It has been 6 months now since my diastasis recti surgery. Many people have read my previous posts about how the decisions I had to make to have the operation, the struggles, the fear, and the diastasis recti recovery. Yet, I haven’t written a post about how I am doing now. So, I wanted to share life post-surgery.
Diastatis Recti Recovery
I won’t sugar-coat it and make it seem like everything was easy these past six months. It was not. It was emotional when I could not pick up my pre-schooler when he wanted a hug, and to coordinate people to be around me 24/7, so I could not lift anything over 10 pounds for 8 weeks (including my own baby.) It was hard to see a huge scar, it was hard to have a lot of swelling, and it was frustrating to be in a lot of pain.
Even without lifting things over 10 pounds, I got tired easily those first two months. My body had a 10-hour surgery, and there was a lot to get back in regard to energy. Even when I was given the go-ahead to walk upright, it took me a full month to stand up straight. I finally went to a chiropractor specializing in ART (active release techniques) to help me, and it was a huge help.
Umbilical Hernia Surgery Recovery
Yet, I still didn’t have full range of motion until mid-May. Though, to be honest, I am not sure how much was physical vs. mental in that respect. I had such a fear those first couple of months that I was going to pull my stitches, rip a hole, or a myriad of other calamities that my brain was envisioning, that I was fearful of doing anything. While that fear is lessoned, I still take care (and then worry after) when I have to lift a box in the garage or a suitcase at the airport, or even when I sneeze. Any time I am playing with the kids, I take extra care to protect my torso from a kick or being used as a seat cushion when they try to sit on me.
I also had a lot of swelling. I have spoken to friends who have had standard tummy tucks who have had swelling too, but not as severe and for not as long. While everyone’s recovery is different, an abdominal reconstructive surgery as severe and complicated as mine, probably results in side effects for a longer period of time. So I mention it because it can be very frustrating. However, the swelling lessens each month that passes, and I do see a big improvement from last month to now, let alone now and that first post-surgery month last February.
It has also been interesting to adjust to a new torso after my Diastasis Recti surgery. I have gotten used to not having my belly button, and more of a makeshift one. I have gotten used to my huge scar (and just wear high-cut underwear to hide it.) There were many weeks where I could not sleep in my favorite position, even when I got clearance to be able to lay down flat again.
While the swelling is going down, the one unique thing I am also dealing with it the numbness. It has gotten dramatically better, but even as I write this post, I can feel my hand touch my stomach, but the full sensation is not there. It is not a bad thing per se, it is more of a “huh, that’s interesting” reaction. I’m told that it is also something that improves over time, but it is a side effect of the surgery and it may never improve. So I am not sure which camp I will ultimate fall in, in that regard.
I am sure you are wondering the ultimate question. Would I do it again? The answer is yes. I would do it again even knowing how hard it has been, the challenges I knew were coming and the frustrations I did not know would impact me. Why? Because I am so much happier. I feel better than I did. I can go running again (even though I have had to start from scratch.) I can go for long walks, I can take an aerobics class and not feel pain. I can also put a dress on, and have it not be a maternity one. I can wear a normal pair of pants, and don’t need elastic ones. I no longer have everyone from a child to a senior citizen ask me when I’m due.
I can’t tell you if you should have it though. So many factors about your lifestyle come into play. There are a lot of risks, and everyone’s health varies. There are recovery limitations that may not be something you are able and willing to take based on family and work obligations. I will say that if you do decide to have it, don’t have it in the heart of winter. I know it seems like the perfect time to recover since you’re still stuck indoors, but I got a cold with a hacking cough right before my surgery. Luckily, it went away, like, the day before, but I was so scared of coughing afterwards. The same could be said of other seasons if you have bad allergies. Since I do have a tendency to sneeze everyday, the doctor told me to crunch myself up into a ball when I needed to sneeze. It was a way to protect all the stitches (internal and external.)
For some, personal training may be the solution. For me, it was not. It was too severe and the hernias too numerous that I didn’t bother trying. Yet, for some of you, it may be enough to avoid surgery. For others, the cost of paying $75 a session for a personal trainer may be better spent on surgical costs. You just have to weigh the pros and cons of them all.
The advice I can give, is at least see what your options are. Find a good plastic surgeon who is Board Certified. Find one that is willing to repair hernias and your diastasis recti together so you don’t have to have two surgeries. Find a plastic surgeon who repairs diastasis (and get references) vs. one that just does standard tummy tucks. Talk to your ob/gyn and perhaps get referrals from them. Speak to a personal trainer about a treatment plan, and what is the possibility of successfully reducing your muscle separation. Remember, however, that only surgery can repair it, but for many, the personal training can lesson the severity enough that you are happy.
While I miss the freedom of lifting and moving things anyway and anywhere I wanted to move them, it is a small sacrifice to make knowing I have my self-confidence back. But more so, is that fact that I don’t have to be in pain anymore and can go to Disney World with my kids. That, my friends, is priceless for me.