Living with a hernia

All I do is grunt and groan
Hurts me to walk anywhere
Went to see my physician, Dr. Jones
He took my trousers off, told me to cough
Doctor says there ain’t nothin’ to discuss
He tells me any day I might have to wear a truss
–“Living with a Hernia”, Weird Al Yankovic

A couple of months ago (could be longer, but let’s start there), I noticed a rather odd bulge just to the left of my [CENSORED FOR PUBLIC DECENCY]. At the time, I wasn’t too concerned — it didn’t hurt, and prodding it seemed no different than the other side. Given my new exercise regiment, I merely assumed it was a result of over-exertion. (As a side note, I’m probably still correct on that point.)

Yesterday, while having a shower, I happened to notice that it looked bigger than before. Alex, my personal medical encyclopedia, looked at it and said: “hernia”.

It’s amazing the things you can find when you google “swollen groin male”. Oddly enough, one of them is “inguinal hernia”. The picture you see there (probably NSFW, by the way) looks pretty close to what I see (and I swear the picture isn’t me). It gave me enough of a thought to call Alberta HealthLink.

After going through enough conversation with them, the net result was that I should see a doctor within four hours. Given that bit of news, I decided not to wait until the following morning, and trucked myself down to the Sheldon Chumir Urgent Care Clinic downtown.

For those of you not in the know, the healthcare situation in Calgary is reasonably grim. We have four functioning hospitals (one of which is restricted to children), one of which is also the trauma centre for southern Alberta, southeast British Columbia, and parts of Saskatchewan. The Urgent Care Clinics were set up to handle non-life-threatening situations, and take some of the load off the hospital ERs. I chose to go to the Urgent Care Clinic because I know this, and didn’t want to tie up a hospital ER with a non-critical patient.

That said, I had a near-three hour wait to see a doctor. Calgary also has a serious shortage in staff, as when the province took over all the health boards, staff got sliced as part of a budgetary action. Yeah, real swift thing, Alberta Government, cut back on healthcare. (Okay, cheap shot, the government now covers the Alberta Health fees, so it’s not all bad.)

Anyway, I had to wait mostly because other patients needed care more urgently than I did. But finally, I got called in, and led to a room somewhere well beyond the secured doors … which looked oddly familiar. It took a moment, but I was absolutely certain that this was the same room I’d been to back in December.

I waited in the room about another 30 minutes before the doctor finally arrived. He got straight to the point: drop the drawers, and let’s see. It took about five seconds and a bit of prodding: yep, it’s a hernia. He even showed that if I lay down and massaged it a bit, it popped right back where it’s supposed to be.

Yes, I can hear you getting grossed out. Try having one and not feeling all icky.

The short version he had was: surgery. It’s really the only way to fix the problem. So they’ll set up a referral, and I might have to wait “months” to have it fixed. MONTHS. So not only have I been living with a hernia, I’ll be living with one for a while yet to come…

Before I got home, though, the clinic called to tell me that I had a just-scheduled ultrasound for this morning, at 10:20. And I got a reminder call at somewhere around 7:30 this morning, with the information I needed … like, where I was going.

So off to Sunridge Diagnostic Imaging. There, the doctor confirmed in barely the time it takes to say “inguinal hernia” that it was, in fact, a direct inguinal hernia; the other type is indirect. The difference between them? In an indirect inguinal hernia (and I presume this happens only in men), the intestine goes into the scrotum.

Yep, now you can squirm like crazy. ‘Cuz I am.

Anyway, the prognosis hasn’t changed, and I have yet another followup tomorrow, though this is with my “family” doctor. Not sure what’ll change, if anything. If I’m lucky, it’ll up the surgery timeline. But I ain’t holding my breath.

‘Cuz that could hurt.

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