In two days, Friday, April 4th, I'm going into laparoscopic surgery in order to correct a double inguinal hernia. If you want to know what that is, you can read the Not Safe For Work (NSFW) Wikipedia article.
I said it.
I have a hernia.
That was hard.
It's one thing to admit you are sick or have an injury, but it's another thing to admit you have a lower abdominal injury caused by lifting too much. Even if 27% of men get it in their lifetime, it's still hard to admit.
# How Did I Get A Hernia?
Genetic predisposition, not to mention moving a refrigerator. And a sofa. And much more.
Last year in early April my wife and were given the chance to work in Europe for a while. We moved out of our place and put all our stuff into storage. We don't have that much stuff, so we decided to do all the packing and moving ourselves. While I hadn't worked out consistently in a couple of months, I knew I was up for any heavy lifting.
In fact, for all my adult life every once in a while I either moved or helped friends move their stuff. I'm in pretty good shape, have endurance, and know how to lift. I'm really flexible too, able to get low and push up.
For several days Audrey and I packed and moved stuff into the storage facility. It was hard, sweaty work and we were racing to meet a deadline. I didn't mind the work or pace at all. For me it's fun to do hard labor for short periods and this was a blast. I also love pushing myself physically.
- Had to move lots of stuff in a few days.
- Stuff was not gym-style weights, but awkward boxes and furniture. Some of it heavy.
- Love to push myself.
We got it done just in time! Hooray! I was achey and sore, but really proud of what we did. Something didn't feel quite right down there. I shrugged it off.
# Something is Wrong
On the way to Europe I realized something was wrong. I thought it would go away, especially with good food and exercise. During the journey and once we arrived, I tried working out, but afterwards I would be in more discomfort.
No matter. We worked long, hard hours and spent the weekends sightseeing. It was awesome. We met lots of our online friends. We attended amazing conferences and events. It was incredible, and I pray I get to do it again.
Except that all that walking and standing ached. Over a few hours that ache would turn to pain. I thought it would go away, but it didn't. Over time it hurt more and more. Often, out with friends, I pleaded exhaustion. We kept going home early. Actually, I was just in a lot of pain that I didn't understand.
My pride meant I didn't want to admit I was hurt.
# Admitting the Problem and Diagnosis
On one of our last days in Zagreb, Croatia we took a very long walk. Far from our lodging the discomfort got so bad that I sat on the ground. Getting home was a nightmare. That was when we realized something was really wrong.
We decided to keep walking to a minimum after that. We readied for our next stop, the beachside city of Split in Croatia.
When we arrived in Split we did a little research and discovered that I probably had a hernia. We went to a physician, and he confirmed it. He had me see a surgeon, who confirmed it as well. While he suggested surgery, he also let us know that just then wasn't a good time - there was a threat of a nurses' strike in Croatia.
We decided to wait until we got back to the USA and the Affordable Care Act went into effect. I could wait that long if I was careful abut exercise and wore a brace. It sucked, because I would have to wait or pay completely out of pocket.
Waiting was necessary because I didn't want to spend all my earnings for a time feeding the heartless American insurance bureaucracy industry.
As soon as it was available we signed up for proper American medical coverage through the Affordable Care Act. I now have medical coverage! I went through the necessary appointments and was recommended the surgery that's going to happen in two days. The operation should take 90 minutes and I'm going home the same day. Two weeks after surgery I'll be feeling completely normal, and a month after surgery I can carefully restart my exercise regimen.
# Living With a Hernia
It's doable but I don't recommend it.
If I walk or exercise, then I have to wear a brace. That brace gets uncomfortable the longer I wear it, but it's better than the alternative. It's risky for me to max out my weights unless I'm on a machine. I can't do any direct abdominal exercises.
Without the brace I'm not supposed to lift anything heavier than 15 pounds. Ugh.
# The Part I Really Don't Like
Logically I know it's a low risk operation done millions of times a year around the world. That my surgeon is rated extremely well. Still, it's me going under general anesthesia so a really nice lady can cut holes in me.
So I'm scared.
I try not to think about it, the same way I ignored the injury during most of my time in Europe. So far it's been working pretty well, except when I'm driving or trying to sleep.
# PyCon in Montreal
We're not going. We weren't going because of finances, work, etc., but the scheduled surgery cemented it.
# Wish Me Luck!
I can't wait for this to be done and finished. I want to be able to do things again. To walk and run for hours with no more discomfort than aching feet. To be able to pick things up.
It's going to be delightful.
One more thing: next time I'm hiring movers.