Wednesday, June 25, 2003

A Gutsy Move

Somebody is trying to kill me.

They failed to burn down my condo, so now they're going for the direct approach: I have to go in for a hernia operation. Three days ago the only thing I knew about hernias was that you got them from lifting heavy refrigerators. When it comes to refrigerator-lifting, I've always been a strong believer in practicing abstinence, so I figured I didn't have to worry about it. Not true. Oops.

A lot of websites give euphimistic analogies to explain what a hernia is. They start off saying "think of the body as a balloon... or a bicycle tire...." No matter how delicately they try to put it, what they're all saying is "your guts are spilling out." Here's my analogy: imagine cooking up some macaroni & cheese and putting it in a zip-loc bag. But the bag doesn't have one of those "yellow and blue make green" zippers on it, so you can't be sure if it's really sealed. As it turns out, my abdomen doesn't have a green stripe and my macaroni & cheese is falling out.

The funny thing (in a "oh my God, why aren't you dead?!" sort of way) is that I've had the hernia for about 2 years now. I just didn't know what it was. You may ask yourself, "how could anyone walk around with a hernia for 2 years and not know?" My response is "how does someone burn down a kitty-litter box?" My gut started bulging, I just sort of thought it was a fatty deposit from my wierd diet. Hernias are not something you normally see in polite company, so they're not something you're going to recognize right away.

I went to see my "Primary Care Practitioner" today. I needed him to say "yup, your guts are spilling out" so I can get a referral from the healthcare system. My regular PCP (randomly selected by computer) didn't have any openings until July 18th, but I was told I could meet with Dr. Olsen. I think he's Kate & Ashley's younger brother. A nurse brought me into his office and I waited for him to come in.

I will not look in your medicine cabinet if I am at your house, but in the doctor's office I admit, I am a snooper. I figure if I have to hang out in someone's office with my shorts around my ankles, I deserve to look around when he's not there. He had a deskpad calendar on the table, and it seems he has a big day June 25th. In big letters, surrounded by a bold, doodled box with stars around it - yes stars - were the words "Last Comic Book Day!" I don't know what that means, but it gave me the impression that this guy wasn't practicing medicine for very long. Sure enough, Doogie Howser comes in a few minutes later.

The exam itself was very quick. "Yup, your guts are spilling out". They took an EKG and blood pressure readings, then sent me over to "Unilab" to get some bloodwork. You might think Unilab is the name of a top-secret research facility in a cheesey Jerry Bruckheimer film, but actually it's a small office on Verdugo Blvd.

I have a reputation for stressing out over many things. You would think that my blood pressure would be through the roof. As it turns out, I clocked in at 102/70 today. "Normal" blood pressure is around 130/85, "Optimal" is considered 120/80. The numbers don't lie: I'm one of the most mellow people you will ever meet.

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