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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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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The resident's turn to be deposed.

Dr. Gendell, the lead resident on my case and in the O.R., sat at the table, ready and willing to sit through the deposition.

I had him draw a picture of the operative site and mark down what he had seen during the surgery. Later I would do the compare and contrast with the drawings rendered by Dr. Jannetta.

While I was in Pittsburgh Presbyterian Hospital, my treatment was somewhat, disheveled, for lack of a better word.

Even though the diagnosis of trigeminal neuralgia was not in question they still had me seen by a psychiatrist. Chronic pain and women, more often than men with chronic pain, is often viewed with suspicion.

I think it was also something for the psych residents to do. Maybe, too, they learned something about pain. They came to the same foretold conclusion. Whatever neuroses I might have, they had nothing to do with the pain.

They also decided I should be tried on a nutritional supplement. "Maybe increasing your level of vitamins and other nutrients will help the pain."

It was Dr. Albright, another resident, who presented me with this regimen, a can of Sustacal (or similar drink) with every meal. It tasted awful and, despite filling me with minerals and vitamins, made no difference in the pain.

"Dr. Gendell", I asked, "Was it your idea to give me the Sustacal?" "Yes." "Did it make any sense to do that?" "No."

An honest answer. One he did not have to give. I was very impressed.

Then we got to the nitty gritty. I asked him about the risks of the procedure. "Did you tell me or my parents that my face could be injured?" "No. Facial paralysis was not a complication of which I was aware."* He stayed until all my questions had been answered. The next big step was when we would meet again in court.

Despite Dr. Gendell's truthfulness I still needed expert witnesses.

Doctors and nurses both refused to testify against Dr. Jannetta when asked.

Kate Lecky, the original lawyer, had not talked with any of the hospital personnel. When I did, even though it was now a few years later, there was no hesitation. "I remember you but I will be fired if I testify. I am very sorry."

She had contacted a few neurosurgeons. Either the answer was "Dr. Jannetta is a friend of mine." or "I cannot testify against someone of Dr. Jannetta's stature."

The only recourse I had was to make Dr. Jannetta my expert witness against himself. I expected him to tell the same lie about the risks as he had at the two depositions. I was much more prepared to pursue that part of the case.

I thought that even an adversarial relationship still required the honesty that I assumed was part and parcel of the law (I know I am ridiculously and stupidly naive.)

Dr. Gendell had been honest in his deposition. He admitted to someting that he did not have to admit to (the Sustacal silliness) and he acknowledged he told me that facial paralysis was not a risk. Dr. Jannetta was his teacher. The only way he would not know it was a risk was if Dr. Jannetta had not taught him it was.

I thought the truth deserved to be acknowledged.

That acknowledgement almost cost me the case.

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