Diastasis Recti Surgery Series: Week 6 & Beyond {Updated}

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Diastasis Recti Surgery SeriesThis is the final post in the Diastasis Recti Surgery Series. If you’re new to the series, you might want to start at the Introduction. Thanks for reading!

When week five left off, I was instructed by my surgeon to pour hydrogen peroxide into the wound, and stuff the cavity with gauze twice a day until I saw her again in a week. The week came and went. I was on strong antibtiotics and I faithfully cleaned my wound twice a day.

….To no avail. The antibiotics hardly touched the infection. It all seemed for naught. I was so used to feeling and seeing improvement within only a few days of starting antibiotics, so this was all new territory for me. An infection that wouldn’t heal?

Each day was a lesson in battling discouragement and trusting in God. My questions to Him about why this all happened seemed left unanswered, but I felt His closeness and grace allowing me (and my family, who were also affected by this) to get through each day. Each day I felt led to worship Him and reaffirm my trust in His plan for me. It was not easy, especially at first. But it did get easier.

I reread my earlier post mentioning how on the way to the hospital for surgery, I saw a shooting star and knew He was telling me everything was going to be all right. I’m glad I had written about it, because I forgot it happened in the midst of it all. It was so reassuring to reread it.

So, days and weeks went by without improvement. I would see the doctor once or twice a week and it still looked the same. On my last appointment at the time of this writing, my wound was in noticeably worse condition. I had woken up with increased redness, swelling, and pain that day.

My doc noticed. Then she dropped the bomb on me. She was going to order a CT scan for me. She wanted to see why the infection wasn’t healing, what the source of the infection was. This kind of news set my head spinning again. She told me that if it doesn’t improve, or if the mesh she inserted underneath my stomach muscles is infected, she will have to go in, re-open me up, and take out the mesh.

You mean, I would have to go through surgery and recovery all over again? I bit my lip. I felt the sting of tears making their way out. I asked, isn’t the mesh grown into my skin?

She told me yes, my tissue is grown into the mesh and I would have to go through it all over again. I wanted to scream. There was no way I could do it again. It was not a possibility. My husband had already taken seven(!) weeks off of work. Our family living two states away had already come out for two weeks to help. It was just not possible!

But wait, she urged, don’t get upset. We are not there yet. I’m just going to order this scan, and see what is going on here. Don’t start thinking about everything that could happen; we’re not there yet.

Okay. I won’t go there, because I can’t.  I’ll drive myself crazy if I do. She told me that someone would be calling me soon to set up the scan and that she would see me the following week.

So, in light of everything, I sent out a prayer request to my church and they started praying. Believing in God’s goodness. I love my church. I also emailed dear friends asking for prayer.

 We shall see how it goes, and I will come back and update.

 Update: Three Months Post-Op

Well, a lot has happened since my last update. My wound seemed to go up and down, I would have a promising week with very little drainage and lots of tissue healing, (which eventually led to me canceling the CT scan, thinking it unnecessary) and then it would alternate with a bad week, which meant getting lots of yucky stuff (the technical term) out.

Believe me, I was so over this. I started researching online about infections that are hard to heal. That brought me to a lot of MRSA-related web sites and articles. (MRSA stands for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a very difficult bacteria to treat due to the fact that it has mutated and become resistant to conventional antibiotic treatment. Spooky.) I came across an article that listed a special honey called Manuka honey as a very effective treatment for difficult infections, so naturally I was interested.

Apparently there is a wound dressing called Medi-Honey that is FDA approved, shockingly, and has been proven to be helpful. At my next doctor’s appointment, I asked about the Medi-Honey. She replied that she definitely knew about it, they used it all the time.

Oh really? Well….why hadn’t you mentioned it? I mean, just wondering.

She referred me to the Center for Advanced Wound Care at a local hospital so that my insurance would cover the treatment. I was so pumped about this prospect.

