I had hernia surgery in 2008 and again in 2013. So I guess, I was overdue for a third.
|MY "BEFORE" PICTURE IN HAWAII, (DECEMBER 2015), I DID MY BEST TO HIDE MY BELLY BUMP. BUT THIS PROFILE MADE ME LOOK PREGNANT.|
For to personal reasons, (laziness and cynicism wrapped in stupidity), I refused to address my latest bellyache. To prove how much of a stubborn knucklehead I am, when my employer dropped our medical insurance benefits, I didn't run out and take this last ditch advantage of my coverage. With sour grapes I can say, I was misinformed...that under my circumstance, with the new Affordable Health Care Act, such a procedure would be of negligible cost. That did NOT happen!
I'll skip other boring circumstances and forge ahead to this week's medical road trip to Rockville Maryland.
My memory of my 2008 and 2013 gut cuts, were easy and routine. In both cases, I felt so strong afterwards that I was surprised that I wasn't permitted to drive. This time was different.
My new doctor, Alan Kravitz specializes in hernias and has performed countless procedures. His bedside manner was confident and calming, (twice over the past few months, he personally returned my phone calls...which is something few doctors do). Plus he has surrounded himself with office staffers, like Betsy and a kind, professional and thorough team, at the Montgomery Surgical Center.
|BETSY WAS KIND ENOUGH TO HOOK US UP WITH A DISCOUNTED RATE AT A NEARBY MOTEL. IT WAS THE FIRST TIME I WAS ABLE TO TRY THIS OLD GAG.|
Later when I came out of the anesthesia, I was disoriented and in pain. While I was in recovery, the nursing staff reminded us to make a stop or two on our long drive back to New Jersey. My wife Sue took the wheel and thrust us face-first into Washington DC rush hour traffic. Somehow, the Gods of I-95 were with us and spared us the typical bumper-to-bumper nightmare that highway is famous for. Even as we jousted for space with new commuters in Baltimore, we kept up a decent pace.
At the staff's suggestion, in the car, I did toe exercises to reduce the risk of blood clots in my legs. We stopped in Delaware so I could walk around, (I was so slow that Tim Conway's "Old Man" character would have whizzed by me).
|TIM CONWAY (1933-PRESENT) WAS KNOWN FOR CRACKING UP HIS FELLOW ACTORS ON THE, "CAROL BURNETT SHOW." HERE AS HIS SLOW WALKING, OLD MAN, HE TESTS HARVEY KORMAN'S SELF-CONTROL.|
That rest stop was tough. Just navigating out of the car was difficult. My mind wasn't clear, I was in pain and sleepy too. But the sneakiest side-effect hit me on the way out, an acute sense of nausea. Even in my sorry state, I thought if I lost my (non-existent lunch) that stretching the stitches in my stomach would kill me. To reduce that stress, I somehow remembered breathing techniques. It worked and I subdued the pending catastrophe, (in the same regard, I'm so glad I didn't have a sneezy cold or cough).
We stopped again, at our Wal-Mart, (Mays Landing NJ). Sue filled my percocet prescription and threw in some extra strength Motrin. She wanted me to wait in the car, but the doctor said I should walk around. The meds took twenty minutes to process. At Tim Conway-speed, I did a lap around the store.
|MY "AFTER" PICTURE. WHILE WAITING IN WAL-MART, I FOUND A NEW PRODUCT THAT IS GUARANTEED TO GET ME BACK TO MY SWEET OLD SELF.|
My hike exhausted me, so I sat on a bench near the entrance. Then I couldn't get up because the seat was lower than the car's and the strain on my stomach muscles were pure agony. Seconds after standing, I was forced to repel another round of nausea.
At home, I didn't take the pain meds right away. Getting into bed took forever. Then I got no sleep. In the morning, like a turtle struggling to get off his back, getting out of bed took forty minutes.
I was gripped by other side-effects. The petty ones included: the general malaise caused by cabin fever, random body aches, the feeling that I smelled and general itchiness, especially around the bandages.
|COVERING MY BANDAGES, I MUST WEAR AN ABDOMINAL BINDER 24/7 FOR TWO WEEKS, (OTHER THAN SHOWERS). IT'S UNCOMFORTABLY TIGHT, AS YOU CAN SEE, MY SKIN HAS ALREADY TURNED BLUE.|
The side-effect I hated the most was the soreness caused by the anesthesia tube in my throat. I also had no appetite, so I was living off antacids to relieve my trapped gas and heart burn. To get some level of normalcy, I took a stool softener. It worked too well! A gazillion times that day, I would have knocked down any obstacles on my way to the promised land; including Tim Conway's Old Man.
The biggest thing that got me through the pain, discomfort and boredom of Wednesday and Thursday was the support of Sue, other family members and friends. I had been invited to a Super-Bowl party on Sunday (today) and as late as Thursday, I doubted I would go.
Luckily, Friday was a significant bounce back day. Maybe it had to do with my first shower or that the anesthesia was 100% out of my system or that the healing had really begun, (perhaps all three...and for you realists, never under-estimate the value a solid bowel movement).
Friday was such a breakthrough that I went cold turkey from my pain management regimen of four times a day, down to one.
Yesterday, (Saturday), my improvement allowed me to do a slower and reduced-sized power walk. I got in and out of my little car with ease, (to reduce pain, up till then, I had been using Sue's SUV). By 2:PM, I had successfully weaned myself down no meds for 12+ hours. AND, I got enough of an appetite to go refrigerator grazing.
This morning despite the 24 degree temperature, I did my walk again. Additionally, my 12+ hours of no meds is now up to 36 hours, (I'd rather be in a little pain with no drugs...then in no pain with them).
There is no doubt I will be going to the Panthers versus Broncos Super Bowl party tonight! GO BRONCOS!
I'm going to take another week off to recuperate. I don't want to get too cocky, but if I keep improving, I might have to erect a statue of Dr. Alan Kravitz or at least write a testimonial letter to him. But I'll wait until a few months because this surgery was only necessary because the mesh covering my second hernia undid itself. If I need another hernia repaired, to avoid the "GROUNDHOG DAY," hex, I'll have them install a friggin' zipper.
Special thanks to MIKE123 and Alice for turning me onto Dr. Kravitz and HJ and his wife Margi who came out on a frosty Monday night in Rockville as they were still digging out of, thirty-one inches of snow.
|IN THE EARLY STAGES OF THE JANUARY 30th BLIZZARD, HJ TOOK THIS SHOT. |
Also, let's not forget the one major positive side-effect of my operation, I lost five pounds! I doubt I'll keep it off, but I'll try, by NOT eating at tonight's party. Yeah right, like that's gonna happen !