Welcome to a weekly feature on my blog – Ben’s Zone. Written by husband… Ben. A foodie, coffee obsessed, ex-smoking, ex-drinking and Ridgeback loving Dad. Who is also seriously into his fitness. You can find him on the blog (most) Sundays. Enjoy 🙂
My Experience of Double Inguinal Hernia Surgery
I have to be honest and say I feel a little bit odd writing this article. I normally write about things that I can maintain distance from, in terms of my personal life, and this article is about things that have really affected me. I’m currently recovering from an inguinal double hernia. A hernia is where the muscles in your body part and your insides start poking out. The inguinal part refers to the inguinal canal, which is the internal passage in a man’s groin through which the testes descend in adolescence. Normally men in their late adolescence and old age will get this type of hernia.
The hernia arose as a result of my trying to fit the Multimac car seat prior to our holiday. I knew it was around 40kg and was able to lift it, however getting it into position in the rear of the car cabin caused me to lift and twist, which I think is how this happened.
The initial symptoms I felt were like how it feels a few hours after a hard kick in the nuts, a dull ache in my groin. I put it down to groin strain due to running though this seems odd now as I had not upped my training or changed route. I did not investigate further until we went on holiday and I found myself in a lot of pain after unloading our cases and taking them into the house we were staying in. At that point I was in significant amounts of pain, the following morning I had a look and found a large lump in my groin which could be pushed back in, though this was difficult and painful. One of my testes also appeared very swollen.
Doing some checking on the net revealed very quickly that the only resolution to a hernia is surgical. I knew what I had as the symptoms (a lump that can be pushed back in) are a smoking gun.
As I was very active on holiday I found the levels of pain ramped up very quickly. I was concerned I had strangulated the hernia, this is when the bit of your insides poking out gets twisted which can really increase chances of a bad outcome. On the advice of the NHS 111 I went to A&E and found, to my relief, that although the hernia was particularly large, it was simply aggravated and not strangulated. I was given pain killers and told to stop exerting myself in any way. That was a real shock to the system given how active I like to be while away. I was not able to surf or run, though I was able to be in the water with my son while he had a surf.
I’m lucky in that I have health insurance with work and so was able to expedite the surgery required to fix the hernia. Until this point I had viewed the hernia as a painful inconvenience. I was very shocked, on seeing the consultant, that the width of the hernia was very small and so the risk of strangulation was very high. His view was that I should be operated on within a week or less. At this point I became quite concerned. As I have a young family, I need to make sure that I am here to support them, emotionally and financially. I had not thought that this could jeopardise that.
The operation seemed to come around very quickly. I knew that the process would be to fix the gap in my muscles by patching it over with a mesh. I had imagined that this would be done via keyhole surgery. Unfortunately, due to the extent of the hernia I had to have full open surgery. Initial recovery was, as expected, quite uncomfortable. As the days went by I found myself able to do more. As I did more, I talked to more and more people who had had similar surgery. The story was always the same, they had the surgery, did too much too soon and tore out the repair. I had to take a radical new approach to my normal recovery method (take painkillers, ignore wife) and start taking it easy.
It’s been very difficult. Initially, I was not even able to pick up our youngest who is only 3 months old. After nearly 3 weeks I have graduated to very short drives (even a short ride on the motorbike) and being able to lift very small loads. Trying to change the chain and sprockets on the motorbike was a definite mistake that I paid for over subsequent days. Likewise, my first day back working (from home) resulted in me being good for nothing for a day (thankfully it was a Saturday). The net result is that I have cancelled all of my races for the rest of the year. I can walk the dog slowly but I am still not able to start even gentle running. That being said, if it means the repair holds, then that is a worthwhile sacrifice.
My experience of this hernia has lead me to the following conclusions:
- Though the condition is routine, it is serious. I think I should have pushed harder for treatment on attending A&E (I was later told I should not have left hospital). I should also have taken it more seriously.
- Any open surgery, particularly involving cutting through layers of muscle is going to take time to recover from, it was not realistic to think I’d be back working after a week
- If pain goes away it does not then mean it’s a good idea to over exert