Not bad for a fat girl


Not Great, But Thanks for Asking

So here’s the update on Mom’s surgery, for those who wondered. No, it was not a miracle fix. In fact, something didn’t go quite right. I won’t say it went wrong exactly, but the result isn’t what was anticipated, and somehow, during the recovery, something shifted in a way that it wasn’t supposed to. I’m not sure exactly. I wasn’t at the appointment, so I’ve only heard the news second-hand, but I know that things aren’t exactly on track.

So now what?

Now there’s a new appointment with a new doctor to try a new “procedure” to fix that which went awry. It’s to be done in the office, and a few days later Mom will be evaluated again to see if the procedure was effective at getting things back on track.

If it was, great. She can continue healing and hopefully the end result with be all good.


If it wasn’t, no so great. It will mean a second surgery, and it sounds like this one will be more involved than the first one.


“Maybe I’ll schedule it for Christmas break, if it has to be done,” said Mom. Oh. Christmas seems like a long time away. Shouldn’t it be done soon? I don’t know. I’m not there. I wasn’t at the appointment.

I feel guilty about that. I live 2,000 miles away. I can’t help. At least not in a go to appointments, run to the grocery store, pick up eye drops at CVS kind of way.

We won’t know until the end of next week what the next steps are, but I feel awful that I can’t take her to the “procedure” appointment on Tuesday or the follow-up on Friday. Fortunately she has many good people in her life who are able and willing to step forward to help, but I would rather it was me.

If you happen to think of it, a positive word for Mom and her doctors would be appreciated. Thanks for listening, internet, you are too kind.


Some TLC for Mom

Today my mother had surgery. Maybe I shouldn’t tell you that, after all she’s very private about her affairs, but I don’t think she’ll mind. 

The surgery was done at an outpatient surgical center located about twenty minutes from her house, which is located about 2,000 miles from my house. I just came downstairs from helping her drink a cup of water through a straw. You see, there were a few other people who could have, and would have, taken her today, but I was the one who got to do it.

My mother knew this surgery was coming and she consulted with more than one doctor, both in her home state and mine (where she spends time each winter). Ultimately she felt most comfortable with the doctor who did today’s procedure, so she scheduled it for my fall break. I love visiting my childhood home and family and friends, but this time I kept my calendar clear. This time it’s all about Mom (although I did manage to squeeze in a quick visit with a wonderful friend last night).

This is really the first time I’ve been able to care for my mother in the ways that she’s cared for me numerous times over the years. She was there when I was in my twenties and told her not to come when I got my tonsils out. I was so glad that she didn’t listen. She was there when my son was rushed off to the NICU right after birth. She knew he would be alright, and he was. She was there when my marriage fell apart and I wasn’t sure what to do. She listened and put me in touch with someone who helped me form a plan, then she helped me put that plan into place. 

I know my mother hates being dependent on anyone, so to me that makes it even more of a privilege to be here for her, even if she doesn’t need much. 

I’m reminded of the time my grandmother had her gall bladder removed. She was a widow and lived alone. After her surgery she came to our house to recover. She slept in my little girl bedroom with the pink shag carpet and eyelet curtains, and I slept on the hide-a-bed in my mom’s study under an old army blanket. My mom put a small tv in my room for her, and together we watched Bobby Vinton. I’m glad my mom was there for her, too. 

Mothers and daughters take care of each other, but when things go according to plan, mothers do the heavy lifting. They wouldn’t have it any other way.


What’s in a Name? Hopefully Not More Surgery

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.

ManCarryingBoxOnBackFirst, 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.

0000010_300Ultrasound, 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.