March 8, 2012

Hello My Name Is Hernia. ~ Donna Wilding

Photo: Reggie Alvey









It was at lunch one day, with Gramps and his pals at the retirement home, when I learned one of my favourite lessons—when you’re 95 or around that age, you get introduced by your ailments. Every single time.

I sit at his waist and enjoy when people stare at me. I like to make his pants fit tighter to the point where he’s more comfortable in a larger size.

…and if you were my hernia I’d be doing my best to keep you hidden,but not for Grandpa.

Before mealtime, as we sat at the table waiting for our lunch mates, each time a resident would cross the restaurant floor, Grandpa would lean in, elbow me, and tell me their name and what ails them. As Grandpa’s friends began to join us for lunch, this is how the introductions went:

“This is John—he’s hard of hearing. This is Doug—he’s got one leg.“

I started to cringe. Feeling embarrassed, I gave Gramps a wide-eyed “Thank you!” and for some reason I thought everyone would feel better if things were made fair. I smugly asked Grandpa to announce what troubled him. His response came just as coolly as the introductions:

“This hernia!” he says as he pats his belly kindly.

I had to soften my eyes from my wide-eyed stare to realize that they weren’t embarrassed. Just me! I recognized that Grandpa had given those introductions no differently than the way his friends followed them with, “Nice to meet you”. They were said with such an air of acceptance.

These gentlemen had come to accept their differences, their limitations and the fact that they may need a little help. For Doug, his crutches were help and for John, it was Grandpa repeating words louder so he could be part of the conversation. Despite the loud talking at the table, the air was clear and the gents were at peace.

So I thought I’d try this acceptance thing out.

At the time I was having trouble with my thyroid gland and was fighting what looked to be my new picture of health. I kept trying to do as much as I had before the problem arose and in turn, was depleting my energy further. I was fighting it and as soon as I realized that—I stopped. I let things be as they were.

I rested when I needed rest and most importantly, I accepted that my life may continue to be different than before.

As soon as I did that, I felt a wave of peace come over me. I felt much better knowing that I didn’t have to upkeep a crazy schedule if I didn’t feel up to it. Days after my energy slowly began to creep back. I’m not sure why, but it did. I realized there’s no need to fight what life sends my way because challenges just keep coming and if I’m stuck fighting the first challenge I have little energy for the next one.

Grandpa seems to have figured this one out long ago. He played table tennis regularly for years until he developed his large hernia from bowel surgery. This hernia interfered so much that he felt too unstable to continue table tennis games. So what did he do? He accepted and found peace in letting go of the game he played for 60 or more years. He moved on to learn the game of pool—a game that allows him to work with his new shape and balance—so well, in fact, that he’s good enough to beat his grandchildren at the game.

The acceptance he experienced because of his hernia limitation brought him the pride and joy of learning the game of pool (you can teach old dogs new tricks!).

I now move through life with the awareness of acceptance. Thank you Grandpa.


Editor: Kelly Brichta


A teacher of yoga, student of yoga for over nine years, and a student of life for 31, Donna recently quit her corporate day job to teach yoga. She’s happy to say that she no longer survives in the city by having a job, but instead, by sharing her passion. Donna believes the benefits of community to be irreplaceable. She currently resides in Toronto, Canada where she brings the healing aspects of yoga to workplaces and studios. www.donnawilding.com

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