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5 Lessons I Learned From My Recent Surgery

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.


MRI of my right knee. The meniscus can be seen in the black triangle spots between the bones.

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.

Appreciate Healthcare

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.

Make Adjustments

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?

Next Post: 3 Reasons a Good Name Is Better Than Riches (Proverbs 22:1)

Prior Post: Is Investing in Collectibles Like Valuable Baseball Cards Worth It?

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  1. Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank says

    That’s a relief, Brian. What I learned from my recent surgery is that I found out who my true friends are. And, I also learned the importance of maximizing my health benefits and life insurance. It was my first time to use it so I definitely learned something valuable.

  2. I used to put off dealing with sickness as long as possible. I also used to put off the things I could do to positively affect my own health. The end result was a hospital stay last year when I could barely breathe, barely walk around, and they wanted to do another procedure on my heart. Since then I’ve made the decision to address my health head-on. I go to the doctors, follow their instructions, eat better, and exercise. But just like any other goal, there are days when my progress is better than others, and it requires a whole lot of small steps to add up to big changes. Glad to hear your surgery was a success and that you were able to take away some valuable insights.

  3. You make a great point that problems usually don’t resolve themselves of their own accord. I’ve come to realize that it’s much better for me to face stuff head on rather than just hope it’ll fade away.

    I also agree with you on having gratitude for healthcare. We’re so fortunate to have access to such incredible medical treatments in this country. I’m grateful all the time!

    Glad to hear the surgery was a success and I hope you’re mending well.

  4. Hope you start mending soon. “In some cases, it (the situation) is broke and we don’t realize it.” Ain’t that the truth! 🙂 Any medical issues teach me how much to appreciate good health. When I had frozen shoulder issues, I felt I took for granted just how being pain-free is wonderful. Now that they are better I remind myself of that.

    • “…remind myself [of being pain free]…” I need to take that approach going forward Tonya. Like it or not I’m not 20 anymore and the body is going to be more prone to break down and not heal itself. I can’t let issues linger like I did this one.

  5. I have to be more decisive. I haven’t had a full physical in over two years and I keep telling myself, “I have to get myself checked out” but never actually go. My main problem is that I no longer have a doctor, but that shouldn’t be a problem because there are thousands of doctors that I can go to. I just have to make that call.

    • Being lazy to go is no excuse but it is easy to talk ourselves into not going. Especially when nothing appears to be wrong with our health. So easy to rationalize a bad decision in that situation. Been there many times myself.

  6. My wife at to make a trip to the ER and have her gallbladder removed 2 weeks ago. So I”m thankful for our healthcare system and the advanced of technology used. This was a rather routine procedure and she was back on her feet in a few days. We are luck enough to have healthcare coverage from both employer’s, so if any of our family members are not feeling right we get it check out.

    • I agree Brian…it’s great to have healthcare options. I really think we discount how good we have it. A trip overseas to a third world country might open our eyes.

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