The free man is he who does not fear to go to the end of his thought. (Leon Blum)
I made a major life announcement on Twitter yesterday – one big enough that I thought it was worth blogging to expand on it, and how it’s making me feel and what it means for my future.
I’ve decided that I won’t be pursuing a fourth orthopedic surgery, or any future medical procedures unless they’re absolutely necessary. Almost six years later, I’m walking away from the process of recovery, in favor of pursuing the rest of my life.
The truth is, I’m probably not going to get any better. I haven’t gotten much better for a while now. I’ve kept pushing, and kept going to doctor’s appointments, not wanting to accept that. And I just spent three months ducking a check-up because I knew my surgeon would insist on a surgery that I cannot mentally, emotionally or literally afford.
It’s time for me to own the reality and get back to what’s best for me.
The breaking point for me came this week. I had an opportunity to travel to Indianapolis and Detroit with the Verizon IndyCar Series – a huge job offer plus a chance to hopefully see one of my oldest friends. And I hesitated, because I said, “Well, if I go in and I have to have this surgery, I won’t be well enough to travel.”
Then I just thought, what the hell am I talking about?
I keep giving things up because I’m living my life four to six months at a time, always worried that there’s going to be something medical that’s going to come up. I feel like I’m always putting off my friends, because they always ask how I’m doing and I have to tell them I’m only good for the next few months. And especially when all these trips aren’t adding up to anything, why keep us all worrying? Why not just move on?
This is me moving on.
What it isn’t is me giving up the fight. I’m going to keep fighting every day, I’m just not going to do it in the doctor’s office or on the operating table. And if that means that someday, whether it’s in a few months or a few years, my condition deteriorates and we’re back here again so be it. But I’m done with playing defense.
I made the original decision to have my second surgery out of fear. I didn’t want to be back in that wheelchair. And I’ve been living in fear since, afraid to look too far ahead because I never knew what the next doctor’s appointment would mean. Afraid of being forced into what would be a fourth surgery. I shouldn’t be living my life like that.
Especially when it puts at risk everything that I love. The reality is that if I were to have a fourth surgery, I would be putting my career and by extension all the relationships I have built on the table. At a minimum, I’d be out six months and my business is so competitive that I don’t know what might be left when I come back. And I have too many people I care about that I don’t want to disappear on them like that. My friends to me are worth any harm that might come my way.
I was reminded of that tonight, standing next to my friend Patrick after his new play and just telling myself, here’s someone that I admire so much as a talent and as a human being, and he’s here with me. He’s happy that I showed up to support him. I’ve made a positive impact in his life, and he has done the same in mine. And I’m going to miss out on that to have some surgical procedure that may or may not ever help me? Why would I do that?
This is a big step for me, to say I’m willing to put my health second and just go for it, even if it means I end up back in that place I’ve been running from my whole life. It’s huge to say I’m over that fear of hospitals and I’m just going to kick in the door. Maybe at this point it’s not big to anyone else – I was surprised that Patrick was one of only two people to say anything after I made the announcement yesterday morning – but after six years it’s time to admit I’m broken. That I’m not going to get the future I was promised. And to say I don’t care anymore and I’ve got better things to do.
Because my future is out there and for the first time in my life, ever, I’m going to go out there and take what’s mine.