"We all have one fear or another."
Everyone is afraid of something. From Fear to Flourish, a bi-monthly series, will share true life stories of people who did something that scared them ... and how it changed their lives for the better.
This week we'll meet John Bielicki in the series. John is a vibrant spirit who regularly performs in plays, musicals and other art events. He's recently retired, and enjoys laughing and living in Vermont with his lovely wife.
Ready to hear John's story? Let's begin!
One time I was scared of:
In 2002 I was diagnosed with the nerve condition of trigeminal neuralgia. My dentist was the first to discover it. I was referred to a neurologist who treated me with pain medication.
The pain became unbearable, though, the left side of my face began tightening and I was having difficulty speaking. I was referred to the Chairman of the Neurological Surgery Department in Burlington, VT. We discussed treatment. He was the only surgeon with the expertise in this specific surgery which would involve entering my skull and lifting two nerves that were resting on my aorta. A Teflon pillow was to be placed between the aorta and the nerves.
After the consultation that night I had a dream that the surgeon sneezed during the surgery. Frightened, I awoke. I could not fine the courage to submit to the surgery. I was afraid I would die.
What happened next?
The pain continued. But better to endure the pain than have the surgery and die. It occupied my mind daily, though. I wondered, what choice should I make? I was afraid and did not want to show nor tell anyone of my fear.
Why did you decide to tackle this particular fear?
I could not tolerate the pain anymore.
I was on the telephone with a manager in our Buffalo NY office discussing business. She had lost a relative at the 2001 bombing of the World Trade Center. She knew that I was in NYC on that day and experienced the horror. Our discussion drifted away from business and I shared my worry about having trigeminal neuralgia
and my fear of having surgery. The discussion gave me the strength to overcome the fear.
My colleague from Buffalo NY told me about her eighty year-old father who had the same condition for forty years. He finally had the surgery, was cured, and lived another twelve years pain-free. I also did research about the treatment and spoke with the surgeon again about what the surgery would entail.
What was the result?
I decided to have the surgery. I awoke after the surgery and the pain in my face was gone never to return. It is nine years now since the surgery and my face is still pain-free.
Any wise or encouraging words you'd like to share with others who might be facing a fear-inducing decision?
We all have one fear or another. Some serious and others not. However, each fear is significant.
Others may have a different way of handling their fear. For me, in this situation, it was finding my own support group. And I have used similar means in dealing with other surgeries that I have had to have. I am not alone.
Thanks so much, John, for sharing your story with us! Happy to hear that you are now pain-free and continuing to enjoy life.
Readers, feel free to leave a comment for John here. Have you faced a similar fear or had a friend/family member with an issue like this? What did you find were your best methods of coping? What helped you the most?
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