The Little Hernia That Could

Can hardly look at this without crying for my grandfather and my hernia

Can hardly look at this without crying for my grandfather and my hernia

What’s a hernia? I wondered when I heard my grandma talking about my grandfather’s.  I didn’t think too much of it– it seemed perfectly natural that an old man would have medical “stuff” to deal with.  To this day, I’m not sure if they were talking about a hernia or hemorrhoids because those two are fused in my brain; they are filed under “uncomfortable stuff that starts with ‘H’ and afflicts old people.”  Neither were any concern of mine.

Yep, no concern of mine at all.  Until of course the dull ache on my left side was diagnosed not as uterine cancer (as I was convinced because I am hysterical and do not understand human anatomy), but potentially the start of a hernia. Maybe.

A frizz-eaking hernia.

“Are you sure it’s not cancer?”  I asked, because oddly I was more prepared for that than a pre-hernia.

It’s not entirely clear why I was begging my doctor to diagnose me with cancer, but there was just something about the hernia.  How could I possibly have the same thing that my grandfather had when he was already a grandfather?  I’ve been ransacking my brain for more memories of my grandfather, but my grandmother’s impression was so much more vivid that she’s almost crowded all of the memories of my grandfather.  All that’s left of my grandfather, the taciturn farmer who wore overalls most days of his life and died in 1981, is an impression of a man who worked hard enough to run a family farm and lost most of his hearing from riding a John Deere tractor.

I’d long ago given up the idea that I’d find common ground with him, a man who died in the same room he was born in inside the old yellow farmhouse outside of Forreston, Texas.  But this thing, this pre-actual-problem on my left side feels like an invisible thread leading me back to him.  We’re connected! I found something that’s ours– it’s a hernia!  I was really seeing the bright side of my almost-hernia.

For the days after the doctor said the “H” word, I felt the ache all the time.  I was convinced my abdominal wall was rupturing, and I hoped my boss wouldn’t be too mad if I collapsed at work.  I looked up med-alert bracelets and taught my children how to dial 911.  I was going to be ready when my “might be a hernia” developed into a code-red emergency.

Then, the ache went away.  I poked and prodded the spot where I’d pictured my intestines rolling out onto  the floor.  And nothing.  Except I’ve now got a bruise from pressing so hard in search of my little hernia that could– could connect me across two generations to my daddy’s daddy and open up a longing for him inside of me that had been dormant for decades.

As the doctor promised, it seems like the issue “resolved itself.”  So it’s gone.  Without it, I feel the thread to my grandfather has been severed.  I feel him slipping back behind the spotlight where my grandmother’s memory glows from center stage.  And I miss him and that dull little ache that had been keeping me company.


37 thoughts on “The Little Hernia That Could

  1. lol – “this pre-actual problem” – I enjoyed the humor sprinkled about this piece and how you tied it all together with past memories of your grandfather. Thanks for the good read.

  2. Lol! MY epigastric hernia was diagnosed by my grandfather one day while we were visiting. He could see it poking out of my little five year old belly, I guess. Lord only knows how long it would have taken for my parents(who were nurses) to notice!

    This was funny and sad, too.

  3. This was an awesome read! “they are filed under “uncomfortable stuff that starts with ‘H’ and afflicts old people.” Hahahaha. I also loved “We’re connected!”

    Don’t worry about this particular *severed thread*, if you’re super lucky, your grandpa might visit you again, only this time with a hemmorrhoid.

  4. *facepalm* I’m sorry, but I’m having a hard time laughing about a hernia. Or imagining laughing WITH a hernia… “hahahahaha… BLEERRRGGGGHH…. holy shit, what just popped out of me?”

  5. Actually, my 90-year old grandfather had a hernia recently… I seem to remember my folks had to badger him about getting it fixed, because he was just tellin’ his doc he was wearing a jock strap to deal with it. Yeah, old-school man-that-doesn’t-go-to-the-doctor-until-it’s-really-bad.

  6. Isn’t it funny how the strangest things can connect us to our grandparents? I’m not terribly close to mine, so the connections I do have with them I hold to tightly. Granted, none of them are a hernia…

  7. Pingback: I Forgot To Name My Babies After My Grandparents– Now What? | Outlaw Mama

  8. Love this line: “uncomfortable stuff that starts with ‘H’ and afflicts old people.” Just another example of your brilliance, which you make look so damn easy. I am very glad this issue resolved itself too.

  9. This is hilarious and oddly beautiful (the connection with your grandfather). I’ve missed you. NaBloPoMo is kicking my butt so badly that I have barely any time to visit my favorite blogs! Between your almost-hernia and my resolving hip bursitis, we are quite the pair. Will you still talk to me when I only talk about aches and pains?

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