Throughout this last month, Gary’s been looking at Lug, Jack and me parading around in our classy hospital gowns and he’s been feeling mighty jealous. He knows he’d look classy too also but he just needs an opportunity to walk the runway in his own hospital gown. Unfortunately, he has an opportunity close at hand. He’s actually had a hernia since 2007. It has caused him no discomfort, it has not grown and it is not painful. It’s been there through all of our hiking, our loading and unloading of the RV, our extensive landscaping and our interior redo. However, it is something that he should have looked at much sooner but today is his appointment.
Quite a few years ago in the 1980’s when we owned two video stores in the Minneapolis area we were what is called ‘self-insured,’ meaning we had NO health insurance. We lived that way for about 13 years, from the time I left my teaching job in New Hampshire in 1985 to 1998 when I joined Wells Fargo. Would you believe that we had disability insurance, in case one of us was sick and we had to hire someone to work in the stores? No insurance to cure what ailed us but insurance to pay us while we were sick? Whatever were we thinking? For two risk-averse people, we were certainly living close to the edge.
Luckily we were incredibly healthy and never needed anything more than a doctor visit every now and then.
However, in 1994 I had a lump in my groin area that could fill my cupped hand when I put my hand into my pocket. Did I want to go to the doctor? Nope. Was I taking a terrible chance with my life? Yep. What a stupid thing to do. A huge lump and I decided to wait, for longer than I should have waited. I suppose that I was waiting for it to disappear and everything would be ok. (Same thing I used to do with car repairs: wait a bit and that rattle will disappear. This technique worked as well on health as on car repairs - not at all.)
Finally I made an appointment and walked across the parking lot from our video store to the doctor / clinic that we usually went to and asked them to look at it. I got an examination room, took off my jeans and undies when a nurse came in to see me. Oops - it was truly a nurse but she was also a customer in our video store who came in to say ‘hello.’ There I was, cowering behind the examination table, with nothing on below my waist and she wants to talk. Then she realized my predicament, apologized, said her good-byes and hurriedly left.
When the doctor came in, she took a look at my huge lump and began to laugh. Huh? Sure enough, she then told me that it was the largest hernia she had ever seen in a female. Well, thanks. I always wanted to set a record. Do I get a gold medal? Nope, I get a chance on the operating table. This doctor visit is turning out to be less than serious. No wonder I hesitated going to the doctor: embarrassing nurses, laughing doctors and all at my expense.
Well, I soon found myself in surgery having my hernia taken care of. All I can remember about the aftermath was that all I wanted to eat was a Perkins Upside-down Pineapple muffin. In fact, while I waited in the car, Gary got 2 of them for me. My body might have been in pain for a while but my tastebuds were grinning. In the end, I had a laparoscopic surgery and had only two small slits. I wasn’t out of work too long but was leery about lifting big boxes for a while.
Gary also had a hernia about 5 years later but he had hired Dr. Frankenstein and Igor. My doctor made two very small slits in my abdomen on Friday and I was back at work on the following Monday. I have hardly any scars. Gary’s Igor shaved him front and back from his navel to his knees and then Dr. Frankenstein made a huge 4” cut and he was flat on his back for at least a week. Interestingly enough, that surgery didn’t take and that is where Gary’s new hernia is.
Today, Dr. Feldman, the specialist, told Gary that he had several kids to put through college and that Gary ought to have the hernia operated on - Friday. That certainly was fast - no time to worry.