Moral Issue - Surgery


Hello everyone,

Firstly I’d like to apologize as I only ever post/look on this forum for help and never offer my help.

The dilemma I’m facing at the moment is the moral side of getting surgery. Basically since I was in my teens I’ve had unstable shoulder where they would randomly sublux (Partially dislocate). I’ve never really let this bother me and joined the Army with no real troubles. As time went on my they started to cause me more trouble, with the frequency of subluxions increasing. During a physically demanding course my shoulder caused me a bit of trouble however I took advantage of this to make my life easier physically speaking. After the course I saw the doctor and got an MRI which showed my shoulder was torn. I told the doc I didn’t want surgery a this point in time as I wanted to go overseas with the unit. Whilst there I again took advantage of my shoulder to once again make my life easier, in doing this I ended up seeing the doc and was told that I need surgery and that I was to get it there or back home. I decided to get it there and now my shoulder feels great.

After returning home my other shoulder gave out quite bad and following that I noticed it would grind and ‘Catch’. This got me thinking about seeing the doc, however didn’t take it too seriously. I then found out what work had install for us this year and with my head no longer in the game I immediately looked for a way out…My shoulder. So I saw the doc, got the MRI and once again it showed a tear. I was told that surgery isn’t a requirement, however if I wanted to stop it from popping out and make it more stable then surgery would be needed. Now this is where the moral side of things comes into play. My shoulder is damaged and does cause me troubles, however I’am able to live with this, it’s not ideal, but achievable. So in this sense, surgery seems like the way to go. However, I can’t help but feel like I’m doing something wrong as my main motive for getting surgery now is to get away from work. Yes I want to get it fixed but my main motive is time off work.

Whilst tossing up what to do I was moving my shoulder around and manipulating it causing it to crack, grind etc to ‘Prove’ to myself it was damaged, however looking back on it I feel like part of the reason why I did that was to aggravate the shoulder. I’m not sure. However now I feel like if I get the surgery, due to my motive and past actions, I’m sinning. But at the same time if I don’t get surgery it’s not going to get fixed and is going to continue to cause me problems, yes I can live with that, but it’s not ideal. At the same time I know I’m going to need it at some point in time, but I’m just not sure what to do?

Thanks for hearing me out and sorry for the life story.


I don’t understand you think your soul is in danger because you are getting your body fixed and you get time off? I wish I had your problems with sin…


You’re being a bit over-scrupulous. Get your shoulder fixed.


You don’t have to feel guilty about getting time off when you are recovering from surgery. It’s not a sin to be happy that you’re not at work. If you have other scrupulous tendencies, you should discuss them with a priest in confession.


I hear what you are all saying. However if work was good, aka I was enjoying it etc. I probably wouldn’t be getting the surgery, I probably wouldn’t have even bothered to see the doc and just continued on as I’d been doing. However the main thing that prompted me to see the doc and go down this path was the fact I’m not enjoying work and want so time away.

Thanks and God Bless


So maybe you need some time away from work to think about whether you want to continue in your present job or perhaps look for something better. Even if you didn’t have the bad shoulder, this might be a good idea. The fact you have a shoulder problem gives you even more reason to take some time off.


I understand: you don’t like your job; you need some time off. I still say those things don’t matter. You still need the surgery. It sounds like you’ve put it off much too long.


Sometimes there are two reasons for wanting the one thing. There is no reason not to take time off work for what is actually needed in the way of surgery, whilst having a bit of R and R. No sin there. A good rest might be just the thing for a mental moratorium which we all need from time to time. Don’t be to hard on yourself. Get what is necessary so that your shoulders don’t deteriorate further to cause real issues to personal or work life.


You are behaving like an idiot! Two or three times now God has sent you competent advisers to tell you to get medical intervention for a crippling and deteriorating condition. The scripture (Sirach) tells us that the wisdom of the physician is also from God. It tells us to heed the doctor and take the medication (in this case surgery) he prescribes.
Now stop making excuses and get off your butt and make an appointment to see the surgeon and have that shoulder looked after.


Get your shoulder fixed and then apply proper effort to your job within your physical capability.


There’s no moral problem here. It’s not like you made up a fake condition and found a fake surgeon to sign the time off not for work. This is a REAL medical problem, which may just get worse and worse over time and you have had more than one legitimate recommendation to get surgery. There’s no shame in being happy about the time off. It may be just what you need to help you with your work stresses as well.

Mental stress is a real thing, and your mental stresses may have driven you to find a solution (time off to rest) that also coincides with a physical need (shoulder surgery). Your mental stress and need for a break from work may be a sign that it’s a good time to get that shoulder surgery you have been putting off.


It sounds like you are/were in the military? Are you still? I am sure your MD took this into account but I wanted to propose a question or two. Are you able to perform your job without problems? Would you endanger another person in your unit if your shoulder were to “act up”? You would have a moral responsibility to ensure that your physical “issue” would not cause danger to anyone else by preventing you from performing whatever your job duties may require.

Just a thought.


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