Thursday, December 12, 2013

Shamed and Blushing

Me: " how long before I can run? I was thinking I would take a week off."

Surgeon: <laughing...really hard> "A week? Who told you that? Did you read that on Google?"

Last week I had an Abdominal Hernia Repair. A tiny bit of my insides seemed to have worked their way where they did not belong and I was foolish enough to mention this to my doctor earlier this year.

Foolish, I say, because now, I sit with eight weeks recovery time.
 No running.
 I can walk, but who does that?
 I am a runner.
 I run...but not for eight weeks.

I went to see my doctor in the spring because I suspected I had a stomach ulcer. During this appointment I happened to say "by the way, what do you think of this?".

"This" happened to be a small lump about halfway between my sternum and my navel. "This" had been there for several years and was the culprit of a small amount of discomfort when I poked at it. During  "its" lifespan, I just decided not to poke at it and we could co-exist with minimal fuss. No reason to disclose "its" presence to said physician.
When I outed my little lumpy friend, it was in haste. If truth be told (and why not, I have uttered grander truths than this via this medium), I was trying to distract my doctor from the lecture that was building.
I noted the way he cocked his head and gave it a shake as he inhaled deeply. The worst part of the pending lecture or "health teaching" was that I knew exactly what he was going to say.

I am a runner and as such, I have well earned aches and pains. These aches and pains are typically staid by the use of ibuprofen, a wonderful over the counter anti-inflammatory. This miracle medicine reduces inflammation caused by too many kilometers, thereby reducing the pain that is associated with the inflammation. The caution to ibuprofen is that it can be hard on the stomach lining, risking the development of a lesion or hole in the lining, also known as an ulcer...<insert a bit of blushing>

With weeks of stomach discomfort climaxing to a middle of the night attack of severe pain and the taste of blood in my mouth, I went to see my doctor.
He listened to my complaints with concern and felt as though my self diagnosis of a stomach ulcer was probably not the issue, as I had no risk for the development of one...until he muttered, almost to himself and waved his hand dismissively,

"It's not like you are taking anti-inflammatorys for any reason. That would be the only risk someone with your good health would have."

Me:  <with hesitation> "Well...actually I do use a fair bit of ibuprofen to ease my running aches <voice trailing off in shame>.

So there it was, the more than likely, self imposed source of my problem. I gave up beer to become an Advil addict! As the lecture began, (which was made worse by the fact that I am a Nurse and know better),
 I skillfully steered the exam to my abdomen and its pet lump.

Doctor: <with surprise> "How long has this been here?"

Me: <with mission accomplished relief> "Oh, I don't know a few years..."

So, with that smooth transition from one complaint to another, I ended up under the scrutiny of a Surgeon who was decidedly more concerned about the hernia than the ulcer.

The ulcer healed without intervention. I committed to cleaning up my Advil habit and as I put the bottle of pills in a cupboard, out of sight, I noticed that the bottle said "extra strength". I looked closer and realized that I had been taking two of these pills at a time, instead of one. Like a good addict, I reasoned that I could probably still take this medication, if needed, as the problem was not likely the result of the medication itself, but my improper dosing! Addicts can always rationalize their use.

I am happy to share that I am not only sober, but I am clean and free of the anti-inflammatorys as well.

As I sit and write, I am one week post-op, with seven more weeks to heal, all because I couldn't take the heat of a lecture!

Stay tuned for the painfully, inactive weeks to come.

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