"Day surgery for inguinal hernia."

About: Homerton University Hospital / General surgery

(as the patient),

Three years ago, I was admitted to the Homerton Hospital in London for day surgery on an inguinal hernia. I arrived early in the morning and did not have to wait too long before the anaesthetist came to see me: they were calm, friendly, and reassuring, and clearly on top of their job. They asked me the necessary questions, but didn’t need to explain the procedure at length: I had had a general anaesthetic by IV injection a couple of times in recent years and so knew what to expect.

The surgeon popped in briefly. After another short wait, I was called and went into the anaesthetic room. I felt pretty calm about it: I knew I was in good hands. The staff were friendly and chatty and the anaesthetist who had seen me took charge of proceedings. I asked them what they would be giving me and they said antibiotics, to combat any infection, a painkiller, and finally propofol to send me to sleep. The injections were carried out, and the propofol seemed to take effect pretty quickly. I wasn’t asked to count backwards or anything of the kind. They put an oxygen mask on my chest, and I took a few deep breaths, and went under.

I seemed to wake up very easily, as if I had just been asleep in the ordinary way: I don’t even remember breathing oxygen as I came round. I felt quite well: a bit shaky physically, but not mentally woozy. After a while they gave me a drink and a sandwich. Then I got dressed and my wife took me home.

So far so good.

I would have liked to see the anaesthetist and the surgeon again, if only to thank them, but no doubt their schedule made it impossible. But on the way home my dressing started to leak, and by the time we got back my trousers were all over blood. My wife had to ring up the hospital to find out what to do. They had provided an extra dressing and she managed to apply this and stop the bleeding. However, this was stressful for her and not great for me. From her point of view, and therefore in a way from mine, it would probably have been easier if I had stayed in hospital overnight.

It would at least have been a good idea for the dressing to be checked before I left. It would also have been useful to have a leaflet to take home about recovery: how long it might take to be able to return to work, for instance, when I could start taking exercise again, and so forth. Perhaps a follow-up appointment with the GP could be suggested as a matter of course. The actual operation was very successful and I have had no trouble with the injury since, so, on the whole, my experience was a good one.

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