my inguinal hernia experience

In 2009 I had an inguinal hernia repaired... this is my summary of the experience.

I arrived at the outpatient surgery center around 8:30am, checked in, and waited. The nurse came and got me, I changed clothes into a backless gown, and got onto the bed. We went over medical background stuff, and I wrote my initials on the side of my body where the injury is (this is a safety check to make sure they do the operation on the right side). The nurse started an IV drip. I was asked my name and date of birth about five times.

Mom was allowed into the pre-op room, so we visited for 40 minutes or so while we were waiting. The anesthesiologist came and I talked to him for a few minutes, and he explained the process.

Then one of the OR nurses came and got me ready for transport. He explained what the next 10 minutes would be like. He wheeled me into the OR, and scooted me from the bed to the OR table. My doctor came in and said hi, and the anesthesiologist put an injection into the IV line. That is the last thing I remember.  I'm told I was probably awake for a few minutes after that point.

Two minutes later (it seemed like), I woke up in a slightly strange place, but I pieced together that I was post-op, and recovering. It took a few minutes to get my mind working, but I called out to a nurse, and told her I was awake, and asked for my mom. The nurse asked me some basic questions, and got me sitting up on the bed, then step onto a step stool, then onto the floor and over to a recovery chair that reclined. She put blankets on me because I was cold, and I started drinking fruit juice and water. I wanted to urinate, because one of the side effects is trouble urinating, and I wanted to confirm I was ok in that department (I was).

My mind was still a bit cloudy, but I was slowly coming out of the fog. Mom came in and said the surgery went a bit long, about 90 minutes, and I had been sleeping for about 30 minutes before I woke up (it was now about 1:30 or so). I urinated a few times, and just layed in the chair for a while. Around 2:30 I decided I was suitable to go home, so I ate some crackers and took a Vicodin, waited 10 minutes to watch for side effects from the Vicodin (none), changed into my clothes, and then went home to mom's house.  I stayed at my mom's one-story house because I didn't think I'd be able to get up to the second floor bedrooms of my house, at least not for the first day or two.

The nurses were all very nice, and they told me the surgery went fine. There was a chance if the laparoscopy went poorly that they would switch to regular surgery, but they did not need to, which made me very happy.

I had one large bandage on my belly button, and two small strips on two locations on my lower left abdomen. I was bloated from the air they pump into the abdomen during the surgery process. In the days after the surgery I felt a slight dull ache, but no pain.  I took Vicodin every 4 hours for the first three days after surgery, then switched to Advil for a few more days.

My throat was scratchy (and continues to be a few hours later) from the intubation (breathing tube) used during surgery. This was inserted after I was asleep, and taken out before I woke up. I didn't feel any effectes from the catheter for urination.

In hindsight, I wished I had asked my doctor to check the other side of my body for a hernia as well (mine was on the right).

In the days following surgery, coughing and sneezing hurt a lot.  Laughing also hurt.  Getting up and down from a reclining or seated position used my ab muscles a lot, which were traumatized from the surgery, and that hurt.  For the first day, I had to use assistance getting up and down.  I ended up taking a week off from work to recover and catch up on daytime television (it's horrible).

A few other tips I learned:
  • Be sure and ask the doctor if the surgery will be laparoscopy or incision.  Laparoscopy is much faster to heal.
  • It's good to have someone at home the first 24 hours to help get out of bed, prepare food, etc.
  • Get prescriptions filled before surgery, not after
  • No stairs the first two days or so.
  • Stock the fridge with food for a week.
  • Have a comfortable bed waiting, with lots of pillows for support.
  • Start walking as soon as possible - around 24 hours after surgery.  Go outside and start doing laps around the block.  Go slow, work up endurance and distance.  It'll be several weeks before running and any sort of weight lifting / gym routine is possible.  So spend as much time walking as possible.

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