Wednesday, December 04, 2013
The hernia is fixed!!!
I was really worried about how bad this surgery was going to be, which turned out to be a waste of my time: it was by far the easiest of the abdominal surgeries so far. I think I hit the right combination of having a great surgeon, going in to the surgery in relatively good shape, and knowing my body and how it reacts to anaesthesia and painkillers.
The surgery started at 7:30, and I was in the recovery room by 11:00, and in to the ward around noon. I did my first few laps of the ward before 1:00 --- really slowly, but at least I was moving. They put in a local across my whole abdomen that lasted for about 6 hours, and had me on a morphine pump that I could use for 1 mg of morphine every 6 minutes as required --- I only used 12 shots of that total, with the last being around 3 in the morning. Other than that, the only painkillers I have needed are extra-strength Tylenol and ibuprofen, spaced every 6 hours.
There definitely was a fair amount of nausea to deal with, but eating small amounts every couple of hours and taking Gravol made that totally tolerable.
The docs made sure that I had stronger pain relief available if I needed it (there were orders written up for morphine, percocets, and oxycontin), but I know that those cause me major constipation, which is just NOT a thing I was willing to risk after this surgery! Same situation with the anti-nausea drugs: they had stematil and Ondansetron both on order if I wanted them, but I stuck with plain old Gravol since it doesn’t bung me up. I much prefer dealing with a low level of pain and nausea to having to deal with all of the additional pain and nausea caused by constipation (not to mention the risk to the incision if I were to be so foolish as to strain trying to empty).
The incision for the hernia repair is vertical, from pubis to the base of the sternum, while the panniculectomy incision is horizontal from hip to hip. I’ve got 99 staples in there that I know of (although there may be another one or two tucked in to the belly-button that I can’t see yet). There is some bruising, but not too bad. The worst looking spots are where the 3 drains came out of the belly – they were pulled out after a week, and are going to heal a bit more slowly since I was back on the blood-thinners by then.
I will be wearing an abdominal binder for support for at least a month, will be attempting to sleep on my back for about the same amount of time, have lifting restrictions (10lbs) for at least 8 weeks, and was strongly encouraged to walk as much as I can (but to listen to my body when it wants me to stop). I wasn’t able to sit properly when I had the drains in (it hurt too much when they kinked as I bent), but can move pretty freely now that they’re out.
One of my nurses had worked for a plastic surgeon who specialized in bariatric surgery and reconstruction, and was really shocked that I had chosen my colo-rectal surgeon to do this for me. She happened to be on duty when he came in to rip off the dressings for the first time, and had a look of total shock on her face when she first saw the incisions --- she came back after the surgeon had left to rave about how good it looked: the plastic surgeon she worked for apparently always had some skin puckering at the ends of the incisions and at the navel, and I have none of that.
Even with the drains, there is a massive amount of fluid and swelling that will be around for a while. I literally put on 10lbs from the morning of the surgery to the morning of the day after. I still have 5lbs of that on, and it’ll be anywhere from 2 to 6 months before the swelling goes away entirely. It’s also kind of funny to have areas where all feeling is gone --- I can see it being touched and not feel a thing. The nerves get cut during the surgery, and may or may not grow back over the course of a few years. Pretty small price to pay to get back my ability to move without fear of the hernia, in my opinion…
The Man and I both have had to laugh at ourselves, and how much our lifestyle really has changed over this year. He was trying to deal with fast food and cafeteria food while I was in the hospital, while I was doing my best with the hospital food, and both of us just could not wait to get me home so that we could eat REAL food again! We both headed straight for the veggies when I got home, and, even though I had declared it a non-tracking week, he automatically weighed and measured out all of my portions (yup – he’s a keeper – he took over the cooking and serving for the first few days). Who knew that asparagus and brussels sprouts could be “comfort foods”?!?
We’re settled back down in to our routine, I’m back to tracking (although staying in maintenance ranges and not looking at losing for a while), and the staples should start coming out next week. There is still a fair bit of pain, but not too much worse than I had from the hernia itself, and that’s fading day by day. All told, I’m thrilled to be at this point, and am looking forward to getting the all-clear to start working out again.
Thank you so much to my Spark buddies who sent me so many strong thoughts and support – you brought me many, many smiles. I hope that none of you ever have to go through this, but if you do, please remember that it really is not too bad at all!
Hope you all have a great week!