Thursday, August 27, 2009

I no longer have surgery in my future

My apologies for letting this site go virtually dormant for most of July & August. But the surgery I was hoping to delay until delay until November would not wait; the surgeon to whom I was referred strongly suggested “the sooner the better,” and I was into an operating room by last Monday.

At risk of boring the reader, the muscle damage was greater than expected. The final diagnosis was something like "complete, direct, bilateral inguinal hernia" (tears in the muscle that makes up the lower abdominal wall). The "bilateral" part means that the injuries were on both the left and right sides of my abdomen, essentially requiring two different surgeries… and I elected to have both done at the same time. As a bonus, the surgeon also found significant damage to the muscles that compose the abdominal floor. In fact, when everything was over, he referred to those muscles as “obliterated” during three separate conversations. (I did not realize that "obliterated" was a medical term!)

So, a simple repair turned into a major reconstruction, and I am thankful for the work done by both my surgeon and primary physician. What could have been a same-day surgery turned into a brief hospital stay. By today (Thursday), I’m feeling a lot better than Monday and Tuesday, but still moving very slow, and benefiting from various pain relievers.

My reason for sharing these details is not to be gross or to elicit sympathy. On the contrary, these developments could likely result in a significant change to the way I pursue conservancy in the future, and I would hope that my experience might also inspire a small but important change in the way anyone else executes trash removal and river restoration. (Hint: Team lift and know your limits!)

© 2009 Mike D. Anderson, St. Michael, MN. All rights reserved.


  1. Mike, Hope your recovery goes well and your back to paddling soon.
    Have you seen those Hobie kayaks with the foot pedal propulsion systems? Not a bad way to spread the load between upper and lower muscles.

  2. I've seen those at the airport display at MSP. But it seems to me the fins go deep enough that sticking tight to the shoreline--where most of the trash is--would be pretty tough. I've been working on some alternate ideas to remain active in conservation matters. Looking forward to sharing those ideas here soon. Thanks for your words of encouragement, Al!