Bye Bye Baby Pt 3

Nearly 4 years ago to the day, I was living in Ulsan, South Korea. It seems like a lifetime ago now. While I was living there, I had the opportunity to go through surgery for an umbilical hernia repair. You can read all about part 1 and part 2.

It didn’t seem to work though. I’m not sure if my attempt at pilates screwed it up, or if the mesh was no good. There apparently were some ‘recalls’ for people who had hernia repairs with a mesh. Unfortunately mine was outside of the US so I wouldn’t know if that even applies to my situation.

ANYHOOOO! I’ve been back in the US for a year and was experiencing some stomach issues and my hernia was full-fledged back to party. I have a full-time job here with good insurance (For the first time in how long?) — so one of the first things I did was go to Surgical Group of Orlando. Dr. Chambers took a look, gave a nod, and we set a date.

So on July 24th (1 week shy of 4 years) I had my umbilical hernia repair. I had my entourage with me (parents and grandparents) and we waited for a solid 30 minutes before I was called back. Michelle was attending me and she was a blast. We made small talk and funny talk and went over all of the necessities that I now can no longer remember for follow-up care.

At one point, she was taking a look at my belly and gasped: my stomach was beet red. I wasn’t having a reaction to medication or had some sort of viral breakout. I was severely sunburned. I made this dumbass mistake of going to Siesta Key the weekend before my Tuesday surgery. I chose to NOT wear a 1 piece because TAN LINES! Hello!? Yup. The wind was strong that day. My SPF30 sport sunscreen was expired. And I was just not responsible. I got SO SO SO Sunburned that i had to take 3 black tea & apple cider vinegar baths. I lived in an aloe plant and rubbed super potent “CBD” salve on me. And I had no a/c in my car on the 3 hour drive back. Boohoo my poor choices.
So anyway, I almost wasn’t allowed to get the surgery, but luckily I hadn’t started to peel yet.

Back to the story:
Because my surgery wasn’t scheduled until 1pm, I was allowed to eat and drink up until 3:30am. Unfortunately I was asleep by 11:30pm the night before and barely woke up in time to drink a bottle of water before I couldn’t anymore. For anyone going into surgery where they say ‘Don’t eat or drink anything for 12 hours before the surgery’ — do your veins a favor: drink and eat up until the last minute. If you do what I did and have an easy Thai meal and hit the hay early, your vein may or may not collapse when they try to put in the IV. If you’re a punk like me and don’t do well with needles — this is a problem.

My vein collapsed and Michelle had to do it again. My wrist is now so bruised that I look like I was in a domestic issue (I can’t even wear my watch). Anyway, I spoke with the anesthesiologist and Dr. Chambers came in for a few minutes. Then I was wheeled back and moved onto a table. They put my oxygen mask on, I wished them good luck, and I was out. I do not remember my dream, but I did manage to not sit up this time.

To indicate to the nurses that I was awake, I made a joke about how the nurse they were making fun of for being short was ‘fun sized.’ Then my teeth started some serious chattering. And the pain started really hitting. I couldn’t swallow. I was not freaking out. The anesthesia was leaving my system and for some reason, this was how my body reacted. I wasn’t cold. I wasn’t scared. I was just in pain and my wonderful mom kept trying to give me water, but would take the damn straw away mid-sip and make a giant mess. But to be fair, she hasn’t had to feed a person in a while.

They gave me Vicodin and I proceeded to hate every second of it. My breathing was really shallow and I just felt like I was in this half-way state of sleep and frustration. I took it a couple of times that first day and haven’t looked back.

Repair:
Initially, Dr. Chambers was going to make the incision from my original scar with a possibility of using a mesh.. However, she changed her mind the day of (whether it was the sunburned scar or other reasons, I currently do not know). She decided to go through my belly button and sutured the hernia rather than using a mesh.

Recovery:
The act of sitting, standing, lying down, sitting up, twisting, coughing, or you know.. anything was pretty rough the first day or two. I’m stubborn though and did more movement than I probably should have. But also, 5 days after the surgery, I’m sitting on my couch cross legged without too much pain. Just soreness. And majorly itchy from this damned sunburn. I’m barely starting to peel, but if I can keep moisturized then maybe it won’t? Hopefully?

I was able to take a shower on day 2 — and it was painful. But on day 4 (yesterday), I was able to take a full shower with hair care and then go get a haircut. I don’t think I’ll be going to a movie or out for dinner and drinks just yet, but I feel better today than I have all week.

Week 1:
Rest. Rest. Rest. No lifting, bending, etc. Take it easy.

Week 2:
Rest, but I can go back to work. Follow up visit is scheduled for 1 week from the surgery. No lifting anything more than 10lbs.

Week 3:
Resuming light activities. Lifting maybe up to 20lbs? But more than likely 10lbs still.

Weeks 4-6:
Resuming normal activities, no heavy workouts still, but light activities are encouraged. No lifting more than 20lbs.

