No man is an island. ~ John Donne

The One Word That Changed My Life

Two weeks ago I had an emergency appendectomy. In the moment it all seemed routine. We dropped something off to a friend before going to the hospital. Once there, everything happened with beautifully choreographed efficiency. The first incision was made four and a half hours after we arrived. No miracle here – just ordinary healthcare, right?

But lying in the hospital while waiting to be discharged, I realized it is not overly dramatic to be grateful for being alive.

  1. Surgery by contemporary standards dates from 1867 when British surgeon Joseph Lister published an article extolling the virtues of cleanliness. X-rays are only about 120 years old. Antibiotics have been around for less than a century, laparoscopic surgery less than half that. Without the first three, my chances for survival would have been low. The last one reduced my hospital stay to 24 hours.
  2. Had it been up to me, I would not have gone to the hospital. My stomach was hurting, but I was prepared to tough it out. Thank goodness my wife Hannah is a registered nurse and knew better. I felt too awful to put up my usual argument. Left to my own devices my appendix would probably have had to rupture before I sought help.
  3. I overheard a conversation between my wife and the discharge nurse who said as he cut me, the surgeon noted my lack of belly fat. Evidently, my physical condition was crucial to my high tolerance for the surgery, lack of post-operative pain, and rapid recovery. I was unable to engage with my family and work for only two days.

Remove any of these three factors and I am, at best much sicker, and, at worst dead.

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This time last year I was nearing the end of four months of recovery from the debilitating effects of an acute back problem compounded by a severe reaction to medication. (See Lessons from Taking Lyrica). I lost out on or had reduced productivity for one-third of a year. My daughter’s favorite holiday, Chanukah, was not much of a celebration. I had been trying to live a balanced, resilient life. Therein was the problem. I should have lived it instead of trying to do so.

I committed to living intentionally. Period.

  1. In the near future, I will be releasing my first product. It is a tool I used to determine what a balanced life means to me, identify my areas of weakness, and set goals to strengthen them. Then I developed a plan. I have not conquered my challenges, but this latest episode demonstrated I am on the right track. I reduced the time I could not pursue the life my family and I want by 6000%!
  2. Strengthening my marriage is my number one priority. Forming an enduring connection with my daughter ranks a close second. Not far behind that is my commitment to continue building friendships and business relationships, both existing and new. Donne’s words carry more weight for me today than ever before. The quote above to be sure, but the end of his poem too:

And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; 
It tolls for thee.

Is my life actually balanced? On a day-to-day basis? No. In the longer horizon. Yes. Am I resilient? You be the judge. I intended to title this piece Success Is Not Always Moving Forward because I felt fortunate not to have lost the ground I did last year. Now I see that I have vaulted forward.

It all came from one decision. When I asked myself are you #LivingIntentionally? A year ago I answered:


Are you living a balanced, resilient life? If not, when will you commit to doing so?

You can leave a comment on this question or ask another question below

© , Kevin S. Bemel, All Rights Reserved

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some links in the above post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guide Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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