Trying to find some humor in the hernia diagnosis I received today, this cartoon reminded me that, hey, I only have a single hernia, so lucky me!
(I also have taken to wearing joggers much of the time rather than regular pants, which qualify as skinny jeans. And sure, I've got a lifetime supply of bitter regrets -- which now includes getting a hernia. But it's a stretch to say I'm in midlife, since I'm 72.)
As befits my age, I don't have a great story to tell about how I ended up with a right-sided inguinal hernia.
No, I wasn't bench pressing too high of a weight. I was sitting in a dentist's chair for about 90 minutes, the first part of a lengthy session involving three fillings and a crown replacement.
During the time the new crown was being fashioned by a 3-D printer in my dentist's office, I decided to visit the restroom. When I pulled my pants down I was met by a shockingly large bulge.
Ordinarily I'd be pleased by such a bulge in the region of my groin. But this bulge was to the right of my penis, a bit less than half the size of a baseball. So impossible to miss.
I decided to ignore it for the time being, since my focus was on getting through the rest of the dental appointment. When I got home, I phoned my family physician's office.
Not surprisingly, their best guess was a hernia -- which somehow decided to manifest in a dentist's chair, since I'm certain the bulge wasn't there when I took a shower earlier that day.
I was able to see a nurse practitioner the next day. He asked if I had any pain. No, I told him.
He then stressed that if I did feel a lot of pain, that was a danger sign that should cause me to go to the ER, since a strangulated hernia where part of the colon gets deprived of blood can lead to gangrene and other nasty stuff.
I was scheduled for an ultrasound at Salem Hospital. That was done yesterday, and I got the results this morning. Not cheery findings, but pretty much what I expected.
There is a large right inguinal hernia containing fat and bowel as well as a small amount of fluid. Hernia sac measures up to 5 cm. Fascial hernia defect measures up to 3.4 cm. Hernia is partially reducible but not completely reducible.
What immediately worried me was that the nurse practitioner had said I should get a hernia belt, what used to be called a "truss." (And maybe still is, by some.) I'd ordered and gotten several belts from Amazon.
They all said "for a reducible hernia." Meaning, the protruding stuff can be poked back into the body, thereby reducing the protrusion to nothing or almost nothing.
So I phoned my family physician's office.
Pleasingly, I was told by a nurse to not worry and go ahead with wearing a hernia belt, which I did today. Since my hernia protrusion mostly goes away when I lie down, I put on the belt while lying prone on a bed.
The hernia belt is pretty comfortable. I went on my usual two-mile afternoon dog walk while wearing it with no problem. It gives me more confidence while I wait for a surgery consultation, which is in the works.
All in all, I'm feeling mostly OK about my new health problem.
Hernias are much more common in men. (Thus they really should be called "Himnias.") Some Googling revealed:
Researchers estimate that about 27 percent of men and 3 percent of women will develop an inguinal hernia at some point in their lives.
OK, I've reached that point. Now I'm looking forward to getting past that point. Hopefully it won't take too long to schedule a surgery.
Reading recent Amazon reviews of hernia belts caused me to realize that many men who were diagnosed with a hernia last year around springtime had to wait quite a few months for surgery, since elective surgeries weren't being done during the first wave of Covid cases.
I guess my hernia picked a good time to pop out for a visit.
I'm also grateful that my family physician responded promptly to several My Chart messages I sent her with hernia questions.
Pleasingly, she said it would be fine if I kept on with my daily exercising with the Monkii 360 ball and resistance bands, as I've gotten addicted to this enjoyable wear of working out. She also told me I could continue doing physical therapy stretching exercises for my sciatica problem.
The only caveat is the same thing my physical therapist kept telling me: if it hurts after you do something, stop doing that thing. And obviously I shouldn't be lifting heavy weights.
In an attempt to be positive about having a hernia, I've discovered that when you have a couple of longstanding health problems, getting a new problem tends to shift the focus of your mind off of the old problems and onto the new problem.
Thus my sciatica isn't bothering me as much anymore. Yay! Only problem is, my hernia has become a bother.