As my mother valiantly battled stage-four lung cancer, she half-jokingly told her doctors that she was the healthiest sick person they’d ever met. She wasn’t wrong. Other than the aggressive cancer that had spread from her lung to her brain, Mom had rarely, if ever, been ill. With the exception of a broken nose sustained in a car accident, she had been injury-free and remarkably healthy for most of her life.

Travis Naughton

I, too, have been fortunate in that regard. Aside from occasional issues with allergies, asthma, and joint pain, I have enjoyed relatively good health overall. Despite the daredevil stunts I performed on my bike as a child, I managed to not break any bones. All of the body parts I was born with, including my tonsils and appendix, are still present and accounted for. My most recent hospital stay occurred over 47 years ago—when I was born.

Oh, I’ve had a sprain here or there and more scrapes and bruises than I could count, but nothing serious enough to require stitches, much less surgery. But alas, my good luck seems to have finally run out. On August 16, I will undergo my first-ever surgical procedure.

You may recall reading a column about oversharing that I wrote a while back in which I mentioned a worrisome pain emanating from my nether region. I had been hoping that the intense discomfort would magically go away on its own, but unsurprisingly, it has not.

My symptoms, and my online research, made me suspect that I have been suffering from an inguinal hernia, but after a careful examination, my surgeon offered an unexpected diagnosis. She believes that I have TWO inguinal hernias.

I won’t go into detail describing what an inguinal hernia is specifically, (you can google it if you are into that sort of thing), but if you want to know what it feels like, just imagine being kicked in the groin dozens of times per day for weeks and weeks on end. Fun!

Not fun. Not fun at all.

While I look forward to being pain-free soon, I am not ashamed to admit that I am nervous about having surgery. Even though the procedure is relatively routine, cutting open a living, breathing human being is still a risky endeavor. Thankfully, I will be completely unconscious throughout the operation, and if all goes well, I will be back on my feet later the same day.

I will not be able to lift, push, pull, or carry anything heavier than 20 pounds for six weeks following surgery. This means that someone else in my family will have to learn how to operate our decrepit lawn mower and weed trimmer. Our “lawn” is really just a swath of woods surrounding our house with weeds growing wherever sunlight can reach the forest floor, and whoever takes over for me will have to figure out how to safely navigate the pitfalls of a yard that is riddled with hidden rocks, stumps, slopes, holes, and other hazards.

Letting someone else take over the landscaping duties means that I have to give up control of the situation. The same is true with having surgery. In both cases, things will be completely out of my hands, and if something goes wrong, someone could get hurt.

Ernest Hemingway said, “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” There are times in life where we just have to let go and trust the people around us to do what needs to be done. For those of us who may be “control freaks”, that’s easier said than done.

While I’m not looking forward to going under the knife, I am looking forward to being pain-free again. I’ve been very careful about avoiding any strenuous activities this summer and have had to pass up rare opportunities such as zip-lining in Mexico and mountain-biking in Colorado. But as much as I would like to hurry up and get this whole hernia thing over with, I’ve decided to wait until after our family’s last big adventure of the summer—a camping trip in Michigan next week—to have surgery.

With Alex going off to college shortly after we get back, Tiana starting high school, Truman continuing in middle school, me teaching at the primary school, and Bethany working at the hospital, opportunities for all five of us to be together will be few and far between. It will be worth a few more weeks of pain to have that quality time with my family.

At least that’s what I keep telling myself whenever that invisible kickboxer goes to work on my punching bag.