Henry is a hernia. And, frankly, is more of a frenemy than a friend. ... But I can't shake him, so I determined to make friends with him (as much as one can make friends with a hernia). To that end, I have given him a name and I'm making an effort to be better behaved, as I've learned that when I am good to Henry, he is better to me. (Read: No more even TRYING to lift anything even REMOTELY heavy. Also, no more going on 2 mile walks. While I did prove to myself that I can walk more than a mile, I also learned that my guts hate me when I make myself stand and be mobile for an hour. ... Yes, it takes me an hour to walk two miles. Don't judge.)
I've had a gut feeling (pun intended) that Henry was coming since mid-June, but he didn't really pop out and make himself known until September.
Over the summer, I'd occasionally have the sensation that my guts were trying to push out through my bellybutton. That was awesome.
Come the first week of September, the pain changed (read: became more constant) and I noticed that, when I had my hand over my belly button, I could feel my stomach gurgling. (That actually WAS awesome. In a creepy sort of way.) Oh, and the area formerly known as my bellybutton started changing. Fast.
On the first Saturday of October, I sat down on my couch and put my hand over my bellybutton and realized... I felt something. Something more than bubbles popping. I felt something hard. Not tumor hard, mind you. More like something-has-broken-loose-inside-my-body hard. So I promptly walked into my bathroom and took a picture. Because I like to document things. And also because I wanted to make sure it really DID look like a hernia from the other side of the camera.
And the verdict was... Yes. Yes, it did.
I apologize to all those readers with weak stomachs and will warn those who have NO DESIRE to see my grody, bumpy, lumpy, scarred and grossly mis-shapen belly (Aunt Cindy, I'm talking to you) that you may want to scroll down quickly so you'll miss the carnage that is up close and personal pics of my body.
I give you: my bellybutton in October:
And then I turned the camera, so I could get a shot of the bulbous lump at the bottom:
No wonder I felt bruised and battered. I WAS! ... From the inside out. Awesome. (By which I mean: Not actually awesome.)
Less than a week after these pics were taken, I started coughing. Hard. I started coughing hard. ... At first, I thought it was allergies. But then I left the great state of Arizona and headed to California for a baking retreat - and I took my cough with me. And then I brought it home, and continued to cough in Arizona.
The cough? It has not helped my relationship with Henry. ... For a week there, I thought it might have been helping. The bulbousness was spreading out, and I was thinking that all that accidental exercise was strengthening my stomach muscles and all would be well in the world. ... And then I realized that my abdominal pain was changing. It was becoming stronger and more constant, and I was having to sneeze and/or cough with one hand over my mouth/nose, and the other pressing down on my bellybutton (such as it is), to the extent that, if I only had one hand available, I needed that hand for my stomach. I can't blow my nose without pushing in on my bellybutton, and it's getting harder to stand up and roll over.
Shoot. Me. Now.
It's been four weeks, and I've been fighting different versions of that same cold the whole time, so I went to the doctor on Friday. (My family medicine doc, not my beloved Dr. H.) I came home with a fist full of new prescriptions, as well as the assurance that this is, indeed, a hernia.
I have an order to have an abdominal ultrasound (that'll be fun - since we all know that I have a weak bladder in the best of circumstances, and having someone push a rolly ball around on your stomach when you're full of water is the opposite of "the best of circumstances"). Her thoughts are that the reason my stomach has changed is that the coughing has enlarged the hernia, and I'll need surgery. Again.
Here's a more recent shot (again, Syd, look away):
Oh, and look! You can see one of the tats in this pic. You lucky dogs...
You can't really see the difference between shot 1 and shot 2, but trust me... it's there. The bump is both bigger and flatter at the same time. I don't often have the bruised feeling that I did last month. The bruised sensation has been replaced by an ache that's sometimes accompanied by stabbing pain. I'm torn as to which pain was easier. It's sort of a toss up.
What I've learned from Henry is that life is easier when I'm easier on my body. Sooooo... so much for the plans I had to walk a mile for every episode of new fall tv I was allowed to watch. My couch, my books, Netflix, Hulu and I are fast friends again.
It's a good thing I actually enjoy staying home in a reclined position. So many people I know would be bored out of their minds. I'm lucky that I was blessed with the ability to sit still and enjoy it. Seriously. Lucky.