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  1. #1
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    Hernia surgury and longer recovery than anticipated

    I had a crash last fall that created an ingunal (sp) hernia in my lower abdomen. The hernia was increasing in size through Dec so I chose to have surgery to repair it in January.

    I had researched the different options, and talked to the surgeon about using the procedure where they go in through the belly button and insert a fabric "patch" to the hole in the muscle to cover the tear. My reasoning being that it has a shorter recovery time than the traditional method. He said that he preferred the older method of cutting above the hernia and sewing it all back together, claiming that the other method has a higher failure rate. I should have gotten a second opinion.

    I am now over a month out from surgury and still unable to do anything more than the least strenuous of exercise. I tried riding the trainer at about 50% intensity and developed a "bag of fluid" over the muscle. His suggestion was to "ride as if I were pedaling down hill" That's not exactly a work out.

    I feel my fitness slipping away, but if I work out I risk slowing my recovery. My surgeon's preferred technique and my fitness and recovery goals didn't match. So, I am now relegated riding an excercycle like the 400lb kid in gym class I have at least another month of this before I can start upping the intensity Thank god it's Feb. in ND. At least it's too cold to ride outside. I would really be torqued if it were nice outside.

    So, the moral of the story is: When getting surgury done, make sure that the DR. takes your goals into account as well as his. If they don't, you might be in for a longer down time than you had planned on.
    "There are those who would say there's something pathological about the need to ride, and they're probably on to something. I'd wager though that most of the society-approved compulsions leave deeper scars in the psyche than a need to go and ride a bicycle on a mountain." Cam McRea

  2. #2
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    Thanks for the interesting post...

    as I'm going in for hernia surgery this coming Monday. I opted for the laprascopic surgery rather than the "big incision" due to the differences in recovery time. I talked to several guys, including my brother, who also had the laprascopic/mesh surgery and they all reported having no problems and a quick recovery, like just a few days or so.

    The first doc I spoke to doesn't do laprascopic (doesn't know how?) so I then talked to another doc who apparently doesn't usually do the big incision type of surgery.

    I should probably mention that I'm 60 years old, and the surgery is being performed at the VA Hospital here in Grand Junction. They apparently have lots of experience repairing hernias.

    I'll post something or PM you after I've had a few days to recover.

  3. #3
    meh... whatever
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    frozen, if you are having issues like that with the mesh patch then it may not have been done correctly or you may be in the minority of people for whom complications develop. the mesh patch has a drastically lower failure rate than the tension method (cutting and sewing back together) combined with dramatically decreased recovery time as well.

    most people are cycling within a week and can resume even weight lifting within a month or so. if you have a bag of fluid over the muscle you need to seek medical attention IMMEDIATELY! that, along with not being able to resume normal activity a month post op, are NOT normal for a mesh patch repair.
    Last edited by monogod; 02-22-2008 at 10:57 AM.
    "The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away."

  4. #4
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    Had the laprascopic surgery on Monday

    Now it's Wednesday, and I'm still in lots of pain. Glad to have plenty of Vicoden. At my present "rate-of-recovery", I should be pretty mobile by Friday, but will likely still be sore for awhile. All I can say is that this wasn't fun, and I only recommend it to my best enemies.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by RickC5
    Now it's Wednesday, and I'm still in lots of pain. Glad to have plenty of Vicoden. At my present "rate-of-recovery", I should be pretty mobile by Friday, but will likely still be sore for awhile. All I can say is that this wasn't fun, and I only recommend it to my best enemies.
    Keep us updated on the recovery. The first few days absolutely suck after the big scar method. It doesn't take long to realize just how much you use those lower ab muscles for even the lightest efforts.

    I am now 5 WEEKS out from my surgery and still don't feel good. I am beginning to think that the whole "Bag of fluid" excuse for the bulge under my incision is just a bag of sh!t fed to me by the surgeon. I am going back to see him Monday. I will post up more then.

    THIS SUCKS!!!!
    "There are those who would say there's something pathological about the need to ride, and they're probably on to something. I'd wager though that most of the society-approved compulsions leave deeper scars in the psyche than a need to go and ride a bicycle on a mountain." Cam McRea

  6. #6
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    dude, you REALLY need to seek medical attention. a bag of fluid 5 weeks post op is NOT normal.

    are you running a fever? is there excessive tenderness to the touch around the incision area? is there any external redness or red streaks around the affected area?
    "The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away."

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by monogod
    dude, you REALLY need to seek medical attention. a bag of fluid 5 weeks post op is NOT normal.

    are you running a fever? is there excessive tenderness to the touch around the incision area? is there any external redness or red streaks around the affected area?
    Thanks for your concern.

