Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Diastasis Recti: The Surgery and Recovery Part 2

The recovery at home seemed to take forever. For someone who can push through about anything, being in pain and restriction from movement was a lot to handle. I could not shower for three weeks. I sat up to sleep also for about three weeks. After that time, I thought I would eventually be able to stand up straight. That would not happen for about thirteen weeks. Because of my small size, the sutures for the mesh show through my skin. One is rather pronounced and irritates the nerves around it. That one may need to be removed.
I consider myself to be in recovery still, as things that seem simple are not. Everything is connected to the core, so everything has to be relearned as my body recuperates. Jumping was particularly difficult at first, and I still have trouble with exercises that are body weight on the upper body, like push ups and tricep dips. These exercises really pull on the stitches. The left side is recovering slower than the right and feels pulled and uncomfortable. I can feel where the mesh lays and all of the sutures around it.
After all of this, I am very glad that I got the surgery. My stomach muscles were not going to repair themselves, and this injury was greatly impacting my life. Though the recovery impacts my life, it is well worth it. I will eventually be able to do all of the things I enjoy, though maybe not to the full range of motion that I had when I was younger. At least I feel repaired and pulled together, and the problems associated with torn muscles and hernias are gone.
Because of the shock of recovery and the methods I have gone through for this recovery, I hope to come out with a new DVD or series to help others recover from surgeries or illnesses.


Unknown said...

so how difficult was the recovery and how long did it take to become "normal" so to speak. I am thinking about having the surgery done myself and I am skeptical ..they are also doing a tummy tuck type of thing as well. I am in the Army and I just want to know how long will i be down for . Thanks

Carriefit said...

It has been almost exactly a year since I had the surgery, and here is what I can tell you. I had a hernia, so nothing was going to work but surgery, and I chose to fix not only the hernia, but the diastasis. I was totally unable to exercise post surgery for 12 weeks, and unable to jump or run for 4 more weeks. I couldn't stand up straight until that time as well, and I cannot flex my back backward still. I don't think I ever will. I do think it depends on the doctor and how tight he pulls the muscles and skin. Yoga has really helped me get some flexibility back. I would recommend using the tupler technique or a post natal fitness expert first. If you have a hernia or know that the physical therapy will not work, then I would find a surgeon that understands your circumstance, and I would definitely look in to what the army would allow for down time, and what your insurance covers. I would hope it would be the best insurance in the country. If you need more help, email me or facebook me. carrie@carriefit.com or www.facebook.com/carriefit

Sarah said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story. I've been trying to find out more information about this surgery - and there's just not a lot of info out there.

I think I'm going to have the surgery this fall, after I finish breastfeeding my infant. I just can't imagine breastfeeding while trying to recover. My surgeon has told me what to expect out of the surgery, and it's totally different than your experience. I'm just worried that the recovery will be much more difficult (like yours) then what he's saying. He says it's an outpatient surgery, so I wouldn't even be spending the night. And he said that I should be able to go back to work 1-2 weeks. Like you, I have a hernia along with the diastasis. Did your doctor tell you what to expect? I just want to have realistic expectations, and I'm wondering about what your doctor told you vs. what my doctor told me.

I also run a few miles 3 days/week. It sounds like it took you about 4 months until you were able to run again - is this right?


Carriefit said...

I can tell you that I visited with my doctor, who was very forthcoming about the reality of the surgery, and I visited with fluffy plastic surgeons who sugar coated it. I can tell you that women who have gone to sugary doctors were in shock over what they went through and that they were sent home in a world of pain during the same day of surgery. I can tell you that I was on a morphine drip for 24 hours, and there was no way I could have left that hospital in that amount of time. I couldn't move myself at all for several hours, and then needed the nurses to literally lift me out of bed and back down. And I am a very strong person normally. I know that a lot of doctors don't want to allow their patients to stay overnight because they don't want to mess with insurance. Check on these things and make sure you are going to be taken care of. Don't plan to be able to take care of your baby for a couple of weeks. As far as exercise is concerned, I haven't gone without exercise for very long at any time in my adult life, but in this instance, my extent of exercise was minimal movement for a while. I tried to run at 12 weeks out, and progressed little by little to being able to run at 16 weeks out. I am thinking about doing an exercise video with a progression from the bed to being back to exercise mode again because I don't think enough is said and done about how to make this progression slowly and safely.

