Thursday, July 13, 2017

Umbilical Hernia Repair - Day 1

I thought that with the repair of my inguinal hernia over a decade ago that I would never have to go through another one of these surgeries. I was wrong. After working out one day in June 2017, I looked at my belly and saw that my belly button had turned a deep red color. I took this as a sign that I should go to my doctor and make certain that there were no issues. I noticed over the past few years that my "innie" had turned into more of an "outie," but this fact didn't really have an impact on me; I assumed it just happened since I was letting my belly grow. 

After meeting with my doctor, I found that I had an umbilical hernia. She said that it was minor -- very small -- but that it could, and most likely would, turn into something more drastic and painful unless I had it dealt with. She referred me to a surgeon. So far, I had learned that the change in appearance of my belly button was a sign and that the fact that my belly button changed color was a second sign. I made an appointment with the surgeon.

I am no stranger to surgery. If my mind and body were two separate entities that just happened to coincided at the same point in space and time at the same time, then I would say my body is a masochist due to all of the surgeries my mind has had to endure. I have had an inguinal hernia repaired. I have had an intestinal resection. I was fairly certain I could fathom what to expect because of this, but figured I would listen to the surgeon and ask my questions. 

Due to my Crohn's, I have become very "aware" of my body -- for the most part. I have seen a lot of doctors and I can truthfully say that they are always surprised at how matter-of-fact and up-front I am in addition to the knowledge I bring to the situation. My surgeon was not an exception to this particular trend. I found it easier to explain what I learned from my intestinal resection (what to do and what not to do) and then ask if there was any thing else that I had missed. He had nothing to add and told me that as long as I followed what I did before I should be fine. 

I learned that he would be cutting a slit in my belly button about 1 inch to 2 inches in length, potentially installing a piece of mesh, and then closing me up. I questioned if it would be laparoscopic surgery since I was always hearing about this type of surgery in instances where small cuts were made. He looked and me and said no. I learned that it would require more cuts in my skin to do that (3-4 cuts) and I was just fine with indulging my bodies masochistic tendencies and stopping at one incision versus more.

After the doctor left the room, I knew that this surgery could not be as bad as the resection since he was only cutting through the skin and not layers of muscle and organ. That being said, though, I knew I was going to have pain and made certain to get a prescription for pain medicine while I set up my appointment for surgery. 

Fast forward two weeks and it is the day of my umbilical hernia repair. As with anything else in the medical world, we are made to starve ourselves for at least 8 hours before any medical procedure can occur -- no eating or drinking past midnight. Luckily, I am used to not eating until 2pm in the afternoon since I only eat between 2pm and 10pm (I will write about this later) making the noon surgery start a non-starter.

It is always somewhat perplexing to figure out what form of stupidity and malice medical professionals must experience with the ways they act and the questions they ask. I was asked my full name by every single person that came to help with the surgery at least three times as well as my date of birth. What could have happened in the past that now requires these professionals to now make EXTRA certain I am the person? And then there is my allergy to tape adhesive. Amazing, right? All of those new pieces of tape and clear, sticky pads that make the nurses and doctors life easier? Can't be used with me. Hello paper tape, you make my life so difficult but you are the only thing they can use to attach anything and everything. Paper tape does NOT stay on very well.

After getting all dressed for the occasion with my gown, booties, hairnet, IV, etc., the last nurse I remember came to get me and give me antibiotics. The asshole pushed the sludge in to the IV in way that was just wrong. I could feel the pressure and then the burning. I told him that I could feel the pressure and I told him that it was burning when he started. As a note, those are signs for the nurse to press the plunger SLOWER -- not ram it in like he did. This was really the only bad experience I remember having during the entire time at the surgery center. It made me very nauseous, thankfully it was very cold in the room allowing me to breathe it away. It was amusing that the anesthesiologist put an alcohol swab in front of my nose. I must be an anomaly, but the smell of rubbing alcohol makes me want to puke instantaneously. I saw it coming and stopped breathing until he removed it. I told him the cold air did better for me and thanked him for his thought -- even if misguided.

It was at that point they started to inject the anesthetic. Remembering the nurse earlier, I made certain to ask them to go extra slow when putting it in since the pain  in my hand from the IV was just beginning to subside. I felt the wave of sleep hit me and I didn't fight it. I was ready to sleep.

I woke up 90 minutes later as the nurse woke me. Par for course, I did not want to wake up. They put a band around my waist to help the repair -- you really want one of these if possible -- and then I got dressed and zombied my way to the waiting area where I met with the doctor one last time and left with my ride. 

When I got home, the first thing I did was take one of the pain pills. It wasn't because it hurt. It didn't hurt. There was soreness that I could feel, but it didn't hurt. I took the pain pill because I didn't want it to hurt; the first 48 to 72 hours is going to hurt if you don't take the pain meds. I have learned to just take it and then see how I feel afterward. After that, I found that I needed to lay down and passed out for 3 more hours of non-productive sleep. 

This is the first time I am using one of these bands that wrap around my midsection. I must say that I really like it. In the past, I have always had to use a pillow to hold my midsection when doing anything that engaged my core. The band helps A LOT. I have already taken three of my pills (one every 4 hours) and am ready for bed. I learned years ago, that getting up and down after one of these surgeries is an art form. Sitting down or standing up requires your back to remain straight the entire time, a lot like doing a squat without weights. Laying down and getting back up is another matter. You need to use your abdomen no matter what, so I learned to use my sides. Rather than lay back I will lay to the side and use my arms to go down and. When getting up, I roll to one side and use the opposing arm to lift me up and then the arm I was laying on to push me up the rest of the way. 

We shall see how this pans out.

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