She also informed me at the end of the appointment that she was ready at any moment to re-open me and remove the mesh. She was being patient with the situation, since she knew I had four young children and another surgery would be very difficult for our family. She informed me that if this infection wasn’t healed by the end of the summer, then she was going to be pushing very hard for another surgery. Yikes. Okay.

Angela the PT

The next day, I met my new physical therapist (we’ll call her Angela, not her real name), who drastically improved my life at this point. She was the PT that I was referred to at the Center for Advanced Wound Care. She had all these tricks up her sleeve. She measured the cavity and cleaned the wound. She inserted a tube into the hole and flushed out the cavity with sterile water.

Then for the kicker. She had some gauze woven with silver that is very effective at fighting bacteria. (Silver is very antibacterial.) While she was attempting to pack the cavity with the silver gauze, (remember, we can’t see anything inside, only the hole on the outside) she felt a pop. All of a sudden, very stinky pus started pouring out of me. And blood. We were both shocked. Apparently she had popped some sort of “pimple” that was hiding deep in there, causing the drainage I’d been experiencing for two months.

She took out the silver gauze, and, thinking fast, she mopped up the mess with a gauze pad. She then soaked a long strip of plain gauze in a solution of half Hibiclens and half water and re-packed me with gauze, in an attempt to soak up the pus. Yuck! While she was doing that, I kid you not, she apparently opened another one, and more infection came gushing out and blood. She started to become alarmed. I did too. If she couldn’t get ahold of this, I was going to have to be rushed to the ER for emergency surgery. Uhm, what?!

Thankfully, she quickly got the bleeding and gushing under control. I’m convinced God stopped it Himself. It was amazing. She re-packed me with another soap-soaked gauze strip, washing me out on the inside, and removed it. I was clean again. In goes more silver gauze, and I am ready to be bandaged and on my way. It really did seem that fast, all within a few minutes. She stressed the need for a CT scan to see what is in there, if she got it all. Remember, I had cancelled the first one, thinking I was doing much better.

A few more appointments with Angela, and my wound is now doing SO much better. I am not draining infection any more and it doesn’t have that awful odor it used to have. The silver and the Hibiclens have really helped, along with the constant care from Angela. I am so grateful to God for being referred to her. She has drastically helped me in very little time. I wish my doctor had referred me to her from the get-go, and it frustrates me to think she only referred me because I inquired about the Medi-Honey. (Which by the way, wasn’t the right product for my situation. And no, my wound is not infected with MRSA, thank the Lord.)

So the cavity is remaining clean, but it still is a cavity that needs to close up. I’m supposed to be eating like a pig, especially protein since the body needs this to heal and regrow tissue. I feel a lot better now that I’ve been eating more, and especially knowing that gunk is out of me.

The CT Scan

Today I also underwent the CT scan. I had to drink a large cup of clear liquid, wait for it to go through my system, and then I was hooked up to an IV which flooded me with radioactive contrast dye. Fun. It wasn’t really a big deal….you see those huge machines on TV and it looks very scary and confining, but this machine didn’t look that way at all. It looked like a huge donut in the middle of the freezing cold room with a bed that would slide back and forth during the imaging. Shockingly, they found a vein (I’m not kidding when I say it was cold) and it all turned out okay, after the waiting, the actual scan took just a few minutes.

Tomorrow I am supposed to hear something from them. Let’s hope it’s good news. — Update: It was indeed good news. My CT scan came back normal, just showing an open wound. No infection. I have an appt. soon with the surgeon to discuss it. Thank You God.

All Said And Done…Six Months Post-Op

Well, it’s six months post-op and my wound has finally closed.

I continued on the antibiotics for another month, after the last update, which totaled four months on antibiotics. Finally, a sweet nurse from my surgeon’s office put a stop to the antibiotics, since I didn’t really need them due to the infection clearing up. I started feeling much better quickly after that.

I had problems closing up the cavity. . . it seemed to take forever. The threat of another surgery to remove the mesh loomed over me constantly. The problem was, I couldn’t get enough calories.

