Limps, Tears and Pentaluna

I should know by now dealing with the VA is like pushing a rope.  I went to see another doctor week before last about an ongoing health problem, and he confirmed that this egg-sized lump on my tum is an incisional hernia.  I emailed my “provider” at the VA on Monday morning with the news and left a message that I needed to be seen ASAP, not expecting to even hear back from them for at least a day.   Mirabili dictu, her nurse called me later that morning and said they’d had a cancellation and can you come in at 3 o’clock that afternoon?  You betcha!

In 2001, I had exploratory surgery that resulted in an emergency appendectomy.  The incision was a “lower abdominal midline vertical” type from navel to pubic bone, through a previous incision from a prior surgery.  They just excised the scar from the old incision on the way in.  The incisional hernia is concerning in and of itself, but it’s located at the top of the incision near my navel, where there is already a natural hole in the abdominal wall.  This area around the navel is weak and subject to herniation in and of itself and the surgical incision goes into this area.  The area of herniation was about the size of a large olive when I first noticed it two weeks ago, and now it’s the size of a hen’s egg.

Needless to say, the speed at which it’s getting bigger is concerning, and there is a “sword of Damocles” that comes with it:  a loop of small intestine could get pushed out through the hernia “hole” and get caught.  If it can’t be pushed back in quickly, that loop of bowel could die from lack of blood, and we’re talking excruciating pain, mad dash to the emergency room, emergency abdominal surgery, the risk of bowel contents squirting all out in my abdomen resulting in peritonitis, and having to cut out the dead bit of bowel and sew the small intestine back together.

Until I can get something done about the hernia (surgery and probably mesh), I can’t lift anything over 5 pounds, I have to roll over on my side and push myself to a sitting position with my arm when I sit up to get out of bed, likewise to lie down.  I have to splint when I sneeze or cough, or bear down.

I saw my provider Monday afternoon.  She’s ordering me an abdominal  binder which will help — or it will when I get it — no telling how long it’s going to take to get it.  She also ordered a CT scan to see exactly what’s going on there, and a surgical consultation.  Yesterday the scheduler called me to schedule the CT scan — at the CT scanner at the VA Hospital in Amarillo!   My town is not small;  it has a population of 250,000+.  We have three major hospitals, a medical school and probably 10-12 CT scanners or more here.  But no.  The VA wants me to drive 125 miles to another town (a four hour drive there and back) to spend less than ten minutes in THEIR CT scanner.  It’s uncomfortable enough just driving the three miles from my house to the VA clinic, never mind 250 miles on the highway.  In order to get a CT done here, my provider has to “justify it” with a convincing enough reason to get them to approve it, all of which takes time (as in weeks).

I’ve half a mind to call the scheduler back tomorrow morning and see when they could schedule the CT scan in Amarillo.   Otherwise, instead of it taking weeks, if we have to jump through the addtional bureaucratic hoops it’s going to take to get the CT done here, we could be talking months before I even get to see a doc, never mind get something done.   (See “Sword of Damocles” above. )  I have this one pair of slacks that’s really tight across the tum.  Maybe if I wear them, the drive won’t be so bad.

Sorry about the long rant, but the whole situation is just so frustrating.  Government bureaurocracies!  Argh!

My knee continues to be a pain and a hindrance, but that issue is obviously on hold until this hernia situation is taken care of.

In the meantime, I’m distracting myself with knitting and reading, neither of which involves any heavy lifting. . . !  This picture is several days old and I’ve done another “ray’s” worth of edging since it was taken.   It’s a nice shawl, but I don’t wear my shawls like she does, and this one doesn’t wear the way I like them to.  (It will be gifted when it’s done.)   But I like the style of it, so I’ve modified the pattern to add another “ray.”  The original had four, my modification has five.  Otherwise, it’s the same shawl.   That’s it at right.  It’s kind of crescent shaped, so I’m calling it “Pentaluna.”   I’m doing it in that same russet yarn whose color I just love.  (I’ve had to order some more to have enough to finish the other shaw, and do this one, and was able to get it for $1 off per skein on sale!)  It’ll have a knitted-on edging, too.   I can’t put the modified pattern on my knitting blog until I get it to the length I want and know how many stitches are in a section at that point so I can figure out the number of repeats and fudge rows I’ll need to put the edging on.   But if you want to do the garter stitch version that doesn’t need lace edging, here you go:

Petaluna Shawl, garter stitch body version:

# = where the markers go. (You’ll need 10 if you want to use them.  I would.)

Cast on 11 stitches
Knit 5 rows.
Row 1: k3, (kfb, yo) x4, kfb, k3 (20 sts)
Row 2: knit.
Row 3: k3, #, (yo, kfb, k1, yo, # k1, #) x4, yo, kfb, k1, yo, #, k3 (32 sts)

Row 4: knit
Row 5: knit.
Row 6: knit
Row 7: k3, #, (yo, knit til next marker, yo, #, k1, #) x4, yo, knit til next marker, yo, #, k3
Repeat rows 4-7 until shawl is the desired length.

Bind off:  Knit 2 stitches together through the back loops, return that stitch to the left needle – repeat until all stitches are bound off.

I’m using a US6 (4.o mm) 40-inch circular needle on the stockinette version, and knitting worsted weight yarn (Lion Brand Heartland yarn, color “Yosemite”), but you can use whatever size needle you want to and any size yarn from DK to bulky, depending on what weight of shawl you want.

That’s all I got for now . . .

Author: WOL

My burrow, "La Maison du Hibou Sous Terre" is located on the flatlands of West Texas where I live with my computer, my books, and a lot of yarn waiting to become something.

3 thoughts on “Limps, Tears and Pentaluna”

  1. I’m so sorry that you’re having these problems – both with health and with bureaucracy! It sounds very frustrating. I hope you can receive the needed help quickly!


  2. Oh, yikes! This’ll teach me to save my blog reading for the weekend. What a situation. I hear stories from time to time about the horrors of the VA, and this (to my mind) qualifies. What you’re dealing with needs to be attended to sooner rather than later — like, maybe yesterday? Good grief. You’re exactly right that the increase in size is concerning.

    Well, keep us updated. Why in the world would they make you go somewhere else for scans, and etc., when it could be done locally? Why…. oh, never mind. I’ll just start hyperventilating if I think too much about governmental inefficiency and so on.

    Any chance you could knit yourself something to keep the hernia under control until yon medical establishment sorts out what you should do, and where?


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