I survived surgery!

August 23, 2019 • 4:40 pm

In short, I was operated on by THE ROBOT, a big device with arms that went into me laparoscopically. (The surgeon sits behind the robot, facing a video screen, and operates the arms and the camera; it’s amazing!) They made three incisions: one for the camera, and two to fix the inguinal hernia (a double, it turns out) as well as to see if there was a hernia on the other side (there wasn’t).

The “AT” marked on my stomach was pre-surgery, and I don’t know what it means except to single out the affected region.

And they shaved my belly while I was under, so now I have unsightly NAVEL STUBBLE (see below)!  Anyway, everything went well, and I’m recovering and taking pain meds (as few as possible). Here’s my post-op belly with the three incisions. You can see what an improvement laparoscopic surgery is over the normal procedure, which for hernias is highly invasive—and leaves a big scar as well as inflicting a long period of healing. (I’ll be able to work within a day and do all my normal activities save lifting more than ten pounds. )

I should be posting normally by Sunday.

125 thoughts on “I survived surgery!

  1. I’ve had this done, and the old-fashioned method on the other side. Fun!
    The AT is the surgeon’s initials.

      1. The surgical abbreviation TA stands for Tonsillectomy and Adenoidectomy, which would mean you got the wrong surgeon. But, it looks right. I don’t know for TA.

      2. Hmmmm, well it certainly indicates the side of the hernia surgery. Maybe ask him what AT meant. My surgeon used his initials.

      3. In kids I have seen similar marks to signify that the skin had been checked by a nurse preoperatively and there were no rashes, lesions, or cuts (prior to shaving). The AT meaning the skin is atraumatic and demonstrating that the nurse had checked (part of surgical site infection prevention).
        Can’t say for sure since I do not take care of adults and hospitals (and some individual surgeons) have their own protocols. But I would take it as a compliment to your intact skin (prior to the cutting of course).
        Glad all went well. The phrase “anesthesia life challenge” is a thing for good reason.

        1. The main purpose of the mark is to identify the surgical site. The atraumatic part is a secondary benefit. We use check marks, smiley faces, hearts, etc. in kids.
          Should have mentioned site identification first, apologies. Sometimes the reasons behind routine/standard things gets shoved to the back of the memory shelf.

        2. I’m glad that it has become common practice now to mark which appendage is about to be amputated or otherwise attended too. Horror stories abound about wrong arm or leg severing. Thank God for Magic Markers.

          1. They also ask you several times what surgery you’re in for, who you are, your birth date & what you’re getting done after the surgeon has signed the area.

  2. Jerry, Hope you are back to normal soon. Nice tummy picture showing very little swelling. I would not have guessed that the cuts would be so far apart.

  3. Great news. It’s also proof that you can’t take the scientist out of the patient – as expected we even get a scientific report on the surgery. Three cheers for PCC(E).

  4. One doubts that any surgery is totally without anxiety. So it’s wonderful as well as a relief to learn that all went well for you.

  5. Well done Jerry, I had the same procedure removing my gal bladder 2 years ago. Piece of cake I was walking the dog next day and no pain meds. Aint science great?

      1. Exactly, and the thing is they had to chase me down for a year to do it. I was very afraid of the hospital. In at 8am out by 4pm. All worries for nought.

  6. Ain’t modern medicine great! A little over a year ago I had a stent placed in my left anterior descending artery (LAD, “the widow-maker” to be dramatic about it. I was under a local, and some pretty good opioids, and I got to watch the whole thing on the x-ray screen. Talking to the nurses and the doctor and having a good time. Too bad you didn’t get to watch, sir, as I think you might have enjoyed it. Didn’t you raise a bot fly?

      1. I love anesthesia. I’m always annoyed when I waste up because I feel like I have such a good sleep. Though I did wake up during a colonoscopy & that was very unpleasant.

        1. Horrors!

          One must live by the old Roman adage:

          Bene caca et irrima medicos.

          It translates loosely to:

          Shit well and fuck the doctors in the ass.

              1. No I haven’t been there but I remember that there used to be a Roman military base there and the way I remembered that they had to abandon it because of malaria is I called it “Ostiaporosis”. Yes, a different ailment, but here I am 25+ years later still remembering that fact.

        2. I was awake (sort of) during the first half of a colonoscopy some years ago. There was no pain and I enjoyed watching the display screen as the prob made it’s dramatic turns through my gut.

