“Sifu Anthony, do you think I should get knee surgery?”
I’m not a doctor, and I don’t even play one on TV. But students often ask for my opinion on this subject.
Probably because the Kung Fu tradition (which includes Qigong and Tai Chi) contains a lot of wisdom. And in the 21st century, I think that this kind of ancient wisdom is precisely what we sometimes need to hear.
For example, Kung Fu wisdom can help you defend yourself when a masked madman is planning to knock you out and then cut you open with a razor-sharp knife.
Just kidding. Surgeons aren’t masked madmen. I was going for dramatic effect. And before you send me an angry email (seriously, people do this all the time, usually because of one of my bad jokes), I’d like to point out that a surgeon saved my wife’s life. So there.
Is Surgery A Waste Of Time?
Sometimes, surgery is not only necessary, but amazingly effective.
And sometimes, it’s a complete waste of time.
For example, there’s some research that suggests that common knee surgeries do nothing for patients. People receiving fake surgeries recover just as quickly as those receiving real surgery.
In other words, thousands of people have been receiving unnecessary surgery for years. Meanwhile, when you give patients a strong placebo (i.e. fake surgery), the patient can heal herself on her own.
If you’ve read my free ebook, then you won’t dismiss the placebo effect the way that some people do. Instead, you’ll recognize that the placebo effect is actually concrete, scientific proof of the healing power of the mind. When we harness that power (like we do with Qigong and Tai Chi), then the body is often capable of healing itself. Click here to read more about what we can and can’t heal.
That’s why students ask for my opinion — because they have experienced for themselves the amazing healing power of Kung Fu, Qigong, and Tai Chi, and they want to know whether it can help them to avoid surgery.
Kung Fu Wisdom vs. Surgery
I always give the same advice to students when they ask me about surgery. Here is what Kung Fu wisdom says on the subject:
- Ask your doctor how long you can responsibly postpone surgery. Make sure that he or she answers the question directly, and don’t accept an answer like ‘as soon as possible’. You want an answer that includes a specific number of weeks or months.
- If the doctor says something like, “next week,” then you’ve probably got your answer (although I recommend getting a 2nd, and even a 3rd opinion). In this case, the answer is yes, you need surgery.
- But if the doctor says something like, “Well, I don’t see why you couldn’t postpone it for 3 months,” then BAM! You’ve got 3 months!
If you get a 3-month window like this, then you’ve got a wonderful opportunity staring you in the face. You’ve got 3 months to throw some serious Kung Fu (but especially Qigong) at the problem. (If you don’t already know Qigong, then you can learn an exercise for free by clicking here.)
When people have a clear goal (avoid surgery), a clear deadline (3 months), and a clear method (Qigong) — that’s when the real magic happens, and not just in Qigong, but in life.
The Kitchen Sink
Here’s a secret that successful people already know: When you’re working toward an important goal, throw everything plus the kitchen sink at it.
In other words, if you are determined to make the most of your 3-month healing window, then you’ll do everything in your power to promote healing. Here are some things that you can do to promote the healing process.
- Practice Qigong twice daily. This is your main healing method, and you need a high dosage. Click here to read my article about the correct dosage of Qigong.
- Get enough sleep. Most Americans are sleep deprived. And you’re probably one of them. When you’ve got something that needs healing, then you need to sleep more than normal. So it’s okay to sleep for 9 hours. Or 12. And no, I’m not joking. If you’re serious about healing, then 12 hours of sleep is a small price to pay.
- Get some acupuncture. The synergy between acupuncture and Qigong is amazing. They are both branches of Chinese medicine, so they complement each other wonderfully. If you live near Gainesville, then it’s a no-brainer to go see my wife because she’s awesome (and because we work well as a team). If you’re not in Gainesville, then find an acupuncture physician. (MDs, chiropractors, and physical therapists sometimes offer acupuncture, but they typically only have 100 hours of training in the art, as opposed to 3000+ hours of training for acupuncture physicians. So there’s no comparison in skill levels there.)
- Get chiropractic. It’s worth taking the time to find a good chiropractor. Why? Because your spine innervates every organ system in your body. If your spine is blocked energetically, then it’s going to affect your healing. If you live in Gainesville, then I can save you some time and recommend this place here.
- Get massage. Find a good, licensed massage therapist. Not spa massage! That’s just the feel-good stuff. You want therapeutic massage. There are many different kinds of massage, so do some searching. If live in Gainesville, we have two amazing massage therapists at our center. For the rest of you, ask around. There’s nothing like the power of word-of-mouth.
- Drink water. Most Americans are chronically dehydrated. You need water to heal. Drink up.
- Get fresh air and sunshine. Seriously. This matters, and will help your body to heal faster.
- Eat better. Less processed foods, and more of the good, fresh stuff. And less sugar because it promotes inflammation.
3 Months Later…
Now let’s imagine that 3 months have passed, and you’ve done everything you can to help your body heal. Time to go back for another diagnostic. (They’ll have to do one before doing the surgery anyway.) After the MRI or X-ray or whatever, ask the doctor the same question that you asked her 3 months ago:
“How long can I responsibly postpone the surgery?”
Here’s the fun part. It’s highly likely that the doctor will say something like this:
“Interesting. Your condition seems to have stabilized. I don’t see why we can’t postpone for another 3 months.”
Woohoo! You just bought yourself another 3-month healing window.
Do you see where we are going with this? Just rinse and repeat!
I’ve watched students repeat this 3-month process several times with their doctors. Eventually, it became clear that the surgery was unnecessary. So in the end, it was the doctor herself who said, “You no longer need surgery.”
Here’s the best thing about this bit of Kung Fu wisdom — even doctors can’t complain about it because we are using their own diagnostic method, their own medical advice, and also because we’re doing no harm. I’ve actually gotten feedback from a few surgeons (via their patients) who said something like: “That’s really reasonable advice. A Kung Fu teacher said that?”
Yes, grasshopper. A Kung Fu teacher said that.