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Hernias, butter knives & doing crazy things

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POSTED June 26, 2014 11:59 p.m.

Editor’s note: Dennis Wyatt is on vacation. This column first ran in July of 2011.


A 63-year-old Glendale man takes a butter knife and stabs myself in the stomach in a futile bid to remove a protruding hernia.

He wasn’t screaming or showing any signs of pain when police arrived.

The authorities called him crazy. Obviously they have never had a hernia.

I’ve had two hernias a year apart. They helped redefine my concept of pain.

It’s been 11 years since the first one. Both were in the groin.

I kept ignoring the pain until one morning in an exercise class I couldn’t get off the floor. After four minutes I was able to bend a bit and get on my feet. This entire time people kept asking if I was OK. Naturally, I said I was fine. I even tried to jog home afterwards but it ended up being more like a walk.

Six days later Dr. Jerry Weiner had repaired the hernia and put Gore-Tex mesh in place. He also warned me about the possibility of a second hernia. He also told me not to do any strenuous activity for a month. Six days after surgery I was cutting the lawn.

It was the second hernia that almost did me in. You’d think by then a protrusion in the wrong place and constant sharp pain coupled with my previous experience would convince me to have it checked. Instead I ignored it.

I met my Waterloo once again at the 6 o’clock group exercise class at In Shape. You’d think with all of the jumping and high kicks I did that it would floor me when I was doing those. Again it happened when I was stretching. Again I was in such pain I thought I might pass out. Again I said I was OK and refused a ride home. Again I tried jogging but ended up walking and stopping every 10 yards or so.

I must have looked like hell when I got home but I refused persistent suggestions to go right away to the emergency room. After several minutes of sitting and almost passing out from the pain, I relented.

An hour later they checked me into a room at Doctors Hospital and Dr. Weiner cleared his surgery schedule for that morning. Apparently it was a bit more serious than I thought.

If anyone has had to have surgery where they prescribed Vicodin to combat the pain, what you are about to read may make it seem, at least in your eyes, that I was certifiable for a trip to the Looney bin. I told them this time I didn’t want a pain killer, period. After arguing for 10 minutes, they prescribed it “just in case.” I only took two Vicodin after I left the hospital. I figured the post surgery pain was a walk in the park compared to the hernia.

To this day, I don’t understand exactly why I did it.

But within 72 hours after going home from the hospital it was mentioned to me that I should finally consider getting rid of three cherry trees in the middle of our backyard — including two that were pushing 30 feet tall —  to open up the grass to sunlight.

I tend to focus on something else when I’m in pain to deal with it. All I could think about was the blasted cherry trees.

You can only imagine the look on my then wife’s face when she came home after work just 72 hours after my surgery and the tallest of the cherry trees had been chain sawed down.

At that point in time I’m sure I must have come across as wacky as they think the do-it-yourself hernia surgeon is in Glendale.


This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at or 209.249.3519.

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