    No to all of the above. I start off the day with just a small amount of swelling, but by the end of the day, I have a bulge that mirrors what the hernia looked like prior to surgery. There is tenderness to the touch, but most of that is related to the nerves that were severed cutting the FIVE INCH long incision in my abdomen. Something isn't right, but it isn't an infection.

    You are right about one thing, I shouldn't be in this condition 5 WEEKS post surgery. I don't know what can be done. If the surgery didn't work and I still have the hernia, I don't want to go through the same surgery again. I just won't do that.

    The surgeon is going to get some very pointed questions Monday. I need to have some idea of what is going on with my body. I need to know what I can and cannot do right now. I have been progessively doing less and less over the last two weeks in hopes that the swelling would stop, but it has had no affect. If the operation just didn't take, and it won't cause any more damage, I would like to resume "normal" activities. If there is a chance that I could heal properly with EXTREME rest, I may never heal.

    Will post up more Monday.
    "There are those who would say there's something pathological about the need to ride, and they're probably on to something. I'd wager though that most of the society-approved compulsions leave deeper scars in the psyche than a need to go and ride a bicycle on a mountain." Cam McRea

  8. #8
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    It's now Friday, and I'm feeling a bit better, but definitely NOT 100%. Can't sit upright for long periods yet, so my days are spent laying around on the couch or in bed.

    Before I forget...

    My surgeon mentioned the possibility of a bag/sack of fluid that might/could form in the space left by the intestine after the surgery. He said that the "fluid" could be some blood or other stuff (I don't remember), and that the bulge from the bag might even feel about the same as the original hernia, but likely harder to the touch. Something about the bag being something left behind once the intestine is back where it belongs. He went on to say that the bag and the bulge would disappear over time.

    Both he and the nurse generally said to call them if anything "unusual" happened during recovery. So far, so good. Aside from a testicle that is still a bit sore and the initial pain and discomfort from the catheter shoved up my penis, my recovery seems to be going well. But, without any frame of reference, who knows for sure?

    I'm still taking one vicoden tablet about every 4 hours, but I'm going to try cutting back to 1/2 tablets tomorrow.

    For sure let us know what your doc says on Monday.

  9. #9
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    kevlar mesh

    ... I had to get a dual repair a couple years ago, and the doc said arthoscope was the only way to go, because the technology has advanced. They made three punctures, one which the use to inflate the tissues so that there is a space to work in the mesh. The other two punctures is for their instruments, one for each side. The recovery was a snap, and everything is holding together fine after 3 years. The doc said he's done hundreds of these, including big 300 lbs dudes, and only once had one failure where he had to go in again. I'm in Seattle; we are blessed with state-of-the art medical centers.
    G O N Z

  10. #10
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    After visiting my surgeon Monday, I have been cleared to resume normal activities.....slowly. I asked him about the fluid, and he said that it would go away in a few months. My activity level at this point will not have an effect on it, so I can start doing stuff. He wants me to ease into workouts and riding because he feels that I overdid it in the first few weeks after the surgery.

    I still have some numbness and odd sensations in the area. I can tell when I am pushing the limits with the repair pretty well. I am very aware of it when lifting or making "big" efforts on the trainer. I would say that I am currently able to go about 40% of max effort right now. I have a long way to go, but at least I can see some light at the end of the tunnel.

    I just hope that I am feeling better for when the snows melt and the real riding starts in another month or so.
    "There are those who would say there's something pathological about the need to ride, and they're probably on to something. I'd wager though that most of the society-approved compulsions leave deeper scars in the psyche than a need to go and ride a bicycle on a mountain." Cam McRea

  11. #11
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    Glad to hear that you've been given a relatively "clean sheet". That's good news!

    I'm going in to see the surgeon this morning for the follow-up. Yesterday was the first time I left the house since the surgery on Feb. 25th. The wife and I walked maybe a mile around the neighborhood.

    My left testicle is still swolen and I'm still on Vicodin for the various pains, but only on 1/2 pills. Otherwise I seem to be doing OK. We'll see what the doc has to say.

    I'm also anxious to get back on the bike. The weather here in Grand Junction is getting better every day, and should be warm/dry enough for a short ride this weekend if the doc approves.

  12. #12
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    Hello fellow sufferers. I just had laproscopic yesterday, and my doc told me I couldn't ride for a month (what does he know). Im going to see my GP in 2 weeks to see what she says. Up here in the great white north, laproscopic seems to be the majority of hernia repairs. Today Im able to walk pretty good, stairs no problem. The doc gave me a prescr. for percocet (oxycodone) and that eases the pain really well. Something about your sac of fluid doesn't sound right, I would get a second opinion on that.
    Good luck, hope you recover well enough before the good weather arives!

