10 things you need to know about life post hernia operation

September 29, 2022

I wrote an article a few years back when I had a hernia operation on my blogand it seems to be getting some attention still, meaning people are still wondering what should they do next. 

Well, to keep a long story short, I underwent a straight forward surgical procedure, a hernia operation or an inguinal repair. Basically, an inguinal hernia is when your small intestine protrudes between your abdominal muscle, causing pain and discomfort. The surgery is a procedure where a mesh is put behind the abdominal muscle to patch everything up and keep everything where it's supposed to be. Fairly plain and simple.

Truth be told, I never really looked into what life was like after the operation, and what to look out for. This is just a list of the obvious things, just in case anyone is wondering what it's like, or if you are about to have the procedure done yourself.

1. Everything hurts

After the hernia operation, everything is perfect. You'll still be enjoying the last remaining minutes of anesthetic as you are returned to the ward. Naturally, hospital staff are eager to ensure bodily functions are still working. Once I began to get out of the bed, every little movement sent darts of pain running up my spine. The initial 5 minutes where you attempt to stand will be painful, they were for me. Gingerly, I stood up, and shuffled slowly to the bathroom. I had to pull the assistance chord as I felt dizzy, I assume this was due to the general anesthetic still being in my system, but it was a frightening experience nonetheless. I also noticed a small amount of blood on the bed sheets as I returned. These are little things that hurt you should be conscious of.

2. Getting out of hospital

I left the ward in a wheelchair, and was pushed out to the awaiting car. I was ever careful not to push myself up and strain the area where my hernia used to be. Getting out felt quite sore, almost like being pinched continuously around the wound site. I was also extremely careful not to sit down too quick, as this too increases pressure on the abdominal area.

3. Baby Steps

When you do make those first few post hernia operation steps, you'll find that even the shortest journey is now a mammoth marathon of man versus, well...man. You'll be reduced to a mere shuffle, tender, ever mindful to not rupture the procedure just completed. The day of the procedure is bad, and so are the following two days. You won't be able to lean down and put on socks or shoes, and you certainly won't be able to pick anything up. Best advice is to stay in bed. You'll also be crouched over, so get ready for it!!

4. Getting out of chairs

I remember if it was only last week, mainly because it was only last week, but sitting down and getting up out of chairs became quite the struggle. As with the walking, you'll be ever mindful that you've just been sliced open by surgeons, and you'll be minding yourself as a result. The would will feel like it is being severely pinched as you sit down and stand up. Aches and pains will run down your spine. There is however a way to avoid this paid. Sit in high chairs. While they may be uncomfortable to sit on, they provide much needed support, and are easier to sit down in and get up out of.


5. Laughing

This is something that caught me by surprise. As I was watching TV, something came on that made me simply giggle. The pain and discomfort of this cannot be underestimated. Whats worse, the more it hurt, the more I laughed. I was torturing myself and I couldn't stop. So, simple piece of advice, watch Sky News for about 4 days... be grand!!

6. Coughing

Much like laughing, I wasn't expecting this to hurt. While the cough was merely a drop of water going down the wrong way, and the cough being a pathetically faint one, the pain which manifested itself felt like the very stiches which were holding me together, just came apart. This happened a few times and even today, a week on, it still hurts like hell. There is no simple piece of advice I can give about this, only be careful, and know its going to hurt.

7. Getting into bed

We all do it, every day. We subconsciously cast our weary legs into our beds and drift of to the land of nod, squirming continuously until we find that perfect position and all is right with the world. It took at least 5 minutes to get into bed, slowly moving more and more into the center. It was a slow process, with many darts of pain. Unlike pre op, I had to lay on my back, and let the fatigue carry me to the land of nod....eventually...

8. Getting out of bed

See "Getting into bed", only in reverse!!

9. Walking

As the days go on, and you get on your feet that bit more, you'll feel brave enough to take a few adventures outside. This will hurt, but with each passing step, it will get better and better. At first, you will shuffle along. A simple 5 minute walk to the shops will become a tedious 15 minute walk. Whats more, you won't be able to carry anything making the trip to the shop pointless. It will feel like a stitch and uncomfortable, but this pain is worth it.

10. Sneezing

Finally, sneezing...I'm not going to say much on this matter, only find a way not to sneeze. I don't care what it is, don't sneeze. Those precious seconds afterwards are extremely painful and feels like you are after ripping yourself apart!!

Other than that, the procedure went ok. I'm healing up well, and 10 days post op, I feel a million times better. These are just the a few things that'll hurt just after the operation, and something you should be mindful of to make your recovery that bit better!!

A quick few words of thanks...

The surgeons and staff in St. Vincents University Hospital were actually amazing, as were those who looked after me on my first days out of hospital!!

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