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Hernia Procedure, A Personal Account – II

As mentioned in my previous blog, prior to arrival to the Shouldice hospital, I had to get my Austin general physician examine and diagnose my hernia condition plus getting the blood and EKG tests done. When the Shouldice Hospital doctor has reviewed and approved of my condition, then I was able to set a surgery date.

I was asked to arrive one day prior to the surgery date to settle into my hospital room. Had a visit with the surgeon that afternoon and he re-examined my condition. However, due to my white coat syndrome, I had an exceptionally high blood pressure in his office. He did not like that and told me that I needed to settle down. He told me that he will have nurses come by my room to re-measure my blood pressure a few more times that evening before he decides in the morning if I will be able to be operated on or not.

That statement obviously did not help my blood pressure, which at first went even higher that afternoon measured by the nurse. I was not about to have the blood pressure issue alone to suspend my operation after I have travelled all the way from Texas.

After the dinner, I decided to join the group of patients (30) who has registered with me that same day, in watching a hockey playoff game (this is Canada after all). Then, I decided to settle nerves down in my room and read the Bible instead. The blood pressure readings started to come down finally. The last reading at around 11pm was good and acceptable to the nurse.

I learned something about myself that night. One, I did have a white coat syndrome (a rather serious one). Two, my nervous system affects my systolic blood pressure and heart rate by as much 30 points. I need to address my adrenal and nervous system weakness in the long run. Third, God’s Word does work in calming one’s nerves when we delight and meditate on His Word.

At the final nurse visit of the night, she gave each of us a pill of sedation in preparation for early morning surgery. The nurse told me my surgery time was 8:30am. I will be woken up at 5:30am, no food and water for 12 hours and change to the surgery gown. Be in our room ready to be called to go to the surgery quarters.

Whatever the reason, I slept real well and had to be awaken by the nurse at 5:30am next morning and was given another sedative pill. At 7:45am or so, a small group of us (6) followed the nurse to the surgery quarters. I don’t know why, but I had a mental image of us being led to the slaughter house. I chuckled at that weir thought and dismissed it immediately. We all waited for another 20 minutes each in our bed then we were led to the surgery room. Once on the operation table, I only remember 3 doctors starting to look and talk about my hernia. But I could not hear what they were saying. Then everything went blank. I only remember the voice that called my name and said it was all done. I checked the clock and it said 10am. Wow, an hour or so approximate time of surgery went by in a blink of an eye (literally). I was helped out of the room and walked up to my room with assistance.

I was told that the surgeons (at least 3 of them) operated on all 30 of us that day and I was one in the first batch of 6. The Shouldice Hospital registers about 20 to 40 each day, 5 days in a week. That’s an average of 150 a week. They operate on more than 7,000 patients a year. By far the busiest and most sought after hernia surgery hospital in Canada if not in the world.

I was one of the 4 people here who came from the States for this surgery. Others came from Arizona, Colorado, and Florida. There was also a gentleman from Japan who did not speak a word of English. He was mostly by himself. He came to Shouldice Hospital just for this specialized surgery.

Besides the very good hospital care, there is something else that made it a highlight of my Shouldice Hospital stay. That is, we had plenty of opportunities to get to know other fellow patients that went through the similar surgeries. We shared meals and snacks together at the preset times daily. Not to mention about our individual hernia stories and recoveries. Over the 3 days of in-patient recovery period, we got to know each well and build some good relationships. The comradery was developed and somehow the post-surgery pain and physical un-easiness that followed were tolerable and almost unnoticeable. I would suspect that would not have been the case if I went to a regular hospital with a whole variety of different patient situations. I would have felt out of place. While at Shouldice, I never did have that feeling. I felt almost like home!

The amazing thing was there were no other post-medicine given me other than the 100mg Tylenol. I took only half of the portion they gave me for the first 2 days at the hospital. I took none of the two they gave on my last day of stay at the hospital.

On May 1st, 2017, I left the hospital without assistance and went to my mom’s place for the rest of the recovery process. No shower, bath or water exposure was allowed during the first week in that area. The bruise around the cut was reduced over time and by second week of the surgery, all bruises disappeared completely. My movements, specially sitting up and down were still bothersome. But within the third week, those pains were pretty much subsided to the point of just a little discomfort.

On a daily basis, I took four times a day of the following supplements – Curamin Xtra Strength (4 tablets), Vitamin C (3, 1000mg each), and High Potency Protease (4 capsules) since leaving hospital. Now that my pain is pretty much all but done with, I have cut back my supplementation down to only 1 time a day and sometimes none.

Overall, my experience has been excellent. I am very satisfied with the care I received. The post-surgery recovery at the hospital and at my mom’s place was smooth and trouble free as well.

I thank all the folks who prayed for me for they were answered. I also want to specially make note of my family members’ assistance (especially my mom for putting up with me for a few weeks) in setting me up here in Toronto. I would not have had such a smooth time without them and their love for me!

I am anxious to get home to my wife, family, and my clients. I want to get back to fitness again. God bless you all and thanks for reading my blog. Feel free to give me your comments or any question you may have.


Hernia Procedure, A Personal Account – I

In this blog I will go over briefly the key factors that helped me to choose the hernia repair method I ended up doing and the facility that performed this procedure on me.

