Do a biathlon 16 days after an operation? Yes, it can be done!

15 May 2018

Jem Blok, 47-year-old father of four, lives in Reigate and had a hernia operation on November 2, 2017 at Spire Gatwick Park Hospital by consultant Mr Paras Jethwa, specialist in laparoscopic and open hernia repair surgery.

“I have always been relatively sporty. I am a keen golfer and have also run several London marathons – it’s something I do when I get bored and need a goal to work towards. In the last 18 months, I decided to do triathlons to give me a bit more variety in training. It’s a great contrast to my day job as a financial adviser as I am often just sat in my car or at my desk.

I joined Tri Surrey, a local and very sociable triathlon club, and have been in friendly competition with my brother in-law, who is 11 years younger than me. But I then developed a hernia. For the first six months, it wasn’t causing me any trouble, but just looked a bit unsightly. Then, it became painful and I couldn’t exercise so easily. It put a stop to the triathlons which was very frustrating. Even bending to put my shoes on hurt and I couldn’t help to lift things around the house.

So, I decided to have keyhole surgery. After the operation, there was a little bit of discomfort around the tummy for the first week or so, but after 10 days I suddenly felt a whole lot better. It was then I got a message from my goddaughter to say do I want to take part in the Eton Dorney duathlon in six days’ time. I really wanted to do it as I hadn’t done one for a while because of the hernia, and I wanted to get one last one in before the end of the year.

I called Mr Jethwa and asked him, am I crazy to consider it?  He said as I had no pain that I should go for it, but to listen to my body and take it easy. So, 16 days after my operation I did the duathlon and have never looked back. This year I have been in training and plan to do the Eton Sprint Triathlon on May 19, then it’s the Bloodwise Blenheim Palace Triathlon on June 2. A week after that, I’m going to attempt a half iron man distance event on June 10, the Cotswolds 113 – that’s a 1.9km swim, a 90km cycle ride and a half marathon.

Before my operation, when I was in pain with the hernia, I never thought I would be this active so soon – and pain-free.”  

Mr Paras Jethwa, consultant specialist in laparoscopic and open hernia repair surgery, says:

“A standard laparoscopic hernia takes about 30 minutes and normal duties can resume as soon as you wish, though it may feel as if you have done quite a few sit ups the day before. There is no danger of resuming activities as soon as you feel able to.

"It is not uncommon for a patient who is fit coming up to surgery and, who has no significant medical issues, to have no pain after a couple of days and be able to resume all normal sports by end of the second week.

"Everyone is individual but over the last 500 or so keyhole repairs I have found this to be the norm and not the exception.”

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