Erik MH:

blog entry

In which I face anoth­er surgery

date2024-06-12 18:05 utc
topicshealth; orig. on PostHope
noteThis post was sim­ul­tan­eously pub­lished on Pos­tHope, where it’s still avail­able, along with sev­er­al pub­lic comments.

A year and a half after the “Big Sur­gery”, I gave con­fer­ence papers in Leeds (in July) and in Birm­ing­ham (in August), with sev­er­al weeks of research at the Bodlei­an Lib­rary in Oxford bridging the weeks between the two con­fer­ences. On my last day in Leeds, and through­out my first week in Oxford, I had some pretty intense pain in my chest. This, I found out later, was my trans­verse colon and great­er omentum for­cing their way up through my eso­pha­geal hiatus.

Lots of folks have hiatal her­ni­as:

The exact pre­val­ence of hiatus her­nia is dif­fi­cult to determ­ine because of the inher­ent sub­jectiv­ity in dia­gnost­ic cri­ter­ia. Con­sequently, estim­ates vary widely — for example, from 10% to 80% of the adult pop­u­la­tion in North Amer­ica. 1 Roman, S; Kahri­las, PJ (23 Octo­ber 2014). “The dia­gnos­is and man­age­ment of hiatus her­nia.” BMJ (Clin­ic­al Research Ed.). 349: g6154. doi:10.1136/bmj.g6154. PMID 25341679. S2CID 7141090.

But basic­ally only us lucky folk who have had eso­phagec­tom­ies end up with their colon in their chest — and it’s only a lucky 10% at that. 🙄 As I repor­ted in the posts I linked to above, I had my colon put back where it belongs in Decem­ber of 2019.

But some of those lucky few find that the prob­lem recurs, erm, recur­rently. And in Octo­ber of 2020, his­tory repeated itself.

This time, my sur­geon gave me the oppos­ite advice. Rather than sug­gest­ing (emphat­ic­ally) that I rec­ti­fy the situ­ation ASAP, he advised that I put a fur­ther sur­gery off for as long as pos­sible — since appar­ently if the prob­lem recurs once, it is very likely to recur fre­quently. And we don’t want any more sur­ger­ies than necessary.

And so, with the recom­mend­a­tion that I sched­ule anoth­er sur­gery “when the pain becomes too great” or I am “too short of breath,” I returned to post-can­cer life as “nor­mal.”

But now there’s even more colon in my thor­ax, and I’ve been advised that I should take care of it before I end up in the emer­gency room. Sigh.

So once again I’ll be return­ing to a clear liquid diet in a little over ten days, and show­ing up on June 26 for a 3+ hour sur­gery, and at least one overnight at the hos­pit­al — two nights are likely.

And once they determ­ine that I don’t leak, they’ll send me home to anoth­er two- or three-week gradu­al pro­gres­sion from clear liquid to soft-food to more-or-less nor­mal diet, and eight weeks of not lift­ing more than 10 pounds.

I’m not ter­ribly wor­ried, but I’m less optim­ist­ic than before — because it’s harder to believe that I won’t have to do this yet again in 2027 and again in 2030 and again.…

I’m post­ing this both on the Pos­tHope blog where all my can­cer-related posts have gone before (and all of your lov­ing and sup­port­ive com­ments!), as well as on my reg­u­lar per­son­al blog, which I hope will ulti­mately become an exhaust­ive col­lec­tion of my non-pro­fes­sion­al posts from over the dec­ades. (This explains the long list of back-dated posts now avail­able here on