Saturday, June 8, 2024

Hilton Head Island: meshed

I am repaired, though not to original factory specs, which is as to be expected for 1941 models that have long been out of production and were never under warranty.

The procedure took place at an outpatient surgery facility which was much less institutional than a hospital,  The staff were friendly and professional and I had the pleasure of startling several of them who looked at my chart, including the anesthesialogist, and asked incredulously, “You don’t take any medications?”  Obviously unmedicated 82 year olds are a rare and probably endangered species.  A small pleasure, but you take what you can in those circumstances and something for which I am in no way responsible.  I have written that at sea I do not consider myself either lucky or unlucky and so plan and prepare so as to reduce the effects of chance.  Yet clearly I was fortunate in the genetic lottery and in the timing of meeting Carol, so perhaps I am lucky after all.

Other than skin cancer removals and five operations on my dead right eye, I had not had surgery since my tonsils were removed at age four or five.  I got ice cream then.  Carol gave me ice cream last evening.  Rewards seventy-seven or seventy-eight years apart.  I was a good boy both times.

The procedure included inserting a piece of mesh into the muscles around the hernia to provide extra strength.  I was told that the mesh is made of polypropylene and that for a time they used Gortex, which was found to be too heavy and caused complications.  One of my suits of foul weather gear is Gortex and the anchor rode on the toy anchor that came with GANNET when I bought her is polypropylene.  Polypropylene line floats, so now I have added floatation.  Not enough to make a difference and as has been proven I am pretty good at floating anyway.

The post-operative discomfort has been much less than I expected.  I was given a prescription for opioids, but being a minimalist in this as all things, I have not taken them.  Tylenol has been enough, and I am very much looking forward to 5 pm when I can partake of my preferred liquid pain killers as I could not last night.  I may even move the time for evening drinks forward a bit.

I am told that if there are no complications I can ride a bicycle in a week and resume normal acivity in two weeks.  I expect that my normal activity is beyond the surgeon’s imagination, so I will be careful.  As you know GANNET often puts me in awkward and contorted postions, such as in retrieving the outboard from where it is stowed at the foot of the port pipe berth and when leaning over the stern and placing it on the outboard bracket.  I paid a diver to clean GANNET’s bottom this week and am eager to go sailing, but I don’t know when that will happen.



Justin said...

I had three hernia surgeries, at ages 2, 8 and 11. All three required overnight stays in the hospital. NOT fun. Now I need a FOURTH surgery (age 61), and I have NOT been looking forward to visiting the doctor. But now that you've gone through it I'll just suck it up and just get it fixed.

Webb said...

As I have learned hernias are more common than I knew, but your experience is extraordinary and not enviable. My surgery was done as an outpatient. In at 12:30 pm. On my way home at 3:30 and part of that was waiting while the surgeon operated on another patient. So far not much after surgery discomfort. May your repair go well, Justin, and may it be the last you ever need.

Justin said...

Thank you, Webb. My father was very proud of the fact that his boy was the biggest and strongest kid around. But right after my double hernia surgery at age 2, I stood up on the hospital bed and said, "Daddy, it hurts!". He fainted. My mother enjoyed telling that story for years.

Sailing Freya said...

Good morning Mr. Webb. I just discovered your blog from a fellow sailor. I will be 70 in 2 weeks. I am an artist as well. Perhaps unconventional but once you have the eyes of an artist....... I will be a liveaboard coastal cruiser by March of next year. Vessel is a Tanzer 22. Crew is my cat. I am inspired by your words that speak volumes on living and loving life. Good luck to you sir! I can stare at the ocean offshore and never get bored and yes I have that smile on my face.

Webb said...

As you may know, Sailing Freya, I have lived on boats much of my adult life. It is wonderful for those it suits. May you and your cat have a wonderful time.

Anonymous said...

Webb - So good to hear your surgery went well. Best wishes for a speedy and full recovery. Probably best you did not inform the surgeon of you exercise routine. He would, no doubt, have been incredulous and perhaps jealous.

I leave tomorrow for a five day "mimi-cruise" to Catalina Island. Catalina Island is still mostly unchanged from when I first started sailing there 50 years ago. Which is wonderful.

S/V Free Spirit
1975 Ranger 23
Los Angeles

Webb said...

Thanks, Scott. I indeed continue to have less discomfort daily.

Your sail to Catalina caused me to wonder when I last sailed there and I am surprised, but probably shouldn’t be, that it had to have been a little more than fifty years ago. Enjoy the sail and the island for me.

Anonymous said...

Hi Webb, So glad to hear your repair went well and your recovery is progressing!