Daily Herald: Recovery Techniques

When Naperville pastor Glen Wagner recovered from knee-replacement surgery last fall without pain medications, he thought he was doing it to avoid the risk of dependence or abuse.

Turns out he’s now using the techniques he learned for another purpose: coping with the stress caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“All those tools I used to get through knee surgery, I am using every day,” he said. “Working through the surgery and the pain management gave me some different emotional management, mindset management tools that are helping me everywhere.”

Wagner, 62, of Bolingbrook, is outspoken within the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church congregation about his struggles with depression, anxiety and addiction. So he knew when he researched knee surgery options that using narcotics to manage post-surgical pain was not an option.

“I cannot put that stuff in my body or I will be addicted,” he said.

Wagner also knew he wanted to get back into peak athletic form. He has a long-term goal to be the oldest man to complete an Ironman, the length of triathlon known for its grueling distances of 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of biking and an entire marathon — 26.2 miles — of running. Wagner has competed in triathlons and other races off and on since his 30s.

The oldest man who has finished an Ironman is 85. The fact Wagner is a solid two decades younger is part of “the power of that motivation,” he says.

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