No, that’s not a spelling mistake, I didn’t mean “holy”.  Nor did I mean “wholly” (not least because that would make the sentence incomplete).  I do actually mean holey, as in having a hole.  Yes, dear readers, I have a hernia.

There’s a hole in my abdomen, dear Liza, dear Liza,
There’s a hole in my abdomen, dear Liza, a hole.

For the uninitiated, a hernia is basically a hole in the muscle wall where the tissues and/or organs contained within are allowed to poke through and become strangulated.  It’s unclear as to when or how I sustained this impairment, but I first noticed it about a month ago as a pain underneath my belly button that didn’t go away on its own.  I paid a visit to my GP, who identified it as an umbilical hernia, and sent me packing to Bath Royal United Hospital for confirmation from a surgeon.  Thankfully I was still able to drive.  Otherwise it would have been a very long walk.

Forty minutes’ drive later and I was at the hospital front desk, and was soon directed to the Surgical Assessment Department.  That was in a completely different building, and by the time I’d done all that walking my tummy was in quite a bit of pain.  Thankfully when I got there I had plenty of time to relax.  After the preliminary questions, the taking of my heart rate and the obligatory urine sample, I was shown into a room with a bed and told to wait for a surgeon to be available to have a look at me.  I must have been waiting a good hour and a half before I was seen.  Good thing I had my mobile phone handy to surf the net while I waited; I read up on hernias on Wikipedia, and went through the archives of the Fail Blog.

After all that, the surgeon poked around and announced that, yes, it was a hernia.  Not a big one, thankfully, about the diameter of a finger, so it was just fatty tissue that was poking through rather than complete internal organs.  It basically looks like my belly button is swollen.  So then I was sent off to the Pre-Operative Assessment Ward, where I would have a few more tests and answer a few more questions to make sure I was healthy enough to have an operation.  They explained what the op would involve, and it all seemed fairly straightforward.  And then I drove home again.

It wasn’t until a few days later, having not heard from the hospital as to an operation date, that I decided to give them a call.  Turns out their waiting list was 18 weeks long.  They had no intention of getting in touch with me until at least September to book a date, and the operation itself would have been some time in November.  That’s a lot of waiting around, especially since my GP didn’t seem keen to recommend any painkillers other than the usual off-the-shelf ones.

Thankfully, I received a phone call not long afterwards from the Somerset Health Trust, or some such organisation, asking if I’d like to have my operation at Shepton Mallet hospital instead.  Of course I said yes, particularly when they said the waiting list there was only 3 weeks.  Quite a difference!

So, I’m due to be operated on next week.  It’s day surgery, so I’ll be in and out in a matter of hours.  I’ll be under general anaesthetic, the operation will only take about half an hour, and I’ll be sent home with some hefty painkillers to get me through the following week.  Apparently I’ll be out of action for at least a couple of weeks following the op, although thankfully my job doesn’t require much (any) moving around, so I should be able to get back to work sooner than most.

In the meantime, I’m restricted to very short walks at a very slow pace, no heavy lifting (by ‘heavy’, they mean anything more than the weight of a kettle), plenty of rest, and painkillers if I need them.  I can still drive, which is good, but I can’t lift Samuel at all.  That’s arguably the most painful part of the whole thing – playtime is very much restricted at the moment, and it’s killing me.  I’m doing my best to play with him on the floor, but it’s a very non-physical sort of play, and not at all what I’d like to be doing with him now that he’s active.

In terms of the pain itself, it seems to vary from day to day.  Most of last week I was absolutely fine, despite quite a lot of moving around and being active, but today I’ve been very uncomfortable indeed and I haven’t been doing much at all apart from sitting at a computer.  I’ll certainly be glad when this little adventure is over, and even more glad that I won’t be waiting until November.

Oh, and my wife is an absolute legend for looking after me the way she has been, and I love her so much for putting up with me.


Anne-Marie · 4 August 2010 at 7:42 pm

Good luck with the surgery, Mafu. It is a little ironic that that’s the week we’ll be down to see you. Guess we’ll have to hug and play with Samuel on your behalf. Last year your wife wasn’t doing much due to being pregnant, this year it’s you. Have a non pain inducing hug. 🙂

Megan · 4 August 2010 at 8:16 pm

Oh Matthew, this sounds horrible! I’m so thankful you were able to get a more reasonable surgery date. I’d heard of people waiting months for hernia surgery, but didn’t actually know anyone who had. I’m sure Samuel understands, even if he can’t express it 🙂 Certainly a trial – and I’ll be praying! – but I’m thankful that you have such a wonderful wife and son to take care of you!

Phill · 4 August 2010 at 8:54 pm

Hope everything goes well Matthew. You’re in our thoughts and prayers!


It might work out for the best that AM and Sarah are down next week actually, might be useful to have a couple of extra people around. (Plus someone with a car, I assume they wouldn’t want you to drive back from your operation? I dunno, maybe it would be fine!0

Sarah · 5 August 2010 at 12:09 pm

What day is your operation Matthew? Give me a postcode to tap into my sat nav and I’ll drive you there and back so you don’t have to.

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