I recently underwent some minor surgery for a small hernia. I haven’t been “under” since I had rotator cuff surgery a decade or so ago. That was a horrendous experience on a number of levels. Yet, as I approached this next time going “under” I was not particularly anxious. Part of my calmness was confidence in the doctor who was going to perform the operation. Part of it was a resignation that this is what comes with “maturity” or simply getting older. Part of it was the wine…just kidding.
I am writing this about 24 hours after coming out of the hospital. I’ve yet to speak to my surgeon. I saw him briefly before I was given the anesthesia. He assured me he’d do a fine job and I had nothing to worry about. I next remember waking up in the post-op area under the care of a sweet nurse. In fact, every one I met yesterday was sweet, caring, and helpful.
The hernia evidently was brought about – though we don’t know for sure – by the exertion brought on by a recent bad bout of the flu I had. My aggressive sneezing or coughing caused the “breach” we think, since there was nothing else that happened when I noticed the bulge above my groin.
I had misconceptions about a hernia but I did self-diagnose it to the surprise of my doctor and I was right that it could come about my excessive/aggressive sneezing or coughing. It’s mostly known to happen with some kind of strenuous lifting.
Part of my confidence was the great job of explaining the surgery, and risks involved that my surgeon provided upon examination. He took his pen out and drew images and wrote percentages and graphs of the entire procedure. Some of it went over my head but most of it resonated. I would not like him the first couple of days after the surgery, he assured me.
He was right but for a different reason. One of the small risks he told me about was that there can me nerve damage. When I got home, I felt some numbness in my right leg. Not horrible tingling numbness but enough to worry me that I might have hit that tiny risk. So, I called the doctor’s office and he’s YET to return my call.
Thankfully, the numbness has eased enough – over night – that I believe it’s not going to be a problem. Yes, some things do heal on their own.
As for the promised pain, it hasn’t raised its head – yet – and hopefully it won’t. I won’t be running a marathon, golfing, or skiing any time very soon, but I can walk and am encouraged to do so as much as is comfortable to ease the pain and hasten the recovery. Cool.
I think my attitude going into this surgery has been one of my strongest assets in handling it mentally and physically. Even with the slight anxiety over the numbness in my leg, I quickly rationalized how much worse it could be and how horrible my father suffered from a much worse numbness he suffered at the hands of a doctor giving him a shot in his back.
I thought, “Well, I could golf with this…I could ski with this…” I thought, “Maybe not as well as I do now, but it could be worse… I could have had an accident like Christopher Reeve. I’ve done crazy wild stuff on skis so if I have to tone it down now, so what?” Of course, that wasn’t what I expected or hoped for but it was the rationale in my mind in the moment.
Today, with the numbness eased, I’m thinking half-pipe and heli-skiing again vs. the blue runs I thought I’d be relegated to yesterday! My wife is saying, “Take it easy, old guy” as she almost always does.
Yes, it’s only been 24 hours. But, I’m feeling optimistic. I’m glad I didn’t put it off as some people might have given that the doctors both said it wasn’t urgent but that given my level of activity I’d likely be better off taking care of it sooner than later. Heck, ski season is around the corner.
So, I scheduled the earliest surgery date I could and it’s now over – the surgery part at least. Rehab is mostly up to me. I go at my own pace, with recommendations of when I can resume particular activities. That may be my only challenge – the patience if and when I begin to feel better – to not take that big swing or lift weights.
For now, I thank God that I live in a time when such a surgery is available, when I didn’t have to slug down whiskey and get it done on a table in a barber-shop or backroom somewhere. I’m glad that ObamaCare didn’t hurt me too much though I haven’t gotten the bills. So far, it’s only caused my health insurance to almost double and my deductible to double. But, THAT is only money. We still have the best health care in the world right here in the good ol’ U. S. of A.!
Post-script: It’s now been three days and I am beginning to feel better. I’m going out to lunch today and last night I slept reasonably well. I see the light of recovery and it’s come pretty darn quickly! Thank you, God!