Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Living with a hernia

This is a story I've kept mostly to myself for a while, but as it's now played out into something tangible, I thought I'd share it in the hopes that it may benefit someone else going through the same thing.

Several months back, I'd been having testicular pain. Not severe, and not constant -- it was dull and usually occurred only when I walked for extended distances (half a mile or so). Mostly it just felt like I needed to adjust myself (like you always see baseball players do), only the adjustments never had any effect. It went on long enough that I decided to get it checked out. As any guy will tell you, it's not a place where you want to experience even an occasional dull ache. I didn't notice any swelling and couldn't feel any lumps, but I went in for a screening for testicular cancer. My doctor thought it was more likely an infection (not an STD). It's hard to flush out any problems in that area, he pointed out, because of the way it's designed to have minimal blood flow, so something can stick around for a long time. I took some medicine for a few weeks that was supposed to help out. In the meantime, my doctor also set me up for an ultrasound, which turned out all clear.

It was hard to know if the pain had gone away with the medicine, because as I said, it wasn't that frequent or that severe to begin with. However, one day a couple months ago, I looked down as I was drying off from my shower and noticed a bulge on the right side of my abdomen. I'd read that a hernia could cause testicular pain, so I thought that might be what the bulge was. But like a typical male, I put off going to the doctor. It wasn't that I was afraid to go, but I knew we had our Disney trip coming up, and then I'd be slammed at work with City Stages, so I didn't want to be told I needed an operation that would incapacitate me.

Today I finally went to see my doctor about the bulge. He looked at it for less than 2 seconds and said, "Yep, that's a hernia." He explained that it's a weakness in the lining of the abdomen that could have been there since birth. Anything from lifting heavy objects to constipation can weaken the spot further so that the intestines begin to protrude from there. It could have been something I'd done 10 years ago that's only shown up now, he told me.

I'm meeting with a surgeon next week. On the plus side, it's something that I can get fixed at my own convenience, but I don't see much point in waiting around any longer.

No comments: