My Surgery Story

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Good news!!!! Just had the all clear from my surgeon that I’m all in the clear! Yay!!!! Although, I spose I should probably give a bit more information about what I had done and why. 

Well it’s all tied to trying to be fit and healthy and get in shape (I promise I’m going to blog about all that soon!). Anyway, I was in the gym lifting heavy things, and I suddenly felt a twang in my groin. Not ideal, but put it down to bad form, so I adjusted myself and lifted again... twang again! Was on my last set anyway, so cut my session short and thought no more of it. It was only later that I noticed a lump in my groin. This was right before I left for a photoshoot. I then proceeded to spend my tube journey googling what it could be. 

Now my Google-Fu is pretty strong, so I worked out what it was pretty quickly. Unfortunately, I almost passed out in doing so. For those of you who are a bit squeamish, this is your one and only warning! 😂

The next day I was able to see the doctor, who confirmed my self-diagnosis. So, what had I done? Well, turns out I’d given myself an inguinal hernia. If you want to read all about what that is, you can click here to go to Wikipedia. The short version is that my insides were trying to escape, as per the diagram below. 🤢

 Inguinal Hernia Diagram

Now thankfully mine wasn’t as extreme as in the diagram. That being said, it was uncomfortable, and being able to feel my intestines and hear it squelch as I push them back in, is really not something I enjoyed.

I was told that I would need to have surgery to repair my abdominal wall, and in the meantime, if the pain increased, or I was no longer able to push the lump in, I would have to go to A&E for an emergency operation.  Thankfully I didn’t, so it was just a question of waiting for my surgery date to roll around.

Due to the ridiculous NHS waiting times, my GP was able to refer me to a private hospital, which meant being sorted out much sooner. Yay!!! 

i had an initial consultation with the surgeon, who is a hernia specialist, and was given the date for my operation there and then, plus another date for giving a million and one blood samples for things like transfusions etc. I say a million and one, but in reality it was only 4, but still enough for me to pass out! Turns out I’m a proper wuss! 🙈 

Fast forward to October 6th. I was literally in Marseille the day before for work, and now sat in the hospital ward, wearing a sexy gown, paper pants and the most stunning compressing socks ever! 

 Jay McLaughlin Hernia Surgery Hospital Stepney Green Inguinal Compression Socks Gown Ward

The surgeon came in to say hello and to draw a big purple arrow at my hernia to make sure he did the right side. 😂 He then disappeared, leaving me in the sister’s very friendly and capable hands to sign all the paperwork before they could start. 

 Jay McLaughlin Hernia Surgery Consent Form

Before I knew it, I was ushered into the anesthetic room. I got on the bed, seeing the operating theatre through the doors ahead of me. I remember laughing with the staff about something as a slight burning sensation travelled up my arm... and then I woke up. 

 Jay McLaughlin Hernia Surgery Inguinal Open IV Post Painkillers Selfie

At this point everything is a bit hazy. I thought I could remember everything, but turns out both the sister and my mum, who came to look after me like only mums can, had conversations with me that I honestly don’t remember happening! What I do know, is that I now have a plastic mesh inside me, plugging the hole. It’s one step nearer to becoming bionic! Over time, my tissues will grow through the mesh and there will be zero chance of getting the same type of hernia on that side again in the future.

I do remember getting the sister to take the above photo of me, which she found very amusing! And I remember being told I needed to eat the sandwich I’d ordered, but literally I could only manage a couple of small bites... not because I wasn’t hungry or couldn’t keep it down. My mouth was soooooooo dry, I literally couldn’t swallow the bread!

 Jay McLaughlin Hernia Surgery Inguinal Hospital

I think it was only around lunchtime that I felt decent enough to go home. The sister had to teach me how to get in and out of bed so I don’t rip myself apart, before she helped me to get dressed. I was then given a load of paperwork and booklets, before I ordered an Uber (mum’s first Uber experience). I need to give credit to the driver, he went super slow over the speed bumps and offered help in and out of the car. Definitely 5 stars!!!

