Tuesday, January 29, 2008

re-thinking plastic surgery

There is a peculiar intimacy (or chemistry) between a surgeon and patient. Surgery opens up a whole new level of trust that you have to have with your doctor - your body is literally in their hands.

I always watch a surgeon’s hands. I know people who have “brains” in their hands. I do not, but I know people who do. My friend, Nancy, is always doing something with her hands. She will be talking to me and then all of a sudden hand me a wonderfully complex and beautiful paper sculpture that she had been making while we are talking. I am amazed.

So I look for this gift in a surgeon’s hands.

But I also look for “relatedness” and ability to “connect” with others as individuals. I like to think that my surgeon is aware that there is a real person (me!) that is way down under all that anesthesia.

Plastic surgery adds yet another dimension to this patient-surgeon chemistry. Until I ended up in a place where I needed cosmetic surgery, I always pooh-poohed it as a frivolous luxury for the rich. Why mess with what God made? Why want to look forever “young”?

Now, I’m having to re-think all of those attitudes.

Beauty and art enter the realm of science and medicine.

When Dr. Lickstein “reconstructs” me, I want beautiful breasts. Like God made. They don’t have to be perfect. I don’t want large breasts, I never had them before. But I want them to look “real”, whatever that means.

I guess I’m asking for a lot.