Competence breeds confidence: Why I’m comfortable with my surgery today

Competence breeds confidence: Why I’m comfortable with my surgery today July 27, 2015

Today, I go under the knife for a multi-hour surgery.

After several months of dragging an unwilling limb around, I’m having a hip replaced.  It’s really a new malady. In January, I visited the doctor because of a clicking in my hip. That was the beginning of a breakdown in the joint. Every week it has worsened; from a slight irritation to a limp to a now-constant pain. Apparently, I have lived with a certain dysplasia in my joint for all my life. The hip ball never quite fit right in the socket and thus degenerated earlier than normal.

It’s been of little comfort to talk to people who all relay stories of their grandmothers and grandfathers having the procedure done. I’m 52 and this unusable joint has made me feel prematurely old. But the stories of success have been encouraging nonetheless.

The whole situation has been made better because I have a surgeon that I trust. Dr. David Weiner has the seriousness of Marcus Welby and a self-assurance that translates into faith in him and the process.

You’re in good hands

Last week, after I signed paperwork that outlined all the risks, including death, he looked at me and said this, “You’re in good hands.” And I totally believed him because he shows that he knows what he is dong. I’ve never seen him in the surgical room, but the way he looked into my eyes, his explanation of my x-ray, and his probing questions made me a believer.

There’s something about people who know what they are doing. The mechanic who listens to a tick under the hood and knows just what to do; The plumber who expertly sticks a wand down the pipes and pulls out the blockage; The dentist who takes a whirling drill and expertly places it on the cavity; the secretary who knows exactly who I should talk to. Thank goodness for people who  take their work seriously. We all benefit from proficiency.

I’m thankful that I live in this age. Twenty years ago I would have been given a cane and some aspirin and a hearty, “good luck” from medical staff. Today, I’ll be the recipient of modern medical advances. They’ll enter the front of my leg and expertly remove my old hip, remove it (I don’t want to think about how it will be removed) and then insert a new ball and joint.

It will take three hours. I’m thankful that I’ll be under deep anesthesia, living in a world of obliviousness. I always grimace when I see old movies where the best anesthesia of the day was a bottle of whiskey and a stick to bite on.

It’s true that I’ll be placing a lot of trust in the doctors and nurses who are in charge of my care. Everyone must do their part for this to be successful. The instruments will have been sterilized to prevent infection. The anesthesiologist will  be watching my vitals. The attending nurse will be providing sponges and tools so the surgeon can concentrate. Even the custodian who cleaned the room has an important role

I have a son who works in a world-class emergency room. I have told him that if I ever need care, I hope he’s the one that is the one to receive me. He’s smart, passionate, and quick-thinking. He’s studied hard and risen to the upper echelons of his field – and he’s not even 30.

Through this process, I’ve learned that competence breeds confidence.

Excellence in what we do

I don’t save lives. I don’t keep the world running. But my job as a communications specialist and public information officer helps keep truth in the limelight. I help situations from running away from control. I help fix problems. I keep people out of trouble.

I want to be competent. I want to be worthy of my title and my pay. I want others to see me as an expert and knowledgeable. I don’t want to be a bureaucrat, someone just taking up a seat and passing everything off. Instead, I strive to be thorough, complete, and excellent in what I do.

Through this competence, I believe I give glory to my Lord, who asks nothing less of me, “in word or deed, do everything to the glory of God.”

It will take a few days for me to clear the fog of drugs and surgery, but I’m confident I’ll return to this space to give you a glowing report.

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