Photo: Dr. Lucian Newman (right) performing laparoscopic colon resection surgery.
We have roughly 28,000 days to live, and so we must strive to make the most of every day—extra time, extra effort, extra joy. Through the course of those 28,000 days, we are all bound to experience adversity, accidents, illnesses, and how we respond to them is how we build our character.
I was born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1961 and contracted Guillain-Barre, a rare disorder that causes paralysis. As a child, I wore leg braces, not unlike those Forrest Gump wore in the movie, but which I threw away by the time I got to first grade—they got in the way of playing football.
Later on, I suffered a gunshot wound while hunting and lost my left arm as a result. Losing my arm hasn’t stopped me, however, from doing the things I love: playing golf and football, skiing, practicing surgery, and eking out that extra joy from my life. In fact, there is great joy in doing the things people say you can’t.
My specialty within surgery is minimally invasive procedures, which mitigated the disturbance in my career. I generally only hold the camera with my left hand. Prior to my accident I had operated and spoken about laparoscopic techniques in 22 countries. More importantly, overcoming this adversity has taught me how to be thankful for what I have, not to be regretful for the things I don’t. That’s a message I try to share with everyone I encounter in every walk of life. And it’s part of why I’m passionate about protecting physicians by offering meaningful education and solutions to help them find extra time in every day. A few years ago, I had the great honor of sharing all of this and more at a Tedx Talk at Rush University, and I look forward to exploring further over the coming weeks and months here.
Dr. Lucian Newman has conquered some of life’s most pressing challenges—and along the way, he has learned important lessons. He shares with us how he finds extra time, effort, and joy in life and work in his new blog series, The Joy of Doing what Others Say You Can’t.