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ETpro's avatar

What can I expect as I recover from hernia surgery?

Asked by ETpro (34145 points ) February 5th, 2013

I had a right inguinal hernia and got surgery for it today. The surgery was done at Mass. General Hospital. I’m very thankful to have it over with, as the thing had been getting progressively more painful when standing or moving about. Only laying flat on my back was a surefire way to stay comfortable.

To those who have been through it, or watched a loved one go through it, how long does the recovery typically take? What can I expect? What’s the best strategy to minimize the pain, other than popping the oxycodone pills they gave me?

Those who know and like me, please wish me a speedy and full recovery. Those who know and despise me, here’s your chance to wish me a festering infection, multiple attempts at repairs and then the final oxymoron, “The operation was a success but unfortunately the patient died.”

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23 Answers

augustlan's avatar

Having never had a hernia, I’m just stopping by to wish you a speedy recovery. :)

Bellatrix's avatar

I don’t know either but I too hope you are up and causing trouble very soon. I would think you need to listen to your body. Pain = bad. Comfort = you are doing the right thing. Permission to lie down and have a rest until you feel better granted.

bookish1's avatar

I do hope that you recover quickly and the pain does not last too long!! I also hope someone can give you information on what to expect. {{{ @ETpro }}}

LuckyGuy's avatar

I had the “pleasure” about 15 years ago. I noticed 2 things. 1)Every part of my body was connected to my abdomen. Even brushing my teeth. 2) Laxatives are your friend.

jca's avatar

Best of luck for a speedy recovery, @ETpro! Take it easy and don’t lift anything heavy, and don’t get addicted to any painkillers!

ETpro's avatar

@bookish1 Thanks and {{{ hugs }}}.

@LuckyGuy Yes, the doctor explained that keeping everything moving smoothly is important, and I can see why.

@jca I thought I could just tough it out. Ain’t happening. If I get addicted, I’ll get unaddicted after my gut quits trying to torture me to death.

picante's avatar

I only know you through Fluther, and I like you very much. While I’ve not had hernia surgery, I have had abdominal surgery, and you will be feeling this for some time. Not necessarily in a painful way; but you’ll be surprised to learn that your shin bone’s connected to your abdominal bone ;-) I wish you a speedy recovery!

Cupcake's avatar

My husband had laparoscopic surgery for an umbilical hernia a year after a laparoscopic appendectomy. He slept in a recliner chair for at least a week, maybe 2. It was too difficult for him to lie flat or to get back into a sitting/standing position for him to consider sleeping in bed.

The recovery took longer than I expected. He was in a lot of pain for a few days and moderate pain for a couple of weeks. He had to get a refill on the painkillers (and I was worried about painkiller addiction… but that part was fine).

Stay ahead of your pain with the pills for a week or so. Catching up with painkillers once you are in a lot of pain is no fun, and you won’t move enough to recover well.

Eat gently, stay comfortable, listen to your body, be patient. Let people help you.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I tore out both sides and lasted about a month by pushing the bulge back in with my fingertips when it would come out. That really tore things it up but I did not have much choice.
I had a mesh and titanium staples installed which made that area heal up stronger than before. Fantastic.
I have found another distinct advantage to having this surgery. I had it done when I was in great shape. Because of it I will never be overweight. Even now, if I start to eat too much I will feel a little pull down there. It is a reminder that I really don’t need that second piece of pie or the large, triple-scoop ice cream. One scoop is enough. I say no thank you to second helpings. My weight has remained the same and I am much more physically fit than other guys my age.
I consider the mesh a design improvement. You should, too.

mazingerz88's avatar

I wish for you a sweet, flirty and generous nurse with a great cleavage that will offer you a bedbath with the curtains drawn. Get well @ETpro.

Aster's avatar

My father had it done in his EIGHTIES and seemed to be fully recovered in two days. My daughter had a double one repaired in grade school and the next day was running around the house bent over. They both just sailed thru this one. Hope you feel well just as quickly !

jca's avatar

I used to go out with a guy who had it and when he came he said he could feel a fluttery feeling on his lower left side abdomen. I think it was tight in the beginning and then after a few sessions it loosened up (the fluttering).

ETpro's avatar

@picante Thanks for the good wishes. I had a perforated appendix removed back when I was 20, and already I know this is much less painful than that. I was on IV shots of Demerol for about 1 week with that.

@Cupcake Thanks for the info. Laproscopic surgery may sound like it would be less painful, but such is not the case. Moving that metal tube around here and there between the muscle wall of the abdomen and the internal organs tears things apart and causes a good deal of trauma. You are right I need to work at letting people help me. I’m used to being the one doing the helping.

@LuckyGuy Not very lucky to have both sides give out. I just busted the right side, but I’ve been stuffing myself back in now since late December. It was already quite sore. I guess that’s why its so sensitive now.

@mazingerz88 Thanks. There were no stunners with the exception of an intern helping the anesthesiologist. He was hot, but I certainly was not. :-) Maybe I’ll have better luck in 2 weeks when I go in for the followup. Hot or not, I have found all the staff at Mass. General Hospital to be friendly and helpful as can be.

@Aster I’m hoping that’s how it works out for me. Thanks for the kind wishes.

@jca That sounds interesting. If I get that, I’ll have a Fluthery fluttery feeling, since I heard about it here first.