While I usually try to keep my blogs mostly focused on interesting health and wellness topics of general interest, I am going to divert away from that in the next couple of blogs as I cover a personal experience I had gone through recently.

What is it, you may be asking? I have been living with a groin hernia (inguinal) for several months now. Not quite sure of the exact triggering mechanism but it may be any one or combination of the following: lifting heavy weight (luggage or water softener salt bags likely), exercise (a muscle pull in the wrong place or over-exertion), long-term violent and heavy sneezes and coughs (due to my allergies that still plague me season to season).

Whatever the reason, I ended up with a hernia on the right side groin area. After a local surgeon’s examination and confirmation, he recommended the mesh-based hernia repair procedure which he promised it can be done as an outpatient procedure. If you know me, you would have guessed that I wasn’t going to easily convinced to however a small procedure. First, I have never have been “under the knife” of any kind in my life and secondly, I need to find out was about what other possible options may exists on the market today.

In this blog I will go over briefly the key factors that helped me to choose the method I ended up doing and the facility that performed this procedure on me.

The first thing I learned was that the hernia procedures are common. In fact, over a million hernia repair surgeries are performed every year in the U.S. alone. 80% of them belong to the inguinal category (the one I was dealing with).

During my initial research, I read many general websites (such as FDA pages, Webmd, Medtronic, youtube videos, and others) as I searched for hernia repair options. Most of them were in favor of the popular mesh method as recommended by my Austin doctor. Mesh-based hernia procedure has gained popularity since 1980’s and by 2000 there was less than 10% of non-mesh hernia repairs. Some of the key claims about the mesh-based repairs were decreased operative time, reduced recovery time and lower rate of recurrence. Here is a quote I found about mesh hernia repairs – “Information found in medical literature has consistently demonstrated a reduced hernia recurrence rate when surgical mesh is used to repair the hernia compared to hernia repair without surgical mesh. For example, inguinal hernia recurrence is higher with open repair using sutures (primary closure) than with mesh repair.”

Two additional sources, however, made me re-think about mesh repair’s safety and its long-term effects. One was a client of mine who had a mesh done for the abdominal area. She candidly shared with me about her personal account of mesh challenges, of movement restrictions years later and continued discomfort/pain related to the mesh. She is considering to have a re-do in the same area but without mesh. I listened attentively and asked her many additional questions. This was great information and invaluable to my decision making process.

Another factor made me question about mesh hernia procedure was TV ads I see from time to time about lawyers soliciting previous mesh patients to contact them for information on the latest FDA position about the mesh operation. I further verified some of these cases and found some more realistic statistics. One of the key data I learned was that the recurrence rate for the mesh-base hernia repairs was actually about 5%. That means if I went for the mesh, I would have the 1 in 20 chance of re-doing that same repair again. And that did not include the possibility of other complications that my client and many thousands of others have run into with the mesh repair. Despite of its popularity and claim, I found it still too risky for me!

I also learned that non-mesh repairs were successfully preformed for more than 100 years. The trouble was not all surgeons learned how to do them correctly and as a result, the average recurrences rates were high. This was a great opportunity for mesh manufacturers to step in and teach everyone how to repair a hernia with a low recurrence rate using their product and making huge profits.

Once I decided not to go with the mesh, I turned my attention to looking for institutions that would give the safest and most reliable operation and the best long term prospect.  Again, researching on the net, I found hundreds of options all over the States. The price ranged anywhere between $2,500 to around $25,000 for uninsured case. While money was important, the quality of work plus the post-op care and recovery was critical and priority one for me.

I want to credit Kevin C. Petersen, M.D. of No Insurance Surgery, Inc. for an article on non-mesh hernia repair. He not only highlighted the goodness of the old hernia procedure when done right but also singling out one organization above all others to be the leader in doing the hernia tissue repair worldwide.

Shouldice Hospital

That’s the name of the hospital that dedicates itself to hernia repair (all non-mesh) for the last 90 years and considered by many including Dr. Petersen, to have world’s most experienced surgeons with advanced non-mesh hernia tissue repair techniques. Their hernia repair recurrence rate is less than 1% (found out later it’s actually more like 0.5%). This is almost 10 times better than the mesh based technique from my research. I have improved my chances from 1 in 20 to 1 in 200. That’s remarkable and definitely noteworthy.

Then I read about their patient care process which impressed me even more. First of all, their acceptance criteria is strict but not restrictive. For example, a patient needs to submit a local doctor verification report about your hernia along with blood test and EKG reports. They pay particular attention to your personal blood pressure, blood sugar, and weight. You could be turned down based on any of the above items. Then, there is a 3-day post-op recovery period needed as you stay in their facility under close observation. This is to insure patient’s recovery process.

And then here is my last straw that made me to go for it – The Shouldice Hospital is located just 15 minutes drive from my mom’s place (where I can stay thereafter). My aunt and sister all live north of Toronto, Canada where the Shouldice Hospital is located.

I am within one-week now after my hernia surgery and still at my mom’s place writing this blog as I spend some time with her and recover myself. The blog publishing date would likely be a week or two delay from today. On my next blog I will describe my personal experience at the Shouldice Hospital when I have finally gone under their knife on April 28th, 2017.