Battle of the Bulge

It's been a strange couple of weeks for me. Coming off the back of a 365 mile January I was still feeling pretty good and was looking forward to completing the Enigma Quadzilla, 4 marathon in 4 days and then I was going to take it easy for a few weeks. However on the second day of the quadzilla disaster seemed to strike that looked to unravel (literally) my plans for the summer.

It actually started a week before at the Thames Trot. Well, actually it started about 8 years ago just days before I was running "The Marathon" in 2003, only my second marathon and in those days 26.2 miles was a big deal. Suffering from a bit of man flu along the river I was coughing quite a lot but one time near the end I felt a bulge in my groin as I coughed. Much as I love ultra marathons I rarely get a bulge in my shorts when running so this was something to pay attention to. My immediate reaction was "hello, I remember you" and thought back to 8 years ago when I had a hernia. Bollocks.

I ignored it for the remainder of the race and it seemed fine when I ran the following thursday in the first of the Enigma Marathons. I ran an easy 3.33 and felt quite good that I can do that kind of pace and not feel like I have exerted myself and was ready to do it again the next day. However that night I had a constant nagging ache that kept me up. It was not pain as such but felt like an organ was gently pressing against my skin requesting permission to leave.

I got to the second marathon but as soon as I started I was reminded of the nagging with every step. I get this quite a lot and the groin is a problem area for me but a little stretching and not letting it consume my mind usually sorts it out. However this was here to stay and although I was still running quite well and just as fast as yesterday I decided that I was not going to be able to enjoy a single step of this marathon today so after 9 miles I stopped and made an appointment to see my GP.

Can you see the bulge?I was hoping it was all in my head. I get plenty of groin strains but I recall the distinct feeling of organs trying to escape. I remember 8 years ago as I went to my doctor in Manchester. I knew pretty much that I had a hernia (my housemate was a doctor and he had a feel. Not sure what the other housemates would have said if they caught him with his hand down my pants). Anyway I went to the doctor and on pulling my pants down she (it would be a she wouldn't it?) said that she could barely see anything. "NOT THAT", I said "Look for the Hernia". No I didn't actually and I didn't even think it. She said "take it easy for a while. And good luck in the Marathon". The Marathon was only 5 days later, and it went fine. 3.57, stonking PB.

On pulling my pants down (to another lady) I really wanted to hear those words again "I can't see anything". On doing so and a lot of carefully timed coughing she confirmed that there was something there and was ready to refer me to a consultant. I arranged an appointment with a consultant a few days later who actually thought I had one on both sides and suggested I had ultrasound. Double bollocks.

Hernias are no big deal really. I got some messages saying that I could carry on as normal and that it really should not bother me. This was encouraging. I thought I could just carry on and when the time came to have the op they would just use a coathanger or something and pop it all back in. If I can get an op long before I set out to the States then that would be great. I am confident that even if I did not get a chance to run between now and then I could still finish the race.

On Thursday (less than a week after finding it) I had an appointment with the ultrasound person and for the third time in a week I was pulling my trousers in front of a complete stranger. I had become so comfortable with doing this that I just pulled them all the way down and the old chap (the doctor) looked embarrassed and said they didn't need to go down that far. He then covered my groin in grease and started the scanning of my nether regions while asking me to push "like I was having a baby". How the hell would I know how to do that? Those (men) who claim that giving birth is just like taking a big dump usually get more than a frown from any mother in earshot.

So for the first time in my life I tried to push my stomach through my scrotum so that he could see the strain on his screen. It did not look like much, he even turned the screen towards me so that I could see but it was just a swirling mess of white candy floss. Is it a boy or a girl? I asked. The Doc obviously heard that one a million times. In fact no amount of pushing could really produce anything and he concluded that I had no hernia (though I should wait for the final analysis) at all and if anything only a sprain on the right hand side. That was a relief though I did feel a bit like a drama queen.

So the following week I went back to the consultant where I expected a dressing down for time wasting when in fact he said that there was a hernia on the right side and he recommended getting it fixed. Doh. It looks something like this

He got his diary out and suggested some dates for my Latrosopic Hernia Repair. Basically they poke 2 holes in me, stick in a balloon, blow it up, poke some cameras in and push the organs back where they belong and then put in a mesh. I will be in and out within a day and apparently back to normal within weeks. My operation is on the 12th.

It does not mess my plans up too much. I still intend to run the Trans Gran Canaria race on my birthday on the 5th March (I will probably spend my entire birthday running, how cool is that?). I have had to cancel the Git Pit Marathons on the 12/13th which I was looking forward to. I wanted to run the Orion 15 the week later and then the Eco Trail 50 the week after that. Hopefully I still can do both but will have to see.

All in all I am not too worried and am pleased that I can get this sorted long before I head out to the States.

This is the second time part of my digestive system has tried to escape my body. Perhaps it is telling me something?