Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Pregnancy induced ventral hernia

Does this picture remind you of an alien abduction? Does me.

Yesterday I visited briefly with a general surgeon who specializes in hernia repair. He confirmed what I already knew...that I have a hernia...just above my belly button. The only way to deal with it is to repair it with surgery....and even then its not 100% definite. There is a 5 - 15% chance it could re open and need more repair in the future. He wants to go in laproscopically and put a big piece of mesh, held down by titanium tacks, in my belly!

First off I want to say...honestly...im not out to bitch. Honestly...i dont want to pick apart doctors and the medical establishment. I dream of going to visit a doctor and coming out feeling educated and comforted.....but it rarely happens! This instance was no different. At first I was feeling great because they got me in early and the Dr was quickly in the room, shaking my hand, being cordial and friendly. Things were great! After a quick feelaroo...he started talking surgery. I had a lot of questions...its true. I showed my concern over jumping into surgery...and had questions about the actual procedure. I had questions about whether there were things i could do at home to help myself. I had questions about expense, general anesthesia, recovery time and any interruptions in nursing that may happen.....but before I was finished asking my questions...before I was comforted and educated...he STOOD UP and said to call him when I am ready! That was 10 minutes into our visit. So I only get 10 minutes for Im sure over $100 specialist charge? I only get 10 minutes and you want to cut me open and put a foreign piece of material inside of me to live forevermore (and these mesh pieces have been recalled in the past btw)? I was shaken up by the idea of surgery, with the idea of paralytic drugs that stop my organs from working while he sews me up...and the idea of being intubated and on a breathing machine...and my son was on my mind...i just have to come to him...and i was worried about pain meds and antibiotics that could disrupt nursing...and could disrupt my care of him and our time together....and here i was with all these emotions, concerns and valid questions...and HE WALKED OUT ON ME.

If I had my shit together...if I had my wits about me...I would have thrown a controlled and decent fit. However...i was weak at the time...i was tearful and felt alone and just confused...and so i just went to billing to ask questions about expense instead. I had to ask the receptionist what the next step would be IF i decided to go ahead with the surgery..and she said to call and talk with kathy. Kathy? Oh thats his nurse who NEVER bothered to stop in and introduce herself or talk with me. The receptionist acted surprised that I didnt know her. GREAT.

This was the second 40 minute one way trip I have taken to visit with this DR. The first time I took off work, sat in the waiting room for 1 hour just to find out that he had been called out for a trauma. Ok...thats legitimate...I mean it was very inconvenient for me...but dude...its a trauma situation. So yesterday was my second time to take off work drive 1.5 hours roundtrip to get the hernia confirmed (obvious) but more importantly to be consulted by a professional and get my fucking questions answered. Do I sound angst riddin? I am. I am sick and tired of dealing with assholes in the medical profession. Why cant they care? Why cant they be decent? Why cant they see me as a human being?

So sure....I probably need to shop around for a surgeon...and find one that is a decent human being...but how much time do i want to spend on this search? And how much money? The copay is $35 a pop. First...I continue to do my own search online (thank god for the internet...can you imagine how lost they felt before information was accessible?). I need to decide IF i want to go for surgery. Sounds like it is inevitable...because they tend to just get larger with time. There is no exercise that can fix it unfortunately.

I am scared. Honestly i know in the grand scheme of surgery...this is nothing! I mean...people (albeit crazy ass people ) sign up for elective surgery more complicated than this (like liposuction and boob jobs). But I am not those people. I avoid intervention when possible. However...its not an option in this case. The truth is...i need surgery. UGH. Being a mother puts everything into a spin...I just want to make sure and come home...and not disrupt his life...and not have complications etc etc. So I guess I need to find a humane surgeon who will hopefully perform the operation under local anesthesia (i would feel SOOO much better with this option!!!!!) or maybe a spinal (like a c section). I am just completely creeped out about the paralytic drugs and breathing machine)...oh and the mesh...but that seems to be a given. Will i ever be able to walk through a metal detector again with going off?

Oh he did say that its better to do this before getting pregnant again. Because if my intestines would become trapped and twisted during pregnancy..then i would need emergency surgery and that would put us both in jeopardy. NOT that I am going to pregnant...but its a tiny possibility... SHIT SHIT SHIT. this sucks! But it could always be worse. I AM SO BLESSED.

Anyone have any recommendations or know of an awesome surgeon? I am willing to travel.

