Life

Still broken

Five months.  That's how long I've been incapacitated so far on account of my own body.  To start with it was just a pain around my belly button that wouldn't go away.  That turned out to be an umbilical hernia.  I lived with that for a few months before I had an operation to put it right.  Then followed a lengthy period of recovery from the operation, a period that seemed to go on far longer than I was expecting.  As it turns out, I'm still not fixed after all that.To explain, let me share with you a little of the detail of what they actually did when they operated on me (I'll try to keep it brief for those who don't like watching Casualty).  The problem was a small tear or hole in my abdominal tissue, just under my belly button, which was allowing the fatty tissue underneath to poke through and get slightly strangulated, causing some considerable pain.  I was under doctor's orders not to lift anything, not to do anything strenuous, and basically to take it easy and do a little as possible until it was fixed.  The operation involved a general anaesthetic, a small incision above my belly button so they could get to the hernia, a few stitches to close up the hole, a few more stitches to close up the hole they'd made, and a hefty dose of painkillers to see me through the ordeal.  Simple.  Except that more than two months down the line I'm still in just as much pain and discomfort as I was two weeks after the operation.(more…)

By Matthew, ago
Life

The waiting game

The body is an incredible invention.  I've often marvelled at its beauty, its intricacy, its delicacy, its toughness, and above all its ability to heal itself.  It's that last one that I've been wondering at most recently, in light of the little umbilical hernia I managed to get and the corrective surgery that followed.  Perhaps I put my body's healing abilities on a pedestal, or maybe I was just impatient, but I found myself surprised that well over a month after the surgery I'm still having problems with it.The surgery itself went very well.  Not that I remember very much of it, of course.  Apparently when I came to after the operation I turned down a cup of tea three times before accepting, and had some garibaldi biscuits, none of which I have any memory of whatsoever (and yes, I still feel cheated because of that).  After the op I spent a lot of time lying down, resting, not doing very much, giving my body all the time it needed to get itself straight again.  Well, I say "all the time it needed", in fact I was back at work the following week, because I'd convinced myself that sitting at a desk didn't constitute effort.(more…)

By Matthew, ago
Christianity

Camping in the slow lane

The girls' team winning the tug of warThere's something about young people that fills me with optimism.  Perhaps it's their all-encompassing world view.  Maybe it's their insatiable love for life.  Or possibly even just because I remember being a young person myself and how crucial it was in my development.  Whatever the reason, I've discovered I all to easily agree to help kids in all sorts of ways, keen to teach them something new, point them in the right direction, prod them into thinking about things in a new way, and then shove them off a cliff to see how far they fly.I guess it's partly with that in mind that I and my wife are leaders each year on a Christian youth camp.  I say 'partly' because the other half of the reason I go is that Ellie asked me to, and since we were engaged at the time (the first year we went) I felt I ought to say yes.  Since that first year we've both made ourselves quite indispensible, doing lots of stuff, leading lots of things, running hither and thither to help out wherever we can.This year was slightly different for both of us, for different reasons.  The main difference for me, as you may have read, is that I've had a hernia.  I was under doctor's orders not to lift anything heavier than a kettle, and not to do too much walking around either.  Ellie's time was also eaten into by the attention of our baby Samuel, who had his first experience of exuberant teenagers this year.  Camp this year was tough on all of us - physically and mentally.(more…)

By Matthew, ago
Life

All patched up

Good news folks, I'm on the road to recovery following my hernia operation.  I won't bore you with the details... oh, who am I kidding, this is a blog after all.Friday didn't feel ominous or troubled at all.  There were no dark clouds, no rumblings of thunder, no vultures perched on the lampposts.  It was just an ordinary summer's day, with blue sky and wispy white clouds and birds singing in the trees.  And, quite honestly, I wasn't worried one bit.  Ever since I had been given the diagnosis I had remained calm and philosophical about the whole thing.  People had reassured me that it wasn't scary or dangerous and they were sure I'd be fine.  I could have told them that.  It wasn't until the night before that I had wondered why people seemed so intent on reassuring me, that perhaps I had been too blasé about the whole thing and actually there was something to fear after all.  But no, I pushed those thoughts aside, took a deep breath of clean morning air, and walked confidently - if slowly - into the hospital.I was met with a look of surprise when I announced myself at reception.  "Hello," I said, "I'm here for an operation."  I had so wanted to walk up to reception and declare at the top of my lungs "They're going to take me apart!"  But I muffed it at the last minute.  How boring.  "Okay," the receptionist replied and, looking round me said "and... are they with you too?"  Yes.  My support crew.  My groupies.  My dedicated followers.  Or, to be more precise, my wife (who would be coming in with me), my son (who wouldn't be), my chauffeur (because I wasn't allowed to drive myself home), and my hanger-on (whose job it was to entertain Samuel).  From the receptionist's expression, clearly I was the first person ever to have day-surgery who came with such an entourage.  I felt at the same time guilty and proud.(more…)

By Matthew, ago
Life

Being holey

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.(more…)

By Matthew, ago