There’s supervised recovery-time, in the sense that you stay at the hospital for two more days, post-surgery.
This allows for any issues that crop up, to be dealt with in a setting that is appropriate.
I will say that there didn’t seem to be anyone on the ward that had issues…
…except for my room-mate.
He was last surgery from the day I arrived, and having great difficulty with pain.
As someone who claimed he couldn’t take any opioids, due to recently having weaned himself off of a decade’s dependance on a form of oxy-codone (double hip and knee replacement?!?) - he wan’t really giving the nursing staff a chance to help in any measurable way.
His moaning and groaning throughout the days and nights made it extremely difficult to rest; therefore, I did my best to be scarce.
I certainly have no idea how bad it was, and I’m guessing it ‘felt’ bad - as it went on for two days non-stop…
…but my experience was certainly different.
The most pain I felt was late in the day after my surgery. The superficial clips would pinch small bits of skin against themselves as you moved, and the hard-core pain meds were almost completely flushed from my system. Any pain relief was via over-the-counter Advil or Tylenol, to help with local pain and swelling (I mean, you were cut open the day before). I was able to walk, sit, stand, climb stairs, and generally move about, albeit a little more gingerly than normal.
I’m not passing judgement, as people feel pain differently - and I have no idea of his true intentions - but I will say this.
He came across as, and certainly acted like, someone that was either seeking attention, or was begging to be “forced” to take a harder form of pain meds.
It finally got to the point that he was 'discharged' against his will, as he claimed to be in no shape to leave when his time was up.
The hospital is not set up for long-term care, and was focussing on the next intake of hernia patients - They were planning on his bed being available, and weren’t exactly keen on keeping him around.
The hospital were prepared to help refer him to another facility for continual care, and extended his check-out time while arrangements were made for him to be collected.
But it was made it very clear that there was nothing that they could do to help him, as they couldn’t find anything wrong with the procedure, or do any further diagnostics… chop, sew, move-on
...He then managed to make enough of a miraculous recovery to walk around spritely, pack his stuff, join the group for some laughter at lunch, and be collected by a family member...
…So that’s why I spent the majority of my recovery in the communal lounges.
I guess I have to be thankful - as the situation forced me to be mobile, to meet and discuss with others, to focus on just how lucky I was to have the outcome that I had.
Some random thoughts that didn't fit into the previous essays.
* Going in, I thought that the majority of the patients would be old-er and male. In reality, our group/s were about half older/male, and the remaining half were people under 40 years old, and split male/female - it seems that hernias aren't just for older men... * I was also surprised that no-one really remembered an exact moment when their hernia 'blew' - everyone I spoke to just remembers looking down one day nd seeing a weird lump. There were people that did a lot of manual labor (landscapers) and others that lived a fairly sedentary life (retired bankers)... * A whole bunch of the patients were there for a double hernia repair... they'd get one done, have one recovery day, then go in for their second repair... These poor souls were usually the ones that moved substantially slower - but yay for getting things fixed in an efficient manner :)
Not much more to say really
If you need a hernia repaired, you don’t want a laparoscopic-mesh, and you can float the cost until reimbursement…
Check out the Shouldice.
finally - some photos
The food wasn’t too bad
I managed to watch the Academy Awards in the floor 3 lounge - but had an abysmal year for picking the winners sadly :(
Post surgery day #2 - remaining half of the skin-clips awaiting their removal. Simply there to ensure a smooth superficial join of the outermost layer of skin. The inner layers are sewn using an absorbable suture material which will slowly dissolve over the next few months - This is different to the actual hernia repair - which is done with a non-absorbable material, and should last a lifetime - it's a little freaky to feel the internal ridge even a month later... but completely normal - or so I've been told ;)
Back home, the day after I flew back (yes that yellow-colour is some localised bruising, no it wasn't too painful)
It's been exactly a month since the surgery, and I'd say that I'm pretty much back to 100% - I've been able to exercise, and have been getting more comfortable each and every-day since getting home...
...In fact, I start Booming on a film this coming Monday.
Of course there's an NDA in place, so I can't share anything directly, but I should be able to show some photos of the town I'll be working in.
exciting times. Thanks for taking the journey with me, and if you ever have any questions, feel free to ask directly. firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ve really been struggling to figure out the best way to describe the experience of having a hernia operated on.
Since you’re kept awake during the 45-minute procedure, but highly doped-up - I would like to present you a bunch of memories from the day in point-form
it’s going to be flashes of things, probably incoherant, and highly confusing - much like the real surgery-day
Woken up by the nurses at 0545
Early surgery-groups have already showered the previous night, and have their surgical-sites shaved by an aggressively bored nurse, starting at 0600.
If you’re in the later groups (like me), then you’re the last to be shaved @ 0700-ish; and are able to shower afterwards.
This will be your last ‘real’ shower for at least a week, so enjoy standing under the water, as you’ll be sponge bathing ‘till the incision has had some time to heal.
No breakfast (nil by mouth since midnight) - so if you’re in one of the later groups, like me, they’re expecting you to be very hungry by the time you’re able to have some dinner = nurses will give you a glass of apple juice around 0800..
Being the second-last surgery for the week, I got the full effect of anticipation, hanging out in a surgical gown, in the lounge, while the doctors finished up their morning chopping, and then took a lunch break...
Rules say that you’re not allowed to leave the floor, or go outside, on the day of your surgery (dinner will be provided to you in your room).
At 1245-ish, when the orderlies collect you, they walk you to the elevator - which takes you to a subterranean surgical area.
You’re asked to lay in what looks like a left-over set from the x-files (very creepy hospital ward), dim lighting, cold and clinical - almost military in feeling...