Kardamom's avatar

My Dad had hernia surgery in his late 70’s (he’s 87 now) and I recall that he recovered pretty quickly after the surgery and really didn’t have to take too much pain meds after a week. The one thing that he did say, and that still occasionally bothers him is that he says that he can feel the mesh inside of him. Like it’s poking or rubbing on his innards. It kind of bugs him. I don’t think they could fix that without having to open him up again and move or clip the mesh, which isn’t going to happen. He doesn’t describe it as painful, mostly just irritating.

Just make sure that you do have a good place to sit and sleep, preferably the same place so you don’t have to move around too much, like a recliner or in your bed with one of those big prop pillows with the arms on the side. And have all of your stuff close enough to you so that you don’t have to lean to reach it (tissue, meds, water, phone etc.) My Dad actually tied a little piece of string around his chapstick (which he can’t live without) so that it wouldn’t roll off the bed. He safety pinned the other end of the string to the sheet. You can also put a tray right on your bed instead of the night stand, just so you don’t have to lean. You might want to put some pillows on your sides, so that you resist the temptation to roll over during the night.

Make it clear to whomever is going to be your caretaker, your wife or kids or whomever, that they will need to help you quite a bit at least for a week, maybe 2 and hopefully they understand that and won’t resent it. I’m a born caretaker, so it was easy for me to jump up anytime I saw that my Dad needed to get up. I think he might have also used a cane during that time right after he got out of the hospital. You might want to buy or borrow one.

We have a recliner in our living room that is near the downstairs bathroom and I recall that my Dad slept down there for a few days, because it was easier than trying to navigate the stairs. I also put a bell on his bedside table so he could ring it during the night if he needed assistance getting up.

You might also want to invest in a package of baby wipes. I don’t mean to be graphic, but it’s easier to make one clean sweep with a big soft wet wipe than it is to make multiple swipes with a small, dry piece of TP. You just don’t want to have to wrench around any more than is necessary. And if it’s more painful than you thought, designate a wiper that’s willing to help you out. Hopefully you won’t need that, my Dad didn’t. But he did use the wet wipes. Much nicer too if you are also plagued with rhoids. Just make sure you have a little trash can for the wipes, they’ll clog up your toilet.

Try to avoid eating meat and cheese and bread that doesn’t have a lot of fiber. Stick to applesauce and pudding and jello and soup and lots of liquids. You don’t want to become constipated, believe me.

Good luck and feel better soon! You can tell everyone your scar was from a shark attack : )

augustlan's avatar

@Kardamom and @ETpro They sell toilet-safe wipes now, right in the TP section at the grocery store. Love those things.

ETpro's avatar

@Kardamom The doc warned me about the mesh being in there.

@augustlan Thanks.

Ron_C's avatar

Hope you’re feeling better. The only advice I can give is DEFINITELY DO NOT LIFT ANYTHING EVEN MODERATELY HEAVY until you get and OK from the doctor. I just lifted an edge of our dining room table and set myself back about two weeks for healing..

Take it easy and ask and answer questions here. I think you can do that without hurting yourself.

ETpro's avatar

@Ron_C Thanks. The doc gave me 50 Oxycodone 5/325s. I thought that was an insane number when he handed me the prescription. That, of course, was while the local anesthesia was still working. It didn’t take long to realize it was a sensible number. I still have 20, and I think at this point if I don’t re-injure it, I’m good. No more meds needed. But I plan to let this fully heal before going back to my exercise routine.

jca's avatar

@ETpro: How many days are you out now? How do you feel? I ask because I got weight loss surgery 1½ years ago, and have the option of having a hernia repaired and also simultaneously getting a tummy tuck. I am just curious how you feel now and how many days out you are.

ETpro's avatar

I got the surgery the morning of Feb. 5th and it’s now the 12th. So one full week later and no longer any need to take pain meds. I have to move with some care to not strain it. Now the biggest pain is the inflammation that still has to subside. My balls no longer fit between my legs, and if they slide back in there while I am sitting with legs open, they get squished when I stand up. I usually remember this and rise with care to reposition all those nasty bits, but doing so in public is awkward to say the least.

How was recovery from the weight loss surgery?

jca's avatar

@ETpro: Recovery from weight loss surgery was, for me, totally painless, pretty much. I didn’t use painkillers at all once I got out of surgery (even though I had the IV pain thing in the hospital) and was given a prescription for painkillers which I filled prior to surgery but did not use at all. I still have the unopened bottle in my dresser drawer. Because I didn’t use painkillers at all in the hospital, I got to go home after only one night instead of having to stay for two like most people who have that surgery do.

Other people I know who had that surgery were in more pain that I was. I know I have a pretty high tolerance for pain. Other surgeries and health issues that I have had I tolerated without using painkillers in recovery, as well.

I have heard from other people that hernia repair is quite painful.

ETpro's avatar

@jca I wouldn’t put it real high on the pain hierarchy. I had my appendix perforate before they could get me to the hospital, and because there was fecal material all around inside, they had to open me up pretty good and wash all the spillage out before removing the inflamed appendix and sewing me up. Recovery from that was absolutely horrible. It felt exactly like someone had fired a bowling-ball sized canon ball right through my midsection, and there was nothing left there but a raw, searing pain. It took major doses of Demerol to control that pain. Hernia repair was nothing compared to that.

I could have easily toughed out the pain of the hernia surgery. I just didn’t see how I would gain anything worthwhile by suffering it.

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