              1. The surgeon was nice to me. I was moaning “ow” and he was very nice telling me it would be over soon.

      2. GA is not as bad as it was even a few decades ago, no nausea, etc. The first thing I asked after my last GA was when they were going to start.

    1. I was quite fascinated to watch the blood flow through my heart on ultrasound, but that’s as far as it goes. I don’t want to watch disgusting bits of me being operated on any more than I want to watch sausages being made.

      Had a heart valve repair about ten years ago – open heart surgery. For which, obviously, I was ‘out’. That’s the way it should be, as far as I’m concerned. They have to saw you in half down the breastbone for access (oddly enough, it never occurred to me to wonder how they got in until after the event). I was actually less nervous checking into hospital than I was going to the dentist. And they gave me a valium on admission, after which everything just went mellow.

      What surprised me was how fast recovery is; I was shuffling to the toilet the next afternoon, discharged to home a week later. And apparently I was on morphine the first night, methadone the next, and after that – just paracetamol!

      I actually found the whole experience oddly quite pleasant (no I’m not a masochist!) – it’s not often I can get to just lie there and doze without any guilty feeling that there are things I ought to be doing.

      It cost NZ$42,000, of which the insurance paid NZ$35,000; elsewhere than Auckland that would have covered the full cost. I *could* have had it for free on the National Health after about six months on the waiting list, the same surgeon would have carried out the operation, but I chose to ‘go private’ since (a) I had insurance, (b) it freed up a space for someone else on the public list, (c) for an extra $1000 I could have a room to myself and (d) I could choose to have it in winter so I didn’t waste good beach time 😉


      1. It’s the drugs they give you that makes it pleasant. I felt the same way with my surgery. When I woke up I had no muscle pain like I usually do. I felt like I was 10 again!

        1. Well the valium on admission certainly helped, but most of the week I was just on paracetamol. What made it pleasant was a light, airy room, temperature comfortably warm in all areas, and as I said, no pressure to do anything except relax, read and listen to a CD player.

          And also, since my dodgy heart valve had never caused me any symptoms other than slight breathlessness, and the paracetamol controlled any pain from my sawn-in-half breastbone, I was quite comfortable, if a little weak.


  7. AT is for Atheist. It tells them that prayer won’t work on you, so they’ll have to actually do the surgery.

    1. I’m not so sure about that because not only did PCC(E)emerge from the operation with “navel stubble,” he also has a cross, like a stigmata, carved into his boykh.

  8. OMG! Now I’ve seen it all! Or at least ENUF. I can’t stop myself from saying: TMV (too much visual). Like everyone, I’m glad the surgery went well and wish you/Jerry a speedy recovery (i.e., that your tummy hair grows back fast)!

    1. I share your feelings.

      Nurse: Do you want to see what we took out of you?
      Me: NO!!! Please throw it away. I haven’t had lunch yet.


  9. Congratulations on a painless, convenient, and effective surgery. Have a great weekend and don’t worry about posting—we know you’re enjoying much-deserved rest.

  10. Well done on a satisfactory day in theatre. Repackaging viscera can be life changing, as I found with inguinal surgery.
    In NZ the state pays for operations of this nature, albeit after a wait, depending on symptoms. To eliminate delay for surgery one can pay private insurance.
    Who pays in USA?

    1. I had the same surgery several years ago, paid for by Accident Compensation Corporation in NZ. (Ripped the hernia lifting a 12×12 wet canvas tent by myself).

      No-one defaced my abdomen with initials, and neither myself nor my son, both of us doctors, have any idea what your defacement signified.

      I slept poorly the night before surgery (surprise!) and after initial postop waking decided to catch up on sleep – much to the consternation of the recovery nurse and anaesthetist.

    1. “Haven’t had an unobstructed view of it since puberty.” Will you stop bragging about your big boobs? 🤣

    1. … meaning to PCC(E) of course but also all the whole medical team – just sayin’… and I guess PCC(E)’s ancestors too… and the doctors ancestors … and…

      I’ll stop now.

  11. Well done to your OR team Prof. & it’s good to know Caturday continues for a further while! 🙂

    Interesting how lights & camera get through one hole & the surgical tools, mesh & stitching thread through the other – human skin very stretchy I suppose. You could add this experience [& the TI photo] to your Antarctic cruise evolution lecture** – grist for the mill.

    ** Erect posture redirects weight of the intra-abdominal organs toward the lower abdomen leading to inguinal hernias.

    1. I just read about this in a puzzle book – the idea was that for centuries, medicine was based on what was learned from corpses laying down face up. Medical X-ray technology showed that organs shifted positions significantly when the body is standing up.

