By J. Hogan
-Gains & Gleanings-
In March 2018 I was injured at the gym. The injury was and is to my right sacroiliac joint, part of the hip, and not much has done anything to ease the pain since.
So on Monday, May 10, I went to see a specialist in Sewickley. He came highly recommended and specializes in this specific type of injury. The doctor was nice and thorough; after running some tests he had an idea.
“I think your hips, and the way they are sort of opened up in the front as you walk, aren’t helping the sacroiliac joint to heal,” he said.
“The joint is constantly being pulled into a sort of half-open place again and again as you go about your day.”
He proceeded to have me walk slowly while he manually applied pressure to the front of my hips to put them in a more “closed” position, and I had to agree that it seemed to be improving my discomfort.
The doctor produced a Velcro compression belt and fitted it onto me. He showed me how to put it on myself, and said, “try that for a couple of weeks and see how that goes.”
I was optimistic. I left his office with the belt on and wore it throughout the rest of my day.
At the end of the day, I finished prayer meeting and worked in my office for a while, then headed home around 10:30 p.m.
I’d worn the belt for 7 hours, and it had truly produced some relief for me.
This was mildly exciting after 3 years of constant pain. I got home, took the belt off… and everything went haywire.
“Uh-oh. What just happened?” I thought as a giant wave of nausea swept over me and pain wracked my abdomen. I vomited. I couldn’t stand, I couldn’t sit, I couldn’t lay down. My whole world seemed consumed by pain and the urge to throw up.
My wife and sons surrounded me as I collapsed, and someone called 911.
I remember that the pain grew to be excruciating, but I don’t remember the pain itself now. I was blubbering like a baby as the terrific EMTs from Northwest worked on getting and keeping me stable in the ambulance on our way to the Veteran’s hospital in Oakland.
A few hours later, after the pain was under control and a doctor had worked on my abdomen enough to avoid immediate emergency surgery, what had happened was explained to me.
I’d been aware for years that I had a small umbilical hernia, a half-inch gap in my abdominal wall that hadn’t fully closed when I was a baby.
The compression belt which had done good work in situating my hips better for my sacroiliac injury had also done something else.
Throughout the day as I wore it, it pushed my intestines up against that hernia, and a golf-ball-sized portion had slowly worked its way through to the outside of my abdominal wall. I was
unaware of this because the action was slow and the pressure kept everything pushed up.
That is until I took off the compression belt to get ready for bed.
At that point, my intestine tried to settle back down to where it normally sits, but that golf ball was hung up near my belly button. Any direction I turned, stretched and strained everything in new ways, stressing my system and sending me into immediate shock.
I’m telling the story here in gratitude. A lot of folks got into immediate prayer mode for me as soon as they heard I’d been rushed to the hospital and my phone was laden with hundreds of texts and voicemails from well-wishers.
My wife and sons were levelheaded and wise in their reaction to the crisis (our daughter, thank God, slept through the whole episode) and the EMTs were wonderful.
I have surgery coming on June 2nd, but it’s laparoscopic and planned, as opposed to the invasive cutting that would have taken place if the doctors hadn’t been able to massage that portion back through the hernia.
I’m grateful for all of you folks who prayed, for the pros who transported and tended to me, and to the doctors.
I’d appreciate more prayers ahead of the surgery this upcoming Wednesday… God’s got some great things happening, and I’m hoping for a quick and seamless recovery so I can be on hand for all of it.
Rev. James Hogan is a native of Stowe Township and serves as pastor of Faithbridge Community Church in McKees Rocks.