TE Marie, I am sorry to hear about your need for a hernia surgery. I had one 5 years ago -- after 3 colon (j-pouch) surgeries in the 5 years preceding it and before a k-pouch surgery 2 years later. The surgeon repaired both a large, post surgical, midline and a small stoma hernia using a "component separation" technique and "biologic mesh" (pig tissue.)
I will tell you what I remember my doc (McIntosh, who was highly recommended as the best hernia surgeon in Metro Detroit and the mid-west) telling me after my surgery. First, he said hernia belts aren't going to do anything physically, just help mentally or for comfort. I said a nurse recommended one -- he reiterated that any medical professional advising them for more than comfort or that wearing a belt would prevent occurance/reoccurance were not following current medical guidelines. So I wouldn't worry about not wearing it previously, it likely more helps with comfort or bagging in your situation now.
Second, he said the component separation technique with biologic mesh had the best chance of not needing repair for this type of hernia -- but it can't be performed by the average general surgeon as the increased level of difficulty means it requires additional special training (as one of the early pioneers in the technique he actualy does nationwide training.) You can look up "component separation hernia" online (pubmed?) but basically it involves sandwiching mesh and a relocated top layer of lateral abdominal muscles to cover the midline. I think my stoma hernia was just taken care of in the "sandwich."
Lastly, when I asked about when I could return to my normal activity after surgery, he said as soon as I was up to it as long as it didn't involve strenuous activity, weightlifting, or abdominal workouts. He to absolutely never lift over 10 lbs or do any of my favorite kickboxing or pilates again. On this he was firm -- he actually chastised colorectal surgeons who tell all their patients to return to their pre-surgical activity levels, saying that's why he had so many post-surgical hernias to repair. He added that while some patients with more limited abdominal incisions might be able to do it without adverse affects, it was especially ill advised for those of us with multiple, large, midline incisions (all three of mine were "stem to stern.")
Now I understand everyone's activity levels are different and also tied to mental health as well, so this has been difficult for me to swallow. But I've adhered to his edict as best I can and have had no reoccurrences. Given your experiences , I pray you have the best surgeon and get the best procedure for your particular situation. With all your other health problems, the last thing you need to be dealing with is trying to keep your guts in where they belong!
I've been bad about checking the private message section here, but will try to keep an eye on it if you want to talk further. Best wishes, Jennifer