worried about surgery - as asthmatic

I have just been diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma 5cm, grade 1 tumor - and positive sentinel node. Going in for single mastectomy and recon with expander on 16th - followed by chemo and radiotherapy. I am really worried about the surgery as asthmatic and when I have had surgery before (not for bc) I wake up really short of breath - and needing to use my inhalers. I have read here that people take a long time to wake up properly and only half awake - so worried I may just be lying there kind of paralysed and suffocating - without anyone knowing. Just wondered if any others with asthma or breathing difficulty have had surgery and how they got on??

Hi there

I can understand how scared you must feel about the forthcoming surgery, especially if you have had problems before. When you had surgery previously, was it a while ago? The anaesthetics they use now are so much better than those even as little as 5 years ago, so side effects are much less. When you wake up, you won’t be paralysed at all. You will be able to speak and hear and move although you will be very sleepy and yes, it takes a while before you are fully awake, but your lungs and muscles will be working normally. You will have a recovery nurse with you at all times when you wake up and if you have trouble with your breathing, they will have everything to hand to help you, so you definitely won’t suffocate as they will have oxygen, inhalers and anything else you may need. I remember having a really indepth chat to my poor young nurse whilst I recovered. I must have bored the pants of him but he was very kind and attentive! You will be monitored very carefully until you are fully awake and breathing properly. Remember that hospitals deal with thousands of surgery everyday with all sorts of people with problems including really poorly elderly people with lung conditions . Make sure you tell the anaesthetist all your concerns when they visit you before the operation and again you will have a chance to tell them once you go to theatre.

Please try not to worry as you will be fine.

ditto allthe above advice…i’m not asthmatic, but I had a nurse with me at all times in recovery, and an oxygen mask too, so i imagine that’s standard practice?Also, they will be aware of your asthma and will mointor it very closely.My third daughter is an asthmatic too and has come through surgery for her gall bladder with no ill effects.Good luck and try not to worry xx

I have asthma and told the anaesthetist before surgery I asked him not to let me be lying flat when I came round.They adjusted the bed while I was awake and promised I would come round in that position and I did.I had no problems at all.I also had a buzzer by my hand in case I needed help.I was on oxygen for a few hours post surgery but was told this is standard.Good Luck.Vxx

Thank you Cathy, Narnia and Horace. This has put my mind at ease to some extent - especially about not having to lie flat - were you slightly propped up? and the idea of the buzzer. I am also concerned because I am having an expander fitted - and read that this can feel like a tractor having driven across the chest - and that such pain/pressure will interfere with breathing. Where do the drains go - are they in the sides of the body?

Thank you so much xx

I’m asthmatic too, and they knew and kept an extra special eye on me. I woke up straight away after mastectomy and ld recon and walked to the loo. The drains come out of your side - at waist level. x

thanks Jackie - I am feeling more reassured.