Monday, February 9, 2009

That Ripped It 2/7/09

That Ripped It  2/7/09

The title to this post refers to the inguinal hernia that I either acquired in Russia or was not discovered during my pre-mission physical and has gotten worse. In any case, I've got one, and it's a biggie.

I first noticed it one night last week during one of those "gas" pain events that I have had for the past month or so. I would get these severe pains in the lower gut that sometimes would bring me to tears. I often would lay on the bed and massage my stomach in an effort to move the "gas" around and get some measure of relief.

Well, this night the pain was particularly acute and I got out Cindy's exercise mat, a 24" by 60" foam pad we confiscated from the "Palace" (the largest apartment in Novosibirsk where the AP's and the office elders live along with the extra stuff no one wants at the moment) and laid it on the parlor floor. As I laid down and began to massage my stomach, I noticed a bulge on the right side of my groin. When I pushed on it, it moved. As I pulled up on the stomach. I felt something move in that bulge spot like pulling the bottom pillow from a tall stack of them. Immediately the paid stopped and at that moment I knew what it was, an inguinal hernia; that had trapped my small intestine which I had just pulled free. (For the squeamish, that is about the extent of the intimate anatomy descriptions in this posting.) In my past wanderings through various information sources, I remembered the danger of getting any tissue trapped in a hernia, called a strangulation, and that it could be serious, quickly.

I called President Mickelsen to report my discovery and get his advice. He said that the member of the Area Presidency who was visiting our mission at the time was a physician and would I like him to take a look at it. After checking with him, they both agreed that I should come right over to the mission home. We took a cab and when Cindy and I arrived, he took me into one of the guest rooms and examined me quite thoroughly. He said, "Well, I have good news and I have bad news. The bad news is that you have a hernia. The good news is that it is a REALLY BIG ONE and there is little danger of getting anything strangled in it." He also said that I should get it fixed soon and suggested a truss in the mean time.

When we got home, Cindy and I talked at length about our options and came up with:
  1. We don't want to have an emergency operation in Novosibirsk.
  2. We don't want to have ANY operation in Russia where we did not speak the language and didn't know the system.
  3. Our medical insurance is with Kaiser and they won't pay for medical treatment outside their service area except in case of emergency.
  4. Any surgery in another place like Helsinki or Frankfurt would be better, but not desirable because we would have to stay in a hotel, would not speak the language, could be there indefinitely, might not use the most current techniques, and would be expensive for the Church.
  5. Our best option was to come home, have the repair surgery where we knew the system, could stay with friends or family for free, have our support system, and return ASAP to the mission.
We settled on option 5 and counseled with President Mickelsen who agreed with our findings and said to have Brat Pyotr get the tickets. Eventually, it turned out that Katie at the Church Travel Department could get them at the same cost and with more options for the return so we went with them.

By now it is Monday night and we are making plans for the trip, what we would take with us, when we would go, and where to stay. The first issue was to take whatever we would not want to leave behind in Russia if we could not return. The second issue would be to go immediately because this was a slow time in the 6 weeks transfer cycle and we would be missed the least during the next three weeks. The third issue was left up in the air for the moment.

With President Mickelsen's approval, we set the dates of February 7 to leave and the 23rd to return in time for our Kazak visa renewal trip to Almaty with a group of 10 or so other missionaries. This would cause the least impact on the mission and would get us renewed on time. The plan was laid and Cindy set it in motion. By Friday we had tickets (electronically), were somewhat packed, and committed.

With President Gushchin's help we got to the airport, got boarding passes, made it to the security check-in where President left us , and eventually got on the plane for Moscow and our 30 + hour trip home; the beginning of a series of miracles that we expect will eventually get us home to Novosibirsk in time for our visa renewal.

What a trip. What a country


cathyg said...

Elder and Sister Simmons,
I am Elder Gardner's mom...he gave us your blog to see the pictures you posted from the slide! Thank you for sharing! We love the input from the Sr. missionaries! We read your most recent posts and will add you to our prayers for a quick recovery and return to Russia. We also read your introspection post and thank you for your insight. It is a good reminder! Thank you for serving our missionaries, Elder Gardner loves the Sr. couples and all they do to help the missionaries. Best of luck in your surgery! Cathy Gardner

Emily said...

Wow! How quickly things change. I hope you are on the mend soon.