Monday, July 17, 2006

My Hero

While at a conference recently I met a Plastic Surgeon. There are a lot of these in Las Vegas and it was interesting talking to him about his work. He told me he could take care of the bags under my eyes for a few thousand dollars. I asked him, “What was the age of the youngest patient he worked on?” He stated that his most satisfying work is for young kids. Surprised I asked him why? Most of the kids he works on are kids with cleft pallets, or who have been injured in an accident. His favorite is a young boy of 11 who has had 16 surgeries on his face. He was beaten beyond recognition by his step “father” and survived. The child’s mother was killed by the same man and he is in jail now. The boy has no one and is in the hospital alone. He started with a gruesome face, dead mother, absent father and no relatives that would claim him yet he has the best sense of humor and attitude of any child he has ever seen. Before a surgery the boy asked this doctor if he could make sure he would not cover up both eyes with gauze so that he could continue to beat the nurses in X box. The doctor said he couldn’t promise but he would try; to which the boy replied, “Don’t worry about it, I could probably beat them blindfolded anyway.”

After further probing he related the story of the worst patient he had. A 14-year-old girl who came with her stripper mother who had a lot of work done previously and proceeded to complain about everything. She complained about every part of her body and wanted to change everything. Her mother stood by in silent agreement, giving her consent on the paperwork. The doctor asked, “Why, at 14, do you want all this work done?” She replied, “I don’t want to wait, I want a new body NOW, so do your job, you &%#)!” This one he said “no” to but he confessed that he had worked on plenty of young girls and even a few teenage guys. He said that it was hard because they would just go to the surgeon down the street if he didn’t work on them; plus, the money earned from overcharging them allows him to work on more of the donation cases he loves doing.

What is the difference between these two kids? The boy came from a physically abusive environment and had no one who cared for him yet he stood like a rock against it. The girl came from another kind of abusive environment but she, at this young age, began to flow with the current of her environment. What is the difference? I don’t know, but I do know who my hero is and who I’m going to hang out with. Who would you hang out with or, maybe more important, which of these would describe you?

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