A theological note on the subject of "identity" has been brewing for some time, so this is your opportunity to run screaming if these things bother you. It was actually sparked by a sermon some weeks ago and nurtured by my own experiences and those of others I have heard about.
A couple of weeks ago I was googling for some information about recovery times from surgery and ran across some really upsetting stories.
In one case a man was pretty sure he might have prostate cancer because of a high PSA value, but he refused to do anything about it because he was about to get married and was concerned about the impact on his sexual function. He was a physician, who you would expect to know better. After some time went on his wife convinced him to get more testing done, he had cancer, he had surgery, it was late enough that it had already spread, and he died five years after they were married.
I have read other similar stories about guys who told their wives that they would rather die than have their cancer treated because of the impact on their romantic lives.
In another really bizarre story, a wife understood her husband's concern, so on the same day as his surgery she proceeded to get in the hospital bed with him and to have as much sex as they could have post-surgery with a catheter in place, just to express to him that she still found him desirable.
This wasn't really my specific concern, but the area of identity is something I struggled with and continue to struggle with to some extent. I still don't have as much "energy" as I had, and sometimes I still hurt. I get up too quickly out of a car and the blood rushes from my brain and I have to steady myself. I'm still careful about picking things up for multiple reasons.
Many of the things I used to define myself by are not what they once were. I can't do as much physical work yet, and I can't ride my motorcycle as much as I used to. I'm not as mentally focused as I was before.
All of these things contributed to helping me realize that I tend to base my identity on the wrong things. My identity was wrapped up in how physically active I was and how much of a contributor I was at work. Riding a motorcycle was a large part of my identity. In short, all things that could be taken away at a moments' notice.
A much healthier place for my identity would be based on my relationship with God, because ultimately that is the thing that matters most. It's where real happiness in this life and the life to come will be found. Faith teaches us the things we need to know in order to be in harmony with the world we live in, how to get along with others, and what our place in the natural world is. It's not just about what happens when we die. It's about how to live and be happy with those around us. It teaches us that, in the grand scheme of things, our short-term happiness is not the most important thing, and that striving to live in harmony with our Creator is more important to our long-term happiness than how much we can carry, whether we can have sex in a satisfactory way with our wife, or whether we leak a little urine when we sneeze.
Whether we like it or not, we are all getting older and the level of control we have over events is diminishing. Our bodies do less and less of what we tell them to do. We are probably getting less and less important to our children if they are over 12. Our hair is falling out, our upper bodies are getting smaller, and our lower bodies are getting bigger, whether we like it or not. We're getting cancer and other diseases whether we like it or not.
God loves us anyway. Get used to it, and learn to find peace and fulfillment in that, because, in the end, that's all we will have left.