          1. By that I take it you mean your glad you’re not a reptile or even an amphibian, in spit of the deficiencies inherent in upright posture.

    2. I’ve always had a tendency to slump a bit. Maybe that’s reaping benefits as I age. I have not had a single, solitary, hernia. 😎

      1. Carrying big bags of squirrel & bird chow did the Prof in. I recommend a butler & full staff – that’s how the Royals can knock back the gin & live long lives, on the backs & hernias of others.

        1. I’ll have a good think about that as a possible lifestyle change. In the mean time, I’ll continue drinking wine and getting plenty of yard work done. It’s worked well so far and I’m now into my 70s.

  12. Good to hear all went well and look forward to more WEIT posts….
    Take care and rest up.
    Ask my grandmother used to say,
    Gay ga zinta hate. (Go in good health.)

  13. Take care Jerry…amazing tek where robotics meets medical procedures. The future is both hopeful and depressing…depends on the day I suppose. I haven’t had surgery since I got my tonsils out at age 10 or so. At least I know modern medicine excels at the least invasive procedure as possible.

  14. I know you were out cold during; but, surely
    beforehand, there was an explanatory session
    of what was to come, not ? so … …

    Curious: in re the ease for the cameraman’s
    viewing and subsequent manipulations, did
    the team / was there the use of CO2
    with which to initially blow up the abdomen ?
    to move out of the actual operative field
    … … tissues that would, otherwise, interfere ?


      1. Then, Mr rickflick, you, as have I, ‘ad
        such a maneuver in stat – preparation afore
        such a scorched – Earth, er, such an
        abdominal laparoscopic scourgery, not ?

        Yes ?


        1. Ah, I meant to say the CO2 injection is also used in colonoscopy. No, I’ve never ‘ad laparoscopic scourgery. 😎

          1. Yeah and it’s painful sometimes too. Colonoscopies are not good times. I think this would make a good title for my memoirs: “Colonoscopies are not Good Times & the Discovery of Other Unpleasantries”

            1. I don’t mind the actual colonoscopy much at all. The prep, however… having that over makes me positively look forward to the procedure itself!

              1. Yeah the before and after are horrid. I’ve passed out twice during the prep and puked on the way there and coming home. I’m a delight.

              2. I’ve never had problems with the “after”. Do you have trouble with the anesthetic? (I don’t, which makes the prep the only unpleasant part for me.)

              3. Yeah, I didn’t drink drinks with sugar in them and just drank water and black tea so that’s what did it. The damn Vagus nerve didn’t help either.

      2. A good friend of mine, after her colonoscopy, was uncomfortable and concerned because they kept delaying her release. When she finally asked why they told her that they were waiting for her to pass gas. Her childhood training had conditioned her to believe that ladies should never fart in the presence of others.

        1. When my nephew was in medical training, he was on rounds at the hospital and asked a woman of some maturity whether she’d passed gas recently – checking for full recovery. She snarled, “Young man, I do not pass gas!”

  15. Good, you can get out in time for church. Just kidding.

    Had a TAVR a couple of years ago. You get to stay wide awake for that one.

    1. I am ready NOw! I already had an apple fritter this morning (the morning after surgery). And I’m going to work. The ducks aren’t going to feed themselves, you know. (Well, they could, but they’ve gotten lazy.)

  16. I am glad you got through the op. I had to undergo a radial inguinal orchiectomy (look it up if you;re feeling strong enough) as the last stage of my treatment for the cancer that had almost killed me. The operation took place on July 12th, and I was on painkillers for a few weeks afterwards, but I have been off them for about a week and half now and my fitness levels are much improved, though of course still not back to where they were before I fell ill.

  17. I’m very happy to hear of you positive outcome! Best wishes for a good recovery, and more great posts.

  18. Yes, laparoscopic surgery is amazing. I’ve 2 and 2 to remove intestine and hoping for 1 more. A friend had his entire intestine removed laparoscopically.
    Good to hear you are doing well. Going to have to take it easy for a while, if you don’t want another hernia.

  19. ” A T ” = ? ” advance treatment ” ?

    i) In attempts to decrease error, surgical
    site marking is common protocol now yet not,
    unfortunately, at all followed nor complied with by many.

    ii) As well, perhaps there had been, before
    the administration of general anesthesia,
    a signed statement of what to do with
    the patient … … if the surgery /
    the anesthesia renders one, during or
    afterward, incapacitated ?


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