Who knew writing could actually give you a hernia?

image Welcome to Ned’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing! It’s that time each week when I offer writing wisdom gained from 15 years as a columnist who, until recently, has remained completely hernia-free! It’s a feature the American Journal of Medicine is calling, “Writing advice that gets results as quickly as bending over and coughing…” or what Dr. Oz has touted as “The only place I haven’t stuck my face yet. And by that I mean his blog, not pelvic area…”

But enough accolades!

As I’ve mentioned before, writing can be a dangerous business, particularly for columnists who find themselves coughing uncontrollably from a seated position. As much as I’d like to say I got my femoral hernia after a tap-out while dragging firehose into a burning structure, or because I’m an amazing lover, the truth is it happened while I was sitting exactly where I am β€” during a bad coughing fit. I’ve been nursing this cough for about a month, which began with a high fever at the end of my vacation in August. Naturally, I assumed it was just my body’s way of preparing to return to work.

Besides, as my wife knows, “I never get sick!”

These words are already being chiseled into my tombstone.

If I do get sick, I let nature take its course and rarely use medicine, avoid antibiotics as much as possible and refuse to take flu shots. That way, when influenza eventually evolves into an unstoppable pandemic thanks to the tolerance it’s built from overusing flu vaccinations, I can add “I told you so” to my tombstone.

But in this case, and unbeknownst to me, my stubbornness led to the early stages of a bronchial infection that has been using a deep cough to help expedite removal of the infection in my lungs β€” or in layman’s terms, I’ve been hacking up something similar to tapioca. And yes, I realize I can say goodbye to any Jell-O pudding endorsements now.

So what does any of this have to do with my Nickels Worth on Writing? It was at this same time last week, while sitting in the newsroom and typing my NWOW, that one particular coughing fit caused a shift that I figured could only mean one of three things:

1) I’m carrying a child
2) I have a tapeworm
3) I never should’ve eaten that second chimichanga for dinner

It wasn’t until later that night, after I stepped out of the shower and saw the bulge, I had to admit to myself that nature had been more than fair. But right above that (I’ll pause here for eye rolling) was another, smaller bulge near my pelvic area that hadn’t been there before. On Monday, the doctor confirmed what I suspected and told me it was one of the largest bulges she’s seen, and that the other thing is definitely a hernia (Remember: some of us deal with our pain through laughter, and this isn’t the first time my bulge has been laughed at). In all seriousness, the infection caused the coughing, which led to my hernia and, in turn, has spiked my blood pressure.

So now I’m on…


…antibiotics and an inhaler for the next two weeks.

I'm just glad the instructions had the words "Take Orally" in bold print.
I’m just glad the instructions had the words “Take Orally” in bold print.

Does this mean I’m going to stop writing until I’m better? (Physically, not as a writer.) Of course not! Does it mean I’m going to stand up from my desk whenever I need to cough? You know it! In fact, I’m trying to convince my editor that the best solution would be for me to just stand while I write. Possibly at a table in a nearby tavern. So far, she’s not buying it. The again, I haven’t coughed on her yet.

In the meantime, I realize this week’s NWOW isn’t much on writing advice. Although there is a lesson, which is that as a writer you need to be persistent. You can’t allow things to get in the way of your writing. In short: writers must be like a hernia and keep pushing through.

Because I feel like all of you are family (even the guy still wearing the Members Only jacket), I wanted to keep you posted on what’s going on. When I’m healthy again in a week or two, I’ll be sending everyone something special.

I promise it won’t be tapioca.

By the way, on a more writerly note, I will once again be at the Festival of Books here in Florence, Ore., tomorrow and reading from my book at 11:50 a.m. For those of you in Australia and the U.K., you are excused from coming because of that whole “body of water” thing. But for the rest, if you start now you can still make it.

Honestly, do you want to miss out on THIS kind of excitement?

If nothing else, come for the live music!
If nothing else, come for the live music!

I’ll be posting live updates… while standing, of course.

(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available from Port Hole Publications, Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.)

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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

33 thoughts on “Who knew writing could actually give you a hernia?”

  1. This is soo funny…not that you’re ill and have a hernia now but that the next question I ask the guys on my blog was going to be…”Why are men so stubborn about going to the doctors?”
    See if you had gone a long time ago, it may not have come to this. Do you now have to have surgery too??

    I hope that you feel better soon and happy standing!

    1. Serves me right, I know. Being a volunteer firefighter sometimes makes me think I’m invincible. So far, no surgery is necessary as long as I’m careful. No jumping out of fire engines for a while. The antibiotics are kicking in, so I’m not coughing as much. I save that for the newsroom… πŸ˜‰

  2. When I suggested you release the artist inside you, I never suspected it would pull an “Alien” and exit via your pelvic region.

    As to the opening art in your piece (blog post, not hernia), I follow the adage: “Why use a short word when you can use a perfectly viable polysyllabic etymological variant?”

  3. It’s a fine line between HAVING a hack and BEING a hack.

    My office colleague just had installedβ€”at a personal cost of $500β€”an apparatus that raises and lowers her keyboard allowing her to either stand OR sit as she sees fit. I notice it hasn’t increased her productivity one iota.

  4. I hope you get to feeling better soon… though I can’t believe you were able to write something that well while being under the weather… I mean I get a little out of it and all my creativity just goes out the window… all I want to do is watch endless hours of Netflix and force my dog to snuggle with me… her softness makes me feel better whether she likes it or not…

  5. Sounds like the perfect excuse to ask for a stand up desk. A friend told me about a desk that you can use sitting, or it raises to become a stand up desk. In any case, sorry about your woes and hope everything heals up quickly.

  6. You get a standing ovation from me for this post. Hilarious!
    And damn that body of water – I would love to hear you reading from your book at the Festival of Books. When are you coming to Western Australia?
    I had to search Google to find out what a chimichanga is/was, because it sounded like the name of an exotic animal. Boy was I surprised. We have very few South American Australians so we are, sadly, culturally lacking.

  7. Oh my goodness, only you would make light and lemonade out of pure sucky-ness. I’m sorry about that bulgy thing…and the hernia, too.
    Even as someone who lives far away, I can see that you are a major candle-burner–work, kids, sports, firefighting. Not only do you do it all, you do it with laughter and grace. Cheers and applause from your biggest fan.
    (get better soon!)

  8. “Be like a hernia and keep pushing through.” Words not only to write by but to date by. And how did you know my father still has a mint condition Members Only jacket? Anyway, I’m late to the, uh, party here but I hope you’re starting to feel better by now!

No one is watching, I swear...

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