The Five Stages Of Grief cont (Bargaining)
Updated: May 13, 2019
The normal reaction to feelings of helplessness and vulnerability is often a need to regain control through a series of “If only” statements, such as: If only we had sought medical attention sooner… This is an attempt to bargain… Secretly, we may make a deal with God or our higher power in an attempt to postpone the inevitable, and the accompanying pain. This is a weaker line of defense to protect us from the painful reality. Guilt often accompanies bargaining. We start to believe there was something we could have done differently… —Julie Axlrod
I have always felt that “bargaining” was about making a deal with God. In that respect, I thought I’d skipped the bargaining stage. God doesn’t make deals. He allows things to happen for our own growth. And even though He does perform miracles, they don’t always happen the way we expect them to. I’ve experienced many miracles in relation to my contracting TM, just not instant healing.
As I read the definition of bargaining by Julie Axlrod, I realized that I hadn’t bypassed this stage. I repeatedly kicked myself for not seeking medical advice sooner. Surely the steroid treatments would have been more successful had I not waited six months before receiving treatment. By that time it was highly likely the inflammation on my spinal cord had turned to scarring. I frequently asked the doctor if I'd started the steroids immediately would they have been more effective. Of course, he had no way of knowing the answer. However, my decisions have given me plenty of opportunities to feel guilty.
A few people suggested the doctors had some responsibility in the delay of my diagnosis and resulting treatment. That would be a convenient scapegoat. I take complete responsibility for my hesitation to pursue medical attention. I was afraid and therefore found excuses to postpone serious examinations.
I feel fortunate that my Neurologist was probably one of the best in Seattle and that I benefitted from
his guidance through the following years. Twenty-four years ago, little was known concerning TM. It was only around that time that the medical community recognized the difference between TM and Multiple Sclerosis (MS). I was one of the first in my Neurologist’s experience whose symptoms developed over a period of months rather than over a period of hours. As such, most doctors leaned toward a diagnosis of MS. My doctor recognized my symptoms as being different than those of MS. I guess you could say, that was one of the first miracles I was blessed with.