Last week I had surgery on my right knee to repair a slightly torn meniscus and to clean up some arthritis issues. I suffered the meniscus tear while I was biking with the kids last fall. Evidently the arthritis developed from the excessive running I did over two years preparing for two separate marathons.
Both issues were frustrating in that 97% of the time I wasn’t affected by them. I could walk normally, climb stairs and do almost anything else considered part of a daily routine. But I couldn’t bend deeply and put pressure on the knee without feeling a little pain.
And I couldn’t exercise to any considerable degree.
In the grand scheme of things the surgery was minor. It was an outpatient procedure that only involved three hours of my day and took the doctor less than 30 total minutes to perform. I don’t remember any of the actual surgery though having drifted off to sleep from the anesthesia.
But the whole ordeal – from tear to surgery – taught and reminded me of a couple big things.
Pay Attention to That Problem Area
How often do you ignore that one problem area of your life? Everything else is swimming along just fine except for that one thing. And for whatever reason we choose not to deal with it.
For months my knee had been telling me something was wrong. I’d been ignoring it hoping that whatever was wrong would get better by itself.
I should have known better because this just doesn’t happen.
Money problems don’t just work out.
Relationship problems don’t just work out.
Spiritual problems don’t just work out.
Problems of any kind don’t just work out of their own accord.
Whatever the problem it needs attention. It won’t heal itself. In fact, more than likely it will get much worse when left unattended.
Be More Decisive
As I mentioned my knee had been hurting for months. So why didn’t I get it looked at sooner?
Simple… it didn’t always hurt.
I’d go for three weeks at a time without pain. Then I’d bend a wrong way and feel the pain again. Upon feeling that pain I’d remember not to bend that way and avoid the pain for another three weeks (until I forgot and did the same thing again).
I couldn’t make myself pull the trigger because the pain was so infrequent and didn’t hinder my day-to-day life.
In retrospect, I should have gone to the doctor the second or third time I felt that pain. That was a clear indication the injury was not getting better. My indecision cost me months of wondering what was wrong.
I know it’s fashionable of late to bash on the healthcare system. The Affordable Care Act has caused such confusion and many monthly insurance premiums have dramatically increased.
Despite that I’m still thankful to live at a time and in a country where I can receive quality healthcare.
Where machines can scan inside the body to determine a problem.
Where doctors only need two small incisions to repair a knee.
Where they insert a tiny camera inside the knee so they can see to conduct the surgery.
Where I can receive a drug that keeps me free of pain…and another one that puts me to sleep for 30 minutes.
Where the surgery is done in such an expert manner that recovery time is essentially two days.
It wasn’t that long ago this would not have been possible. In some parts of the world it still isn’t. Despite healthcare’s expense I’m still glad I have access to it.
Value Your Network
Of course this goes without saying…always appreciate and value those around you who can help.
It’s often been said that your network is your net worth. In other words, the number of people in your network creates value for your life. There is great power in the number of connections in your circle.
Especially when you are down and out.
It’s encouraging to have people step up to drive you home from surgery, pick up kids from school or bring your family dinner. Even more comforting is to know that people are lifting you up in their thoughts and prayers.
Finally, I’ve realized that adjustments are coming in my immediate future.
I don’t know about you but I find it easy to stay in a rut. Keep doing a task one way just because it works. I mean, if it isn’t broke why fix it, right?
In some cases, it (the situation) is broke and we don’t realize it. In other cases like this one, we know the situation (my knee) is broke and needs to be repaired. I can’t continue to exercise the way I used to. If I want to move forward and run without these issues coming up again, my exercise regiment will have to change.
Generally speaking I’m a creature of habit. I like routines because they make me feel comfortable. But I’m also open to adjustments when the situation calls for it. In this case I’ll have to adjust…my future health depends on it.
Questions: Has a recent medical issue taught you something? Do you put off dealing with sickness or bodily pain as long as possible? How decisive are you? What about our healthcare system do you appreciate? Are there any adjustments you are making in your life right now that will eventually move you forward?