Sunday, July 24, 2011

Shouldice happenings!

It is a total mystery to me how you develop a hernia in your 60s. But you might, and I did.

I have known for years about the world-class reputation for hernia repair, of the Shouldice Hospital. I just never saw myself being in the position to test that reputation. There I was, though, on a Monday morning in May, attending the walk-in consultation clinic that they hold on a daily basis. The doctor confirmed that I had a hernia. However he said: "You have two."

I was admitted on July 17 and had my first surgery on July 18, the second on July 20. They do them under local anaesthetic, thus making the recovery a more rapid process, and making the second surgery possible in a short time. The interesting thing about being in a facility like this, is that the other 80 or so people are all there for the same purpose and so in a sense you know everyone before you even get there. Hernias appear to be a male phenomenon, primarily. There were only three female patients at the beginning of my week, and seven or eight at the end of the week.

One feels quite proud to have a facility like this in Canada, a feeling that is enhanced by the presence of Americans who make up approximately 1/3 of the patient population. Many people come to the Shouldice to have repairs done to earlier hernia surgery that has ultimately failed. The Shouldice success rate is close to 100%.

There were a lot of laughs and a good sense of camaraderie throughout the seven days of my stay. But what really caught my attention was how in a short time like this, the Lord kept revealing himself through other people. A casual remark about one's work, or a conversation about values all of a sudden leads to a sharing of faith experiences. I met a man who works in spiritual direction as I do. I met another who did not seem to have any particular faith, but who was very interested in Catholicism. Yet another was a daily Mass goer who works with the St. Vincent de Paul Society. The conversations I had with these and other individuals kept me anchored in awareness that the Lord was present and that I could safely hand over to him any anxiety I might have about the procedures I was undergoing. Meanwhile, my wife was discovering that her Bed and Breakfast hostess was getting ready to go to Mass at St. Joseph's Morrow Park. That is where my wife went to school. The ensuing conversations were similarly faith sharing experiences for her. We were both amazed at the ways the Lord finds to reassure us.

A final note about the local anaesthetic. You are given sedation prior to the surgery, and it turns out that in my case, I was even more dopey than my usual standard, later! My wife told me that she would show me the e-mails I sent her later on the day of my surgery, after she returned to the Bed and Breakfast. She said that her years of being an elementary school teacher came in handy as she read them. Here are a couple of examples. See if you can decipher them.

Bit rough. It hurts. I will do it again whenb you are. Only weentt down the hall. Ykes.

Just going to stand up for shtroll. The standing is the head part get a good sleep. Worst is over. And thank you.