Those who know me would probably describe me as a fighter or someone who doesn’t walk away just because she lost the first round. I often buck the system and hate when I am told no, especially when someone does something wrong or treats me or a family member unfairly. However, my husband and I knew that we had done just about everything we could — that we had fought an honest fight. In court and beyond, we told the truth, hired the best expert witnesses and had terrific legal representation. However, personally, I was tired of talking about my spinal cord injury, listening to Dr. Liar and those they hired lie and mislead the jurors, and I was just plain ole worn out. My husband and I both felt that we needed to move on and I needed to begin the much-needed healing process. I knew I was never going to get better, but I needed to take the steps to begin to accept what life had given me and how to best deal with it.
If we appealed the ruling, we would be living the past few years over and over for many years to come. I didn’t think that I could do it and I didn’t want to put my family through it again. We had spent a lot of money and our attorneys had spent even more. When you hire a personal injury attorney, you pay when you win; however, you are required to pay for expenses, expert witnesses and other costs upfront. We paid for some of these charges and the expert witnesses; however, we never got a final bill. And, for that, I know we were blessed. And, as far as emotional, mental and physical energy, I didn’t have anything left. Going through a court case sucks the life out of you; slowly and painfully. It is such a negative experience. The lies, games, sarcastic remarks, the unfair rulings by the judge and the loyalty of the jury members to their hospital and doctors is a horrible cycle that you must just sit and accept without being able to say anything. Sure, attorneys may object, but it’s often one-sided and the jury members hear the banter that takes place between both sides.
Taken all of that into consideration, we knew that one day we may regret our decision not to appeal. However, at that moment in time, I needed to move ahead and I wanted to concentrate on the future instead of dwelling on the past. After all, I wasn’t healthy and the stress from the trial was making things worse. I once read a quote that stayed with me and came to mind while making this important decision — “Giving up doesn’t always mean you are weak…sometimes it means that you are strong enough to let go.”
The first step to healing was to focus on the positives of taking Dr. Liar to court. The first thing I could think of was that we learned a lot by telling our story. Although we didn’t win, we did learn that the justice system isn’t fair. We told the truth. Others lied. The jury seemed indifferent to us since most of them rushed to get out of the courtroom each evening, slept through much of the testimony or stared at the clock during much of the day. It would have been nice if they would have cared or would have shown the tiniest bit of interest. Looking out for my family was the most important thing to me — that was just one of many reasons I was even in the courtroom.
Many years ago I read a book by Richard Carlson called “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff and it’s All Small Stuff,” and it changed my life. Sadly I learned at the height of his career, Dr. Carlson passed away. However, I am certain that while he was alive he lived a carefree life — one not burdened by stress, regret and rage. He learned and taught others not to let the small things in life get the best of us. There were reasons that we didn’t win our case and I knew in time that we may be made aware of those reasons. And, if not, that was ok too. I wasn’t going to define myself by the outcome of a court case and the lies that Dr. Liar the other witnesses told.
We also learned that there really is no rhyme or reason to how and why things happen. We know the mistakes that Dr. Liar made and so did he. We often wonder how he is able to look at himself in the mirror knowing how drastically he changed me and my family’s lives. While we know that doctors are only human and do make mistakes, what we don’t know is why they are not able to admit making a mistake? Oftentimes, a simple apology would help ease the pain and allow you to go on with your life by not living a lie.
I have been asked if I had to do it all over again would I pursue the lawsuit. My answer often surprises me. Yes, I would. It made me a stronger person. I wouldn’t be writing this blog if I had not nor would I be able to look back without regret. Living ‘a what if’ life can be very daunting.
However, coming to the point in my life where I was able to accept my fate did not come easily and I hope that you will continue to read as I share this portion of my story. This portion, in many ways, was as difficult as being in the courtroom. However, I found that I am a little stronger than I thought and what I learned may be able to help others.
Following is another poem I wrote just after we learned the verdict. I was experiencing a lot of pain, was frustrated with the court’s decision and was unable to sleep. Once again, I pulled out my Blackberry and typed this in just a matter of minutes.
I try to sleep but there’s the pain
So intense I hide in shame
Years have passed and the heart still yearns
For a life that was easily earned
Too many to list those hateful things
But the people looked away and believed what they say
How does one live with all that rage?
Is that easily captured or written on a page?
A life wasted –
Scattered to the wind
Like pulling the plug when you know it’s the end
I wish life had taken another path
Too young not to really have a past
No one understands the emptiness I feel
scared to say or just time to heal
Doctors ignore or look away
Too many complaints or too much to say
I try to explain the knife’s deadly reach
But understanding I cannot teach
Hopeless and not healing
Is the state of my being
Too old to start
Too young to part
I stare in the reflection with a horrible gasp
Who is that sad person who used to laugh?
Who used to hum, sing and made others feel at ease
Who wanted only love and lived for simplicity?
That person disappeared with the slightest of hand
captured the pain that seems to never end
is pain my existence or is there help?
How do I ever begin to explain what I’ve felt?
I wish I could just scream to make them know
Not knowing who to ask or where to go
who to trust and who to lean?
Who cares enough to believe?
Cancer they hear
me…do they not believe?
Is my life worth less
or is it just a tragedy?
Tired of complaining and asking
Tired of pretending and masking
They don’t care but an oath didn’t they take
But climbing the ladder they often forsake
I joke and laugh
To put them at ease
Not letting them see the real me
Who am I – I often ask?
Scared of the truth I often mask
I drift away for a moment
Hardly aware of time
For an empty life that does not matter
or even come to mind
My body shakes like it’s cold
Hands wishing that they were a concrete mold
Am I feeble or just plain weak
Will I still be fighting or continue to be meek?
Be strong they say…
for tomorrow is another day
Another day of pain
Is like simply living in the rain
Help me I cry
For it’s all I know
The pain has taken over
and replaced my very soul
©My Unplanned Life and www.shakinguplife.wordpress.com, 2011.