So today I’m not working, I’m not taking the kids out, in fact I’m not supposed to be doing much, but put my feet up! Who would have thought I would be complaining about having to rest, but I am, It’s so boring resting!! 5 days ago I had my hernia repair, so I am now recovering at home, trying my hardest not to lift anything (fun with a toddler) or do anything too strenuous. I’ve been dreading this so much, not being able to deal with the kids normally, look after the home, run or exercise, etc. Putting my feet up is actually really hard to deal with, weird huh?
It feels a strange topic to write about, but having not found much info online myself on this type of hernia, I thought someone might appreciate reading my story. One of my misconceptions was that it was only men who got hernias, so I felt a bit of a wierdo when I realised I had one! And then, there I was sat in my hospital ‘pod’ awaiting my surgery. Yep, Not a ‘room’ but a ‘pod’. It was very strange sitting there for hours in my glass fronted ‘pod’ waiting for my turn to be repaired. Even up to the last minute I almost changed my mind. It was the recovery I was dreading more than the procedure itself. Although that wasn’t exactly a barrel of laughs.
The first symptom I experienced was when I was doing sit ups a few months after having my daughter in summer 2014. I was trying to get back in shape post baby (as you do) and noticed this cone shaped thing poke out of my tummy when I did sit ups. I didn’t think much of it at first, so just got on with things and ignored it. In fact I ignored it for about a year, as it never bothered me and only poked out when I did sit ups, so I just stopped doing sit ups!! Simple.
The second thing I noticed after some time, was that my outy belly button that I got when I was pregnant, was still there over a year later! I’d never had an outy belly button before, so thought it was a bit odd, but just put it down to my new mum tum appearance! I had had two kids after all, I couldn’t expect it to look the same as before.
As time went on, probably well over a year after first noticing something, I started experiencing some discomfort in my tummy area. This included mild pressure after a long run and a straining feeling after lifting my daughter. Over a few months the pain increased and then this small bulge started popping out of my belly button and I discovered I could poke it back in. This was a very strange sensation indeed! This strange bulge got worse when I had a bad cough. Every time I had a coughing fit, the bulge poked out and I was bent over in pain. I found I was constantly poking this bulge back in and the more I did, the more it hurt. I had started googling about it and came across ‘hernia’ but mine was right in my belly button, which I thought was very odd. By now it was October 2015, about 16 months after I had first noticed something was wrong.
This was when I decided to see the doctor for the first time about it and they confirmed my suspicions that it was a hernia, and the doctor referred to mine as the umbilical kind, which I’d never heard of before. We talked about surgery, but the doctor didn’t seem too concerned and said it would probably get better when the cough got better and if it wasn’t really bothering me after that, it would be best to just leave it be. I was more than happy to leave it be, as the last thing I wanted was any surgery!
So I Ignored it for a while, and carried on running, I even managed a 10k in the November. But even after my cough went, I was still experiencing increased problems. We had now reached Christmas 2015 and I was finding the hernia was becoming more painful every day and my tummy was sticking out a lot more than normal (and it was’nt just that post Christmas bulge). The hernia was popping out on a daily basis, sometimes more than once, it was horrible. I Put it off for weeks but in the end I had no choice and went to the GP again. It was really effecting me at this point and I was experiencing constant discomfort from it. It had started effecting my daily life, for example not being able to pick up my daughter and struggling to move around normally. And so I was referred to see a surgeon.
What I found strange was that it was day to day life, not exercising, that made the hernia symptoms worsen. I hardly experienced any symptoms running and going to the gym. But when I lifted my daughter or if I rushed up the stairs, then the hernia would become painful. But this also meant I couldn’t avoid it either as it really impinged on my daily life as a mummy.
When I saw the surgeon in February 2016 he straight away recommended surgery. I was a bit taken aback as I thought there would be more of an investigation and options discussed. But he took one look at me and said ‘yep, that’s and umbilical hernia and we will need to operate’. Simple as that. He said I had ‘classic mum tum’ (I know, charming) where my muscles in my tummy had seperated and that had caused me to have a hernia as there was nothing there to keep it all in. We discussed more significant surgery whereby they stitch your separated tummy muscles back up, but he said my mum tum wasn’t too bad (such flattery I know!), it was more major surgery, the scar would be bigger and the recovery was double. I was immediately put off, although secretly a small part of me was tempted to have it all stitched back up! The surgeon booked me in for the 24th March, there and then, to have my hernia repaired.
So on the 24th March I had my umbilical hernia repaired with mesh, via key hole surgery (very clever indeed). I was expecting just the one hole but ended up with at least 4 all down my left hand side. Don’t worry, I won’t post any pictures, it’s not pretty! A day case turned in to an inpatient stay, as I had an asthma attack caused by either the general anaesthetic or the ibuprofen, there not quite sure. I had a reaction to the GA before when I had my emergency c-section 6 years ago. It’s a rather scary experience.
My tummy is 4 times as big as it was right now. In fact I look 7 months pregnant! The bloating is so horrendous and heavy like carrying a baby. I’ve read this is pretty normal. It’s pretty tough, for someone who’s normally so active and fit, to literally sit and do nothing. Thankfully I’ve got strong pain relief and my husband is doing a good job at taking care of everything (not to my standards, but not bad!). My son and daughter are getting used to be flinching every time they knock my tummy by accident and my husbands getting used to me being more bossy than usual. ‘I know what needs doing, I don’t need you telling me’ he says ‘I’ll do it all in my own time’. God this is torture! 3 weeks of work and I should be able to run again in 6 weeks. I’m still aiming to do a half marathon in the not too distant future. But for now, the trainers are having a bit of a rest and I’m putting my feet up and should be making the most of it!