It has been 5 months since my surgery. I also had a vertical incision that starts a little above the belly button. I had a TAH/BSO with an umbilical hernia repair. I had had the hernia since my second pregnancy and it got worse during my third and last pregnancy... 27 years ago. It never bothered me much except for how it looked, although it was sensitive to touch the skin there... it was a very large hernia... an extreme "outie" with a large area of separated muscle so that there was just skin between the outside and my organs ... maybe 4 inches or so in diameter.
We really didn't discuss any details ahead of time so I didnt know what the repair would involve. I just knew he couldn't just sew me back up and leave it like that.
I only found out two weeks ago when I asked him (after doing a little research on the web a few weeks before that) if he had put in a mesh. He had. So, now I understand the discomfort I have felt. Maybe you won't but if you do, you won't be scared like I was. I thought something was wrong because it still is uncomfortable inside under the belly button area... especially if I cough or if I do too much... or even if I eat too much. The tissues have to adjust and adhere to the mesh. It makes sense that it would take some time for that to happen. The mesh basically becomes part of the underlying tissue. If a mesh is not used then there is a high likelyhood that the repair will not hold... at least with a large hernia like mine. Maybe a tiny one would be better without it.
As far as exercise... at my one month checkup the doctor told me to start resuming my normal routine. I asked him a couple of specific questions. Could I empty the dehumdifier... which involves bending over and lifting a 25 pound bucket of water up from the floor level! He said I could. I tried...it was very difficult... I did it a few times but still cannot believe he said I could. I also asked about bending over and washing the feet of my 50 pound dog if she got muddy. Again, he said yes. Again, when I tried it, it was awful.
Just this week at 5 months post op I finally felt comfortable lifting that dog into the bathtub when she got really muddy the other day. I also finally flipped my mattress and wrestled the clean bed pad onto it. I really dont think I could have done either much sooner. Mostly because of the hernia repair. Other parts of my abdomen are fine and the incision itself has never hurt. Never.
I don't do curves but I know what it is ... I think I could do it now at 5 months and maybe a month ago or so. Probably not before that. I have been walking from the beginning. At one month I could do 2 or 3 miles but not at my pre-op pace. That took 3 or 4 months. I can do 3 miles at a 16 minute per mile pace and can even jog a little of it. I wear a light support panty girdle to keep things from jiggling and that helps alot.
I also use an eliptical trainer at home... I love it. No impact. I can be sweating within 3 minutes and really get a good cardio workout. Much better than when I just walk. I started using it at 3 months post-op. That is when I bought it. I don't need the support girdle for that.
When I saw the doctor 2 weeks ago he said to just do anything I want now. So, I hope, that even though I do get uncomfortable in the area where the mesh is, I can't damage anything. He said I wouldn't.... but, did he know I was going to flip a mattress?
Oh, while I am at it... I might as well mention stairs as I notice alot of people ask about that. I was told before the surgery that I would be able to do stairs and that I would be able to lift at least 10 pounds. No problem with either. Maybe it has something to do with how he does the surgery, but stairs did not hurt at all. They were just tiring and I had to be careful and use the rail because of effects from the anesthesia and drugs. I led with the same foot for each step going up. When I came down, my body was kind of sideways as I faced the rail and used both hands. But my steps are VERY steep. This is an old house with very high ceilings.
I don't mean to make this sound like it was all easy. I had alot of discomfort, was tired all the time, cried alot... same as alot of people here. Just had to get through each day one at a time. It was a long hot summer! But the doctor said he did not want me to be a couch potato so I forced myself to do what I could. Gently.
Anyway, to sum it up... I do think the hernia repair has increased the discomfort both in amount and duration, so listen to your body. I think it will be few more weeks before that feels normal. It is nice to have a real belly button though. An innie.