I understand “repairing things.” It’s been my career. At 18 I learned electronics and started working as an electronic technician – in the repair shop. I was good at. I enjoyed it.
But when it’s me who you’re talking about repairing my attitude changes. I am just fine and there isn’t anything wrong with me. Well, except for a little blood pressure, a bit of gout, I could lose a few pounds and there is that whole prostate cancer thing. But, other than that, I am fine.
A couple of months ago things, well, down there, weren’t feeling right – painful in fact. Being an enlightened 21st century man who knows that sometimes it is better to seek help for a problem then to hold to my outmoded ideas of manliness and macho reserve. I emailed my doctor.
The first response satisfied me greatly – the out of office auto-responder – she was on vacation and wouldn’t be available for a week. See, I did ask for help and the doctor but she isn’t there so no problem I’ll just suffer here quietly until she returns.
When did doctors start having on-call doctors read their doctor to patient emails?
The second response I get is from the on-call doctor saying I need to be seen and she’ll have the medical assistant call me first thing in the morning to schedule a time. What was wrong with just ignoring me for a month or so? You knew that when it got bad enough I’d call back.
So the next morning the MA calls and they found a doctor I could see. Now I want to make it clear that at this point I knew what was wrong and what I was going to be told. I knew that in a few days a surgeon was going to say, “yes that’s inguinal hernia. Put your pants on and we’ll schedule you for surgery.”
But there was still the principle of plausible deniability – ie, until that surgeon said those words I could continue to live in my happy state of denial. Well, it took two hospital visits before I saw the surgeon, who after much poking and prodding and coughing pronounced, “you’ve got a hernia. You could wait for a while for surgery but if it gets worse only surgery will fix it.”
Thanks I knew that.
You want to know how I knew? I know what you’re thinking, I must spend a lot of time on web-MD looking things up (actually I don’t, the Mayo Clinic has a much better on-line medical encyclopedia) or perhaps I worked on medical electronics and picked up a thing or two on the side.
None of those – it was my father who taught me all about hernias. And it is his fault that I have one. Turns out hernias tend to run in families and if your father had one, you’re very likely to get one.
My first lesson was after class in ’78 at the electronics school. I’d walked over to the bus stop and there was my dad parked in his beat up Ford Pinto. Something was wrong because in the four months I attended the school, dad had only been there once and it wasn’t like him to just drop by and give his son a lift home (under normal circumstances he wouldn’t even give me bus fare). I don’t recall the whole conversation but it went something like this:
Dad waves and says, “Hey chum, I’ll give you a lift.”
“Sure, better than waiting for the bus,” I replied and waited for the worst.
“Well chum I’ve got a problem. I just came from the doctor and I have an appointment with the surgeon tomorrow.”
“I’ve got a hernia and it hurts like hell.” From the pained expression on his face I believed him. I now have first hand experience with it.
Then he asked if I knew what a hernia was and when I replied, “no,” he did what he did best: delivered a full, complete, accurate and well rehearsed lecture on what a hernia was, what caused it, what the risk factors are and the generally accepted treatment options. He included supplemental comments on his own case, noted things the doctor mentioned and commented on the qualifications of the surgeon he was referred to. He also told me I should be careful when I lift things because it was very likely that I could end up with one too someday.
His case was bad so the surgeon scheduled him early the next week.
I got to witness the whole thing, taking him to surgery, watching mother chase doctors around the hospital for information and visiting him after surgery. At the time the surgery required a two night stay in the hospital and I did my part as a dutiful son visiting him each afternoon after school. Him being in the hospital did ease my transportation problems as I got the car keys.
There are only two important differences between my father’s case and mine. He waited to see the doctor until the pain was much greater than mine and today’s surgical methods have improved greatly. He stayed three days in the hospital, had to go back in two weeks to remove stitches while I had the procedure done as an out-patient and the doctor will call my on my cell phone this Friday to see how I am doing (no stitches, it’s all glue these days). These days they also have a mesh they put over the repair to help prevent a re-occurrence.
Of course, none of the above is the story I actually sat down to write – that one had a teddy bear in it – but it is what’s been on my mind all day. Slowly I am getting back to normal. Today I’ve been able to sit at the computer and write. I’ve been for a walk down the block and hope that tomorrow I can stand a few minutes in front of my scroll saw and do some cutting on my rocket ship puzzle.
Now I am going to take a little walk around the house and if things feel okay, I’ll write about the teddy bear.