A Benefit of Not Forgiving and Not Forgetting

Saving someone’s life

You might ask what could possibly be a benefit of this personality flaw of not forgiving, nor forgetting? I think I can tell you.

A dear loved one of mine had what was considered a rather simple, yet life changing surgery. I just love it when people give you their opinion, “Don’t worry, everything will be alright..” “People get this surgery all the time..” “It’s a men’s issue, fix it, get over it, and move on..” and lastly, “Don’t worry..”

When I say it was simple, this surgery was done robotically. Have no doubt just because the outside of the body looks fine, the inside has gone through life altering, body part manipulating, chemistry altering, and mind bending changes now and forever. But, that being said, people say it is easy, blah blah blah.

There is always a chance, there are always risks, and we always intelligently weigh the risks vs benefits. Everything was on our side. Albeit, someone’s the body decides to go into high gear afterward. The low risks of surgery suddenly scream and shout and the first ER visit happens 2 weeks post surgery. ER doc gives antibiotics. She asks, “Are you allergic to anything?” Proudly, he responds, “No, I am not.” I butt in, “Never say never, always say, ‘Not that I am aware of because I have never taken any drugs in my life, treat me like I am.” With a quick glance, I am given “the look.” I look back and hold my pace.

I lose out and two antibiotics are given. Within 5 days, the body starts to fail, breathing out of breath, fatigue like you’ve never seen before. We end up in another hospital ER with the beginning of system’s failures. I am seeing it, the doc sees it. My loved one is hospitalised over night, then sent home. I am not happy because I am clear the reason for this was not found and I have a bad feeling. When I have a bad feeling, albeit, please know I am pretty good at science, biology, and pathophysiology.

He ends back in the ER the next morning in worse condition. I am telling the doctors something is attacking his organ systems as they continue to bring in one specialist after the other as one part struggles after the other. They all look at parts, I hold them caringly in my hands saying all the parts are related to the whole. His whole system is being attacked from the inside. And if they continue to look at parts and treat parts, more parts will fail and he might be irreparably injured.

What does this have to do with never forgiving and never forgetting? I’ll tell you. I always think about what is the good side and what could be the bad side of everything and anything. My father trained me well.

I have a problem, I never forget and I never forgive. It sticks with me forever. Forever, after I am hurt emotionally I will always look at that person with one eye on the watch out. It’s me, I admit it. While, I am a person who can’t remember where I put my car keys or reading glasses, I will always remember an argument and in the exact precise order each and everything was said, both visually and kinaesthetically. Call me the trauma queen, it is part of being a Holocaust survivor child.

How did this benefit me/us this time? I remembered each and every angst that befell my family member in each order, timing, day, and what we were doing when it happened. There were so many things that started falling apart, I remembered each one like as if I was going over a video surveillance camera recording. There were do doubts, I had this one, I was the great story teller of facts and non fiction to the medical staff. I looked each specialist in the eyes, and told them I, too was the kid in school with my hand raised up first to answer a question, whether I had the answer or not. AND I had the uncanny ability to answer with resounding confidence just like they did, even if I was not right, just like them. Each specialist stopped, looked at me with their inner remembering as I asked them to please not answer so quickly, and instead, pause, breathe, think, consider, and reconsider before they give their thought as an answer.

Our communication was excellent, respectful, and eye opening. Truly. A learning experience for all.

By the time he was released from the hospital the other day, we were followed up by two docs the next day, one being his amazing internist, and the other a cardiologist.

The cardiologist, with excitement and gusto pronounced this whole health crash after the severe allergic reaction to the sulfa drug, that he was truly one in a million. We heard that one over and over again over the week he was in the hospital. The reason, he was diagnosed with a very rare thing called, Stevens-Johnson Syndrome as an effect of the allergic response the the drug he was given in the first ER. Stevens-Johnson Syndrome usually attacks the skin, his did, but it also attacked his blood vessels causing them to leak inside, therefore affecting his blood vessels and organs, and heart of course, too.

The good news is, he will recover, and likely now be just fine and back to good again.

It was good to know my doggedness and refusal to forgive and forget helped to save him and communicate with the doctors to help him. They all said this. This personality trait helped to save his life with a great team. I will forever be thankful to his team, two of which are his very dear friends who without them, I am not so sure he would have made it out of this crisis. I am thankful beyond words. And for this, I will always remember, and eventually be able to move on to the next thing, like cooking, gardening, and taking good care of our animals and all my clients and students.

Remember, you are perfect just the way you are. Everything about you has a positive side. Even not forgiving and not forgetting. As my dear Mommaleh always said to me after a difficult time, “Ask yourself, did you learn? Because if you learned, then you are intelligent, if you did not learn then, you need to ask yourself, what did you learn.”

with loving kindness, Elinor Silverstein

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