Things I Need to Know about my Hernia for My Next Dinner Party…if I ever get invited to one

If I am here to write about this it is because the operation was a clear success and I am alive and well.  I didn’t keep you in suspense because, as operations go, mine was almost a no-brainer.  Any complications that were to arise during it would have been the result of some unforeseeable twist of events rather than this process itself.   You just don’t die from a hernia repair operation, it’s as simple as that, and I for one was not going to be the first.  I had a family name to uphold.  It was like an incident that occurred to me four years ago at a summer camp I was running up in the hills of Guadalajara.  The place owned some semi-undomesticated cats which had just had a litter.  The little guys were scampering around the dining hall, and not in a fashion unlike Woody Allen’s famous lobster episode in Annie Hall, there were half a dozen of us courageously trying to scoop up four feisty and hissing kittens which had taken refuge in the most unreachable nooks and crannies of the room.  It took us nearly half an hour to retrieve them, and the one I got, seconds before I launched it airborne outside, took a nip at the finger on my other hand.  It wasn’t a chunk, mind you, but it broke the skin, and considering these creatures were half-wild, I came to wonder whether or not this would result in a some kind of lethal infection and I would have to buried with the inglorious epithet “Cause of Death: Kitten Bite.”  

        So, in short, I refused accept my time being up because of a small incision being exercised on my belly.  And, as you can see, I won out.

        But just what is a hernia?  Let me be more specific: what is an inguinal hernia?  Well, this occurs when abdominal fat or part of the small intestine push through an opening in the abdominal muscles.  At my age, it is mostly caused by wear and tear or even some unnecessarily stressful effort I made recently.  I don’t really recall any specific moment, but that may be because the rupture was a result of years of punishment to that area.  Who knows.  The point is the result is a bulge in the groin area which, aside from looking a little odd, doesn’t bother you much other than a little discomfort from time to time.  The bulge would disappear when I lay down.  It didn’t normally hurt, but would ache if I did some exercise or carried to much wait, and then get better with rest.  In short, a textbook hernia.

        Unfortunately, at present at least, there is only one way to fix the hernia and that is via a surgical procedure, i.e., operation.  This is called a herniorrhaphy, which is, my goodness, one of the more challenging words to pronounce in English.  I wouldn’t venture to give a stab at the Spanish version.  This is why understandably people use the words “hernia repair” instead.

       There are a number of techniques.  In the past it was more common to just stick everything back into its place and sew it up, which worked well enough, but not always.  The recovery was longer, more painful and the chances of recurrence were higher. 

        Nowadays a slightly different approach is used, which involves the use of a mesh which covers a wider area and is more effective at preventing the hernia from appearing again.  In my case, they used what is known as hernioplasty, which is the insertion of synthetic meshes to secure the affected area more effectively.  Mine was a plug and patch (or mesh) technique called the Rutkow-Robin, where first they inserted a shuttlecock-like pug and then covered the area with a mesh.  At least that’s what the medical history said. 

        Hernioplasty is recommended because it is easy to perform, easy to recover from, fairly painless and has a recurrence rate of less than 1%.   I would have to wait and see if that was true.