Quite often things are not what the appear. This paper full of scribbles is one of the best letters I’ve been given by any patient. For the ordinary eye, it doesn’t say anything, but for me, Dr. Rafael Estevez, it means a lot:
Two weeks ago, José (fake name), a 13 year old boy, is taken by his mother to the Department of Reconstructive Surgery of Dr. Darío Contreras Hospital. José is a special patient. During his infancy he had meningitis, which left him epileptic, and with severe mental impairment. His mother tells us that about 2 months ago, this young man gets stung with a needle which produced an infection that affected the dorsum of his left forearm almost completely. He had passed thru 3 different medical facilities trying to solve this issue, and they were getting desperate to find a definitive solution to their problem.
This is how we decided to prioritize this case, and prepare him to give him a skin graft to cover his limb. Pre-surgical preparations are made, including getting clearance from the pediatric neurologist, and upon receiving it, we proceed with surgery on wednesday april 10th, in an outpatient manner, and is scheduled for follow-up visit in 6 days.
Pleasant surprise was for me to see how this child, who could not articulate words well, smile and scream out loud: “¡Doctor, doctor!”. His mothers approaches me and says:
“Doctor, God bless you. José is really happy because he’s feeling so much better now, and is grateful for everything you’ve done for him. He doesn’t know how to write, but yesterday he decided to take a paper and write to you this appreciation letter.“
I was really in shock with this gesture. The joy in his face told me that this was real. You’ll probably say that as doctors, that’s our job, but to me is something else. That’s why I’m sharing this story with you.
Plastic surgery has 2 branches: aesthetic and reconstructive. A lot of plastic surgeons forget about the reconstructive part, and choose to perform only aesthetic surgery. I have decided to keep both practices, since I believe that it’s by means of the reconstructive surgery that plastic surgeons conserve the human part of medicine, and are rewarded with the satisfaction of knowing that with our knowledge we can change the lives of a lot of people, not only in the physical aspect, but on the emotional part as well.
I also hope that someday the authorities and the health insurance companies start to understand that plastic surgeons also give back health, not only beauty; and expand their coverage of reconstructive surgery, that so many people need.