On Friday August 26, 2011, I had open left inguinal hernia repair. In the months leading up to the surgery, I’d read a lot of information about it, and was concerned to find mostly negative experiences from those who had the procedure. I decided to document my progress during the first four weeks following surgery, the period after which my surgeon said I would be fully recovered.
On Saturday, September 10th, two weeks and one day after surgery, Alex and I decided it was time to get back to the trail. We left early and went to Speyside, and spent the day hiking. I moved slowly — very slowly. But I had a chance to find some lovely mushrooms, and spend time in a part of the trail I truly love.
We hiked for about five hours, and covered only about six kilometres, a fraction of the distance we would normally hike in that time. By the end, I was somewhat sore, but the day had been worth it.
This emboldened me, and I felt ready for swimming. On Monday, we went to Angela Coughlan Pool in the evening. I was very apprehensive, although I would only use a pull buoy so I wouldn’t have to kick. It felt strange getting in the water (carefully), and it took about five minutes before I attempted my first length. It was tentative, and I could immediately feel the surgery area.
I did about five laps in total, resting after each length. When I left the pool, the area felt strange, like a pulled muscle, or a strain. I was a bit concerned, but it looked the same. I considered it a success.
I tried again on Tuesday at Centennial Pool, and it went just as well. On Friday, I was back at Centennial, and managed one or two more laps than previously, including a few one-hundred metre laps, and one without the pull buoy.
There was a definite straining sensation on one of the lengths, and I had to quit. Getting out of the pool was difficult. I felt as though I’d have to forgo swimming for the time being.
That evening, I noticed what looked like a slight hernial bulge in the area where the sac had been before surgery. Had the hernia recurred?
It was difficult to determine what was going on. On the one hand, I was fairly pain-free at the hernia site. However, I’d definitely felt strain at the site while swimming, and there was what appeared to be a sac that was invisible in the morning and appeared later in the day, only to reduce again — sometimes while I looked at it.
It was impossible to decide if I was seeing a natural part of my anatomy, or something anomalous, and the only solution was to see Dr. Chemparathy. I was asked by the surgeon to follow up with him at some point, so I decided to wait until four weeks had passed, after which I’d make an appointment.
On Sunday, September 18, we spent the day in the Niagara wine region. Everything seemed fairly normal, although I was slightly sore. On Tuesday, Alex’ father Serge came to stay with us for a few days. A hike through Bronte Creek Park was not as comfortable as I’d hoped it would be, or indeed, as it had been previously.
The bulge still seemed to come and go over the following few days, with no serious indication that the hernia had recurred. I made the follow-up appointment with my regular doctor for the following week.
I had progressed fairly well up to this point, with no severe pain issues, and perhaps some expected discomfort while engaging in more strenuous activity. The presence of what appeared to be a bulge was only slightly concerning, as recurrence so soon after surgery is very rare. It seemed that I had, indeed, recovered completely at week four’s conclusion. I was satisfied with the entire experience.
Until that weekend.