I owe the last 26 years of my life and counting to Dr. Jerry Weiner.
The reason is simple.
He’s the surgeon that performed emergency surgery when it became clear a hernia was on its way to strangulating which can have fatal consequences if not treated.
Dr. Weiner retired in December after spending 36 years performing a wide array of surgeries at Doctors Hospital of Manteca.
Just a year prior to the hernia that was becoming a serious issue for me Dr. Weiner in 1995 performed surgery on a hernia on the other side of my groin.
At the time he advised me that eventually I might need surgery on the other side. When I asked why not knock off two birds with one stone he noted that doing two surgeries at one time could lead to less than optimum results.
He suggested I pay attention and when it developed into a serious problem to schedule a second surgery.
I fortunately — or unfortunately in this case — have a relatively high level of pain acceptance. Some might just call it stubbornness or male denial.
Whatever it is, I just dealt with the pain. And given I had the first hernia Dr. Weiner repaired as a benchmark that was a painful experience, I was sure that I was staying on top of the situation.
That all changed at 6:50 a.m. on a Wednesday morning as the step class I was in at InShape moved into the floor portion involving cool down stretches.
If you ever have seen me in a step class, I can look like a manic doing high kicks and pushing myself. The searing pain that would send me to the ER hours later didn’t occur then.
It was when I was laying on my back getting ready to bend a leg toward the opposite hip when I almost passed out. I believe I made an animalistic noise. Whatever I did it caught the attention of Dr. Mike Davis who happened to be a regular in the step class.
He asked what was going on and I said it was likely a hernia issue. He wanted to know if he wanted to drive me to the hospital or at least take me home.
I turned down the offer, gingerly got up when I caught my breath and the pain kind of subsided and then I started to jog home.
OK, so I’m an idiot.
As I neared Manteca Bowl my body convinced me jogging was about the stupidest thing I could try. I switched to a walk that was anything but painless. When I got home and literally collapsed in a chair as white as a ghost Cynthia wanted to know if I wanted to go to the hospital. I said no. Ten minutes later when I was about to pass out from the pain again I changed my mind.
Little did I know that Dr. Davis — a friend that eventually got me hooked on hiking by having me tackle Mt. Whitney as my first hike and actually talked me and a number of his other friends to help him one January night during a rare snowfall in Manteca to hoist a surplus train signal into place in his backyard — had already gave folks at the ER a heads up they’d likely have a hernia patient coming in.
I do not recall going from the ER to a hospital room where they placed me before surgery. I do remember Dr. Wiener coming by and saying a surgery happened to have been cancelled so he could squeeze me in that morning.
I was told later that a surgery was cancelled in order to work me in as my hernia was showing signs of strangulating.
Even after they placed me back in the hospital room instead of releasing me to go home after a stint in the recovery room as what happened with my first hernia surgery, I still didn’t grasp the gravity of the situation.
This is not a story about my being in denial or being stupid.
It is about something most of us don’t appreciate enough.
That something is modern medical techniques and the men and women like Dr. Weiner who devote time to learn skills needed to keep things at bay that can kill us or severely cripple and deteriorate our quality of life.
Hernia operations are fairly common today. The medical profession for more than 900 years has been treating them in some form or another.
But it wasn’t until the last hundred years or so that surgery became more successful and less of a risk.
I have little doubt that the second hernia I had would have eventually deteriorated to the point whether it was hours, days, or months where it could have become life threatening.
But even if it hadn’t it is clear modern medical procedures and the men and women who master and practice them have made lives of people like me less painful and allowed a much higher quality of life than if hernia surgeries and other countless procedures did not exist.
We forget that we have people among us like Dr. Weiner, nurses, technicians, and other medical professions that are driven to devote a large chunk of their lives to learn and master various skills and to continue honing them.
There are no natural treatments for hernias and many other issues addressed with medical procedures.
Had I been born 50 years earlier when mesh technology wasn’t as advanced or a 100 years ago when hernia surgery wasn’t all that accessible to the masses, I would have had a serious downward slide in my quality of life starting when I was 40.
Instead I’ve been able to be active on a daily basis jogging, hiking, bicycling, working in the yard, or simply walking.
We often get so wrapped up in thinking how bad things are in 2022 that we forget just really how great things are.
Modern medical knowledge is just one example of how we have it much better than generations before us.
It’s kind of comical how we get impatient in doctors’ offices cooling our heels waiting to be called in to an exam room for an appointment or get irked because a medical procedure we need or want can’t take place the next day.
We forget that it took men and women such as Dr. Weiner years to get to the point where they can deliver medical care.
My two hernia operations including my second one may have been simply a routine matter to Dr. Weiner but it certainly wasn’t for me. It clearly was instrumental in elevating my quality of life for the past 26 years.
I’m willing to bet thousands of other patients Dr. Weiner operated on during the past 36 years felt or feel the same.
This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org