I accomplished a rather dubious feat this last week — fully buttoning my pants for the first time since the day before Thanksgiving.
No, it’s not because I’ve finally lost weight put on over the holidays. Sadly that’s still very much with me.
Rather it’s the latest development in a slow recovery from hernia surgery. While the operation fixed me physically, it certainly dented my ego.
The glacial pace of my recovery is far different than what I expected before the surgery. This is largely a result of a faulty memory and plenty of experience inside operating rooms.
My medical history includes multiple ear surgeries from shortly after my first birthday through middle school. For my final ear surgery, my doctor also suggested fixing a deviated septum, which was the result my older, bigger brother breaking my nose several times. I don’t blame him for any of this. Large noses run in my family making mine an easy inadvertent target.
But I have my suspicions on other “accidents” in which I was injured. I received eight stitches above my eye when I walked around a corner just as he was swinging his new baseball bat in the house one Christmas morning. Another time burning pasture, I tripped in some brush and he backed the water wagon over my foot.
I had both my ears and septum fixed at the same time, and later had the doctor tell me my nose was the worst he’d ever seen.
I spent a good portion of that summer inside with gauze packed in my nasal cavity feeling miserable. That fall, the chinstrap on my football helmet broke while making a tackle, the helmet slid forward on my head and broke my nose again. I’ve chosen to live with a deviated septum ever since.
Three years later on another football field, my left leg snapped in half about six inches above my ankle as I was being tackled. I had a steel rod inserted the to hold the bones in place the next day. Four weeks later I was able to limp along without the aid of crutches despite an X-ray showing the bones were still broken. An this is why, in my mind, I believed I’d quickly bounce back after something as routine as a hernia surgery.
If I could walk on a still broken leg, a simple patch on my abdominal wall couldn’t be too big a deal.
Boy, was I ever wrong.
For starters, I quickly discovered an 18-year-old body recovers much faster than the one I currently inhabit. Also pain in a single extremity is different than the kind that comes with having a surgeon poke around your torso for a couple hours.
While the physical pain dissipated in the first few days, the lingering discomfort persisted, largely because I’m stubborn and wouldn’t listen to my brother, who’s now a surgeon. He kept telling me to give myself more time. I kept pressing.
I returned to work five days after the operation and soon discovered sitting in a chair was much different than the previous days on the couch had been. I also didn’t do very will trying to pace myself in other areas. One Sunday afternoon, I was feeling good sprawled out on the couch and thought I was well enough to go to the grocery store. About halfway through that trip, my body informed my how foolish I’d been.
The worst part appears to be behind me now, and I’m hopeful that I never have to go under the knife again. But if I have to, I might just listen to my brother.