war wound

Finally got the bothersome and unsightly stomach hernia fixed. Went into the hospital Friday morning for an outpatient procedure.  In at 6:30 a.m., out at noon. Even though it was outpatient, still had to go through the routine of blood work, EKG, and the entire checkin process. Everything checked out at checkin; blood results fine, heart normal, EKG measured heart rate @59 bmp, BP 100/60.  Just don’t measure my radiation output. I’m sure that’s not normal.

Now for the next four weeks or so, I should put heavy stuff on hold, including strenuous biking, lifting, or practicing double back flips off the kitchen counter. For at least the next ten days or so, I might want to take it generally easy and not throw luggage into the overhead bin and stick to brisk walking as the only form of exertion.

Who gets a stomach hernia?  Women tend to get navel hernias. JA has had one pre-children and I know of a couple of women who have had them post babies. Mine came from the peg tube. The hole wasn’t exactly a small.  When the tube comes out, it is yanked out with force. The doctor yanking mine out grabbed it with two hands and did a one-two-three yank making a face as if he was bench pressing his max.  Damn thing hurt coming out.  And it left a nice size divot hole.  Because the hole looked like a second navel, when I had the neck dissection in February, the surgeon agreed to cosmetically fix the peg tube hole.  A month later a hernia developed at that same spot.

So I let it go until now, so as not to spend a month of summer at low ebb of activity.  Yesterday I felt fine and went to work in the afternoon. However today, it’s like the days after doing squats after not having done them for a while. Now it’s sore. It feels like it might feel getting stabbed in the stomach. The doc gave me a script for pain pills, but I’d like to avoid pharmas unless absolutely necessary.  The extra strength vicadan came with a recommendation to take a laxative.  Since an organism tends to be better off without pharmaceuticals,….

Before the operation, the surgeon told me he would either stitch the muscles (below the skin) to close the hernia or put in a mesh screen. The better option he said would be stitching as the mesh screen might be bothersome, but it would all depend on the tear and the ability to get a quality stitch job. While in the recovery room, my first thought was, well, did I get the stitch job or the mesh?  I called for the surgeon and he came in to answer that question. He said he did both. He wasn’t completely satisfied that the stitch job would hold up so he put a little piece of mesh on top to make sure it would not reoccur. A little insurance policy.

As I’m writing this, I’m on a crowded Amtrak train traveling from New York Penn Station to Lancaster, PA. There are a bunch of guys getting together for lunch many of whom haven’t seen each other in a few decades. Is also a chance to visit dear old (but young) mom and JA.  JA and I can now trade hernia stories.

But the hernia repair is not the war wound.  When the other tube that was protruding from my front side was taken out, the trachea, it also left a divot hole, but much more obvious as its right in the prominent part of the neck. The plan since the hernia developed, was that the surgeon who did the trachea would fix the neck divot at the same time the other surgeon fixed the hernia. In other words, they agreed to coordinate timing so that I could repair both areas while being sedated at the same time.  However, during the last few months, the neck divot seemed to have gotten marginally better.

During the last meeting with doc Adam, the head & neck surgeon, he seemed hesitant as to whether it was the best recourse. He said he could fix the divot, but that I might end up trading one defect for another.  I might not be happy, he said. Even though a scar would bother me a lot less than a hole, I had to consider my own vanity. Why was this so important?  Really, it wasn’t and isn’t. It was only important to my own ego. I don’t like the divot hole, but I have to get over it. I’ve got to get over myself (in this case).  The doc called it a “war wound.”

war wound from the trachea hole

So I decided then and there not to do the neck repair and get over it. I’ve been wearing a scarf for two reasons, one to cover up the war wound neck divot and the other as sun protection over the large neck scar. As I shouldn’t be letting sun on the incision scar on the neck, I may continue to wear the bandanas. I’ve worn them most of my life for various reasons, now I have one more. But this time it’s not to cover up the war wound.

And I guess we all develop our own war wounds over time. Those defects that only we see (mostly).  Defects that are either a result of an event or developed over time. Could be scars, wrinkles, sagging skin, fat, hair loss, whatever. They are life war wounds. It’s just stuff that happens to us as we live. In the end, we may be better off just getting over ourselves rather than being preoccupied about covering them over.  If I would have left the stomach peg tube divot hole alone (ignored the defect) I might not have needed to get a resulting hernia repaired.  But alas, it’s just another war wound.

1 thought on “war wound

  1. Anonymous

    Fred: You are remarkably philosophical, understanding, and forgiving. The removal of your feeding tube sounds “unique”, to say the least. All of this underscores why I consider you a true Warrior. Simply, “WOW!” Best, swjr


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