Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Hernia Surgery Report

I was diagnosed with an inguinal hernia in February 2008 and due to a cancellation at the hospital I was able to have it operated on two days after my consultation with my surgeon. I had considered waiting until after the tri season to have it operated on but I decided it was best to have it done right away, recover, and still have the whole season ahead of me. The biggest risk in waiting would have been having it get bad mid-season and being totally screwed.

After the surgery I found out that I had both a direct and indirect hernia, both of which were fixed in the same operation using the patch/mesh open incision method. Following is my account of the operation and initial recovery period.

Nice things to have after surgery:

1) High calorie, high sugar juice, tea, etc
2) Fruit
3) Smoothies
4) Chocolate
5) Chocolate Milk
6) Soup
7) Ice pack
8) Someone to help you out around the house (most important)
9) A positive attitude
10) Good Movies, Books, and Magazines
11) Cell phone near by
12) Internet access/laptop (I don’t have a laptop  )
13) A pillow to put under your leg (the leg on the side of the incision)
14) Extra Strength Tylenol for after your prescription runs out

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

We arrived at the hospital at 5:30am to check in and complete some paperwork. At about 5:50am I was taken back to pre-op by one of the nurses where I was given a gown and some slipper socks. After walking back over to the nurse she asked me a series of questions; “what is your name and date of birth”, “why are you here today”, “can you point to the area where you have your hernia”, and “who is your surgeon”. I had to sign a form that had the answers to all of those questions then I climbed into my bed. The nurse warmed me up with this blanket that is hooked up to a hose that pumps warm air into it and after a few minutes of that she hooked me up to my IV. At this point the only thing going into my system was the “sugar water” solution but the nurse showed me the antibiotics and sedative they would inject into the lines right before I went into surgery. She then again asked me to point to the side of my body they were going to operate on and she then wrote YES on that side (that made me feel good).

At this point it was about 6:30am and the nurse went out into the waiting area and brought Jen back to sit with me while I waited to be taken into surgery. We talked for a bit and after about 20 minutes the anesthesiologist came over to talk to me and tell me about “going under”. The nurse checked on me a couple more times and then at around 7:15am she came by and told me they were just about ready for me. A few minutes later the anesthesiologist and the nurse came back over and started getting my bed ready to roll over to the operating room. I said goodbye to Jen and she said “good luck” and they started rolling me away.

As they rolled my bed through the halls the sedative was injected into my IV and I started smiling and feeling relaxed. We rolled into the operating room where four or five people dressed in blue were bustling about. I remember being moved from my rolling table onto the operating table and looking up at the lights (a series of circular lights joined in clusters just like you see on TV) then laying my head back into a pillow that was contoured to my head. Someone said, the Dr. should be in here in a moment……………………………………………………..

I opened my eyes and felt an ache in the area of my hernia and heard people talking about the new iPod Nano vs. the Shuffle. It took me a couple of minutes to think about where I was and what was going on; I looked over at the clock and it was 9:50am so I figured the surgery was over and I was alive. I closed my eyes for a few more minutes then a nurse came over and asked me how I was feeling. I said I was fine and after a few minutes she called Jen and brought my clothes over to me. They had removed my gown after the surgery so I slipped back into my clothes and a couple of minutes later Jen came in with a volunteer and a wheelchair. They put me in the chair and wheeled me outside and put me into our car. I remember getting in the chair, in the car, out of the car, and walking upstairs but not much in between.

Once upstairs I tried to pee but it didn’t happen. It’s hard to explain why, but if you have had this surgery, or when you do have it, you will understand. There is NO pushing out of anything for the first 48 hours or so; you just have to let it come out on its own. I took some Darvocet and climbed into bed after eating half of a Quaker Oatmeal Square and drinking some water.

Now the misery started. I could not get comfortable and my discomfort was compounded by the fact that I had a horrible headache from the anesthesia combined with not being able to eat anything. I wasn’t able to sleep at all during the day and moving around was very painful. At around noon I had a couple of bites of soup but I just couldn’t eat anything and the last thing I wanted to do was throw up – so I just tried to get through it the best I could. Getting up without assistance would have been impossible; I was so thankful that my wife was there to take care of me. Anyone getting this surgery done should have someone there to help them for at least the first 24 hours. If you are unable to have someone there then plan ahead – figure out how you are going to get yourself out of bed and have all of your snacks and drinks by your bedside.

I was able to drink a little bit of juice in the afternoon when I took my next set of pills and Jen made me a fruit smoothie around 6pm which I was able to eat a bit of. After that I finally fell asleep for about two hours and when I woke up my headache was gone. I realized just how much of the misery was due to the headache at this point. The pain and discomfort was still intense but it was much more manageable without the pounding pain in my head. I had been listening to the weather channel all day (nice soothing voices) so I switched over to American Idol and called out for Jen. She came in and brought me the rest of my smoothie and helped me get up to go pee again. That was not any easier than it had been before but I was able to go a bit.

I spent the rest of the night watching TV in bed on my back. A couple of times when I got up to pee (drinking lots of water leads to excessive peeing) Jen helped me walk out to the kitchen and back to the bed. Jen slept out on the couch so I would send her a text message when I needed to get up to go to the bathroom and/or take more pills. At about 3am I had a English muffin w/ cinnamon and sugar along with a glass of chocolate milk – this was the first solid food I had eaten since Tuesday evening.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

I woke up feeling sore and hungry – Jen made me another fruit smoothie and helped me get out of bed to pee and take a walk around the house. I was still unable to get out of bed by myself (I’m sure I could have done it but the pain would have been pretty intense) because any time I tried to use my abs, pain would shoot through my body. I spent the morning watching movies on HBO and doing a bit of reading and sleeping.

