My successful hernia surgery was performed Tuesday, May 5, 2015. My sister-in-law, Dianne, took me to the new and beautiful U of U hospital located in Daybreak. After checking in and the dreaded weight scale, they directed me to a nice room. Unlike the older hospitals I’ve been in where the surgery waiting area is one large room with several beds in it with each bed sectioned off by curtains, I was directed to a small private room with a sliding glass door which was covered by a pulled curtain. I was handed a bag, asked to remove all my clothing and to put on this new wardrobe. I opened the bag and found a cap for my hair, some footsies and the traditional gown with only one snap for the entire open back. I thought about refusing because the gown was not only ugly, but disgustingly immodest. I’ve seen patients walking down the hallway in those silly outfits holding the back parts of the gown together with all the strength their weakened and awkward arms had while trying to manage an attached I.V. All I could think about was how ridiculous those gowns look. I’m normally not a vogue kind of gal, but these gowns are beneath even me. Finally, I came to my senses and remembered I was there for surgery, not a fashion show and changed into their requested attire. To compensate for the lack of apparel, the nurse offered the beloved warm blanket, which is the most comfortable part of any hospital stay.
Dianne and I only had time for a short visit before the nurse came in and started my I.V. I met the anesthesiologist for the first time.
“Have you had surgery before?”
“Yes, thirty-one years ago,” I said.
“How did it go? Did you have any complications?”
“I got nauseated,” I explained.
“Well, the medication we use now is much different than those used thirty-one years ago,” he reassured me, “but we’ll give you some medicine to help with the nausea just in case.”
“Thanks,” I said, relieved there was something to offset those horrible symptoms.
He’d only been gone a few minutes before the general surgeon pushed the sliding door open and walked into the small room. She’s a pretty doctor with long, dark hair and I suppose a few years younger. She explained,“This surgery will treat your hernia by repairing the tear in the abdominal wall. An incision will be made so I have a direct view of the hernia and the repair will be done through this incision. To repair the defect, a special mesh material made of strong, flexible plastic which stays in the body will be used to patch the torn area. The mesh will be placed behind and in front of the tear. Over time, nearby tissues grow into the mesh to strengthen the repair.”
“So I guess this means I’ll have abs of mesh,” I asked with a chuckle.
She smiled, took her marker and drew on the lower part of my abdomen where the incision would be. I started feeling drowsy, but had one last request: “Please take out all the extra fatty tissue.” I remember her stating that was a common request as they pushed my bed towards the operating room, which I have no recollection of ever entering.
The next thing I knew I was asked to take a deep breath. My throat and the muscles in neck were sore. I was prepared to have a sore belly, but the throat and neck pain was a surprise. I was aware of the ice bag on my stomach, so I assumed the surgery was completed. “The surgery went well,” the nurse said. “Here are some crackers and ice water. Do you want a drink?”
She put a straw to my lips and I took a drink and started feeling nauseated. She shot something into my I.V. and said it would help, but it didn’t.
The nurse kept talking to me and I took that to mean my nap had been long enough. I supposed they wanted me to wake up and go home, so I tried to cooperate.
The more awake I became, the more nauseated I felt. Anxious to get the ride home over with, I asked Dianne to help me get dressed. What seemed to be thirty minutes was in reality six hours, which isn’t long when you consider the prep, surgery and recovery time. The nurse pushed me in a wheelchair to the front door with pain and nausea prescriptions in hand. Dianne pulled her car up to the front door and they both helped me get seated and belted in for the short drive home.
Before I knew it I was in the comfort of my own home, greeted by Mark and our daughter, Katie, who proved to be the best nurse I’d had all day. She waited on my every need and quickly cleaned and replaced my barf bowls. It was the worst part of the surgery. I do not hold my anesthesia well and it was two days before I felt like I could hold down any food. I didn’t dare take my pain medication for fear it would only make me feel worse and the nausea medication given did nothing for me as far as I could tell.
My recovery after those two days has been comparably easy. The pain hasn’t been bad as long as I refrain from sneezing, coughing or laughing, which isn’t easy when you live with Mark, Katie, Eldin and their dog, Lizzy. I’m hoping when my swelling goes down I’ll see that the doctor did as I asked in removing all unwanted fatty tissue. When my six week healing period is up I’ll be anxious to turn my abs of mesh into abs of steel.