Happy Feelings (A Nod to Earth, Wind and Fire)
It occurred to me that some people may have no idea what a abdominal cavity, or more specifically in my case, umbilical hernia really is. They aren't very uncommon, but a lot of people (like me) have them for years without knowing it. So I went back to one of the websites I visited when I was reading about my latest medical adventure, and I decided to post the information here.
Before I do that, however, I've also been studying Baha'u'llah's Seven Valleys and Four Valleys on my own, and I see so many parallels between poor Manjun's search for his beloved Layli, and the search all of us undergo in our lives for the "ultimate happiness". That's what addiction is about, the search for that SOMETHING that will make life either a sublime event or at the very least, bearable. Then, when we don't experience 24/7 happiness, we get "depressed" and abuse our minds and bodies. That process is beautifully laid out in The Seven Valleys. My Baha'i community is having a session at Bosch Baha'i School in Santa Cruz, California on April 11-13, and I'm doing a presentation of the The Seven Valleys from the perspective of a recovering person. God willing, I will be healthy enough to do the presentation. If not, I'm sending the materials with either Tima or Mari, and under threat of bodily harm, making them do the presentation. ;) All right, just kidding, sheesh! But I'll post the outline and various thoughts that occur to me as I develop the presentation. After all, it's not like I'm going to be be doing much over the next two weeks.
What is an umbilical hernia?
A hernia (HER-nee-ah) happens when tissue or part of an organ bulges out of its normal place in the body. An umbilical (um-BIL-i-kal) hernia is when something from the abdomen (belly) slips out of place. This causes a lump or bulge in the area of the navel ("belly button"). The hernia may contain fluid, part of an organ (such as the intestine), or other tissue from the abdomen.
Umbilical hernias usually happen because of a hole or a weak area in the muscles of the abdominal wall. You may have been born with the weak area, or the area may have become weak with age. The area may have been weakened because of an injury or surgery there. You may never know what caused your hernia.
Who is most likely to get an umbilical hernia? Umbilical hernias can happen to people of any age. Umbilical hernias in adults happen more often in women than in men. You may be more likely to have a hernia if other family members have them. Other things that may increase your risk of having an umbilical hernia include:
Having ascites (ah-SEYE-teez), which is fluid in the abdomen.
Having a large tumor (growth) in your abdomen.
Being a pregnant woman.
Being a woman who has had multiple pregnancies.
Having a very long labor when delivering your baby.
What are the signs and symptoms of an umbilical hernia?
Signs and symptoms may be very different from person to person. The most common sign of an umbilical hernia is a bulge or swelling in the area of the navel. You may be able to see the lump, or you may feel it when you gently press on your navel. You may have pain or burning in your abdomen. The pain may get worse with coughing, sneezing, lifting, or standing for a long time. The skin over the hernia may be swollen, red, or even gray or blue. The lump may get bigger when you bend, cough, or strain to have a BM. Laying down sometimes decreases the size and the pain of the hernia.
If your hernia is not treated, the following serious problems may happen:
Incarcerated hernia: An incarcerated (in-KAHR-ser-ay-ted) hernia is when the hernia cannot be pushed back into the abdomen by your caregiver. The tissue becomes stuck or trapped, which can cause serious problems. Umbilical hernias have a high risk of becoming incarcerated. If this happens, your intestines may become blocked. You may have very bad pain in your abdomen. You may also have nausea (feeling sick to your stomach) or vomiting (throwing up).
Strangulated hernia: A loop of intestine in the hernia may become pinched or strangulated. This means that the blood supply to that area of intestine is decreased or cut off. If this happens, you may feel very bad pain in your abdomen. Other signs may include nausea, vomiting, or a high body temperature (fever). You may have constipation (trouble having a BM) or blood in your BMs. If your intestine becomes blocked, you may not be able to pass gas or have a BM. If the hernia is not treated right away, that part of your intestine may die. This is called gangrene (GANG-green), and it can be life threatening.
How is an umbilical hernia diagnosed? Your caregiver can usually find the hernia during an exam. Your caregiver may check to see if the hernia can be reduced (gently pushed back into the abdomen). Your may need tests such as x-rays of the abdomen or an ultrasound. These tests will help caregivers decide how to treat your hernia, and to check for other problems.
How is an umbilical hernia treated? Most adults with umbilical hernias will need surgery to fix their hernias. Until surgery can be done, medicines such as acetaminophen (a-seet-a-MIN-oh-fen) or ibuprofen (eye-bu-PROH-fen) may help decrease discomfort from your hernia. Ask your caregiver which over-the-counter pain medicine is right for you. Always tell your caregiver if you have new or worsening pain in the area of your hernia. You may need surgery right away (emergency surgery) if a loop of intestine becomes trapped in the hernia.
For more information: Contact the following to learn more about hernias and their treatment:
National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC)
2 Information Way
Bethesda, MD 20892-3570
Web Address: www.digestive.niddk.nih.gov
American College of Surgeons
633 N. Saint Clair St.
Chicago, IL 606113211
Web Address: http://www.facs.org