How My Belly Button Taught Me the Value of Perseverance

It was inevitable as a long-time horror fan that I'd meet the fate of a 1980s slasher movie victim.

Of course, in this case, it would be a Michael Myers who wore a surgeon mask instead of a painted white William Shatner one, and he would wield a scalpel instead of a butcher knife. He'd also staple up his victim's wound rather than leave them for dead.

Okay, fine.

It was not an opening scene of the latest Halloween movie, and actually a medically endorsed surgery.

Umbilical hernia repair surgery.

This slice of my life happened on Monday, September 25, so I've now had almost two weeks to recover. The actual operation went without any complications that I am aware of. Though my memory is mostly laying on an operating table being told that I was just inhaling some oxygen and suddenly discovering I was in a different room surrounded by new people. Luckily, the people were nurses, so it wasn't like I was transported to Narnia or Oz to find my way home. This was a good thing because I wasn't in the best of travelling conditions.

To show how quickly the surgery zoomed past me, my first question waking up was asking if it had happened yet. I was assured it did. I just don't remember when the oxygen shifted over to the anesthesia or if they ever informed me of such a move. It also doesn't really matter at this point.

I do want to praise the Brantford General Hospital nurses who filled our interactions with kindness, compassion, and empathy. I was immensely comfortable and felt cared for while I recovered. Or as comfortable as could be considering my gut had just been cut open and then stapled shut. It also helped that I was loaded with pain meds so my abs weren't screaming yet. I just had some nausea and dizziness to sort through, but again the nurses were there to my rescue. 

The first night was mostly sticking to the lying on the couch strategy that eventually saw the big move to the bed. When I did stand up for a small amount of time, I was gifted with a spell of intense fever and an ample piping hot side of more nausea. For a few minutes, I started panicking that this was about to be my next few days, but it quickly passed, and I was left mostly with trying to manage pain meds so my abs didn't squeal too loudly going forward.

The first half of the week post-surgery was mostly confined to my bed. This meant that I didn't need to get the kids ready for school. I wasn't expected to do anything around the house, and I was encouraged to sleep. It would almost be a vacation if it wasn't for the whole 'being in pain' part of it. I also got a glimpse into how I'd walk if I become a rodeo clown when I am 90-years-old. 

I must say that as much as my family was lovely and took care of me, it felt weird just being in bed and not contributing. It was glorious by the middle of the week to finally move around, and go for walks as a way to heal and strengthen my core. 

After the fate of nothing but a bed, by the end of the first week, I healed up enough to cook dinner, clean the dishes, do the laundry, and even get out of the house. I went to church last Sunday and enjoyed a pig roast to celebrate its 93rd anniversary (the church. . . I assume the pig was much younger than 93, plus that would be a cruel way to celebrate it). 

My belly button is not ready to compete in any beauty pageants. It no longer has the world's largest 'outie' but a few days ago, with the staples, the long incision, and the large round red mark it looked like a demonic clown ready to host the most terrifying birthday party ever. The staples are out now, so it at least isn't threatening to eat small children anymore.

The pain has decreased since the surgery and I can do most things again to some degree. The surgeon told me not to lift anything over 10 pounds or do any strenuous activity for the next 4 to 6 weeks, so my world-renowned competitive bodybuilding career is on hold. The past two weeks have taught me how much we really use our abs, and they contribute to a lot more than just crunches and sit-ups. Most days end with the abs doing their best to be acknowledged. I am still not quite in a place where I am ready to go for a long walk with the dogs who aspire to pull down the pillars of an ancient temple when on their leashes. Considering where I was back on September 25 compared to now, I know there will be a healthier and less painful future ahead.

This is the life lesson being bestowed by my currently mangled belly button. The physician promised that indeed the scars would become less prominent and the circus would move on. There will be a day when I won't grunt and grasp my gut when getting out of bed. I will be able to pick up the box of kitty litter and haul bags of salt out of our family vehicle. The memories of the surgery will become distant, and I'm sure replaced with some other medical issue as time marches on.

It all felt overwhelming when I was hunched over the porcelain throne while my whole body was encased in sweat and my gut felt like it had been rented out as an Ewok war drum. There were times I was discouraged knowing things needed to be done around the house but here I was laying on my back in bed not being able to sleep because my preferred sleeping on my side was too painful. I had to keep reminding myself these days would end, and in the reachable distance there was a belly button not ready to be the villain in It and days where I was not constantly aware of my abs.

I just had to be patient. I knew this was my state, but had to trust it was going to get better. I had to endure the current pain for future rewards. But here was the other part of recovering from surgery, I still had to do my part. Once I was able to get out of bed, I had to take those daily walks where I went a little farther each day to exercise and strengthen my core. I had to pace myself, but also do a little bit more around the house to get my body back into the daily life groove. I had to trust in a day when my abs would feel much better, but there were things I needed to do to get to that day.

The kicker is that overworking wasn't the formula for recovery. My doctor warned me to pace myself and listen to the pain because, during this period, it would be very easy to land me a brand new hernia since my body was still healing and could easily be damaged again. When one just wants it to be all over and start doing things for the family again or stop the feelings of inadequacy, it is an important warning to heed to persevere and trust the process.

This is when my sage belly button guided me to the realization that these two weeks of patience and perseverance could be applied to other parts of my life. I have not been secretive that 2023 has been a festering rotten egg mutated into a carnivorous flaming bag of poop. If metaphors aren't your thing then know that it hasn't been my favourite year ever.

There is a chance you're reading this and nodding your head. You agree that 2023 hasn't been your best friend, and it is officially off your Christmas card list. We can agree that it is about time for prosperity, success, and happiness. 

A better future is waiting on the horizon. We just need to persevere and do a little bit every day to make things better. We must trust the process.

My career is not anywhere close to sniffing distance to where I want and need it to be right now. I have relationships that are damaged that I desperately want to flourish. I don't feel like anything resembling the head of the household and a proper leader for my family. I stare at my current life and feel like it is crammed with failure and heartbreak. 

But it isn't. I still have an amazing loving family. I am slowly building back my clients. I am open to learning and refining my skills. I have readers taking the time to invest in this very article right now. 

I just need to persevere and keep taking steps towards a brighter, healthier, and joyful future. Just like this last week I had to celebrate victories like taking a five-minute walk or being able to cook dinner with minimal pain, I need to appreciate all the blessings and wins that bestow me every single day.

The magic elixir during struggling times is to envision and believe dreams will become reality, and ignore the howling voices of insecurity, self-doubt, and toxicity. I can't just kick up my feet hoping my career magically materializes into a lucrative venture, all relationships blossoming with no work, and I suddenly wake up feeling like the master of my domain. The perseverance needs to be supported with work, effort, and self-improvement. Some days may be painful and discouraging, but we all need to keep shifting and seeking ways to get wins and progress.

Even though I don't currently like to look at it, my ol' little belly button has taught me a priceless lesson. 

Though I'm all for no more lessons that must be learned with hernia repair surgery. Thanks.