Thanks for letting me bitch. Send me hugs please.


Anonymous said...



Elizabeth F. said...

Hugs, Hugs...I totally understand that feeling! I would have to feel comfortable before I let anyone do anything like that to me. I say call and schedule an appt with another surgeon, but make sure you speak to a nurse first. Ask her some questions, get a feel for how their office operates, tell her her situation with the past doctor, and sometimes the nurse gives the Dr. a heads up to be much more patient as he/she walks you through the process. I did that with my 2nd pregnancy. I had a HORRIBLE experience with my 1st doctor and I did not want that happening again. So, I intereviewed my OB the next time around. HE knew I was serious and I wanted my questions answered. If your surgeon doesn't answer your questions now, how will he be if there are complications?? Your health is worth another $35-$70 in the long run, ya know?

Anonymous said...

I am in a very similar situation only I'm still pregnant and the surgeon wants to operate me 2 months after I give birth! Just like you I left the office feeling distraught. I've never had any kind of surgery and when I read the how they repair them is usually with a mesh, I was terrified. I don't want any foreign objects in my body. I will definitely go get a second opinion, but for now I will just pray that this hernia doesn't become strangulated that will require emergency surgery. Another thing that made me upset with this surgeon was that he said I could go about my regular activities and lifting normally (no restrictions). If this guy had any sense he would have told me not to do any lifting that could cause the hernia to get larger. I don't think I will go through with the surgery, at least not right away. FYI the University of Maryland School of Medicine has a webcast of a ventral hernia repair where you can actually see how they repair it and what it looks like. Here is the link http://www.or-live.com/umm/1405/
Good luck to you. Screw the doctors and take care of yourself, be informed before you make any decisions and know your rights as a patient, especially if you decide to have surgery.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely random, but I am a third year medical student and stumbled onto this looking for information on hernia repair in pregnancy for an exam I have tomorrow, and wanted to say that this is really thoughtful. I hope to one day be a surgeon and it is very helpful to see things like this. Through the grueling shifts and sacrifices made throughout training, it is easy to lose sight of why we are doing this in the first place, and it is things like this that help to keep that in focus. So I want, first, that I am sorry that you were made to feel this way, but also to say thanks for reminding me to put myself into the patient's shoes, which can be scary. I'm sure this has been resolved by now, but I hope it went well.

Timika said...

Hi - I know your original post is over a year old but I HAD to write because I am seeing a surgeon today for my "large ventral hernia". I COMPLETELY felt your story and have yet to meet anyone who has gone through this due to pregnancy like you and I. To put salt on this wound, I am thinking about suing my ob/gyns who totally missed this and had me going to a PT and a Chiropractor while everyday, LITERALLY, for the last 6 months since I had my son I have been experiencing discomfort or pain. Everyday. I still look like I'm 5 months pregnant and I'm even dealing with a pelvic bone was dislocated from my labor/delivery. I have been in tears, it has affected my marriage, and to see my bowels protruding from my stomach...it's just horrible. All the while I knew something was wrong with me and I feel stupid for relying on my ob/gyn for the answers. I finally got desperate and went to my primary care doctor who confirmed the hernia. His words brung tears to my eyes, tears of joy I guess, because it was like I finally felt vindicated. As if someone in the medical world was finally telling me that I DO have a problem that needs help and I am NOT crazy. Anyway, I'm going to read your blog some more because I'm curious to know how this all worked out for you!

Stinsonian said...

Who knows if we'll ever find out what happened to each of our hernias :) but I had the same experience recently. I had my 2nd baby in April 2008 and was told by my OB that I had an umbilical hernia about 5 months postpartum. Last month I decided to get a second opinion & my family prac. told me I have a ventral hernia. Same story, referred me to visit with a surgeon & see what my surgery options are. Well, this morning I found out I'm pregnant again! Accident, but I'm trying to be happy about it. Who knows what will happen to my hernia now; probably get larger, obstruct more organs, etc. What to do....

Anonymous said...

I have the same defect, just above my belly button & I look like I'm a good 5-6 months pregnant all the time. It's hard as a rock & I can't suck it in, I have trouble bending over my gut to do anything. Sick of people asking me when I'm due! Sheer misery. I plan to have it repaired early this year, likely within the next couple of months. Good luck with your experience. You might want to try another surgeon with a better office staff/bedside manner.