Blog 1: Events leading to my first hernia operation

8 An injured Freedom Fighter.

The year 2011 was quite busy for me. In addition to being a full-time consultant surgeon in the UK, I was also actively involved with the humanitarian work during the uprise against Muammar Al Gaddafi. Working for our charity Libya Medical Relief, I alternated my trips to the refugee camps in the Tunisian desert with my wife, Dr Amna K Tellisi. I worked in one of the Tunisian Hospitals and helped treat casualties of war from both sides of the conflict. Inside Libya, I provided surgical assistance to two of the besieged towns in the Nafousa Mountains. Any spare time was devoted to my Libyan Professionals Database which I set up and managed to help coordinate the medical relief efforts. I travelled from England to Malta carrying desperately needed baby milk along with medical supplies which were then shipped to Libya. There was a lot of heavy lifting.

Around September or October of 2011, I noticed a small bulge in my left groin. I knew it was an inguinal (groin) hernia. It did not cause me any pain, and it did not bother me, so I carried on working. Every time the hernia popped out, I would just push it back in.

I knew that it needed fixing, but I was in no hurry. I consulted with my General Practitioner in November 2011, who documented the presence of my hernia along with the fact that it was painless.

The 20th of March 2012 was just another ordinary working day. I was all dressed up and ready to go to work when I was suddenly seized with severe pain in my left groin. My hernia had popped out and got stuck outside. I knew what to do, as I have successfully treated some unfortunate patients who had a similar experience. I limped back to bed and waited a few seconds to relax. I then gently squeezed the contents of my hernial bulge (small bowel) back to where they belong inside my tummy. As this happened my pain immediately disappeared. I stood up, put my trousers back on and walked towards the door. My wife jumped in front of me, and in a stern voice asked me to go back to bed and call the hospital sick. My wife is of a very gentle demeanour, and her unexpected reaction put some sense back into my head. So, I did as I was told!

I did not have to think long before I decided whom to call. The surgeon was someone whom I worked under as a junior doctor, and he was the first one who taught me how to repair a groin hernia. He was one of the few surgeons that I truly admired and looked up to and I certainly very much enjoyed working for him.

After a brief explanation over the phone, he told me he could fit me into his afternoon private operating on Friday the 23rd March 2012. I requested that he does an open repair and that he uses lightweight Ultrapro partially absorbable mesh. His reply was, “I will do whatever you like Adel.”

In the next two days, I did very little apart from contacting my General Practitioner asking him if I could have my operation done under the Choose and Book System as I was not privately insured. My GP sent an urgent request through to the surgeon. The surgeon said that he could not do it that way and would need to charge me privately.

As I was a member of staff, the private hospital deducted 10% of my total bill.

Want to know what happened on the day of my operation and how my surgery went? Read my next blog to find out what happened next.

About the Author

Dr Adel H. Rateme
Retired Consultant General Surgeon and Oncoplastic Breast Surgeon

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