  13. #13
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    Dreaded hernia

    Hello fellow sufferers. I just had laproscopic yesterday, and my doc told me I couldn't ride for a month (what does he know). Im going to see my GP in 2 weeks to see what she says. Up here in the great white north, laproscopic seems to be the majority of hernia repairs. Today Im able to walk pretty good, stairs no problem. The doc gave me a prescr. for percocet (oxycodone) and that eases the pain really well. Something about your sac of fluid doesn't sound right, I would get a second opinion on that.
    Good luck, hope you recover well enough before the good weather arrives!

  14. #14
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    It will be 3 weeks this coming Monday (March 17th) since the laprascopic surgery, and I feel really good. The only remaining pain is from my left testicle, which still aches and is a bit swollen, but the ache is controllable with a little Advil. All incisions have healed well, and all abdominal pain has ceased.

    We're supposed to warm up a bit today, so I thought I would try a short bike ride and see how it goes. If I don't add another follow-up post, then things went well. I still intend to take it easy for the next couple of weeks or so. No need to push things.....

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by RickC5
    It will be 3 weeks this coming Monday (March 17th) since the laprascopic surgery, and I feel really good. The only remaining pain is from my left testicle, which still aches and is a bit swollen, but the ache is controllable with a little Advil. All incisions have healed well, and all abdominal pain has ceased.

    We're supposed to warm up a bit today, so I thought I would try a short bike ride and see how it goes. If I don't add another follow-up post, then things went well. I still intend to take it easy for the next couple of weeks or so. No need to push things.....
    Glad to hear things are going well for you. I have been doing better as well. I went for a 15 mile road bike ride last week. It felt really good to get out. My fitness is way off, but it will return.
    "There are those who would say there's something pathological about the need to ride, and they're probably on to something. I'd wager though that most of the society-approved compulsions leave deeper scars in the psyche than a need to go and ride a bicycle on a mountain." Cam McRea

  16. #16
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    Ride Results...

    Quote Originally Posted by Frozenspokes
    Glad to hear things are going well for you. I have been doing better as well. I went for a 15 mile road bike ride last week. It felt really good to get out. My fitness is way off, but it will return.
    I finally got in a short ride yesterday (Sunday). By short, it was only 2-3 miles on smooth trails in a state park. The ride itself felt great, but I experienced a bit of abdominal "discomfort" after I got home. Nothing major, things just ached a bit. All seems OK this morning, except for that left testicle, which didn't pain me at all while riding.

    Perhaps Shimanoman's doctor is right: a month off the bike seems pretty reasonable to me. Of course, maybe you younger guys will heal more quickly than this old fart does.

    I'll likely wait a couple more days before attempting another ride.

  17. #17
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    I feel your pain.

    Listen to your body, if you don't, you will pay for it like I did.
    "There are those who would say there's something pathological about the need to ride, and they're probably on to something. I'd wager though that most of the society-approved compulsions leave deeper scars in the psyche than a need to go and ride a bicycle on a mountain." Cam McRea

  18. #18
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    Well I am 99% sure that I gave myself a hernia over the weekend (this will be my 2nd one in 5 years). I am not happy about this at all. I know there are a lot worse things in the world that could happen, but the fact that it is now just starting to warm up and dry up enough for single track riding in my area couldn't make this any worse. When I got my first one repaired 5 years ago, I remember it being the worse 2 weeks of my life. Everyone else has seemed to have a much better experience, but I was bed ridden for 1 week, and couldn't do much for about a month. I still have a "pins and needles" feeling on my left thigh (was completely numb for a year after the surgery) and some major swelling and bruising. Very depressed about missing out on the opening weeks of the season, and very worried about the outcome of it this time around. I totally respect doctors, nurses, and the rest of the medical world, but only when I'm not involved with them in anyway. Just thinking about doing it all over again is making me sick. blah.

  19. #19
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    My experience has been the "mesh" repair is alot stronger in the long run. I had mine repaired with stainless steel mesh and although the recovery time was very long (6-8 weeks away from the hockey rink for me), I've had zero problems in 10 years.

    My brother, had his scoped, twice. He ripped apart his first "stitch" job playing hockey, about 2 years after the first repair. He had to go back in to have that redone. That was 5 years ago. He still feels tugging in his abdomen when he's playing hockey our working around his property and has no confidence that it won't rip apart again.

    Take the time to heal properly, enjoy the downtime, take apart the bike and clean and regrease everything so its ready to go when you are.

    FYI, I had mine done at the hospital that developed the "mesh" method in Toronto. Shouldice Hospital is a specialized hospital doing only hernia repairs, as many as 15 per day. My surgeon had completed 2500 hernia repairs!!!

