It's hard to take care of patients with big abdominal wall hernias. Really hard. They've usually had a previous surgery on their abdomen, and that's where their hernia develops. It's a large bulge where their intestines are pushing through the abdominal wall and slipping into the fat beneath their skin.
It hurts. A lot. Their back hurts from the muscles of their abdominal wall being separated and destabilizing their spine. The bulge sticks out of their abdomen, and they don't like it. They don't like how it looks. Their clothes don't fit. They can't move like they used to. Not to mention all the awkward stares and the more awkward conversations. Many of them have already had operations to attempt to fix it, but the hernia has recurred, often worse than before.
Many have been told by previous surgeons that there is nothing more that can be done. What does life look like for these patients? This can be dismal and even hopeless.
He was exactly as I just described. Amazingly, he was still working, though it was getting harder and harder to function in everyday life. Then it got worse.
I met him in the hospital with a bowel obstruction due to his intestines being squeezed within the hernia. His other surgeons' previous attempts at hernia repair had failed. He did not seem to have many options for regaining a "normal" quality of life.
Though I was hopeful I could help him, I was nervous! This was my first attempt at abdominal wall reconstruction. And it was daunting. Though I had done what was needed to prepare, to do it safely, there is still always a first time for everything.
It was so meaningful to see him recover with a restored abdominal wall, restored quality of life and restored hope for the future.
Even more meaningful was the high likelihood that this would be his last hernia operation. His chance of recurrence was much lower than would be seen with older methods of hernia repair. He is now several years out and living better every day! I'm honored to have played a part in his life's transformation from suffering to surviving and now thriving.
How will I help you live better?