Tomorrow marks the two-week anniversary of my hernia repair surgery. (Please, no gifts. A themed cake would be horrifying.) My surgeon prefers to slice his hernia patients and reach inside rather than any newfangled laparoscopic method. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as he found an additional, smaller hernia near the first and repaired that as well. Nothing hurt as bad as the bill, but yes, there have been days of significant discomfort. I hesitate to call it pain because, while there have been a few yelp! moments, they're few and far between. So far I've taken only two of the Percocets prescribed by my doctor, forgoing even the Ibuprofen after my swelling went down. Yes, there was swelling. It wasn't as gross as you might think, but it did get my attention. Same goes for the discoloration, which tended toward a light-purple hue Wikipedia characterizes as "thistle." That only lasted a day or two, about the time I spent intermittently draping my midsection in bags of camp ice. Strangely, yesterday was one of my worst Oh Em Jeebus! days, partly because I made the foolish mistake of sneezing while in a seated position. Apparently, hernia repairs hate it when that happens.
It's embarrassing to talk about this, but only because my brother and stepfather are going through much worse so what the hell am I even going on about. I feel no shame in telling you the travails of my junk. You may think it's TMI. I accept there are cultural taboos, but the fact is men's health deserves to be publicized and generally understood more than it is. Societally, we've come to a place where we can talk about breast cancer and other female or mostly-female health concerns, and that's great--so why not hernias? I guess the main reason is it makes men wince to read it, and yes, IT REALLY DOES. Listen, I've read a lot more about the subject than you probably have now, so I get it. But honestly, isn't this something all men should know? If 27% of us are likely to suffer a hernia, shouldn't we know what to do about it?
I'll spare you the photos--you're welcome--but I now have a four-inch scar an inch northwest of Action Central. That's a serious scar. I'm also losing weight, partly on purpose and partly because I've been down in the dumps. It sucks being under the weather. It sucks having to take today off because I sneezed 24 hours ago. It sucks that I'm still getting bills from people who conspired to stab me near the sanctum sanctorum. It sucks that my wife has to take on greater responsibility. I think that's the part I hate most--but she's been a champ, and I suppose somewhere down the line I'll have the chance to make it up to her. I hope not, but life throws us lemons and we make Limoncello.
The main thing you should know about hernia repair is that for all the words I've thrown at it, and for all my discomforts and indignities over the past 13 days, it's still better to know my intestines aren't likely to burst through my abdominal wall like the "snakes" in one of those prank peanut butter jars. If you're a man with weird dragging or rippling or throbbing sensations down there in your equatorial region, then maybe you should head over to WebMD's inguinal hernia section  and compare your situation. If your symptoms match, talk to your GP and have her set up an appointment with your urologist. Try to think of the resulting consultation as a truly exciting first date. The surgery's a drag but nothing you can't handle. In fact, I'd vote for the last two weeks over a flu every time. And if you happen to get your repair done through South Sound Surgical Associates in Olympia, WA, hey, please tell 'em Carv sent you. Maybe they'll knock a few bucks off my bill.