My Personal Recovery Story

The Surgery I Put Off for 7 Years

Don’t run from fear.

Frank McKinley
Jun 20, 2020 · 5 min read
Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Piron Guillaume on Unsplash

7 years ago, I fell off the back of my delivery truck.

I’m not sure how it happened. I was stacking boxes to deliver and lost my balance. I was about 4 feet above the pavement I hit.

A case of diced pears broke my fall.

Needless to say, I didn’t deliver that case. 2 of the 6 cans were totally crushed.

I got up, still numb from the fall. I stacked and delivered one more load.

Then I thought, “You know, I’m not sure I should keep doing this.”

I called my boss and told him what happened. He took me to the hospital. By then I had developed a massive bone bruise on my hip. I had to loosen my shorts because it swelled up like a giant dark purple balloon.

My skin felt like it was on fire.

I took a week off to recuperate and then went back to work.

A few months later…

If what I wrote so far didn’t gross you out, this might.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I was on vacation with my family. I noticed my right testicle was a bit larger than normal. I asked my wife, “You think I should get this checked?”

She said, “I don’t know.”

I entered my symptoms into Google.

Everything I read turned up cancer.

I didn’t have health insurance, so I scraped up all the money I could find. The first doctor looked at it and admitted he didn’t know what it was. Maybe a hernia. He referred me to an oncologist.

The oncologist came in and introduced me to his assistant. He turned off the light and pulled out a flashlight. He shined it on my scrotum and said, “You have a hydrocele. I will refer you to a urologist.”

So I make yet another appointment.

The urologist’s waiting room felt like a sports bar. There was a big screen TV on the wall. The walls were exposed brick. And they gave me a tablet to fill out the 10,000 questions I had to answer to establish my file.

When I got into my room, the urologist’s assistant poked and probed for what seemed like 100 years. She was cold and businesslike. I can’t remember if she ever looked me in the eye.

Then the urologist came in. He said, “We can drain this. But it will likely come right back.”

Okay, that rules that out, I thought.

“I guess I could go in and remove the sac.”

You guess? Really? I’m not sure I want you probing down there with a knife.

He scheduled me for an ultrasound.

The technician didn’t say hi. She just said. “I don’t want to see your penis. Make sure it’s covered the whole time we do this.”

I don’t want you seeing it either.

Ultrasounds come with slime. I think she used a barrel’s worth on me. I felt like I needed a shower afterward.

Gross.

“The doctor will have your results next week,” the friendly desk clerk told me.

I called the doctor to see if I could find out over the phone. I had already spent $1100 out of pocket and my wallet was empty.

“I’m sorry, we can’t give that out.”

“Listen,” I said. “I’m totally out of pocket here. I’m out of money. Isn’t there anything you can tell me?”

“Well, the doctor didn’t see anything emergent.”

No cancer.

Great. I’ll just learn to live with this then.

The pressure that never went away

Three weeks ago, my father-in-law was over. He’d had a hospital visit recently and was talking with my wife about a morbidly obese relative.

Something he said made my stomach tighten.

“I don’t have any respect for someone who has a health problem and doesn’t do anything about it.”

I nodded in agreement.

I had spent weeks trying to ignore how uncomfortable I was. After that, I just couldn’t do it anymore. I drove myself to the emergency room the next night.

I told the hospital staff what was going on. They did another ultrasound and referred me to another urologist.

The next Wednesday I was in his office.

“Let me see.”

I lowered my pants.

“Okay. That’s good. Here’s what we need to do. I’ll do surgery to remove the sac. The procedure takes about 30 minutes. You’ll be asleep and you’ll recover in about 2–3 weeks.”

Wow.

At least this time I had insurance.

The day finally arrives

I had three weeks to prepare myself mentally for surgery yesterday.

I went back and forth between fear and relief. I was afraid because of the unknown. I trusted my doctors, but still. I’ll be asleep and he’ll be doing stuff I really don’t want to know about. Relief, because this uncomfortable baggage would be gone forever.

All the medical personnel were super nice, which made the whole experience so much easier.

Since I was getting my health taken care of, I thought I’d go ahead and get my teeth cleaned and my hair cut, too.

I’m not out of the woods just yet, but I feel better about my life already.

What I learned

Last week as I was reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad, one of the Rich Dad’s lessons hit me hard.

“Don’t say ‘I can’t afford it.’ Instead ask ‘How can I afford it?’”

The difference is huge.

When you say you can’t, you shut off any possibility that you can. Does that mean you won’t be scared? Of course not. But as Tony Robbins says in Awaken the Giant Within, many of our problems come because we run from short term pain. If we would increase our tolerance for discomfort, we can achieve more than we ever thought possible.

And if we think in terms of how we can afford something, we give our brains permission to solve our problems.

So I took the lesser risk of getting something done. Sure, it’s a bit painful now. But in the long term, I won’t have to deal with the discomfort I chose any more. Soon I can do what my health wouldn’t allow me to do before. This one act will open doors that remained shut because I was too scared before to do what it took to open them.

Take care of yourself and make your dreams come true

If you have a health problem, please do whatever you can to make it better.

Pain is a teacher. It can make you better or bitter. It can move you or stop you. Which voice will you listen to?

I hope you let your pain reshape you into the best person you can be.

It may be calling you to take on your next mission.

Your story matters. Will you write one that redeems and restores what’s broken in this world?

You only get one life.

Make the most of it.

Publishous

How to be your best self.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store