The Hernia That Wasn't

March 02, 2004

In the summer of 2000 I noticed that I had a slight protrusion in the upper rim of my belly button. Gradually it grew in size until it was about the size of a dime, and stuck out about half the diameter of a dime. When pushed with a finger it would recede for a time, only to reappear later.

Some internet searching lead me to the realization that I was the proud father of an umbilical hernia. A visit to the local surgeon confirmed my suspicions and within 10 days I had out-patient surgery to repair my outie. Once the swelling went down and the scar healed I was once again an inie.

Fast forward to February this winter. We had significant snow this year which was slow melting off the driveway. When it did melt it revealed a layer of ice. When there was just a small amount left I managed to step on a patch of ice and fell. At the time I seemed okay. My leg was a little sore the next day, but years of break-falling practice during my martial arts career paid off as I didn't get hurt. Or so I thought.

The last week of February I developed a pain high on the inside of my left leg. It was a dull ache that came and went, sometimes becoming uncomfortably intense. Usually shifting my position or standing eased the pain. Over the course of a day or so it felt as if my left testicle had been bruised. I was more than a little uncomfortable, and starting to get worried about what was causing this pain.

Given my history with the umbilical hernia I immediately thought I must have developed an inguinal hernia. For two or three days I fretted and lost sleep worrying that I would have to have more surgery. I just didn't want to face this reality. Each day I'd get up and hope that the pain wouldn't return, and each day for most of a week it did return. Finally I started talking about it to Michele. She was immediately supportive of my seeking out a surgeon and discussing a remedy. Remembering my previous surgical experience I did some internet searching to see what the techniques were for repairing an inguinal hernia.

Imagine my relief when reading the symptoms for inguinal hernias and realizing that I did not have those symptoms. The pain didn't go away when I laid down, and it was often just as bad in the morning as it was in the evening. Standing for long periods of time didn't seem to aggravate it either. I was stumped. What was making my groin hurt?

Then the light bulb went off. I had pulled muscles in my groin the day I fell on the ice. The pain I was feeling was a groin pull. The relief I felt at dodging the hernia surgery bullet was immense. Since that time the pain in my leg has abated considerably and now it only faintly twinges when I push off hard in some directions with it.

The moral of the story? Talk about what your fears are so you can get past them and discover their cause. Who knows, the answer might be far easier to deal with than you think.

Author's profile picture

Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.