It’s so good to be home.

I’ve been recuperating from major surgery for a little over one week now. Now, while hernia surgery is quite a common surgical procedure, mine proved a bit more serious as it involved incarcerated intestine that ultimately needed resecting and reconnecting.

All things considered, my surgical recovery so far has been going well. Not without hitches… for instance, I had to stop the ‘good‘ pain meds because of some weird side effects.

I’ve been given some ‘forced’ down time…time to rest…time to be slow.

In this time, I’ve been thinking through some of the blessings… some of the silver linings around this surgery storm that I can say I’m thankful for.


Here are my top 5 silver linings from my past week….in no particular order at all.

Number 1 – Family & Friends

animated gif from the tv show "Friends" with the cast hugging.

This emergency happened while we were visiting family out of town. As soon as we knew I was needing to go to the hospital for surgery, the support and help from family showed up. Here are a few snippets of awesomeness:

My wife’s sister rushed over to hold my wife’s hand while we waited for the ambulance…my wife’s mom took off from work to be there with us in the hospital…my brother drove up from his job in Delaware to be there when I got out of surgery…my wife’s other sister helped arrange and pay for a flight for my daughter to go back home to Ohio for work…some friends popped in and visited me in the hospital and gave me an old Nintendo DS and some games (this has been some helpful fun during recovery!)

The most important silver lining of them all in this category would be the love, support, and care from my wife…without that, I’d be lost. It would be so hard to navigate this recovery by myself. Thank you honey!

Number 2 – Lack of Nausea

Animated image from the movie "Dumb and Dumber" with a character almost throwing up.

During the first few days post surgery, I received anti-nausea medication. One of the risks from general anesthesia is nausea and vomiting. Pneumonia is also a big risk during surgical recovery and I had some breathing exercises to perform a few times an hour.

While in hospital, I often overheard other patients in coughing fits and vomiting. Post surgery, the recovery team gave me a small pillow to hold against my abdomen anytime I was doing anything that even slightly exerted my core abdominal muscles. 

Image of Tom's little pillow
My pillow…my li’l buddy. I learned later that the Tampa Bay Rays are some sort of baseball team or something

If I felt the need to cough, I had to clutch this pillow and press it into my abdomen and hope to high heaven that stitches remained intact…not just the stitches on my skin, but the internal ones on my abdominal wall, and on my intestines.
Coughing, much like laughing, hurt… a lot. For the very few times I made just small coughs, I could feel spasms going on inside where my intestines are…not a good feeling at all. I can’t imagine how much more difficult this recovery would be if I had coughing fits, or breathing issues, or additional illness.

Number 3 – Pain Tolerance

animated gif from the movie "The Princess Bride" with the text "Life is pain"

While in the hospital I was on some serious pain medications fed to me through a needle. I was in quite a lot of pain the first couple days, and these meds worked great!

As I was heading toward discharge, they needed to switch my pain management from needles over to pills, which called for a switch in actual medicine. The pain meds still worked, but I began to notice that my breathing become shallow…my heart rate lowered even more than it already is naturally low…it almost felt like my blood was sluggish…almost poisoned. I seriously did not like how it made me feel.

On the third day after discharge, just 6 days after surgery, I stopped taking my pain medicine.

I still have pain…but I’m managing. I might try a different medicine after I see my primary doctor tomorrow. I’m using Tylenol and Advil now, and while not perfect, they help me throughout the day…so I may just stick to that.

The pain after surgery could definitely be worse…and don’t get me wrong, I’m sore…sore as heck around the incision and some discomfort with all the internal hoopla that went on too. But I’m managing things, day by day.

Number 4 – Support from Work Family

animated gif from the tv show "The Office" with the text "Only thing that could make this day better is ice cream"

I work for an amazing organization within the university where I work.

From my direct team to the overarching senior leadership, they all have shown care and given me the reassurance that it is ok to take the time you need to heal, to recover, to get back to being yourself after this big trauma.

This has been a wonderful release. I don’t have to hold onto stress about work. That is an amazing gift that I’m thankful for.

Number 5 – Outstanding Surgical Team and Post-op Nursing Care

animated gif from the tv show "The Simpsons" with a surgeon stitching up someone's chest with the text "I love Jazz"

I mentioned this in my last post, but I believe it deserves repeating.

The level of care I received at the hospital from my admittance in the ER, to my pass-off to the surgical team, to my transition to post-operation recovery, all of the nurses, doctors, and aides were wonderful.

They were gifted in balancing positivity, empathy, and encouragement during time of pain with being purposeful to challenge and push me as a patient to take necessary steps for my recovery…to walk more…and then walk some more…

They made it easy to own my own recovery. They showed pride in their patients…and it helped me to be proud of each step in my own recovery process.

I’m very thankful for this.


If I reflect more, I’m sure I will discover more silver linings and positive things I can be thankful for.

For now, I’ll rest.

It is good to rest.

I’m blessed.


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