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

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Lorena Junco smiling at the camera

Courtesy of Lorena Junco

  • I had a tumor on my adrenal gland that needed to be removed. My surgeon removed the wrong gland.

  • I’ve been left with medical issues for the rest of my life.

  • Instead of seeking revenge and retaliation, I decided to forgive my surgeon.

Nine years ago, shortly after the birth of my third child, I learned I had a benign tumor on my adrenal gland. Making this discovery was a journey in and of itself. It took many months for doctors to consider the unexplained dizziness and lethargy I was experiencing as anything other than depression or baby blues.

That was nothing compared to the journey that lay ahead.

With a diagnosis in place, I was told that with a simple surgery I’d regain my strength, my joy, and my stamina – all of which had seemingly vanished. I was relieved that there was a solution and could hardly wait for the surgery.

But after the procedure, I felt no better. In fact, my condition, including the crushing fatigue, worsened. There were days when I couldn’t get out of bed.

It took months of pain, anguish, and continual medical appointments for me to discover that the surgeon had made a terrible, irreversible error. Instead of removing my right adrenal gland, where the tumor was, he removed my healthy left adrenal gland.

My surgeon removed the wrong gland

Our adrenal glands are small but important. They regulate hormones that control vital functions like blood pressure, heart rate, metabolism, growth, and fertility, and a host of other bodily functions we never even think about until they go wrong.

This error left me with a lifetime of medical issues I must confront every single day.

My family’s immediate reaction was to seek revenge. They wanted to sue the surgeon for everything he’s worth. But this thought brought me no comfort. On the contrary, the idea of devoting my precious energy to pursuing the negative force of revenge made me feel even more bitter and exhausted. I realized it wouldn’t mend my broken body or soul.

So I chose to do the one thing that felt right for my own future: embark on a quest for peace and healing – beginning by seeking space in my heart to forgive. Only by forgiving the surgeon and moving on, I realized, could I reclaim my emotional health, which, in turn, affects my physical well-being.

I chose to forgive, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t angry

The reality is that every one of us can make mistakes, because every one of us is uniquely human. We can all be extraordinary one moment and faulty the next. But I knew that choosing revenge was going to leave me drained and living in negativity for as long as the lawsuit took. And still I would not have gotten my gland back.

After I discovered that the surgery had been botched, my fists were constantly clenched in anger. My stomach was in knots. Soon I realized that the fallout of embracing anger is less devastating than the physical and emotional fallout of repressing it. So I make space for anger even as I forgive.

Several months after the botched surgery, I was introduced to a brilliant surgeon at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston who was willing to try partial adrenalectomy. This second surgery was successful and saved my life.

Though I now live with only one-half of one adrenal gland and must contend with a lifetime of medical issues, I am grateful to be here at all.

Once I decided to let go of the idea of vengeance, I began to see that this tragedy, while not a gift in itself, opened doors to a host of hidden blessings that have enriched my life in many ways.

I’ve written a memoir as a tool for sharing the lessons I’ve learned with the world. I’ve become an advocate for forgiveness, patient safety, and better doctor-patient communications. Without the mindset of forgiveness, I might still have been mired in the details of planning and carrying out unproductive revenge.

Lorena Junco Margain is the author of “On the Way to Casa Lotus,” a memoir about her journey coming to terms with the permanent consequences of a surgeon’s devastating mistake.

Read the original article on Insider

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