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Long term hernia
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Long term hernia

I have had a hernia for about 2 years. I am desperately afraid to tell my doctor. I believe this fear is partially rooted in the time I was caring for my parents from 2007 to 2010. My father went in for hernia surgery and ended up passing away 3 months later after complications. He received some questionable medical care, unecessary meds & changed meds all of which (I believe) led to strokes and ultimately his death. After 2 months of care at a civilian hospital & various rehab facilities my father was transferred to a long term nursing facility at a VA hospital.

This particular VA hospital was, in my opinion, the best care he had received in the 3 months leading to his death. My Dad's VA doctor & physician's assistant were no less than awesome, but still this positive experience has not been able to supplant the fear I believe is associated with my dad's death after hernia surgery.

My hernia is a bulge in my lower left quadrant. If I lift things or have a bowel movement the bulging increases. There is occasionally an ache when this happens, but with a light push the bulge disappears back inside.

Recently (the past month) that has changed with the hernia appearing regularly with any prolonged standing or walking. It would still disappear, but for a shorter amount of time, when I pressed it back into my gut. Occasionally it would be rather hard.

When lying down the hernia disappears completely unless I have some gas.

Yesterday I experienced another change after I had massaged the area the night before. After appearing more regularly with standing, it seems to have almost disappeared and I must strain to get the bulge to happen and it doesn't stay any longer. I no longer need to push it back in very often.

This has made me more fearful, as I can't stop thinking that I may have a perforated bowel now because of the length of time I have gone on with the untreated hernia. I fear the perforation may be reducing the outward symptoms of the hernia. I have passed gas several times this morning but I had not had the courage to try to have a bowel movement.

I have no pain in the area. I am a 58 year old white male, 5'10" 195lb, reasonably fit considering I have stopped most of my exercising due to the progression of the hernia.

My blood pressure is 126 over 85, heart rate 58, temp 97.9 (the heart rate is a little low, normally near 70). Considering the anxiety I am feeling now I am surprised at my readings, but my blood pressure is usually 115 over 80. I feel chilled, but the house temp is about 66 degrees & I am lightly dressed. I also feel a slight nausea, but I think it is probably related to my anxiety. I am hungry, but won't eat. I had a normal supper last night, but right now have no urge to have a bowel movement.

I saw my primary care doctor about 8 months ago and let him know althat I have a medical problem that may require hospitalization, that I am afraid to go to the hospital, that I am afraid to tell him what is wrong and that if I am ever admitted to a hospital I felt I would die while in there.

He gave me a prescription for Atavan for anxiety. I haven't taken any and I haven't been back to the doctor's office since.

My mother passed away while I was caring for her through in home hospice. She was overweight & diabetic with bad knees. First somewhat ambulatory, she progressed to being bed bound, but was alert and aware until the last week of her life.

I have been in an elevated concern state about the hernia for over 2 years now, but have been able to carry on with my life and general household chores including cleaning gutters and cutting the grass.

It is now 6:15 AM on 02 Oct 2011 and I have had a restless night's sleep worrying about the possible consequences of my delay in getting medical care, and now worrying that I may have a perforated bowel. In spite of my anxiety over this, I am frightened to the point of my fingers trembling at the thought of going into the hospital.

I wanted to know what signs and symptoms I should be wary of if I do have a bowel perforation and what the timeline may be for these symptoms to appear and their progress toward life threatening indications.

I know I should be going to see my doctor or maybe even go to the emergency room right now, but I cannot bring myself to do it.

My girlfriend is an IV nurse & is frustrated with me over this issue. I understand her feelings. She says she understands my fears.

I desperately need advice on this situation, but what I want to know are the signs and symptoms that indicate when my fear of not going to the hospital should outweigh my fear of going to the hospital.

I have to tell you that I feel I am close to that point now, but I simply don't know if I will ever be able to override the fear of death I have of going to the hospital. I am afraid that it will take unbearable pain or loss of conciousness before I go. I also fear that may be too late.

I am paralyzed & desperate
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Michael,
I know how you feel, I was in a car wreck and was afraid of cars for the longest time.  Turned out I had panic disorder and went through "behavioral exposure therapy," and yup, I had to get in the deadly vehicle and drive all over the place until I felt better.  The solution to your hernia situation is the same as me, you have got to go through with it.  One handy tip I learned to help get your nervousness under control is anytime you freak out about this whole hernia saga, take a real deep breaths, hold it in for a couple seconds, then blow it all out.  Do it maybe three times.  You'll feel much calmer.  

The good thing is, your hernia sounds like a very tiny muscle pull.  I've seen hernias like yours, like magic they pop up, and then "poof" they disappear.  I have one.  I definitely need to have mine stitched up, because it has grown in size and has really taken on a life of its own!  But unlike you, I am not afraid to let a gastro surgeon stitch it up.  It's just I put things off is all, but I plan to get it done probably early next year.

As for your father having complications, his age is the biggest difference from you, could be he had other sorts of hidden medical issues, could be becuz general anesthesia combined with his elder status made the risks zoom up, and a stroke is possible when people's BP isn't particularly good, and there's lots of other variables.  And could be his passing had NOTHING to do with his surgery; it may have just coincided with all that.

I think your father's hernia must have been rather large for him to be put under general anesthesia, if I understood your post.  I thought for the small ones, like yours, they just stitch it up with LOCAL anesthesia, to where they do not put you under.  You would be wide awake and talking.  All they do is a small incision, stitch the torn muscles back together, close it up and off you go.  Your surgeon will be sympathetic to your fears, he's heard it all before, just spill the beans if you like, and he might can give you a very pleasant sedative for when he sews you up.  I got one for a colonoscopy, and I was singing and carrying on!  Ha!  

You can simply tell your doc about this hernia, that alone will give you a HUGE relief, and will give you courage for later.  He can give you a referral to a gastro surgeon, and they'll do the procedure.  I carefully read your BP and other stats, and son, you are healthy as a horse, especially to be in your mid-50s, you are also MUCH younger than your father was when he had all his problems, and if the procedure IS done under local anesthesia and you'll be awake, you're really in the clear for this.  I think they do it right in the gastro surgeon's office, so maybe none of that hospital stuff for you!

So, to me, since this thing is driving you right up the wall, you are very nervous and upset about it, you have focused on this thing forever, mostly because it reminds you so much of your father having complications from surgery for a hernia, then I think the only way you will be free of this terror is to go through whatever it takes to get that hernia fixed.  Do some deep breathing whenever you become overwhelmed.  And you will be braver for it, and definitely happier for it, and the sense of relief will make you want to do cartwheels!

I hope some of my thoughts help you rid yourself of all this frustration and fear.  As they say, Just Do It.  GG
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