A growth of some sort had appeared in the right side of my groin about the size of a small tangerine. It certainly wasn’t there the last time I’d bothered to look and now it was, well, ‘bulging ominously’, I would say!
By the age of 72 one does perhaps get used to certain bits of one’s anatomy falling off, or sometimes appearing, in unbidden and alarming ways. My ear and nose hair have, for example, decided to stage embarrassing pyrotechnic growth spurts in recent years, all without my prior agreement, but this new bulge in my groin was in a different league altogether.
I gingerly prodded my new anatomical addition and thankfully there was no pain, while to the touch it felt jelly-like. So, being of the male persuasion, I decided to do what I suspect most men do in a situation like this… ignore it and hope it goes away!
But during the following weeks, my new body-tangerine seemed to be actually getting bigger and so I eventually decided to ‘fess-up’ to my partner Pattie, who just happens to be a medical professional working at Bangkok Phuket Hospital.
One evening at bedtime I said, “Will you have a look at my groin?”
“Don’t be disgusting,” she immediately replied, before casting a cursory glance toward the offending protrusion. “Inguinal hernia,” she said dismissively, “How long have you had it?”
“Oh, I just noticed it,” I lied.
“Hmmm,” she scowled while giving me a knowing look. “OK well, you need to have it dealt with before it gets any bigger and the tissue which is bulging through your abdominal wall becomes strangulated and you die a horrible and painful death.”
She has a way with words in matters medical, does Pattie, which while not exactly inspiring confidence, certainly do tend to provoke action! So it was that we booked an appointment with Doctor Toranis Tantipiriyakij at Bangkok Hospital Siriroj for the very next day.
Visiting a hospital during a raging viral pandemic is probably not most people’s ideal choice for a day out, however, I have the utmost praise for the space, social distancing, cleanliness, protocols and efficiency we were shown by the hospital.
I quickly found myself in the extremely calming and reassuringly professional presence of Doctor Toranis who confirmed Pattie’s diagnosis and said I should have an ultrasound of my groin, then book an operation for the following week for minimally-invasive laparoscopic, or ‘keyhole’ surgery, during which the bulging tissues are captured and netted back into place.
The ultrasound revealed that in fact I had a bilateral inguinal hernia, the one on the left side of my groin being less developed, and therefore not actually bulging through my abdominal wall as yet.
Days later I cleared a COVID test and checked into a delightful hospital room worthy of a five-star resort for my night’s stay. My operation passed in a sweet anaesthesia-induced dream and the next thing I knew I was waking up back in my sun-dappled room, with Pattie holding my hand. That evening, I was even allowed a celebratory bowl of clear soup and the following morning Doctor Toranis came for a debriefing chat to tell me that all had gone well and I could go home… just like that!
It’s now been a month since my operation and I managed to climb back onto my beloved mountain bike just two weeks after the surgery for a gentle, flat ride around the dam above Chalong.
In a cycling career which now stretches over 65 years, I suppose one must expect the occasional bump in the road, or abdomen, and it’s reassuring to know that if you ever experience anything similar, we have here in Phuket the excellent medical resources of Doctor Toranis and his team to flatten out any bumps in your own road, or indeed your tum!