A surgeon removed the wrong piece of my brain, altering my life forever. Here's why I chose to forgive him.

Courtesy Lorena Junco
My adrenal gland had developed a tumor that required to be removed. The wrong gland was removed by my surgeon.

I have been plagued by medical problems for the rest my life.

Instead of seeking revenge or retaliation I chose to forgive my surgeon.

Nine years ago, just after my third child was born, I discovered that I had a benign tumour on my adrenal gland. This discovery was an amazing journey. Doctors took months to diagnose my undiagnosed dizziness, lethargy and depression.

It was nothing compared with the adventure that lay ahead.

Once I had a diagnosis, I was informed that I would be able to regain my strength, joy and stamina with simple surgery. All of these things seemed to have disappeared. I was relieved to know that there was a solution, and couldn't wait for the operation.

However, my condition remained the same after the procedure. My condition worsened, with the accompanying crushing fatigue. There were many days when I couldn’t get out the bed.

My surgeon made an irreversible, terrible mistake. It took me months of pain, suffering, and constant medical appointments to realize this. He instead of removing the tumor in my right adrenal gland (where it was), he removed my left adrenal gland.

My surgeon removed the incorrect gland

Although they are tiny, the adrenal glands play a vital role in our lives. They regulate hormones that control vital bodily functions such as blood pressure, heart rate and metabolism.

This mistake left me with a lifetime worth of medical problems that I have to deal with every day.

My family was quick to take revenge. They wanted to sue him for all he was worth. This thought did not bring me comfort. I felt even more depressed and tired when I thought about wasting my energy on pursuing the negative force that would cause me to lose everything. It wouldn't heal my broken soul or body.

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I made the decision to do what felt right for me: seek peace and healing. Only by moving on and forgiving the surgeon, I was able to regain my emotional health which in turn affected my physical well-being.

Although I chose to forgive, that doesn't necessarily mean I was not angry.

Realistically, we all make mistakes because we are all unique human beings. It is possible to be both extraordinary and flawed at the same time. I knew that if I chose revenge, it would leave me feeling drained and living with negativity for the duration of the lawsuit. Yet, I wouldn't have my gland back.

My fists became clenched in anger after I found out that the surgery was a failure. My stomach was in knots. I soon realized that the emotional and physical consequences of embracing anger were less severe than those of suppressing it. So I make space for anger even as I forgive.

I was referred to the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, where I was able to have partial adrenalectomy. This was several months after my botched surgery. I was saved by this second operation.

Although I live with one-half my adrenal gland now and have to deal with many medical issues over the years, I am thankful that I am still here.

After I let go of the notion of revenge, I realized that tragedy was not a gift in and of itself. Instead, it opened up doors to many hidden blessings that have greatly enriched my life.

As a way to share the lessons I have learned, I wrote a memoir. I am now a champion for forgiveness, patient safety and improved doctor-patient communication. Without the ability to forgive, I could have become engrossed in details and plans for unproductive revenge.

Lorena Junco Margain is author of "On The Way to Casa Lotus", a memoir about how she came to terms with the devastating consequences of a surgical error.

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