Have the operation...IT IS necessary! I don't see any reason why you can't lift again once recovered. You may also want to consult a "sports medicine" doc. They will have experience getting athletes back on track after hernias.
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You should definately be able to come back. I've known at least 3 people who have had the surgery and came back to there regular/strenuous activities.
Just take your time and listen to the doc and rehab it correctly.
"When I use the word intensity I mean the ability to continue past and through the pain barrier where your mind pleads to stop and in fact convinces your body that you have hit failure, but you push through. How far you push through that barrier is the level of intensity with which you train." -- Twin Peak
But take it real easy in the begining.......five weeks is enough time to heal, but not really enough to strengthen the surronding areas.....I`d go real light for at least another 3 or 4 weeks before slowly increasing. You don`t want to end up back in hospital with another hernia in the same spot.