Not quite wonder woman

Surgery #4: 10 weeks post-op hernia repair abdominal wall reconstruction with vertical midline incision

Grocery store March 26, 2017

You can’t get more detailed than saying ’10 weeks post-op hernia repair with abdominal wall reconstruction with a vertical mid-line incision.’ Yes it’s detailed but that doesn’t mean you will find all that much information. Herein lies my problem, finding information specific to me and my procedure.

There are thousands of webpages devoted to certain aspects of the above title but try to find even a handful of trustworthy sites with information about week by week hernia surgery recovery including a full abdominoplasty and an incision running from sternum to pubic bone. Yeah, can’t can ya?

It would take months to read medical information on hernias alone, much more if you include personal accounts on blogs, and don’t even try if you throw in crazy message boards full of bad spelling, no punctuation, and useless details of how the dog acted when that person returned from the hospital.

Abdominal wall reconstruction? The same thing, only you have to search ‘tummy tuck’ which I have issues with. Tummy tuck sounds very cute and usually has this incision from hip to hip and some fat or skin removal. Combine that with a recti diastasis of over SIX inches in some places and guts spilling out, it no longer becomes a ‘tummy tuck’ but a full blown abdominoplasty.

This post was going to give you a brief update and rant on about lack of information on serious hernia and abdomen repair and recovery. Then this morning my drainage tube hole that had been just chillin’ and healin’ for over a month decided it was going to spew forth a never ending stream of yellowish body fluid.

First maxi pad cut in half full of fluid after 2 hours.

Actually I had to keep it bandaged around 2 weeks after the drainage tube came out in April. One reason is I went back to work driving a school bus and wouldn’t you know, the seatbelt goes right over the drain tube hole and where I was most sore from the drain. Literally, right on that exact spot. Anyhow, so part of the bandage was precautionary. Then I quit bandaging mainly because my skin was staying irritated and there was nothing going on but some old fashioned healing up.

On April 28th it started dripping a bit so I went back to the old 2″x 2″ gauze and paper tape. It leaked through the weekend and on Monday I called the doctor’s office and talked to the NP. She made me an appointment for the following Tuesday on May 9th.  But today, May 5th, Cinco de Mayo, this silly hole decides it’s the freaking Mississippi River.

So I tried finding info on ‘the hole left by drainage tubes after surgery leaking continually weeks after it had dried up’. There’s a lot of dog surgery seroma leakage advice out there. Not pertaining to me and my situation but apparently it’s an issue with poor little doggies.

Back to my original train of thought. There are scores of reliable sources out there for information for tummy tucks, hernias, hernia/tummy tuck combo, surgery videos, surgery aftermath, surgery tips, just on and on. But almost all the advice concerns laparoscopic surgery or a horizontal hip to hip incision. The advice will tell you what to expect the first few weeks. Then it gets vague. Almost makes you think, “Hey, I might be good as new in 2 or 3 weeks.”

And maybe some people are. But if you have had multiple surgeries (I’ve had 2 both with sternum to pubic bone incisions) and the CT scan image of your intestines outside of your abdominal cavity made your surgeon flinch in his chair, then I suspect you are in it for the long haul.

I did not get released for work for almost 8 weeks. And now 3 weeks later, with Iguazu Falls pouring out of my tummy I’m not so sure that was a good call.

Anyhow if you had asked me early in this week how I was I would have replied with ‘back to 82%’. I can tell ya, I’m not feeling that high anymore. In connection with this leakage, I was feeling nauseated the previous 12-14 hours but I thought it was because of other reasons.  I don’t think that now, I think it was my body getting ready to spew. And anytime I have body fluid issues to deal with everytime I have to go to the bathroom I’m just done with life basically. Imagine what a joy I’ve been once a month since I was 13.

