Pot belly: Is it a hernia or a diastasis, or… BOTH?

The look of it is like a bowl that was slid underneath my belly button. I’ve had a good month and a half to wonder about, and fret over what is happening inside my belly to cause this. I finally scheduled a surgical consultation to find out what the heck…

Matt & I met with a surgeon at St. Vincent’s in Portland, and got the lowdown on my disfigured tummy. The verdict: A hernia… AND diastasis!?! Well, why choose between the two when I can have both! That has been my fundemental philosophy since birth, mainly when it comes to desserts, but it also seems to be true for medical conditions. For example, many years ago my dentist informed me that rather than the standard four wisdom teeth, I had six, which would all be removed at once. (A little extra Percodan for me!) There are some ways which you DON’T want to be special.


A hernia happens when the delicate lining of the abdomen pushes through damaged abdominal wall, as how an inner tube pushes through a damaged tire. About 600,000 hernia surgeries are performed around the US every year. The two methods used to treat hernias are “open”, where a full incision opens up the abdominal wall; or “laparoscopic”, where small incisions allow the surgeon to perform the fixes through small tubes without a large opening being necessary. Hernias will not get better over time. Here’s more on hernias.


Laparoscopic Surgery


Laparoscopic Equipment


Laparoscopic Equipment


Hernia Mesh


A diastasis happens occasionally during pregnancies or rarely after an abdominal surgery. When the abdominal muscles separate down the center, due to access during a surgical entry, and the delicate facia tears, the muscles spread apart allowing organs to push between the muscle wall. This is not my tummy pictured, but the doctor was able to do this to my belly. More on diastases.



This procedure will be painful, I am told, it can be out-patient, but I will likely stay over night in the hospital, then it will take two to four weeks before I will be active again. It is a simple and quick procedure, and it is covered by insurance. Very likely I will schedule it for late October

There goes Halloween!

Untoward Exits

A friend, Tammy Schuman, who blogs from the perspective of living with Spinocerebellar Ataxia (SCA), graciously allowed me to reblog her post. With Ataxia, a person may have problems with coordination because parts of the nervous system that control movement and balance are affected.

Through her blog, Tammy shares her experiences and observations about her condition. What I like about this post is Tammy’s description of the day-to-day challenges of managing simple bodily functions with Ataxia. During the most painful and uncomfortable days of my cancer treatments, I had many of the same thoughts, panics and frustrations that she describes.

This is my first attempt at re-blogging someone else’s post, I hope it works!

Update – a few minutes later:

Well, it didn’t work, and it should have,  and I’m not sure why, and it’s late. Here is a link to Tammy’s post.

Untoward Exits

Whether it’s poop, pee, gas, snot or saliva––I’d like to choose when, in whose presence, and where it exits. Ah well…such is the life of an Ataxian. Fortunately, I have understanding family and friends. Another reason I love Skeeter–she doesn’t care how gross I am.

I watched a movie the other night (of course). Harry Belafonte’s character and Anthony Hopkin’s character were having a drink and trading barbs about the effects of aging.

Harry Belafonte: “At least I don’t have to get up three times a night to pee.”

Anthony Hopkins: “At least I get up.”

I’m not quite that bad, but I’ve come to look at the bowel and bladder more globally, like the nose and throat–increased sensitivity. I haven’t had major issues yet, but I sense they are coming. Perhaps it’s advancing age or the Ataxia, but I’ve noticed increased bladder sensitivity and decreased capacity. I’ve always had a capacity less than many people, particularly males. Like I needed to get worse? Lying awake at 2 am, trying to convince myself to just go back to sleep, is a waste of time. Get up, don’t fall and just do it, Tam (don’t think this is what Nike had in mind).

Consequent to the increased sensitivity, I (probably most people already know this):

–Avoid large volumes of fluid from early evening on (tea, caffeine, and wine are big offenders). I do have to get my wine in though.

–Go to the bathroom before bed (duh)


–Get up during the night whether or not I feel the urge.

–Hit the bathroom before I need to; Not having the “not now” ability I used to, I don’t dawdle.

–Never pass up a bathroom (duh).

–Never get into a car without going to the bathroom (double duh)

Depends, Rely, Dignity, Sillhouette? Nice try at confidence branding (that ship has sailed). The various products out there make me much easier to rescue on a long scoot, should I underestimate my bladder capacity. One thing about Ataxians that indirectly affects “untoward exits”. First of all, hurrying puts us at greater risk for falling. Secondly, we just don’t move as skillfully as we used to. Consequently, we have to compensate using some anticipation, rather than shouting “Get out of my way!” Now THAT’S embarrassing.

I go before Earl occupies the bathroom, before the grandchildren wake up and come in our room, before guests arrive, before getting on a plane, before going out–before just about anything.

The lesson: Go to the bathroom, blow your nose, check your teeth–Just do it. And have understanding friends.

%d bloggers like this: