Chatter #22: July 17, 2001

12/14/2001 — I started the Chatter section on July 27, 2000 when I noticed that the rest of my site was sometimes getting cluttered with lots of text. I'm a talkative guy, after all! So now I talk about my life here, instead of all over the place. Originally this was one huge section, but in December of 2001 it simply became too large to remain as one page, and I broke it into dated sections, as you can see. —>PM


The Never-Ending Tragicomedy

If my life were a story, I would have to say that it was a particularly poorly-written one.

The van that totalled my car has not turned up. The police called and told me that they don't have much hope unless Enterprise receives a damaged van back and tells them about it. Enterprise has sent me a letter telling me that since I can't identify the driver or vehicle, they are not responsible for the damage (although I have two witnesses who saw that it was an Enterprise van). Since Enterprise is self-insured, they have no inducement to report anything. So I'm really screwed.

And on top of all that, I've just discovered that I need surgery.

I'm rather terrified.

I've never had surgery before.

It's an umbilical hernia, which means that there's a bump right above my navel. At that point the underlying muscle sheath of my abdomen has weakened and given way, and a loop—I presume of intestine—has been pushing out through the gap. Since these gaps do not heal in adults, and only get worse, I have to have surgery.

The hernia itself only hurts occasionally; when I play with my nephew and niece I often end up making it worse (but what can I do? They're such cute kids!). It's not an agonizing pain, and after rest it goes away...but the hernia itself never does, and neither does the fear that keeps growing in my mind. Recently Teri made me look up hernias, and the first thing I saw confirmed my worst fears: Weight loss and rest cannot cure a hernia.

Since then, I've learned some interesting things about umbilical hernias:

They're more common in infants than adults. Most adults (particularly men) get inguinal hernias instead, which are down in the groin area (and I am grateful I don't have that to deal with!). Mistreatment of inguinal hernias in rare cases has caused impotence. I suspect that umbilical hernias do not have that risk, since they're in a completely different area.

One out of five newborns is born with an umbilical hernia! But in infants they usually heal by the age of three or four. Adults never heal.

I haven't yet been able to find out if laproscopy is possible for umbilical hernias (it's a common procedure for inguinal ones), which of course would be much less traumatic and consequently require much less recuperation time.

Weight can certainly be a factor in developing a hernia. So can bad lifting techniques. And interestingly, hernias seem to run in families. So there's a genetic factor.

I'm pretty huge (I'm 5'11", and weigh about 290 lbs.) , so there's no doubt that to some large extent I brought this on myself. Not that I ever wanted to weigh this much. There's a hell of a lot of prejudice against heavier people in this society, an assumption that we're all somehow contemptible for being in this state. Yet it's quite clear that metabolism plays a huge role in body fat retention. So we're essentially being scorned, discriminated against in employment and socially, and otherwise made to suffer for something that to some extent is beyond our control. Hellishly hard work and constant vigilance in the form of diet and exercise can improve weight (I've gotten myself down to 225 lbs. in the past), but it's a constant torment.

But I also know that the fatter you are, the more difficult surgery is—and in some cases, laproscopy can be ruled out simply because a person is too fat. One of the recommended treatments for umbilical hernia is weight loss, both before and after surgery. So I have to quietly begin a battle that will last the rest of my life—if I'm lucky. Of course, if I'm really lucky safe and effective weight-loss treatments will be developed before too much longer, but I can't count on that sort of thing. In any case, I'd never try anything like that until years of safe public use had been established. Look at the whole Phen-fen debacle if you're wondering why I'm being so cautious.

I'm being quiet about it—not telling my family, friends, not even Teri—because I've started a hundred diets, promised a thousand times to work out, and I've always failed. This time I can't afford to fail, so I'm going to try to do everything differently. In a way, I feel that the only way I'll ever forgive myself for letting this happen to my body (even though it was against my will) is to get myself down to a really healthy weight. And stay there.

I suppose you may be asking yourself "Wait a minute. How can he say he's doing this quietly when he's writing about it here, online?" The answer is simple: none of my real-world friends or family read this! I'm not sure why, and I won't die if they do read it, but they're not likely to see this for a long time, if ever. And since I kind of feel the need to say something about it somehow, I'm doing it here.


On a completely different note, I've created an AccessDenied.Net Gamer Database profile. It lists the games (rpg, board, and even one computer) that I'm interested in playing. I've stuck it at the end of my gamer's bio off of the main page, too. If anyone's in the area, drop me a line.

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[email protected] Copyright 2001 by Peter Maranci. Revised: December 14, 2001. version 1.0