Blog Header Image

Adrian Murley


October 7, 2023

Overcoming Surgery: The Hard Path to Recovery

Overcoming Surgery: The Hard Path to Recovery

As I approach 55 years old, I realise that I am not quite as young and fearless as I used to be. However, I still had that lingering sense of invincibility... until March 2022 when everything changed.

Let's rewind to 2018. This was when I first noticed blood in my urine. Living in Bali at the time, I couldn't help but wonder what I could have been exposed to. After seeing a doctor, I was diagnosed with a urinary infection which led to elevated PSA levels. Antibiotics were prescribed, and I was back to my normal routine...or so I thought.

A few months later, during a family visit to Australia, I decided to see my local GP to check on my health. To our surprise, my PSA levels were still elevated, not enough to cause alarm but concerning enough for my GP to request another test in six months.

During the Christmas holidays, I returned to Australia and took a second blood test. Unfortunately, the results showed that my PSA level had increased instead of decreasing. This led to a biopsy to investigate the possibility of prostate cancer. Certainly not something I had in mind or even thought about.

Over the next few years, I underwent two biopsies with both coming back clear, but my PSA readings remained high. I also began experiencing pain in my backside, which eventually led to an emergency hospital visit in February 2022. After visiting a doctor, it was determined that the pain was unrelated to my prostate but was instead caused by diverticulitis, an infection of the bowel. A week of antibiotics via drip in the hospital followed by oral antibiotics at home was supposed to be enough to treat the condition and generally how this is fixed.

After four weeks with no improvement, I found myself back in the emergency room on a Wednesday night. I was admitted and scheduled for surgery that coming Saturday. Suddenly things were moving with much more urgency and becoming a little concerning.

The procedure ended up being more complicated than expected; the surgeons discovered a golf ball-sized infection during the 6-7 hour operation which was a surprise to them as well. This now had become something much more serious than anyone had thought.

Upon waking up, I was on multiple pain medications, my lower stomach was stapled together, and a stoma bag hung from the lower right side of my abdomen. Things were not looking good, and I realised then I was not invincible and life is fragile. The pain was excruciating, and I could hardly move.

The process of healing and managing the pain was overwhelming. Adding to that, the burden of carrying and changing "this bag" changed my life completely. Everything I had worked hard for over the last six years was taken away, and my body was slowly losing all the progress I had made. My mental state was also affected, as I was unable to perform to the best of my abilities. Even after I was able to start working out, there were limitations and restrictions.

I'm sitting here today, having recently undergone the reversal surgery to remove the bag, and it's surreal to think about the difficult road I've had to travel.

These past 18 months have been the most challenging of my life, and despite the progress I've made, I still feel like I have a long way to go. My strength is surprisingly good, but I have to be careful to avoid any risk of hernia. Unfortunately, my cardio is still a work in progress.

On a brighter note, amidst all of this, I managed to purchase CrossFit Iron Bear – a story in and of itself – and I can't help but feel that the grace of God is the only reason we made it through this trying time.

Reflecting on my experiences, I've come to recognise the following lessons:

  • Gratitude is key - We don't take time to be thankful for what we have. We take so much for granted. This experience, as much as I didn't enjoy it, refocused me on the good things I have around me. Not just to see them but to be grateful for them.
  • I'm not invincible - Seems like something you should be aware of the older you get. Obviously not.
  • Life is both precious and delicate - It's an amazing gift; life. But it's something so delicate. One day you have it and the next day it can be ripped away from you.
  • Mental health should never be overlooked - I didn't realise how much being active in CrossFit and working out nearly every day contributes so positively to your mental health. We need these things in our lives to help our state of mental health
  • Encouragement is invaluable - A kind word, a smile, a pat on the back. Such small things but given with sincerity can make a world of difference in someone's life. Take a moment today to encourage someone in your world.
  • An effective and supportive team is critical - I couldn't have kept the business running if it wasn't for my amazing team of coaches. Every day, every week they kept the place running, giving their time to our members. They were the glue that kept it all together.

So let me encourage you today with whatever battles you are facing. It's not over. You may have been knocked down but do whatever it takes to stand back up. That's going to be a challenge but it's one worth taking on as you will rise stronger and more resilient on the other side. Gather those who are important in you world around you and ask them to walk the journey with you. Don't keep it all inside. Reach out for help. It isn't failure but the beginning of the path to recovery.


Continue reading