If you happen to google the name “bulging buttons” with a space in between, you will see all sorts of posts related to umbilical hernias. Of course, when I chose the name, I was only thinking about the poor overworked buttons on my blouses and jeans, not medical issues. Still, the umbilical hernia is appropriate to this blog also, I’m sorry to say.
First, what is a hernia? I always thought it was something that only men got and only by lifting gigantic and terribly heavy objects. Not true. It’s what happens when some of your guts spill through a tear in your muscle. It turns out that there are different types of hernias and different ways to get them.
***Let me pause for a moment and declare, quite plainly, that I am not a doctor. I am not in the medical profession at all. Just in case there was any doubt. I took biology for non-majors in college, and much of that wasn’t clear to me. I’m just repeating what I’ve been told and read, and some, or a lot of it, might not be 100% accurate. Now that the disclaimer has been offered, let’s continue.***
I know that women can have hernias because I’ve had not one, but two of them. The first was of the umbilical variety (you know, the bulging belly button kind). It was weird, because I had an innie, then I got pregnant and it disappeared, then I had my son and the innie reappeared, but misshapen, then, a while later, it disappeared again. Some astute doctor along the way said something to the effect of, “Oh, you have an umbilical hernia. Here, see a surgeon and see what he thinks.” So I did.
I saw the same brilliant surgeon who removed my terribly infected gall bladder (but that’s another fun story for another day). Not surprisingly he suggested surgery. Which he did. It was the beginning of summer break, and I had plenty of time to heal. I took it easy, and in spite of a little infection which required a giant needle to the belly button (yes, I know it’s horrific, I lived it), the outcome was good.
Fast forward a few years, and my ample belly had become misshapen. It also felt weirdly hard in some areas, and typically mushy in others. Almost as though I had swallowed a football. I didn’t get it. Hoping it wasn’t a tumor of some sort I sought medical advice. I was told it’s nothing. I disagreed. It was obviously something, I hadn’t been like that my entire life. A different medical professional told me, “I think you may have a hernia, but let’s do some tests.” Super.
Ultrasound, x-ray, and CT scan were completed. Surgeon was consulted. MY surgeon (he really is a genius) now specializes in breast surgery, but another in his group saw me. Fixed me. Coaxed me through recovery. OMG, it took so much longer than the last time. He reminded me that 1. it was a huge hernia (a lot of guts poking through the muscle tear) and 2. I wasn’t as young as I used to be.
Recovery really was a bitch, and by association so was I. It f’ing hurt. I couldn’t sit, I couldn’t stand, I couldn’t lay down, I couldn’t sit up. I wore a huge elastic band around my midsection to keep it all from falling apart. My dog didn’t understand me. She tried. She licked me and wagged her tail hopefully. I patted her and grunted. I was afraid to shower and afraid to look. I developed an allergy to the adhesive holding my bandages in place. My incision opened and required daily cleaning and packing. It was revolting.
It took a good three months before I finally began to feel like myself again, and then I got pneumonia (just for something different, I suppose).
The lesson has not been lost on me. I am too big. I am too heavy. I am stressing my body in ways that it cannot cope with. I need to give it a break. I need to take off some of the weight, improve my muscle tone, and avoid another surgery. If you learn anything from bulgingbuttons, please learn that you are worth the effort. I’m still trying to learn that lesson myself.