Friday, October 15, 2010

Decisions We Cannot Undo

When I worked as the director of patient services for a facial pain organization, it was not unusual to receive a phone call, an email, or to talk face to face with an individual who regretted having a procedure.  The discontent was usually directed at two people: the physician or health care practitioner who performed the deed and at the person who underwent the treatment.

It's so easy to blame one's self, to want to go back and undo it. People often torment themselves with wondering why they made the decision.

Let yourself off the hook. Consider this:

* You were taking action to improve your situation.

* You were in terrible pain and made a decision that seemed sound.

* You underwent an approved procedure.

Other considerations are possible. Maybe you spoke to someone at a facial pain organization or someone who had the same procedure and got better. Perhaps you are responsible for someone else's care and did what you could in hopes of being able to help others. Maybe you felt as though you could not continue to endure the pain.

If we saw someone enduring terrible pain, we would expect them to do something to try to relieve it. That's what you did. You're not guilty, not foolish, not rash. When we look at numbers, it can be difficult to measure the success of a procedure. Even if only one percent of treatments have side effects, what if we are the one?

We think positively, moving ahead with the course of action. We want to function again, to have a life, a career, and to be productive. But if things go wrong, it's difficult to continue to "think on the bright side of life." But thinking in a positive manner continues to be a powerful tool, regardless of the extent of suffering. Most of us with facial conditions have walked through some dark places, times when positive thoughts eluded us. We've got to move ahead, find hope again.

Whatever went wrong, it's not your fault. Accepting that will help you deal with circumstances that surround your decision, circumstances such as Anesthesia Dolorosa, increased pain, or numbness. It also means letting go of anger and bitterness that arises with the practitioner and possibly the fact that we have paid that person for a procedure that didn't help us.

We've done the best we can do. 

I've never had a procedure for facial pain, but I had one for my jaw. The procedure, including travel and lodging, was about $25,000 out of pocket. And my jaw got worse. Much worse. It's not easy to deal with, and it gives me insight into regret. I had more than one opinion about my jaw, and I saw the best of the best. Maybe I'll blog more about it at another time.

We want pain to go away. It's even more important to "get rid of it" when those around us don't understand it's severity. Being angry with one's self can cause depression, frustration, and lack of confidence. Forgive yourself.

Just a shout-out: I want to thank the Lord for helping me through trigeminal neuralgia. 

Have you visited my website?


  1. I am considering brain surgery. It sounded like just the answer then I read about someone that had the surgery and is now deaf and blind and the pain didn't go away! My husband knows a woman that did the surgery and it didn't work for her either. Now I don't know what to do.

  2. Unfortunately, I'm not aware of a procedure that is 100% for everyone. Have you read a book called Striking Back? It's a good educational tool. Another one that has quite a bit of statistics about surgical outcomes is Insights: Facts and Stories Behind Trigeminal Neuralgia by Joanna M. Zakrzewska. You can find them on Amazon. One of the best things you can do is speak with others who have had the surgery or go to a support group.

  3. Thank you, I will check it out.

  4. Artist, I'm hoping you will stay in touch.