. The breathing tube will be taken out as soon as your healthcare team feels that you can breathe on your own. For most people, this happens on the same day as the surgery.
If your surgery and time in the ICU go well, most of the tubes and special equipment will be taken out within the first one to two days. This is about how long most people stay in the ICU. You may need to stay longer, depending on how you are doing.
You should also start respiratory therapy in the ICU. This therapy uses breathing exercises to help your other lung stay healthy and get stronger.