The waiting game

The body is an incredible invention.  I’ve often marvelled at its beauty, its intricacy, its delicacy, its toughness, and above all its ability to heal itself.  It’s that last one that I’ve been wondering at most recently, in light of the little umbilical hernia I managed to get and the corrective surgery that followed.  Perhaps I put my body’s healing abilities on a pedestal, or maybe I was just impatient, but I found myself surprised that well over a month after the surgery I’m still having problems with it.

The surgery itself went very well.  Not that I remember very much of it, of course.  Apparently when I came to after the operation I turned down a cup of tea three times before accepting, and had some garibaldi biscuits, none of which I have any memory of whatsoever (and yes, I still feel cheated because of that).  After the op I spent a lot of time lying down, resting, not doing very much, giving my body all the time it needed to get itself straight again.  Well, I say “all the time it needed”, in fact I was back at work the following week, because I’d convinced myself that sitting at a desk didn’t constitute effort.

Now, I had been told in the hospital that I had been given dissolvable stitches, which would disappear within about 2 weeks.  There were actually two parts that needed healing – the interior wound where they patched up the hernia, and the exterior wound that the surgeon cut to get at the interior one.  I still have a lovely scar visible just above my belly button, about 4cm long.  Next to that is where the stitching for the exterior wound was brought to the surface and knotted off, so for some time I had a bit of what looked like fishing line sticking out of me.  I gave that a good 3-4 weeks before wondering why it hadn’t dissolved away and started gently pulling at it to see if it would come away, but each time I could feel it pulling on something inside.  Obviously I didn’t do that too much!

I had also been told that I should expect to be back at work and starting to do things again by about 3 weeks.  Sure enough, by the third week I was feeling much better, much stronger, and I slowly started doing things again.  Not all at once, and nothing too strenuous, just building up gradually as my wound would allow.  All was fine until a week or so ago, around a month after the operation, when things started going backwards a bit.  Playing with Samuel was causing me discomfort again, I was feeling tender and sore, and on Sunday I even felt quite nauseous and wasn’t feeling well at all.  So I booked myself an appointment at the hospital to get it checked out – the last thing I wanted was for it to have re-herniated.

What came out of that phone call was that the dissolvable stitches can easily take 50 days to dissolve.  A bit different to 2 weeks then.  That explains why I still had a bit of fishing wire poking out of me.  If they’d given me that number at the beginning I wouldn’t have been trying to hurry it up.  This morning I had the appointment with my surgeon, who had a feel and reported that it was all fine.  The exterior wound does indeed take around 2-3 weeks to heal up, but the interior tissues take a lot longer, possibly 2 months.  Again, not what I’d been told originally.  The discomfort I was feeling was most likely caused by me trying to do too much too soon.  Apparently throwing Samuel in the air is back off the cards again.

So, the good news is that I’m making a good recovery after all.  Everything looks and feels fine to the surgeon, and there is no cause for concern.  What I thought was swelling and/or a re-herniation is actually just scar tissue.  That’s a huge relief.  I guess it’s just slightly frustrating that my worry was caused by incomplete information and vastly understated recovery times when I had the operation itself.  I’ll have to hold back on what I do again, and give my body a little bit more time to heal itself before I launch back into normal activity.

Patience is a virtue, so they say.  I just wish patience came with a countdown timer.

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