Bibi d said...

Hi Carrie. I don't want to assume you had a pregnancy that lead to the Diastasis Recti. Did you have this happen during pregnancy or while extrenuating circumstances with exercise or other? I was a work out finatic at 20 hours per week doing the weight lifting, cardo, etc. You could bounce a nickel off my abs and now, my last pregnancy (#4), I could not do 50 crunches let alone 500 each day - ugh!
I am overweight for a sedentary lifestyle the past 4 years, my last born is Autistic and is very physical with me. He climbs all over me like a jungle gym which includes kicking in the stomach at times. He recently burst a cyst on my ovary which resolved that problem, thankfully, painful but now I don't need that removed - Yay!

Soooo, Did you find that before the Diastasis your abs were a strong point for you and after getting Diastasis and going through the surgery and recovery, your abs are not as stable or strong?

I want to lose 50 lbs. and get back to a size 3 or at least a 6. I have been freaked out about using my whole torso stomach area and want to have confidence to hit that area hard.

People think I am pregnant all the time. I know it is from carrying extra weight. Did you see a difference in your stomach bloating or bulging out?

I am not getting fat removed as with a tummy tuck. I am having what you are done, the Diastasis and Hernia. I am going through a general surgeon so I will address what you have recommended about hospital stay versus dumping you in the car doped up and on your way home. I had breast augmentation years ago and I didn't recover for about 2 months because I didn't get the proper pain medications up front, nor the nursing care I needed due to my husband not knowing how to properly care for me (former husband).
I will need to separate myself physically from my 4 year old which is going to be frustrating and heartbreaking for both of us. Would you say it took you 2 weeks and then were able to take physical activity from an active child (if you, yourself can personally measure that).
My husband and I are really concerned for me and my recovery with our little boy jumping on me.
This is a lot of information and questions. Thank you for posting your experience and answering questions. You are helping women make a decision with our eyes wide open. Thank you! Kathy D.

Carriefit said...

My abdominals were extremely tight and strong before I got pregnant. I continued to work them, thinking that the strength of my abdominals would be a good thing. The tightness of my abdominals and the very nature of my body type made my abdominals separate. If I were to advise pregnant women, I would say that working out in pregnancy is very important, but abdominal specific exercise should be limited to stretching and lengthening that area. Diastasis can be caused by pregnancy, weight lifting, or a sudden weight loss and gain.

Mandi said...

Hi Carrie! I am 5 days post-op from the very same surgery you speak of. I literally just Googled "diastasis repair and recovery" and up popped your blog.

I wasn't mentally or emotionally prepared to be as limited as I am -- I have a 3.5 month old that I'm unable to care for in his entirety. The baby must be brought to me and placed in my lap. Typically I am a very strong and resilient person, but that part has got me somewhat depressed. I want my life back...my ACTIVE life back. And though I know it will come back in time, it's tough nonetheless.

I have to admit, however, your story worries me. According to my surgeons, I should be back at work by week 2, and fully recovered by week 6.

Frankly, recovery is going to vary from person to person. I feel as though I'm doing pretty good considering I'm no longer on any pain meds. I have extreme soreness, as though I performed 500 crunches or thereabout, but I'm not in the excruciating pain that I was in on post-op day 1 and 2.

Keeping my fingers crossed that I might be able to participate on a snowboarding trip come February.

Anonymous said...

