My inguinal hernia recovery

This September I discovered I have an inguinal hernia and got it fixed right away. These are my impressions for anyone getting ready or recovering after one. Hernia seems to be a proof that a man’s body isn’t perfect. A man is 25 times more likely to suffer a hernia than a woman.

I had an open surgery to put the things back in place and muscles re-enforced with a mesh (mono-filament polypropylene, or Prolene). This is my experience as a patient. Your experience might be different given your specific surgery and hernia. Please don’t avoid asking your doctor for help if something doesn’t seem right to you – I am not a doctor, this is only some advice.

day 0 – You can barely move to the bathroom. Make sure your bed is close to it. Use your hands as much as you can to lift your top body up and avoid using the tummy muscles.
You are only allowed to drink tea, until your digestion is back in place. That will pretty much weaken you. Don’t pause in painful positions when getting up from bed – it won’t get better, simply accept it and make your next moves. Pressing the wound with your hand can help a lot.

day 1 – You can now learn how to properly lift yourself up from bed. Put yourself sideways and insert an elbow under your chest, then start pushing yourself with it. Sitting up in two feet is very painful (you feel a sting, like somebody is pouring acid or alcohol on your wound); try pressing the wound with your palm, to counterfeit the pressure from the belly. If you think your digestion is back to normal, you can continue eating soups and yogurt.
You can brush the teeth by yourself.
Since you will mostly be sitting in bed, consider bringing a book or a crosswords puzzle.

day 2 – You now understand how bad is sitting horizontal in bed. You feel wonderful in it, but when sitting up you suffer a cruel pain and you can’t even walk in a normal vertical pose. If you then sit on a chair and pause, your pain diminishes and you can walk normally.

This is the secret of a fine recovery – never sit in bed, unless you want to sleep. Sit in chair and walk for 2-5 minutes once or twice per hour. Make the wound get used to the pressure in your abs.

You are still on a soup+yogurt diet.

 You can wash a little using the sink, all by yourself with a little effort. You’ll be yellow on your chest from the betadine used to clean you up before surgery.

day 3 – You can walk small distances without problems. You can now add some smashed meat to the soup and the yogurt can turn to cheese.

day 4 and 5 – You should be sent home already. If driven from hospital, ask the driver to avoid bumps or drive slow over them. You are full of life again and you return to daily non-effort activities (literature, watching TV, moving small stuff around, preparing your food, doing the dishes). You only use the bed for sleeping or laying for 2-5 minutes, but not for more if you want to skip the pain of re-getting used to vertical position. Avoid carbs/sugar based aliments that can produce gases.
You can wash your head by yourself.

day 6 – Your liquid drain “bag” can now be removed – your wound is ready to close forever. Your last bandage is set up. You shouldn’t feel any significant pain anymore.

day 7 – Off with the bandage! You can take your first real shower. Careful with the wound, you may want to get a special plastic cover for it while you shower.

First two or three weeks avoid walking or running too much, just do small calm walks. Don’t use public transport unless you sit. Avoid using stairs too often.
In the first week it’s important to avoid sneazing or laughing out loud. It’s very painful :)! Yawns and hickups won’t do you wrong.

I plan to stay 3 months away from workouts and 6 months away from serious weight pulling. Mainly I will focus on the upper muscles of the body and never exercise standing in feet. Also no deadlifts, abs, or biceps standing for 6 months. But after 6-8 months I hope to be back again in shape like nothing ever happened :)!

This was simple advice which might or might not be valid to you. Ask your doctor, since I am not one. Good luck – and remember, you made the best choice by getting it done by surgery; there is no other way (although some say they got rid of it by exercise, but i think that’s plain luck or myth, i’d rather put my trust in doctors and their knowledge).

You can find out more about inguinal hernia here, with a very interesting video. You can ask me more about my experience, if you like. Another detailed story with great advice can be found here.