Only my good friends and family knew I went through hernia surgery on 12/22. I won’t say that surgery was something that I looked forward to, but it was necessary to fix an epigastric hernia. My first question for the doctor was how I got it. He said it was a ligament that gave way, congenital defect likely. I don’t lift heavy weights, 10 lb for upper body and not much heavier for lower body so I couldn’t point the finger to that. Sometimes I’ll lift a bag at work or strain on occasion. You take all of that together and there you have an quarter sized alien coming out of your stomach that won’t go away without a surgery fix. Mine was slightly noticeable in a bikini and I was sick of it. It was located 4 inches above my belly button. And, by the way, babies are born with this same affliction, so I can’t pull the “age card”
I had asked around, and did some research on what surgeon to see. I even asked my attorney exhusband who he saw to get his lower hernia fixed. I didn’t go with his surgeon because his doctor had a few revision surgeries under her belt and some complaints online, too. I don’ t have time for a revision, or patience either for it. I did look at the education of the doctor and asked how many surgeries he had done.
I also asked questions to the surgeon on when he thought I’d be back to work and to full strength on fitness training. His advice was back to work in 10 days, and not to attend a gym for 2-3 weeks. I followed his advice. I could walk outside or what, but advised to stay out of a gym for bacteria exposure and also since my incisions were fairly deep, no jacuzzi or ocean swimming for a full three or so weeks.
I also consulted with Bart Yasso. Bart is on staff as a senior editor at Runner’s World Magazine and he said he was back to work in a few days and back to full strength training in a few months after his surgery. He had mentioned his hernia on a post somewhere online. I could deal with a few months. The only other runner I knew that had one fixed was Dathan Ritzenhein and I never got to ask him via email how his recovery went. He’s elite, finished top 10 in Boston, that’s wicked fast. To be that fast is out of my comprehension.
Many of you know I’m a flight attendant. I love the job and didn’t really want to part with the trips I got over the holidays (which tend to be better than what you get other times of the year, even at my seniority of 25 years). My family didn’t think it was too wise to do the surgery near Christmas either, but I kinda just wanted to get it over with while I’d satisfied my deductibles for insurance. No sense in racking up a new set of bills in the new year.
I did a few things for myself to keep my mind busy and to not gain weight during the holidays before this surgery. One being a photo shoot a week before the surgery. Nothing says don’t go “hogwild” on cookies better than getting in front of a camera with a bare mid-drift in mid-December. I still ate cookies, but didn’t bake in 2016. No big deal. There’s next year.
My abs weren’t exactly where I wanted them to be for the shoot, ripped, but for being mid-December and still some what flat, I was happy. My weight the day of the shoot was about 127 or so, I can’t remember. Normal photo shoot weight is 125. I’m 5’6.5″ and that’s good enough for me. If interested, the picture of me in the green shirt (on my profile picture on my social pages) with the tie and silver buttons was taken from this shoot. The abs are unedited. The cute green tie hides the “alien”.
The day of the surgery I checked in at 0500. I had a friend take me. Something I was very grateful for, and much better than paying a nurse I didn’t know to come help me. At check in it was pretty routine, change into a gown and roll down the hall after a shot before you see another pack of doctors to get anesthesia to knock you out.
It went well. I saw the doctor beforehand (in between seeing the anesthesiologist and a couple of others) and confirmed with him just one more time that no incisions would be made directly down the middle of my abs. I work in the gym enough and spend time trying to get some sort of results out of my abs and didn’t want a surgery to put scars right between the abs. My surgery was done laparascopically with two 1 centimeter incisions made on the lateral sides and one 1 inch incision made right near the hip bone. (The larger incision was for the camera).
I got out of there and wokeup in a row of beds with a few other people next to me. One lady was about two beds down and coughing a lot, another man didn’t say much and I was ready to go ahead and get on out.
I had another friend pick me up. She and her husband are retired and I know them from the gym. Rita is probably the fittest “70 something” and can train harder than most women in their forties. It’s amazing. I surround myself with people like this on purpose. The funniest thing she said, “come on Beth, get dressed. Sheldon is waiting in the car”. I rolled over sideways and the pain was so ridiculous that I really got a touch worried. I expected pain, but had never had any gut surgery and it was definitely “gut wrenching”. It was worse than the gum surgery I had before and the knee surgery I had to fix a meniscus tear a few years back.
The day of the surgery I knew I’d need pain killers. I hate taking them, but did. (Pain medications scare me, and also back me up, which I didn’t want to fool with). It hurt to cough, laugh, raise my head, roll sideways or even get up. I never knew how much abs were involved in just basically getting around. I knew running or most things would be out of the question. I was instructed to wear a elasticized belt around my waist (I called my girdle) and this would be in place for about 3 weeks. I hated it. It was uncomfortable and even at work I had to wear a lot of clothes to hide it.
Days 2-4- I got increasingly better. I could walk without pain, managed to attend a Sunday Jaguars football game and could take small walks around my neighborhood. It was great! I had to ask friends and my Dad to tone it down on anything funny. Laughing was just that painful. A total first for me. The only pain killer I used was 200-400 mg of Ibuprofen.
Day 4-6 I was better everyday. Rolling over didn’t hurt. I could sleep on my side (instead of my back) and I attempted a walk on day 6. It was about an hour long and outside. I loved being outside and about half way through the beach walk, I decided I would not be working out again for days.
Day 7 I went to South Carolina. I drove instead of flying for a lot of reasons. Being in the car that long wasn’t bad, and I had to get up there to watch football on TV with my family. It still hurt to laugh. I had to ask my Dad more than once not to make me laugh.
Day 11 I walked an hour
Day 12 I did the eliptical without using the arms.
Day 13 I did 50 minutes on the eliptical, no arms.
Day 14 I did a short walk.
Days 15-19 I did nothing fitness wise and saw the doctor for followup. I was cleared to train full strength in a gym and advised to listen to my body.
I’ve enjoyed being back to weights and cardio. I did register a total of a 6 pound weight gain after it was all said and done, but it will be off before too long. I’ve cleaned up my diet expect to see it gone by April.
I’ve ran 5-7miles nonstop several times at about a normal training pace of 8.5 minute miles.
I did miss one trip at work for doing something a bit overly “gung ho”. I did an hour of weights, ran 7 miles and then took an evening walk with a friend all the same day (about 5-6 weeks after surgery). The next day (the day of my trip) I felt a pain I hadn’t felt in a good month. It was gone two days later and I was back to work next trip and have felt fine since. I am going to be conservative for another two months.
My next race is the Gate River Run 15K and if I can’t run all of it, who cares, but I at least want to run 3/4 of it. I’m more looking forward to mingling and seeing friends than doing the mileage. I hope to see all of you there and if you’ve got an “alien”, don’t be afraid to get it fixed or that your training will be over.