The surgeries are run to a very tight schedule. EVERYTHING is set up to run as smooth and efficient as possible for the surgeons.
This means that the ‘next’ patient is prepped and waiting, ready-to-go while the surgeon is starting the ‘previous’ patient.
You could conceivably be laying waiting in a cold military ward for 45 mins, get some sleep - it’s oddly relaxing.
When it’s your turn, you’re guided into the surgical suite - those present are: your lead-surgeon, a junior-surgeon who’s assisting, an anaesthesiologist, a lead-nurse, and another floating assistant-nurse.
There’s music playing - I remember it taking at least 6 songs for the surgery to be completed.
Remark on the musical tastes of the team - shocked that my older-male surgeon was a Justin Timberlake fan, it was pop-y, fun, and kept everyone moving. Well, except for me - i had to stay still :)
You are FULLY conscious and lucid throughout the entire procedure
Different doctor to the check-in guy (the one who made the sharpie mark), though I did see that he was operating in a different suite...
There are 4 surgeries happening simultaneously, I’m the 6th for this ‘team’ = ~26/day
It was an ultra-efficient team (anesthesiologist was best needle insert I’ve ever had) - clearly having each team complete 6 surgeries a day makes them good at what they do
IV fluids (due to the longer wait-time) and some kind of pain blocker (checked later, it’s fentanyl)... along with oxygen via nose thingy. All in all it means that you are present and awake, able to continue conversations with the lead-nurse, but don’t feel any pain.
LOTS of “dragging” and “pulling” feelings as they slice and sew.
You’re asked to let the team know ‘if/when’ you can feel a jolt of pain, so they can administer more local numbing fluid...
Then, before you know it, they’ve sewn you up and you’re in a wheel-chair, on your way back to the ward
The whole surgery took about 45 mins (plus an hour or so in the creepy-ward)
Try to get some rest... a later post will explain why that was exceedingly difficult...
Lead surgeon checks-in on their way out for the week (in street clothes)
Then a nurse checks me
A second nurse delivers some Tylenol (~1515)
The other surgeon (junior) checks in (still in her lab-coat)
Then the weekend ‘on-call’ surgeon checks in on me...
Original nurse delivers a dinner just before 1700, sit-up, scarf it down, request a coffee. (sweet sweet cafeine!!! it’s been 20 hrs!)
They allow me to try the “sit up and wait 20 mins” test - passed - I’m allowed to call the nurses back to try the “get up and move around” test
Start to walk around, feel light headed like all blood is draining from my body, sweaty etc. that’s a FAIL!
Told to lay back down
This is not unusual - in fact the whole reason for the ‘test’ is that about half of all the patients will fail the first time
I try again after waiting for 20-ish mins...
Sit up for 20 mins, call it a pass, and get up to pee... Naughty boy! (should have called the nurses!)
Same lightheaded feeling while washing hands = Shuffle back to bed = FAIL #2
At the 1hr mark from my first test, a nurse comes back to check on me.
Naughty man! - you shouldn’t have tried to get up on your own... Since I failed my first ‘test’ - doctors orders are to stay in bed overnight = no getting up, even to pee = you have the bottle - use that!
SLEEP OVERNIGHT (well, sort of... more details later)
Woken at 0545, delivered a Tylenol and told to pee in the bottle
Here’s the thing - I’ve never actually pee’d in a bed-pan/bottle thing before, and have been holding it in, thinking I’d be allowed to get up if I passed the ‘test’
Silly move, I should have been flushing away all my opioids - this is probably the reason that I’ve failed the sit-up test twice - I still have too many drugs in my system.
Pee in the bottle - it feels weird, but is quite a relief.
Nurse comes in at 0600 to get me to sit up for 20 min
Nurse leaves, and I last about 5-10mins before same symptoms (light headed, sweaty, hearing is all tinny and blocked) = FAIL #3
Lay down and call nurse to let them know that I didn’t make it
They make sure I lay back down, deliver some water and ginger ale.
Failed test = Breakfast order taken just before there’s a call for all patients to head down to the dining hall for breakfast = I’ll be dining on my own...
Breakfast is delivered, and I’m allowed to sit up - slight light headed and nausea feelings, but not as bad as I was...
Nurse comes in to remove the bandage covering my incision; so that weekend doc can remove every-other clip.
Since I’m one of the last patients to have my clips removed today - he’s feeling a little speedy and non-gentle... it’s more painful than the actual surgery ;)
Told to lay back down for a half hour, then call the nurse to let me try sitting up again,
I’m allowed to walk around a bit, pee, hang around in the lounges etc
Exercise-time at 1100, it’s like super slow yoga with a bunch of people who move like zombies... quite amusing to observe/take-part-in
Post-surgery massage at around 1230
Masseuse is running late...
It’s basically a big ol’ tummy rub... no pressure, lymphatic stuff, questionable benefit for the additional cost...
Bladder is so full that I have to call it quits, 20 min into the 30min massage.
Pee - lots.
Back to listening to podcasts and sitting in the chairs in the lounge
Transfer some photos to the iPad, post a blog update.
Finally take my first bird-bath in shower room - not allowed to get the incision site wet for a week, so it’s sponge bathe only...
Pain meds (alternating Tylenol/Advil)
Another coffee at around 1620
Finally 💩 at around 1645! Apparently opioids cause severe constipation, and it’s a great relief when you can finally let go, it’s actually a major point of conversation amongst the patients.
Dinner at 1715
Time to chill in the lounge till you’re tired enough to go to sleep...
You may have noticed that once I was able to get out of my room, I pretty much never went back...
There’s a reason for that, which I’ll get into in more detail later.