About two weeks ago I got a hernia diagnosis, which I memorialized in "Now I can scratch 'get hernia' off my bucket list."
The diagnosis wasn't a big surprise, given the large bulge on the right side of my groin that appeared suddenly while I was sitting in a dentist's chair a few days before I got the official diagnosis based on an ultrasound.
I've been trying to be as positive as possible while waiting for a surgery consultation. But as today's consultation approached, my mind veered off in some decidedly negative directions.
My hernia is large; maybe it is too large for surgery. I have to use an intermittent catheter to pee; maybe this will be difficult to do after surgery. My family physician said it was OK to exercise while wearing a hernia belt; maybe the surgeon will say this made my hernia worse.
Well, as often happens it turned out that none of my fears came to pass -- though the surgeon did bring up some scary stuff when describing what could go wrong with my hernia repair.
Personable. Caring. Good communicator. And best of all, almost, Dr. Lin used the term "OCD" about herself while describing part of the hernia procedure.
That's exactly what I want in a surgeon -- someone nice who also is obsessively compulsive about the details of the surgery she's performing. Especially when the surgery is being performed on me.
Dr. Lin started off by saying she didn't have her usual visual aid with her, so she'd have to draw me a diagram of the hernia surgery. She offered it to me as I was leaving. I grabbed the piece of paper, saying, "I'll keep this memento in a scrapbook."
Or, blog post.
My private parts are in the middle of the groin, though not drawn to scale, I hasten to say. The round circle on the right side of the groin is the hole where some of what should be inside me, like part of my bowel, has crept outside.
Dr. Lin said that men are especially vulnerable to inguinal hernias due to the way the testes descend into the testicles in a boy baby. Then the wear and tear of aging can create a hernia in that already weak spot.
Plastic mesh is used to shore up the weak areas in my groin area. I penned in the word "sew" in the area where stitches would be used to fasten down the mesh. That can't be done on the lower side, for a reason I only vaguely remember.
Something to do with blood vessels and such that have to be left clear, I believe. So scar tissue forms over the mesh to keep it in place in those areas. And natural lining from my body also covers the mesh.
Early on in the consultation Dr. Lin used the term "robot" in describing the hernia surgery. For a bit I hoped that a robot would be doing the surgery, like an internal Roomba. Lin explained, though, that she controls the four robotic arms.
The laparoscopic approach is preferred by Dr. Lin over open surgery, though she said there was a small chance she'd have to go the open route after starting with laparoscopy.
She told me that 50% of her hernia patients don't need pain medication after the procedure, which was great news, given how some Googling yesterday revealed that sometimes the post-surgery period can be quite painful.
My scribbling is almost illegible, but I think Lin said that I shouldn't lift more than ten pounds for six weeks. Or maybe two weeks. Guess I'll find out after the surgery. Six weeks seemed to be the usual recovery period, with a two-week follow-up to see how things are going.
I mostly blurred out in my mind the obligatory explanation of what could go wrong with the surgery. The only note I made was "Chronic pain 1-6%." I'll focus on the one percent, liking those odds.
Pleasingly, this seemed to be a rare occasion when using a catheter five times a day to empty my bladder fully (I can pee some on my own, but my bladder basically went on strike four years ago) is a plus.
Dr. Lin said that sometimes the bladder works slowly after hernia surgery, and a catheter is required. But since I'm already using a catheter, problem solved!
I double-checked with Lin about exercising while waiting for surgery, including chores like mowing the grass on our ten rural acres with a walk-behind mower. She said that'd be fine so long as I wore a hernia belt, which I've already been doing.
Now I have to wait for Regence MedAdvantage to approve the surgery. After that I'll get a call to schedule the hernia repair.
At the end of the consultation Dr. Lin said I should consider whether I wanted the surgery, since I'm not experiencing any pain from the hernia at the moment.
It took me about two seconds of considering to say, "Let's do it."