Hernia Mania

Have you noticed how weird life is these days? Through some perverse twist of historical fate, we exist in a moment of monumental, unprecedented calamity. We struggle to live normal lives, under siege from a global pandemic, political chaos, natural disaster, economic crisis, cultural fragmentation, and… Well, I’ll stop right there because my fingers will cramp up if I try to type a full list of the crazy stuff happening here in the opening quarter of the twenty-first century.

In this age of unrelenting upheaval, when every day brings more bad news, I’m sure we can all agree that the single most important thing is the curious shape of the scar left after my recent hernia surgery.

Hernia surgery

Last month my surgeon took scalpel in hand to repair what had become a very large and uncomfortable bulge in the nether regions of my anatomical landscape. And I’m glad he did. As a person with Parkinson’s disease, I can affirm that living with the many annoyances generated by that condition alone is pretty bad. But when hernia symptoms are added to the mix, the cumulative annoyance level is simply unacceptable, and something must be done about it even if sharp objects are involved.

Truthfully, I didn’t know what a hernia really was until I developed one myself. Mine was an “inguinal” hernia, which is characterized by a weak spot forming in the lower wall of the abdomen, usually very near parts of the body that, if displayed in certain settings, would get you arrested. Icky intestinal elements that have spent their entire lives trapped inside your body cavity see this weak spot as a chance to finally gain their freedom, so they begin pushing mightily against it. The result is not pretty, or comfortable.

Happily for me, the problem is resolved. Thanks to the marvels of modern medicine, my hernia is gone, and I now have just my Parkinson’s-related annoyances and the monumental, unprecedented calamities of the world to worry about. I commend my skilled surgeon and all the healthcare professionals who worked so diligently with him to keep my innards trapped on the inside of my body, where they belong. I have instructed my insurance company to reward them handsomely, in accord with the many lengthy invoices they have submitted. I’m happy with everything.

Except for the shape of the scar.

A funny-shaped scar

It’s not too big, or too ugly, or too painful, or anything like that. It’s just a normal post-hernia-surgery scar. But it has, in my opinion, a funny shape. Most of it follows a perfectly straight line, which makes sense, but at one end there’s a directional diversion, a short, slightly crooked angle that forms a small shape resembling the letter “V” turned on its side. Why is that there?

I understand that this is an insignificant thing compared to the aforementioned monumental, unprecedented calamities in the world. I’m pretty sure we won’t see headlines clustered together in a news report that say: “Tornado Rips Through Mobile Home Park,” “Michigan Invades Wisconsin,” “Asteroid Collision Destroys Southern Hemisphere,” and “Doddering Old Man’s Hernia Scar is Crooked at one End.”

But despite the multitude of serious circumstances available to capture my thoughts, my mind keeps returning to the question of why my surgery scar is shaped the way it is.

I suppose I could just ask my surgeon. But if it was a mistake, he might be offended or embarrassed if I call undue attention to it. I like my surgeon and I don’t want to make him feel bad. On the other hand, I’m dying to indicate the point in question and ask, “See this, right here, the crooked part where it looks like the side view of a Rockette frozen in mid-kick? What’s that about? When you were making the incision, did you happen to sneeze when you got to this point? Did somebody in the operating room say something absolutely hilarious and you couldn’t help but shake with laughter? Or maybe you just like the Rockettes?”

It would be great if he offered a credible, scientific-sounding medical explanation such as, “Creating a thirty-degree angular departure at the anterior incision axis makes it possible to manipulate the manglia lopane nodule during the procedure.” I’d be happy with that answer, even if there’s no such thing as a manglia lopane nodule and he was just stringing random nonsense words together so I’d stop asking stupid questions about my incision.

In any event, the scar is not in a place where it can be easily viewed by members of the general public, as long as I remember to wear pants when I leave the house. So it’s not like I’ll need to be ready with a good explanation if someone says, “Hey, why is your hernia scar crooked at one end?” And that is actually kind of a shame, because I’m sure I would sound quite erudite and eloquent when I casually replied, “Creating a thirty-degree angular departure at the anterior incision axis makes it possible to manipulate the manglia lopane nodule during the procedure.”

Therapuetic escapism

If I were to be honest with myself I’d admit that perhaps, possibly, just maybe, the reason I’m so focused on this is because it’s a lot easier to think about the benign minutia of a hernia scar than it is to think about a world full of monumental, unprecedented calamity. Or Parkinson’s disease. Although I firmly believe there’s nothing wrong with a little therapeutic escapism, it would probably be healthier for me to stop obsessing about my hernia scar and get back to reality, calamity-filled as it is. Maybe I’ll do that tomorrow. Or some day shortly thereafter.

In the meantime, I hope you are able to avoid being negatively impacted by the multitude of monumental, unprecedented calamities out there, including Parkinson’s disease. I also hope that you will always have a healthy, happy manglia lopane nodule. Even if there’s no such thing.

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