I’ll hopefully remember to write a follow up in a week or two.

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Bye Bye Baby: Part 2

For the last 10 years I’ve had a hernia about an inch or two above my belly button. Check out ByeByeBaby for more information on that. 

Well, the surgery is done. It has been just about 3 weeks since I had it taken care of. 

I heard a lot of ‘Wow. You’re brave for getting surgery in a foreign country’ and ‘I hope you didn’t contract anything in that Korean hospital’ – – – Let me tell you something right here, right now. Korean healthcare may not be what us “Westerners” are used to… but I would be in massive debt right now if I had this surgery in the US. My school provides insurance and perhaps that covered a good chunk of it, but I was not insured in the US. The last time I went to the hospital in the US was for a kidney stone that I couldn’t tolerate anymore. that cost nearly $10k. I was in an emergency room for 3 hours maybe? I had blood work done and possibly an xray? or ctscan? Frankly, I can’t remember. The medication cost well over $100 that day as well. 

This ordeal included a CT scan, blood work, urine test, chest xray, 2 ultrasounds, the surgery itself, 2 nights stay in the hospital (shared with one person and had a bathroom), included meals and medicine, plus the medicine after I left the hospital, 2 follow up visits, and a minor surgery to remove excess fluid from the treated area. 

           The total cost: ~600,000won – – – less than $600USD. Even if I hadn’t had insurance this wouldn’t have cost more than $1,500USD.  

So what was the experience like? It was fine. The doctor, Dr. Im, was fantastic. He had a light sense of humor and spoke decent enough English. When he didn’t know a word, he’d look it up or just draw the surgical process. He joked that US doctors couldn’t do the surgery because of their fat fingers – “Asian doctors? We have small hands. Good for small surgery.” 

They briefed me on my pre-surgery do’s and don’t’s. I checked in and had an ultrasound to properly locate the affected area. Then waited in my room for a bit. They stuck an IV in my arm and wheeled me to the surgery room. They gas-masked me and eventually I fell asleep. I dreamed that I had slept too long so when they woke me up, I tried to sit up in a start. Note to self: NEVER SIT UP AFTER SURGERY ON YOUR STOMACH. It was incredibly painful. They brought me back to my room where a friend had been waiting for me. She helped me back into the bed and then I spent a few days in a bed. No, the hospital room wasn’t as accommodating as US hospitals maybe. The bed was hand-crank and I had to get up and do it myself. The phone and help button were on a table that was just out of my reach, so I had to stumble out of bed when I needed help. The IV was put in at an awkward angle and filled my elbow and upper arm with fluid to the point that I couldn’t move my arm. Then they put it in my hand and the same thing happened, and then they put it in my other arm. Luckily before that could do damage, it was time to leave. Each morning, afternoon, and evening they brought Korean food and medicine. The nurses were too afraid to speak English so they just spoke Korean at me and laughed and walked away before I could try and explain my pain levels. That was honestly the worst part – – the lack of English communication by the nurses. They apparently knew basic medical English but were too shy to use it. 

Anyway, 3 weeks later, I’m allowed to ride a bike and clean my apartment and do normal life activities. It still hurts if I eat too much or when I’m bloated.. And when the occasional fuck-face pokes, rubs, or hits my stomach. Otherwise, I’m doing okay, and I look forward to dropping some weight. 

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This is what the waiting list looked like. I was 06. it reads ‘swha-noen’ – – Shannon.

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Breakfast and lunch. IMG_20140801_183719    

 Scar after the stitches were removed and the healing process has begun.   IMG_20140811_093228  

Bye bye baby

 

 

alien baby

 

I’m pretty sure it started in 2003. During the LBHS fall production of “The Crucible.” I was both set running manager and playing the part of a ‘possessed’ extra at the beginning of the show. Between these two roles, I had to push and pull large and heavy set pieces in a timely fashion and, also, scream my head off. These actions gave birth to my ‘alien baby.’

It’s actually an epigastric hernia. I call it an alien baby because when I put strain on my stomach muscles, a smallish (but noticeable) bump appears above my belly button. 

What’s a hernia exactly? Well, when the stomach muscles are weak, your intestine can start to push the fat and muscle through. It forms a small bump. This isn’t detrimental. But when the intestine starts to really push through, it can get trapped and cause serious pain and also screw with your digestion. Mine didn’t get THAT far.. just the first stage or two. 

Why didn’t I get this fixed before? Well, I tried. A few times, I went to a doctor and inquired and their responses were ‘It’s too small. It’ll go away by itself.” or “Tape a dime in your belly button and then work out” – le sigh.

So I came to Korea and happened to be at the hospital for various reasons. I brought it up to my surgeon and he said “Sure, let’s operate on it. How’s next week?” ZOMG!!! Really?

So tomorrow I will go into the hospital to stitch it all back up. I will say farewell to this alien baby.. for the whopping price of 800,000won (Aka less than $800). Screw you American healthcare.

 

Wish me luck!

 

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