 Jay McLaughlin Hernia Surgery Inguinal Hospital Discharge
 Jay McLaughlin Hernia Surgery Inguinal Painkillers Pain

Once home, I changed into my OnePiece onesie. Aside from being super comfy in general, the lack of waistband was much needed! 

Mum made me all my favourite comfort foods and stocked my fridge up for the next few days. I love my mum! So for the next week, I spent most of the day in a onesie on my sofa, watching Game of Thrones. I’d never seen it before, and managed to do all 7 seasons in 6 days! It definitely helped pass the time! 😂 

 Jay McLaughlin Hernia Surgery Inguinal OnePiece Onesie Union Jack British Sofa Game of Thrones

After a few days the district nurse had to come and change my dressing. I wasn’t able to get more than a few metres without getting super dizzy, so getting down to the GP surgery wasn’t really an option. Was a struggle to get them to send someone round, but managed to persuade them in the end. 

For the most part, when I was horizontal on my sofa, the pain wasn’t too bad. I’m guessing because all my abdominal muscles were able to relax. Getting up and down was excruciating though, with shooting stabbing pains for about 30 seconds or so. I really had to psyche myself up to it! 

With all that being said, I was healing pretty quickly. The nurse said it all looked great, although it looks pretty minging if you ask me! 🤢 

 Jay McLaughlin Hernia Surgery Inguinal OnePiece Onesie Dressing Scar Blood

I was told I’d need to be off work for 2-3 weeks, but that’s hard for any kind of freelancer, especially when you’ve got work in Italy less than 2 weeks after your operation 😂. I needed to know I was going to be able to survive the trip, so after 9 days, I went out to do some shopping for the trip. I needed a new tuxedo because mine was too big. Keep in mind that I still had dressings on under my clothes and it was very painful. I was so aware of how crowded the tube was suddenly! I’ve never felt so protective in case someone judged me accidentally!

Day 10 I was shooting, day 11 I taught a workshop, and day 12 was yet another shoot! It was hard going, but at least I knew I was going to be able to survive the trip! Especially because it meant wearing the tuxedo I’d bought a few days earlier!

 Jay McLaughlin Hernia Surgery Inguinal Black Tie Bowtie Bowler Hat Tuxedo Olympus PEN-F Italy Ravello Amalfi

The trip lasted 8 days, and I kept wearing a waterproof dressing (although obviously changing it myself a couple of times), just to stop my clothes from rubbing too much. I was amazed at how much better I felt with each day that passed. It was only towards the end of the day that the pain really set in, or when my painkillers were beginning to run out. 

I’m now at 6 weeks post op, and the actual site of the surgery is pain free. There’s still some numbness around my new 4” scar, but the only discomfort I have now is in my hip and abs as my muscles are having to compensate for the lack of strength around where I had the surgery. 

It’s going to be a long road to full recovery. The surgeon said it will be up to 18 weeks before my core strength is back to where it was, but there’s no danger of my undoing the repair. I’ve been to the gym once, and all I did was core work, and it hurt like hell!!! 😩

It’s just gonna take time to rebuild. I’ll get there though. 

 Jay McLaughlin Hernia Surgery Inguinal Physiotherapy Stretches Fitness Workout
 Jay McLaughlin Hernia Surgery Inguinal Physiotherapy Stretches Fitness Workout

So that’s the story of my surgery! I’m still amazed at how quick I went from being completely unable to walk more than a few steps, to being able to function almost normally!

i also have to give loads of thanks to the staff at BMI London Independent Hospital in Stepney Green, especially sister Latoya. Nothing was too much trouble, and they really made the whole process a lot less painful... at least as much as they could do considering I was cut open and sewn back together! 

As I said, full recover is some way off. I still have pain in my right hip area if I’m on my feet a lot (which I often am), but I’m definitely at least 95% of the way there... enough to be able to carry on with my life, take photos, and if the mood strikes... chase a couple of pigeons! 

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