Thursday, December 30, 2010

hernia repair

For several years doctors had expressed concern about my hernia. But I never had it looked into … that is until the last week in November (right before Thanksgiving). Around that time I felt some minor discomfort in the lower abdominal area, and finally decided to follow up on my doc’s referral.

Presented with my cycling plans for Summer 2011, the hernia specialist convinced me to schedule surgery sooner than later. I had to weigh completing a 3rd consecutive R-12 (36 straight months of cycling a 200k or longer event) against minimizing problems that could arise ‘round PBP time (1200 km from Paris to Brest and back next August). I opted for the latter, and scheduled the “hernia repair surgery” on December 1.

The surgeon made it sound like no big deal. Minimally invasive “bilateral laparoscopic” is what he called the procedure, and I was under the impression I’d be back to my old biking self by the end of the month. When a nurse called later with specifics about the operation, and asked “You have scheduled time off work, haven’t you?,” I got the first hint that this was bigger, more time-consuming deal that initially envisioned. The bigger-deal-ness was confirmed when I was later told that I would need to be driven home from the hospital afterwards, and that I should have someone stay overnight during my first evening at home.

before surgery
Originally uploaded by tangocyclist
Three good friends (Amy, Cynthia, and Megan), all of whom have busy lives of their own, ended up playing tag team in order for someone to be with me throughout the procedure, plus the first night at home. I originally planned to bicycle to the hospital, but instead just biked to work, from where Amy picked me up and drove to St. Vincent’s Hospital. Check in took a while, as did preparations for the surgery. Amy was still there as they put me under. And when I came to (a couple hours later), there was Cynthia, prepared to load me in her car.

preparing to leave
Originally uploaded by tangocyclist
“Coming to” (in the more complete sense) didn’t happen quickly, though. So it was still a few more hours before I could be stood up and walked to the car. In fact, by the time I was released, Amy had returned to the hospital, and took me home.

It was painful to get in and out of bed, and in and out of a car. Other than that, I was basically okay, as long as I didn’t lift anything. After a couple days of Vicoden, I switched to Advil and Ibuprofen, which I continued to stay on for quite a while, especially after Laurel Leverton convinced me that it was important to control was inflammation in order for healing to occur. I returned to host the Sunday tango practica on December 5th (but only as host and DJ, as Megan taught the lesson), and to work on Monday the 6th. I tried bike-commuting to work about a week later, but the lower right abdomen felt a little funky afterwards. Many nurse-type friends put the fear of God into me about not aggravating things prematurely, saying that the messiest procedure is often the second surgery, to repair a first one not taken care of.

a tradition continues
Originally uploaded by tangocyclist
During the last third of December, five family members visited me for the holidays. I still had to take care with lifting and such, although I managed to bring home a Christmas tree via Xtracycle. Total cycling mileage for the month was less than a mere 14, though. So the consecutive monthly 200k randonneuring ride streak ended at 35. And the healing process looked to be closer to six weeks rather than three.