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My book.
"Fascinating" Stephen S. Hall. writer, N.Y.Times magazine. "Hard to put down." A.C.P.A., American Chronic Pain Association.

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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Pain screams, cajoles, and inveigles.

The first surgery worked, wonderfully. I was ecstatic, and stayed ecstatic. My neurosurgeon, Dr. Osterholm, told me to give it 6 weeks of recovery before getting back into life. 6 weeks to the day I went out looking for a job. I interviewed at 3 places and accepted a job as a clerk at HOUSE BEAUTIFUL magazine. Everything was on track. I liked the job. I quickly made 2 friends. As soon as my hair grew back (they had shaved me bald) I intended to start auditioning and taking classes again. The blood vessels in that area of my brain had a different plan. They grew back, and the pain attacked me with the same suddenness and ferocity as it had the first time.

To this day I say if I were to meet Dr. Osterholm in the street and he said "I know how to fix the pain." I would lie down in the middle of the road with my arms out wide. "Go ahead." My trust in him then, and now, is complete and total.

I felt the opposite about his resident, Dr. Martinez. I did not like him and the feeliing was mutual. He was not a nice man. He was someone in whom I had no faith.

Why then did I agree to let him operate on me despite knowing it was a terrible decision?

After the pain returned Dr. Osterholm said he would admit me to the hospital for a reoperation. Once I got there he decided that was not the safest way to go. Instead he wanted me to have the thermorhizolysis procedure. (I had had a similar procedure done about a year prior to this. It was done in NYC. The surgeon did it with me awake and used a novocaine type medication instead of heat. It was torture, total and complete torture. It was of no benefit. The upside was there were no side effects.)

"I don't know how to turn on the rhizolysis machine. Only Dr. Martinez can do it." Dr. Osterholm told me. I knew that a reoperation made the most sense. After all it worked the first time. Dr. Osterholm insisted this was safer. I truly believe, then and now, he was looking out for my safety and best interest.

I knew in my heart of hearts this would be a disaster.

I could not get Dr. Osterholm to budge. It was the procedure performed by Dr. Martinez or nothing. No one suggested any other or that it might be worth getting another opinion. (Had my family been interested enough or involved enough maybe someone might have thought of this idea. I was too embroiled in the pain to be able to look past one minute to the next.)

Choiceless, or at least convinced I was, I agreed. I did not want it, I definitely did not want Dr. Martinez to do it but...what else was there?

The pain screamed at me. "Do something!! Stop me!!" I listened to the pain. I should have listened to my heart, my logic and intelligence.

Within a few hours after the procedure the whole side of my face was numb. Numbness was a risk but supposedly only in the affected area. Instead I lost all feeling forehead to jaw. I was told I could lose the feeling in my eye. I did. I was never told TN pain could be added to the part of my face where it had not been. It was. I was never told I could lose the taste in my left mouth and tongue. I did. (This is a partial list.)

Pain screams, cajoles, and inveigles. Logic and intelligence are not as cunning.

When it comes to making the decisions that will affect the trajectory of the pain and the rest of your life, the volume knob of pain needs to be turned to mute. Only then can you hear the soft whisperings of sense.

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