In the afternoon I got up for a few minutes to have some soup and another smoothie before going back to bed. I was able to get myself out of bed at this point by grabbing onto the edge of the mattress with my left hand and pulling myself up while pushing with my right hand. It was still pretty painful but at least I could do it. I tried to walk around whenever I was out of bed just to stretch my body and stretch the muscles around the incision (they were tight after lying down for hours at a time). The surgeon recommended trying to stand up as straight as possible when I was walking around – tough to do at first but it gets easier as the days go by.

Lying on my side was easier at this point as long as I kept a pillow between my legs; this also made watching TV a bit easier as well. That evening I ate a veggie sandwich and was up for about 15 minutes but I started getting sore and feeling a bit faint so I headed back to bed.

Friday, February 29 and Saturday, March 1, 2008

I started feeling better by Friday but not good enough to be up and about for more than a few minutes at a time. On Saturday I was up for a half hour to an hour at a time and was feeling ok. I still spent most of my time in bed because that is where I felt the most comfortable and relaxed. I was mostly consuming smoothies, juice, soup, and fruit. They recommended a high-fiber diet and that fit the bill. I wasn’t too hungry for real food anyway.

Friday afternoon I took a shower and removed the dressing over my incision. The surgical tape was to stay on and fall off on its own (per the surgeon) and the stitches will dissolve. (Six days later the tape is still holding strong). I also noticed that my prescription was starting to run low at this point so I called to get a refill – they gave me one but a reduced pill count. They were very hesitant to refill at all, which was frustrating but understandable due to the abuse of such drugs. I would recommend discussing this with your surgeon beforehand so you know what to expect and when to call to request the refill.

Saturday afternoon I went outside for the first time and went for a short walk (and I mean short, maybe 15 minutes). I might have been able to go a bit further but I made the mistake of trying to walk and drink a coffee which make me choke and cough. Oh the pain! Coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose, or anything that uses ab muscles should be avoided at all cost for the first few days. Jen’s brother and his wife came over for a while Saturday evening, bringing several movies and some treats. I sat at the table and ate some pizza, but had to head back to bed after less than two hours.

I was still taking Darvocet every five or six hours and I’m sure it was taking the edge off the pain but I still had discomfort when I was up and about.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Spent the day in and out of bed (mostly in bed) watching TV and snacking. In the afternoon Jen and I walked about a half mile outside around our apartment, it was a slow walk but I didn’t feel too much pain during or after.

I sat out on the couch for a bit but it still felt better to be in bed because I could be lying flat. Sitting was a bit painful but I could spend a few minutes at the computer or sitting at the kitchen table. Most of the time when I would eat I would try to stand up since this was the next best thing to lying down.

Going to the bathroom was much easier by this time as was moving around in bed, standing up and sitting down, and getting out of bed.

Monday, March 3, 2008

I spent the morning in bed reading and watching TV, by this time I had seen everything they were showing on Encore, HBO, TNT, etc., etc. etc. so I knew it was time to move out to the couch. Jen came home for lunch and we walked a little over a mile after eating our sandwiches. I got set up on the couch and spent the afternoon watching movies on DVD.

Jen went for run in the evening so I went for a walk by myself – I ended up going 1.6 miles. I hung out on the couch that evening watching hockey and TV. During the day I was taking Extra Strength Tylenol instead of Darvocet, but I still took the Darvocet at night.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Today I had my morning smoothie and cereal then went for a two mile walk. I’m going back to work tomorrow so I spent the morning at my desk at home working on some things just to see how sitting up at a desk feels. So far, so good – I’m sure being back at work is going to suck just because it’s not home, but I guess I need to get back sometime.

Well, it’s lunch time so I’m going to have something to eat then go for a little walk. This afternoon I’ll probably post up on the couch again and watch some more movies.

I have a follow-up appointment with the surgeon tomorrow (7 days post-op) but I think I’m healing up as expected. I’m looking forward to returning to my activities but I know it will be a couple more weeks. It’s most important to heal completely now so that I don’t have to go through this ever again.


Anonymous said...

Zach, Sounds like your on the mend and will be back to training soon. You have a healthy body and lots of positive energy running through your veins.
"Dragonfly on the Water"

Ewen said...

I'll come back if I ever have the same problem (or pass on the tips to others).

"Someone to help you out around the house" is the best one ;)

Donald said...

Wow, what an ordeal. Good luck with the recovery. You should post some book reports or DVD reviews here.

Marathon Maritza said...

Sounds tough but looks like you are recovering nicely! Hang in there!

Your next post should include a list of everything you watched on TV, along with reviews!

Glad to hear that everything has gone smoothly so far.

Kim said...

totally pulling for a full and speedy recovery. glad surgery went well and you are on the mend!

keiron said...

Hey i had my hernia op on the 12th of feb and your blog is great to read..spot on.

good luck

Sherri said...

i had a double bilateral hernia surgery on the 13of feb .after 19in of intestine removal and lifting the bladder back up on the left side i was sure death was inevetable so painful .spent 5 days in hospital its nowmar1 and im back at workbest thing i ever did was let the surgeons fix this.being an emergency situation no other choice ha ha.but feeling great now .so for anyone who is thinking of putting this surgery off please dont.