Thankfully, I feel like God led me to the perfect supplement that helped me to close up the entire cavity in a matter of weeks. It was astounding to us. The protein powder I took, Raw Protein by Garden of Life, is a dairy-free protein supplement made of sprouted grains, among other things, and even contains natto, a fermented superfood. I highly recommend it for those trying to get in a few more calories. I wish I had known about it during my pregnancies, I feel like it would have helped keep me from feeling so lightheaded and weak during my first trimesters. But now you know!

So anyway, the wound is now closed and I didn’t have to have another surgery. What a relief! What an ordeal! So glad to be able to say: it’s all said and done.

 

* * *

I wanted this series to be a great help to anyone who is dealing with diastasis recti, anyone who is considering the surgery, anyone who wants to have an example of how one played out. Not every story will be like mine, and I really am thankful for that too. My experience has been a pretty rough one. My hope is that it has helped even one person.

If anyone has any questions about this all, I am more than happy to answer them to the best of my ability. You can leave me a comment on any one of these posts, or you can contact me if you would rather ask a private question. I had so many questions before the surgery that went unanswered, and I would love to help others have their concerns addressed.

If anything, this event in our lives has taught me to trust in God – even when it’s hard, even when there looks like no reason to hope.

You can view before, during, and after pictures here.

In good health! πŸ™‚

Love,

Dandy

 

P.S. Here is my update, two years later.

29 thoughts on “Diastasis Recti Surgery Series: Week 6 & Beyond {Updated}”

  1. hi i just read your post and i have to say it very interesting because i have to get the same surgery done but my cut has to start from under my breast and go all the way down to my pelvic and i wont have a belly button any more as well…i have been back and forth contemplating about going through with it or not i looked at your pics i would like to see how your cut is looking now so i can see how well it heals. and also how soon were you back on your feet im a hair stylist so i need to know how much time i would have to take off

    Reply
    • Hi Summer! Wow, that sounds like a long scar! I wonder why so long?
      I plan to post an update pic soon, but let me just mention that if it weren’t for the infection, my surgery site would be totally healed. You can look at the later pics and see that the bottom part of the cut is sealed and fine. It looks very good. It’s been three months since the surgery at the time of this comment.
      As far as being back on my feet, that’s hard to say, because I got so sick during the healing process, with the infection. I know it was pretty painful for the first month. I do remember thinking at one point that the doctor was right, that at about six weeks is when I started feeling healed up (not considering the infection.) I had considerable loss of energy and stamina. If you get the surgery, you’ll likely find that you won’t be able to stand up for very long. I am still trying to stand up straight from those weeks of hunching over during recovery. Give yourself as much time as you possibly can and arrange for help if you can. If you could take off the full six weeks, I’d suggest that; it is a pretty rough surgery/recovery.

      Reply
  2. Just came across your story today. I have a self-diagnosed umbilical hernia. Since the birth of my 2nd child, my stomach has not felt right. After my 1st, my tummy was normal flabby, but after the 2nd, it’s been rock solid as if I am still pregnant. I have asked several doctors why. My regular doc tells me to ask gyno, my gyno tells me it’s just fat. Well, it’s not. I believe I have diastasis recti now. It all makes sense. I am scheduled for hernia surgery next Friday, but now I am concerned that no one has even thought about the possibility of diastasis recti being my main problem. I am just frustrated with doctors right now. After reading your story, I think I will just get my hernia fixed, and try the Tupler thing out for my belly. I am obese now, I gained a ton with my 2nd, and they were back to back pregnancies. Thank you for posting your experience. I think I will skip that type of surgery, and try my best to heal naturally.

    Reply
    • Thanks for stopping by! I completely empathize with your frustration with your doctors. I have felt the same way numerous times during this experience. I am surprised neither mentioned the possibility of diastasis recti, especially considering your pregnancies were back to back. But, either way, I applaud your decision to get the hernia repair and work on another more natural, less invasive route to healing. I wish you the best of luck with your upcoming surgery and healing! If you get a chance, stop back by and fill me in on how things went.