I am now 4-weeks post surgery for the same issues. Though I felt like a bus hit me for the first 5 days, I took myself off meds at day 3, it hurt too much to throw up. I believe my pre-surgery preparation truly helped. I did a lot of strength training to get the rest of my body ready to carry the load my core would not be able to. Though I had trouble getting out of a lying down position I found after day 5 being flat helped stretch out my tight abs. My doctor made sure not to pull the skin too tight and didn't do anything with my obliques so that I wasn't struggling to stand up straight.
Also the doctors insisted I walk and shower asap and return to normal. I got my drains out at 1 week post-op appt and that helped so much to feel normal again. I am ordered to avoid exercise and lifting anything over 10 lbs for up to 6 weeks. I returned to work and driving at 2 weeks, though only could verbally instruct my exercise classes and clients. Definitely was exhausted and swollen by the afternoon.
Currently I feel stronger every week and continue to feel pressure in the area above my belly button where the hernias were. I too am happy I finally had the surgery though I am still unsure how everything will turn out and when I'll feel at my fitness peak again. I am grateful I am healing quickly.

Harper Carrie said...

Mandi and Kamp, I am so glad you came over! Kamp, I do think my doctor pulled my skin too tight. You can see every stitch of my hernia mesh through my skin, and I had to have some additional work done because one stitch was poking through my skin and I was in incredible pain. It took me a really long time to stand up straight, so I still struggle with back extension. Thank you, Yoga! I work on it all the time, but my range of motion may not recover due to the changes in my spine from being bent for so long.
What we go through!
Ladies, I have 2 things for you. First of all, I am blogging now at www.carriefit.com . I am doing an 8 week program for the general public right now, but this summer, I am going to go back in to some DR information, and hopefully we can share with each other more. There is also a FB page for DR, https://www.facebook.com/groups/98165971386/,which is a private group where we share with each other. Please come join us! Come to the Carriefit FB page as well at www.facebook.com/carriefit and keep in touch!
Much love

Too Busy to Blog said...

I am about to find out if I have a hernia. I think I aggravted what was already diastalsis from 3 pregnancies when I followed an 8 minute ab workout a winter ago. My top of my stomach bulges out more than ever did before and hurts on and off.
Your story is sobering. I hope to get a surgeon who is easy to communicate with, and pick a good time to recover. Sounds really nasty. I may opt for just getting hte hernia sewn and leaving the diastalsis ( as I have obviously survived with it so far)
I'll follow your blog for more updates.

Harper Carrie said...

I'm glad to hear your story so far, Meg. I have moved to www.carriefit.com . Come on over and make sure to keep me updated. Right now, I'm working on an 8 week weight loss and body toning program. I hope to work more on DR soon. Join the Diastasis Recti support group on Facebook if you wish, too.

Anonymous said...

I had surgery for diastasis and 3 hernias three weeks ago. I would rather give birth without an epideral than do that surgery again. I am normaly tough but this surgery kicked my behind. I woke up today with a bloated stomach and the skin is very tight. I seriously look 7 months pregnant - like I have a basketball under my skin. It is uncomfortable, heavy and hard. Has anyone had this experience? Does it go away? I called the doctor and she said it's part of the healing process. This does not look or feel normal.

Carrie Harper said...

Mick, something is wrong. Did your doctor put you in a recovery garment? I was in one for a long time ... Three weeks without ANY time out of it. If I didn't have that garment, I imagine I would have torn all of that stitching apart. Ask your doctor about this, and if you don't like his answer, find someone board certified in your area to ask. My doctor is David lee in Houston, Texas.

Geraldine Harms said...

Thank you for doing this blog. I had the surgery to remove an hernia and repair a mayor diastasis on December 17, and yes the recovery kick my behind. One of the most challenging things I have got through. Now a little over 3 months post surgery I notice I still get pain in my abdominal area and I get a little swollen by the end of the day. I wanted to ask you if you experience the same. Also laughing or sneezing is very painful. Did you had the same symptoms?
Thank you again for your blog is very informative.