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    Yeah, I had the mesh done 5 years ago on my left side. This one is on my right side (although I am feeling pain in the left side, although there is no visable buldge or other evidence.) I just read all these horror stories from others, (google hernia repair and it will definitely make you 2nd guess getting it repaired), and remember my previous experience with the left repair. I live for the outdoors, physical activities, and chicago weather only allows that from about may-october (unless you enjoy riding in 20F and snow). I'm not going back to the same doctor, that is for sure. Again, I know hernia surgery is at the bottom of the list for "serious" surgeries, but there is always the possibility for major complications (especially with the anatomy of a male) and the fact that I have no idea when I'll be able to get back out to enjoy the sport that I'm obsessed about, and keeps me sane. Call me a wuss, but it is very hard for me to control my thoughts about this. I don't have any other anxiety issues, until it comes to getting put under and carved up

  21. #21
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    I had the mesh as well and no problems since. However, I had a longer recovery than the doctor promised. I was scheduled to be back to work on Monday after having lap. surgery on Thursday. Should have know that wasn't going to happen when I looked at my boys which looked like bowling balls (size and color) and I called in for more pain pills. Was back doing some gentle skiing about 7-8 weeks later and riding fine in the spring.

  22. #22
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    Two Month Report

    On the 25th of April it will be two months since my surgery (today's the 23rd). In general, I truly feel fine and can say that I'm fully healed/recovered. Even that sore left testicle has (finally) gotten better in the last week or so.

    Aside from the fact that I was a couch potato all during the winter and lost whatever physical conditioning I had last fall, I'm riding most of the same trails I usually ride, just not as fast going uphill. In fact, going pretty slow uphill and walking lots.

    To celebrate my return to biking, I bought a used Yeti 575 last Sunday. I like how it rides and have decided to keep it for awhile. It amazes me though, how much wear someone (the original owner) can put on a bike in only one full season of riding.

    Now if I can just survive the season without injuring something else, I'll be real happy!

  23. #23
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    All you laproscopic recipients forgot to mention the "purple sack syndrome" where your nuts swell up to the size of avacodos and turn purple. Good times.

    I missed most of last season recovering from a double laproscopic repair on 2 old sholdice repairs (20 + years) that finally gave out. Also my abdominal muscles have been wrecked from the surgery (they inflate your abdomen so the Dr can work inside) and I don't think exercise is ever going to fix it.

    If I had it to do over again, I would have gone with a Sholdice or conventional patch.

    Ride on!

    JD

  24. #24
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    I have the same type of hernia on the left side, it seems to be really small and not very painful, like maybe 2 out of 10 on the pain scale. I got it on the 3rd of this month and I am having it fixed by the cut into it and patch it method. Im very active, so I just want to get it fixed and be done with it. My doctor said it would be an easy recovery, after reading this I'm getting nervous.

    Im having the surgury on Thursday. Do you think I'll be able to sit at a desk and work in my office by Monday? How big is the scar?
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  25. #25
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    shawn - Don't want to scare you, but it's OK to be a little nervous. Recovery depends on many factors including age, fitness, size of hernia, & repair method. I had two old fashioned tension repairs almost 25 years ago on both the left and right side. Blew out the left side again two years ago in a nasty skiing fall. Finally had it repaired with mesh one month ago after it started bothering me. Turns out I had two hernias on the left side, so my patch is rather big.

    I ride hard 8 to 10 hours per week, but that all stopped for the last month. I am actually amazed that some folks here are allowed by their MDs to ride so soon after surgery as the first few weeks are critical for good long term results. My doctor told me NO driving for one week (mostly because of pain killers), and NO riding and NO lifting anything over 5 pounds for 4 weeks. After 4 weeks, I could do whatever I want. Well it's been 4 weeks so I can ride again, but I can tell you that it will probably take the next 4 to 8 weeks to get back to pre-surgery levels.

    The open patch method is the way to go now. My doctor is one of the pre-eminent surgeons in the SF Bay Area (does hundreds of these each year) and he told me that Laproscopic was very popular 10 years ago, but long term results now show that failure rates for the lap method are higher than that of the open patch method (I confirmed this with published clinical trial data). He won't do lap anymore as a result. Part of the problem with the lap method is that the mesh can not be secured with sutures on one side, so it is more prone to failure. An open patch method also works better when complications arise (such as a second hernia as in my case). And forget about the old tension style repair method (no patch) - these have very high failure rates of 30% or more.

    Best to take a full week off from work as the first week is the worst. The second week is better and by the third week, you'll feel pretty good again. Everyone is different though. Just don't rush your recovery as you don't want to go thru this again! Good luck...
    Last edited by rblatner; 05-03-2009 at 12:14 AM.

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