      Reply
  3. Thank you for your posts. I was informed I need to have a similar surgery (re-current umbilical hernia and Diastasis Recti repair). My surgery sounds a little different as there will only be mesh at the hernia site and my Diastasis Recti will be repaired solely with stitches, using a robot so only tiny scar. I’m very concerned having already undergone umbilical hernia repair once. I was trying to find any information on the web and to say this topic is sparsely covered is an understatement. Thank you for posting on this.

    Reply
    • Thank you, Katie, for your comment. Yes, I completely agree. There is not near enough information out there on this type of surgery. Your surgery approach sounds very intriguing. I would love it (if you decided to get the surgery) if you could come back by and let us know how that type of surgery works out for you. It might be something a future reader could ask their doctor about!

      Do you already have mesh from your previous repair?

      Best wishes with your surgery!

      Danielle

      Reply
      • Thank you, Danielle.
        If I decide to do the surgery, I will definitely stop back by and let your readers know how it went. I think it is a fairly new approach. (My Dr. has only done it 3 times). I did not have mesh with my original repair. My hernia was small and I am thin enough that the mesh would show so I decided just to go with stiches (kicking myself, now!). It probably would have been fine but 4 days post surgery I got the stomach flu and, we assume, I popped one of the stiches when I was vomitting. My Dr. is hopeful that, by repairing the diastasis recti, she will lessen my chances of another recurrence. Two major abdominal surgeries in one year is plenty for me! I really appreciate your blog and I am so thankful I found it!

        Reply
        • Thanks Katie! I agree – two major surgeries in one year is quite a lot to handle. How terrible you got so sick after the first surgery!!!! I couldn’t imagine having to vomit right after surgery. . . It was painful even to laugh!! It does seem though, that if you repair the diastasis, you’ll be solving the original problem so you won’t need it again. Thanks again for stopping by. Let us know how it all goes!

          Reply
  4. Glad I found your blog! Two days ago I had umbilical hernia repair with mesh. I have kids aged 5, 2, 21 months and a 3 week old baby. I have had the hernia since my second pregnancy it it kept getting worse. We too believe that we would have what children God gave us. The surgeon though wants me to be on birtg control 6 months to heal which makes sense. But he said any pregnancy now will be tough and a hernia probably will pop up on the side of the mesh since it doesnt stretch much. I am terrified of another pregnancy! Yet I want more children. I now wonder if I have muscle seperation. I have what you described. Will see how it goes I guess. Its been tough being in bed taking care of a newborn while my husband tries to run the household:) Thanks be to God he is a wonderful help and doesn’t complain. Thanks again for your information and your thoughts on your surgery.

    Reply
    • Hi Jen! Thanks so much for your comments. I completely understand what you’re going through right now and wish you the best of recoveries. You are very blessed to have a helpful husband too! πŸ™‚ And caring for a three-week-old during your recovery, wow. You rock.

      I am not sure if it would help you, but I would like to send you a free copy of Belly Lovin’ just to see if there’s anything in there that you could use, since you were wondering about having abdominal separation. I’ll email the copy to the address you entered into the comments system.

      We are so happy with the four amazing children we have. . . and we still give God room for whatever He has in store for us. Thank God for His blessings!! And thanks for stopping by Jen! πŸ™‚

      Reply
  5. Thank you so much for such a comprehensive account of your condition, surgery, and recovery. I have an umbilical hernia, diastisis recti, and am pregnant with our fourth (and last) child. I’m already concerned about how this one is going to further the existing damage and am doing my research now. I appreciate reading about the frustrations with your medical team and all the “what I wish I had known” or “what no one told me” insight – that gives me a lot of information to arm myself with in case I run into similar problems. I’m sorry it was such a rough experience for you, but please know that what you went through will definitely help others!

