American Agriculturist Logo

My Take: I had to take care of my health this year, so meeting season took a back seat.

Chris Torres, Editor, American Agriculturist

February 23, 2024

5 Min Read
A white, cloth abdominal wrap
NO MORE BINDER: This was the binder that I wore right after my hernia surgery earlier this month. The surgery made me miss a lot of the meeting season. Thankfully, the binder is gone, and I’m ready to get back to normal work. Put your health first! Chris Torres

This was the first winter in a long time that I wasn’t on the “meeting circuit.”

I really enjoy meeting season. I remember something my former editor told me a long time ago when I complained to him about covering small-town board meetings and the dreaded planning commission, when all the talk was over water and sewer permitting.

I hated covering that stuff, but he told me something that has stayed with me all these years later: Attending meetings really lets you know what’s going on in the town.

I can say the same thing about our meeting season. It’s a great way to find out what’s going on with farmers, and I always learn something new. More than anything, I get to see people I haven’t seen in a long time. And I always come home with a handful of story ideas from people I sit next to, or people who are presenting. I enjoy meeting season a lot.

Unfortunately, I missed most of it this year. Earlier this month, I had surgery; my first one, in fact. For about 10 years or so, I had this hernia in my belly button that got larger as the years went by. It never bothered me, but I wanted to be proactive and take care of it. So, late last year, I decided I was going to get surgery.

It was the most nerve-wracking thing I ever did. The surgery itself didn’t scare me; it was the anesthesia that did. There were a number of times I woke up in the middle of the night wondering if I would ever wake up again. The night before, I was white-knuckle nervous.

Then, the morning of surgery arrived. I woke up calmly. Maybe it was my wife reassuring me that I was going to be OK, or maybe it was the holy spirit or something (I’m not real religious). Whatever it was, I was calm.

We hopped in the van and drove to the hospital. My wife didn’t stay for surgery, so I walked in alone.

I changed into some hospital clothes and waited. A nurse came in, checked my vitals, and asked me my name and birthdate. Then, she inserted an IV into me. This was it; no turning back now.

Then, as soon as another nurse started wheeling me back for surgery, I was in the recovery room. Boom. It was done!

I couldn’t believe it. I just had surgery, I thought. I guess those meds were strong because I don’t remember anything about being wheeled into the operating room. Of course, my wife, who works in health care, reminded me that it was best I didn’t remember that.

It took a while for me to wake up. I mean, I was awake, but I really wasn’t. It was more like going in and out of consciousness.

After about an hour, I was ready to go. I somehow walked myself out of the recovery room, down the hall and into the car my wife was driving. I was starving. I hadn’t eaten for about 12 hours or so. So, the first stop we made was Dairy Queen. I was crazing a large Butterfinger blizzard. I ate that thing in less than five minutes. It was the best ice cream I had had in a long time.

Then, it was home to begin the real recovery.

This wasn’t a big surgery. The hernia itself was only 1.5 centimeters, or a little more than a half-inch long. But it was still painful. The worst part was the location, right in my midsection. When something is wrong in the midsection, that affects everything. Sneezing or coughing hurt a lot. Sleeping that first night was awful.

I only took off two days of work. Thankfully, I can work remotely, so I can log in, write stories and do what I have to do from my sofa. But it wasn’t comfortable, especially with the abdominal binder I had to wear for a week. (It’s essentially a girdle, my wife and kids love to remind me.)

Now, a few weeks later, the binder is off. I’m feeling great. Yeah, there’s still pain here and there, and the scars from surgery won’t be gone for a while. Neither will the medical bills. But overall, I can’t complain. I’m feeling great.

This whole experience has taught me a few things:

Don’t be afraid of surgery. I was so blessed to have some real professionals at the hospital who took care of me. They made me feel safe, secure and positive.

Take care of your health. I ignored this hernia for many years, thinking that it would either decrease or I could just “take it” until I couldn’t take it anymore. But hernias are nothing to take lightly. They can get dangerous quickly, especially if an intestine happens to pop through. If you notice something going on with your body, take care of it. Don’t wait.

Thank your mate. I am so thankful my wife was there for me. It was tough the first couple of days, but my wife took care of me and ensured I didn’t need to do much.

I’m almost back to normal. Driving is fine, and I’m able to do most things I did pre-surgery. I can’t lift anything more than 10 pounds for a few more weeks.

Missing most of the meeting season was unfortunate. I feel like I missed out on a lot.

But at the end of the day, my hernia is fixed, my health is good and, soon, growing season will be here.

And you better believe I’ll be more than ready for that!

About the Author(s)

Chris Torres

Editor, American Agriculturist

Chris Torres, editor of American Agriculturist, previously worked at Lancaster Farming, where he started in 2006 as a staff writer and later became regional editor. Torres is a seven-time winner of the Keystone Press Awards, handed out by the Pennsylvania Press Association, and he is a Pennsylvania State University graduate.

Torres says he wants American Agriculturist to be farmers' "go-to product, continuing the legacy and high standard (former American Agriculturist editor) John Vogel has set." Torres succeeds Vogel, who retired after 47 years with Farm Progress and its related publications.

"The news business is a challenging job," Torres says. "It makes you think outside your small box, and you have to formulate what the reader wants to see from the overall product. It's rewarding to see a nice product in the end."

Torres' family is based in Lebanon County, Pa. His wife grew up on a small farm in Berks County, Pa., where they raised corn, soybeans, feeder cattle and more. Torres and his wife are parents to three young boys.

Subscribe to receive top agriculture news
Be informed daily with these free e-newsletters

You May Also Like