A friend of mine was recently telling me about a medical condition she had, which was not cancerous or life-threatening, but which her doctor still wanted to operate on. She had decided that she would let it be as long as it remained elective. I am sure that many would have told her that she should go ahead with the surgery just in case, that her health had to come first. But I couldn't have agreed with her more.
I have had two surgeries in the last fifteen years. One of these was absolutely necessary if I wanted to avoid either bleeding to death or dying of gangrene. That one I have no regrets about, except in so far as it was my own carelessness that made it needful. The second is more complicated. I was injured at work because of the negligence of others. I suffered nerve damage, which caused persistent numbness in my left shoulder and parts of my left arm, sometimes all the way down to my hand. It also resulted in frequent low level pain in my neck. Movement and strength were not affected, however.
After ten months of tests and various attempts to fix the problem without surgery, it became clear that only surgery would keep the nerve damage from continuing to get worse. So I chose to have the surgery. It's now been seven months since the surgery. My shoulder is just as numb as it was before and I have much more frequent pain and cramping in my neck and shoulder.
But it doesn't end there. Oh, far from it. I can't discuss the rest, however. And believe me I would love to rant about some of the things I have experienced as the result of choosing to put my health first. What I will say is that having this surgery, which wasn't necessary to keep me alive, was an enormous mistake. It has had consequences for my life and career that have left me angry and depressed much of the time, though I am taking steps to address these difficulties. There are moments I feel like it has ruined my life. But that is self-pity.
Nothing that my injury could have done to me would have made me feel this way. Nothing. Claiming that the health of the body is the most important thing is a very limited point of view, a very unimaginative point of view.