Losing My Belly Button

by Mark on January 17, 2016

One of my favorite anecdotes is, “Don’t Spend Your Life Studying Your Own Belly Button.” The meaning is look outward versus inward. Having recently ‘lost’ my belly button, I find myself looking too inward.

Our Belly Button

Some of us have ‘innies’ and others possess ‘outies.’ Our belly button can be the center of six-pack abs or a ticklish spot that captures lint and other debris. For all our belly button is a scar from the umbilical cord connection to Mom in the womb. We floated in nurturing and tranquil environment until boredom forced us to kick the hell out of the walls for attention. Despite those fits, and those to follow, Mom still loves me.

Belly Button Quotes & Oddities

“I have the most perfect belly button. When I stick my fingers in it, I feel a nerve in center of my body shoot up my spine.” Madonna

“Laugh until your belly button hurts and then a bit more.” Wholarian Living

“1,458 species of bacteria reside in your belly button.” Shannon Fischer, ‘What Lives In Your Belly Button?’ National Geographic News

“Volleyball Bellybutton Ring. I think yes!” Brooklyn Lesser, Pinterest

“The Greeks used to practice “navel gazing,” even in Christian times. They believed it offered special insight into the spiritual realm.” David Reddish, ’10 Disturbing Facts About Belly Buttons’

“A Belly Button is an odd gift indeed but it was given to you, on your very first birthday, so that you would never forget just how remarkable you are. You have already survived death once and you even have the scar to prove it! Your Belly Button is a symbol of “your past life” and the mark of an extraordinary survivor.” Ed Buley, Consulting with the Spiritual Hobo 1998

Removing My Belly Button

It began with stomach cramps, but the discomfort grew over time. Reliable fibers, like bran flakes, tortured me. Perhaps my body was changing. More foods aggravated my digestive system. Google suggested irritated bowl syndrome or early Cronin’s Disease. A bump began rapidly growing above my navel. Either a space monster planned to pop-out, as in the movie, “Alien,” or I it was a tumor. Either way, I was a goner.

My doctor chuckles about the ‘self-diagnosis’ capabilities of the internet. My bump and cramps represented an incarcerated umbilical hernia. A breach in my abdomen, just above the belly button, enabled intestines to push out against my skin. Like bending a water hose, this crimp in the system disrupted digestion and blood flow. A specialist recommended surgery to push back the organs and insert mesh to reinforce my abs. “We should remove your belly button to fortify the entire wall,” the specialist suggested. Seeing my eyes pop and mouth open he added, “You are not a 21-year-old prancing across the beach.” I never was a beach God. So pale, I blind bathers. The surgery took less than an hour. I returned home the same day with a week’s recovery.

Moving On Without My Belly Button

I am reminded of the anecdote which started this, “Don’t Spend Your Life Studying Your Own Belly Button.” Time to look out, not in. Family and friends supported me. What can I do for them? I miss my students. Thrilled to get back to the classroom. Biking season begins in four months. Need strong abs to climb Finger Lakes hills. A tiny stitched slit replaces my navel, a scar of a scar. You can celebrate each day without a belly button. 1,458 fewer bacteria no longer attack my body. There are other places to pierce. Life is good.

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