Oddly enough, I underwent inguinal surgery on July 24th. I’m recovering nicely so far, but it’ll be about a month or so before I resume normal physical activity. Here is my experience with an inguinal hernia:
A few years ago my doctor noticed that I had a little bit of a hernia during a routine physical checkup. He didn’t seem too concerned about it and suggested that surgery might be needed in the future to fix it up. I was okay with that, so I didn’t really think too much about it.
A few years later I noticed that I could see a visible bulge in my lower-left abdomen which would persist until I pushed it back into place. No pain or discomfort, so I wasn’t too concerned.
Over the past few months this worsened a bit so that I had to use some effort to push the hernia back into place. I still didn’t have any real discomfort aside from some chafing and the knowledge that I was probably going to need some surgery. Because I’m on a high-deductible insurance plan, I wasn’t ready to shell out for a big copay in order to get it fixed.
Fast-forward to about 3 months ago. After being told that my job would probably dry up before the year is out, I decided to pull the trigger and have my new physician order a consult with a surgeon to see what could be done. The surgeon took a quick look at my distended abdomen and gave it some gentle prodding and said that I really needed to get the hernia fixed before blood flow was cut off and cause a potentially life-threatening situation. I was able to get scheduled for laparoscopic surgery on July 24th.
I went in for surgery as scheduled. During the pre-op prep, the nurse that shaved my stomach said that my hernia was definitely in the top 5 worst hernias that he had seen this year – not a ranking that I really wanted to appear in. They hooked me up to an IV and about an hour later I was wheeled into surgery. After that it was lights out for about an hour.
I came out from under anesthesia without incident and only had some minor discomfort. During the operation they intubated me and put in a catheter, both of which were removed before I woke back up. Ordinarily I would have been released about an hour or two later, but apparently I hadn’t hydrated enough before the operation and was unable to pee no matter how hard I tried. I ended up having another catheter put in temporarily to make sure that my bladder was filling normally. The pain of having that catheter put in and removed was by far the worst part of the whole procedure, and it was extremely painful when I tried to pee for a couple of days afterwards.
Anyway, after my tank was emptied so to speak, my wife came to pick me up at the hospital and I walked into the pharmacy to pick up pain medication (Percoset). Over the next 36 hours or so, I only took half the prescribed dosage of pain medicine and probably only used 3-4 pills in total. I took Tylenol for about 4 days afterwards to take the edge off of the abdominal soreness, but otherwise felt okay. I actually went into work 4 days after surgery and have managed pretty well. This week I feel pretty darn good, although it may take a few months before swelling fully disappears in my abdomen and groin. In n the meantime I try to walk around a bit and will even try to push mow my lawn a bit this evening. I’ll be seeing my surgeon for a post-op follow-up visit on the 17th, so I’m hoping to get a good report from him.
Sorry for writing a novella about this. Long story-short: if you’ve got insurance and your hernia is still in its early stages of development, get it taken care of. Laparoscopic or robotic surgical procedures reduce the amount of pain and recovery time and will give you a better quality of life afterwards. This is one of the more common types of surgery, and is almost always done on an outpatient basis. If things go right you will usually be in and out of the hospital or surgical center within 4 hours or so.
My recommendation? Get it taken care of sooner rather than later. Hernias don’t fix themselves.