A Road to Recovery:
A Yogi’s diary to recovering from a umbilical hernia (ewww!)
So an umbilical hernia sounds totally disgusting, but it is more common amongst fitness freaks than you may realise! A hernia is a condition in which part of an organ is displaced and protrudes through the wall of the cavity containing it (often involving the intestine at a weak point in the abdominal wall). In my case, the weakest point in my abs was my belly button, and when doing some high intensity yoga… something just popped!
So this injury occurred in Hot Power Yoga, when I was doing too many advanced handstands without enough preparation work. I also completed my entire Yoga Teacher Training Course with this hernia. It was only painful sometimes, but these hernias have some serious complications that can lead to emergency surgery and even death. So I decided to get the operation to fix the condition…
My operation was at the New Victoria Hospital in December 2015 and I had a Ventralex (TM) Hernia Patch used for the surgery. I wasn’t allowed to eat anything from 12 midnight the following day as I was going under a general anaesthetic. The procedure was microsurgery through the belly button, and the microfibre was place over the tear then sewn into the muscle around it to reinforce the weak area in the abdominal wall. I should have no scaring after the operation (yet to be seen) as scar tissue will be inside the belly button. I have been told recovery is 2 weeks home-time, 6 weeks no exercise or heavy lifting (ouch!!).
So how has the recovery been I hear you ask?
Day 1: Operation day!
I went into the op in a positive mindset at 7am. The hospital was amazing, the staff were friendly and my Doctor was trustworthy and genuine. I was checking in quickly and taken to my room where I felt comfortable and had my boyfriend there by my side (I even got my own hospital room to fit in some last backbends before the operation! Old habits die hard!). I had everything checked and had several nurses were shocked that my heart rate was 43-46 beats per minute, athlete rage. ‘You must be fit!’ they told me (Woohoo thanks Yoga and RPM!)
I met the anaesthetist before the operation and she was sure to check all my health history. The operation was only 30 minutes and had no complications. After the operation I was returned back to my room with the doctors saying ‘She’s the happiest person I’ve seen who has just come out of surgery.’ I was smiling and giggling due to the drugs I am sure! When I woke up felt very little pain due to heavy medication and a local anaesthetic in the abdomen area. The sorest part of my body was my throat from where they intubated me.
Ross was by my side, so I had undivided loving attention, and I got served food not long after and had some bad guilty-pleasure TV on. Everything was great! Day one was easy, the operation went well and I felt good, without pain! I even went home that night and had a fantastic sleep!
The prescriptions I was given: paracetamol (2 pills 4 x a day), dislofenac sodium (anti inflammatory, 1 pill 3 times a day) and Codine (2 x 4 times a day) as pain killers. With the Codine, they said to also take a laxative as the ramifications can be bad… As I now know! NOTE: I only took two codine pills on the second day, and in the evenings for a few days to ensure a good sleep. These are hardcore, and really knocked me around. I wouldn’t suggest taking the full dosage as the pain isn’t bad enough to take such hard drugs! Avoid as much as you can, I don’t think they are needed to the level prescribed!
Day 2: NOT so easy!
So I woke up feeling ok! Not as much pain as expected. It was tough to get up from laying down, but not as hard as blogs I read had made me think it would be. At this point the anaesthetic had worn off. And I tell you what, the next stage was one of the most PAINFUL things I have EVER experienced… And it might not be what you expect… It was going to the loo! Yup, this was bad. My main tip for future hernia operation patients – is laxatives!! Make sure you get good ones. And go to the loo BEFORE your op. Because this phase was horrendous. Your best friend will be a pillow to hug against your abs and some glycerine suppositories. And it will take time, lots of time! Get comfy, get a book and hang out.
Once this is over, things were not so bad. I was walking around, sleeping loads but still able to do simple tasks. So day 2 is definitely the worst!
Day 3 & 4:
I sat around most of the day on day 3 and watched TV. My brain was fuzzy due to the medication and I was tired a lot. Pain wasn’t too bad though as I was not moving much. I ate lots of high fibre foods (fruit, nuts, yoghurt, veggies) to avoid any future complications and took the laxatives they gave me if I had a codine pain killer. Day 4 I ventured out to Covent Garden with my boyfriend and saw a friend in the afternoon, felt pretty tired. I am very tight in the abdomen area and I am tending to hunch quite a lot when I walk, which is upsetting me as I have very good posture. I am taking note to walk with a straight back! Spending my time making juices, nice soups and healthy foods. Because I can’t exercise, I have decided to focus on nutrition and increasing my yoga and mediation knowledge.
The sensation /pain is that of a pulling feeling and a constant slight twinge. It isn’t throbbing or unbearable. A sharp pain occurs when you do anything that largely involved ab muscles. At night it is the worst, and you need to mostly try to sleep on your back. I also slept on my slide sometimes with a pillow between my legs and that seemed to work ok. But my lower back started to become quite sore at day 3. I guess from the less movement / stretching and laying around most the day. This is a picture of my heria recovery at day 4.
So these days I got back to normal things – seeing friends for dinner, going out for coffee etc. I noticed my back was really sore, and this is probably due to my abs not being able to support myself when walking around so my back was in over-drive. I did notice I got very tired very quickly, but other than this I started returning to daily activities, but no heavy lifting. I realise not everyone will recover as quickly as I have, and I had a very strong foundation to begin with so I think this has helped. But for me, within 5 days I was completing most tasks normally like the washing, cleaning, cooking.
When I took the gauze off at day 6 to see the damage, that was a scary moment. But to be fair, it isn’t too bad… Although does look slightly gross!
WEEK 8 +
It is now 8 weeks on and I can say I am feeling GREAT! I have completed my first wheel, handstand, headstand etc at week 8 and feeling 100%. I am back to 3 RPM cycle classes a week and daily yoga.
<< To be updated as the recovery continues>>