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Retired Newspaper Editor Sings Praises of Surgery

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A few days before Christmas, Albany surgeon Andrew Sweeny, DO, was checking on a patient before surgery when the patient pulled out a note he’d sneaked into the prep room.

“The note said, ‘wait, this is a Christmas gift to myself,’” said Graham Kislingbury. “There’s one more thing I have to do before you knock me out.”

After getting the attention of Dr. Sweeny, a nurse and an anesthesiologist, Kislingbury belted out, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Hernia Surgery.”

“He did a little parody and that actually made my day,” said Dr. Sweeny. “It’s generally something my dad would do. I love it.”

For Kislingbury, 68, a former newspaper editor who spends his retirement volunteering in the community, the timing of the surgery was important.

His hernia was diagnosed more than a year ago, but he put it off primarily so he could accomplish his volunteering tasks, which include yard work at Albany’s Jackson Street Youth Shelter and First Christian Church.

Kislingbury recalled the pain his hernia gave him while doing yard work.

“I called it Iggy,” said Kislingbury of his inguinal hernia. “I had the Iggy meter, some days we got up to a 10 as far as pain. And those days when it got really cranky, I’d just lie down.”

Inguinal hernias occur due to weakening of the muscles in the lower abdomen.

Dr. Sweeny used Samaritan Albany General Hospital’s da Vinci robot to place an index card‑sized piece of mesh to repair the hernia. A month later, Kislingbury was walking through the cemeteries south of the hospital, reflecting on the importance of having a hospital in the heart of Albany.

“I am grateful for 36 years of living five blocks from the hospital,” said Kislingbury.

In those three decades, Kislingbury had a few other visits for procedures and each time he brought a song to sing before he went under.

“I just love it when patients feel comfortable enough to be themselves and to have fun with something that is usually very anxiety producing,” Dr. Sweeny said.