Like I said I did talk to the NP. So her thoughts was a fluid build up (she did not use the words seroma) and that fluid takes the path of least resistance. Since I have an appointment with my actual surgeon and the fluid is yellowish with no odor she advised:

  1. catching fluid with maxi pads which have good absorption
  2. checking my temp twice a day – anything over 100 gets me a trip to Emory
  3. making sure my tummy doesn’t get red and hot to the touch
  4. making sure the drain hole isn’t irritated

She gave me a direct number to a resident that is on call this weekend and went over all my visits, calls, and messages since my surgery. She was very thorough and I felt like she had a good picture of what was going on and could relate it in context to the past 10 weeks. I highly recommend this level of care because I haven’t seen this NP in person and I think about our conversation which was partly chit chat, how much she could discern from my tone, how much I joked around, how I had dates and fact ready, and described what was happening. She was very likably professional.

It is all getting better, minor setback are to be expected. Advice online is good some of the time but there’s nothing like talking to a real human trained in the inner workings of the problem at hand. I read a lot and get a good idea of what’s going on but I’m ready for my person to person doctor’s appointment.

If you want to stop here, the following is the grossest thing I’ve ever posted online. This is the flow of fluid. My stomach does look red but I just pulled back the compression garment (so it’s dented and wrinkly as well), the raw spots are from the tape but I’m solving that by using the sticky side of the maxi pads to hold this in place with it sticking to the compression garment. I did realize I could get a much stronger flow by pressing on it which kinda made me sick. Anyhow, not for the faint of heart but really it might help someone who has the same thing going on. (Call your surgeon.)

Press play at your own risk.

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10 thoughts on “Surgery #4: 10 weeks post-op hernia repair abdominal wall reconstruction with vertical midline incision

  1. Clover

    Thank you for posting all of your experiences! I agree, it is quite hard to find any real life experiences on hernias. I am a mom of 4 with a hernia that appeared after my 3rd csection. It hangs the same as yours did and I also do not have any insurance and am waiting to have it looked at. My insurance kicks in Aug 1st! I hope you are doing well, I look forward to your future updates. Thanks again for your posts.

  2. Carla

    Thank you so much for this blog. I’m having the same surgery in 2 days and it’s been impossible to find information! I hope your recovery has gone well!

    1. April Post author

      I know! I have a follow-up- nine months down the road that is written but not edited and posted so stay tuned.
      I hope yours went well and a speedy recovery!

  3. Hazel

    I had abdominal wall reconstruction surgery done Oct. 17, 2017, it is now 7 1/2 weeks later and I feel as though I have something crawling around in my stomach. Can someone please tell me when is it that one should feel something like normal? What should I be feeling post surgery at seven weeks? It is worrying me so from day to day because I feel a different sort of discomfort each day.

    1. April Post author

      I can’t say that I felt like something was crawling around in my stomach but I was acutely aware of every tug and pull and sensation. One thing I did when I asked my surgeon about it, I showed him the exact spots where I felt a tugging. These turned out to be the places where they had either attached muscle or mesh and it was totally normal.
      I suggest you have your follow up visits and if you feel like you need more answers make and extra appointment to address your concerns if that is possible.
      Hope it goes well for you!

  4. Pingback: Surgery post #5 and life goes on – Not quite wonder woman

  5. Michelle Schumacher

    I thought I was the only woman to have this due to poor previous surgeries. I had 3 in 2015 all stemming from a laproscopic hernia repair where the dr decided to remove old hernia mesh and perforated my bowel causing infected mesh causing bowel blockage with staples resection. I am hoping to connect with others that have had this surgery. WOULD ANYBODY be willing to join a private group for mutual support?
    . I am currently scheduled for AWR in Aug 2018 with a pre-op schedule of losing 50 lbs, BC therapy, and nutritional work. Knoxville TN.

    1. April Post author

      So nice to find out you’re not alone, right? I have some serious losing weight and back to shape to do but I feel so much better. I’m still a little skittish about pulling and stretching. I have these nightmare visions of the whole thing splitting right back up the middle. I escaped the mesh infection by what I feel like is a hair. I hope your weight loss goes good!

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