Saturday, June 28, 2014

Why Pessimism Is Good For You

“The man who is a pessimist before 48 knows too much; if he is an optimist after it he knows too little.”
― Mark Twain

In the last installment I discussed my claustrophobia and having an MRI on my shoulder. I had reinjured a surgically repaired shoulder and noted that the doctor “thinks we might be able to avoid surgery or if we do have surgery he can just ‘scope’ it. “ Well, I had my follow up meeting with the doctor and he gives me the bad news. The MRI shows a significant tear (3cm) in the rotator cuff. It will require “open” surgery and we need to do it sooner rather than later. Seems that my tolerance for pain has worked against me. I injured the shoulder last September and thought it wasn’t that bad. Turns out I was wrong and now it’s almost too late to fix it. Not fixing it means that eventually the shoulder will lock up and just become a useless knot o f pain. The fact that I’m still working out, doing chores and playing golf is because I’m in good shape and have a high tolerance for pain (a trait which has been invaluable in both the trucking industry and headhunting.)

Once again I am reminded why optimism is way over-rated and expecting the worse nearly always makes sense. Had I expected the worse last year when I injured the shoulder, I would have gone to the doctor at that time. The repair would have been much easier and more likely to have a successful outcome. I would have also avoided months of pain and anxiety about what’s really wrong with my shoulder. Had I expected the worse when I finally went to the doctor, I would not have been so disappointed when he told me about the surgery requirement.

I am convinced that being a pessimist in the best and safest path to take in this life. Every time I try to be positive, reality kicks me in the balls. So I’m having another shoulder surgery on July 2. If I live through it and don’t get an infection I will be happy. I expect a lot of pain, weeks of torturous rehab and, at best, a weak and stiff shoulder when it’s all said and done. Anything better will be a bonus and exceed my wildest expectations. Now prepared for the worst, I can relax.

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