    Reply
    • Thank you, Jessi, for stopping by, and for your sweet comment. We sound like twinkies! πŸ™‚ I’m so glad the series helped you. That is really what I want!! To help anybody feel a little more educated and prepared. Right now my book is free, you should download it and see if there’s anything in there that will help you. Please stop back by if you do decide to have the surgery and let us know how it went!

      Reply
  6. Danielle,
    Thanks so much for sharing your story in great detail and honesty. I’m really glad that you were able to work with a PT afterwards. I found this off twitter and wanted to share with your readers out there that there are other exercise programs out there for moms with diastasis. I designed one myself called ReCORE and designed the FITsplint . I started it 3 years ago after my frustration with the lack of options out there. I use 30+ safe diastasis exercises and progressively challenge the core to help moms strengthen and shorten the stretched out tissue. I get moms safely back to difficult challenging core exercises. I am a Pre & Post Natal Trainer and dealt with diastasis recti myself. So many moms have been able to avoid surgery and get their core function back. Are there some who need surgery? Yes…there are some cases, but I would recommend that moms try exercise/splinting first to see what kind of response they can get with the tissue. Another great resource for moms is:
    FIT2b -great resource for finding local help as well as online workouts.
    ReCORE Client Results http://www.exerciseandpregnancy.blogspot.com/search/label/ReCORE%20results
    Thanks again for sharing your story. I know every outcome is different not every surgery has these complications.

    Reply
    • Celeste, thanks for stopping by, and thanks for sharing another option for my readers. I truly want them to find the best fit for their lives. For some with hernias it might be surgery, but for others it’s so relieving to know there is another way. Your client testimonials are very, very inspiring! Best wishes to you and your clients as they make their way through diastasis recti healing and changed lives. <3

      Reply
  7. I can’t tell you how much I appreciated reading this. I have been trying to use exercise to repair my diastasis recti but am getting discouraged. I see some short term success but if I’m not consistent, the bulge returns. I’m going to keep it up but I’m not ruling out surgery. I would love to read your ebook but can’t seem to find it??

    Reply
  8. Oh boy. I am going into have first ultrasound to see what kind of separation and hernia I am dealing with. Very thankful for your series. Even though it is kind of a scary scenario, now I know what could happen. This is the stuff your doc probably won't tell you. Anyway. Thanks again. Oh – I know it has been about a year since. Did you post photos on here of what your tummy looks like now?

    Reply
  9. Well let me start by saying i just got done reading your blog pre op to 6 mth post op! I will NEVER have the surgery…No no no…I have 3 children all by c section which worsened my ab weakness and separation..Needless to say my youngest is 28 lol..I have begun having severe lower back pain issues..Cause determined to be recti diastasis.I could of had the surgery as the ONLY real way to fix..I'll take the minimal pain i have! Thanks so much for your brutal honesty.Geez you went through a ordeal to remember.And to me you didn't complain ENOUGH! Lol God Bless you..Do you have any recent pics…If it were me I would be showing them to the world after what u went thru.One thing to consider do your homework on the success rate of the surgeon..Get reviews from several patients.I'm almost wondering if you would have known what you were going to face before would you have gone through with the surgery? I mean there's no way of knowing ALL that was going to happen but I'm quite sure you weren't the ONLY one to go through similar issues post op..Thanks for your blog.I have gathered enough information to decide the risk outweighs the benefits here!

    Reply
  10. Hi Danielle, I have a friend having this surgery in another state and I would love to know your go to items to have for recovery!! Do you have something like that blogged somewhere?

    Reply
  11. I read your posts before my surgery, and even though they didn’t alleviate my anxiety, they definitely gave me a realistic view of what to expect. I had the same surgery four days ago and am now re-reading the parts about your recovery. It’s good to know about possible things that can happen and am hoping to avoid getting a similar infection.. Playing the medication game now– do I stop taking and be more sedentary or take them and be able to be more active. I notice that you would suggest the latter. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    Reply

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