I’ve always found medicine interesting, but also, how you say, gross. I shadowed a general surgeon once, and watched him remove a gall bladder (pre-laparoscope days), repair a hernia, do a breast biopsy and one other procedure I can’t recall. It left two overwhelming impressions, the first of tenderness for the patients, whom I only saw after they were completely anesthetized. Laid out on their tables, their heads tipped to one side, skin stained with Betadine, their most intimate body parts exposed, it was almost unbearable to watch them. I wanted to cup their cheeks and kiss their foreheads, tell them they’d be OK.

The other was that all that crap about the “delicate hands of a surgeon” is just that — crap. “Nancy, would you like to see the appendix before I take it out?” the doctor asked. (Apparently it’s routine to snip the appendix anytime you’ve got the abdomen open.) I said OK, took my look, and watched as this very competent general surgeon stuffed the patient’s large intestine back into her cavity with all the grace and care I bring to stuffing my Thanksgiving turkey. Doctors are, essentially, very highly skilled, and highly paid, mechanics.

But it was the breast biopsy that got to me the most, for obvious reasons. The patient was a woman in her 40s with a long history of benign lumps, and fortunately this one was, too. But it took a chunk out of her breast, and so it made me think of the big C and the small r (that would be “reconstruction,” for those who cannot read my mind).

Which made me think of plastic surgeons, the bastards.

OK, they’re not bastards. But there’s a reason they’re not cardiologists, either. About 10 years ago, a top-heavy stripper won a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court. She’d deducted the cost of her implants as a business expense, the IRS disallowed it, and she appealed, and won. The woman was nobody you’ve heard of, but it turned out she “lived” in Fort Wayne, “lived” meaning she got her mail and spent a couple nights a year in an apartment there. It was a nice central location for the clubs she spent her life touring between. (The life of a B-list stripper is not a glamorous one.) And she’d had her surgery — surgeries — done there. Really? the city’s journalists queried as one. By whom? Sorry, folks, that was a secret more closely guarded than Dick Cheney’s undisclosed location. But one of the city’s corps of plastic surgeons had opened this girl up multiple times and installed implants of ever-ballooning size until she had the 54-inch bustline of a true stripping entrepreneur. (Part of her argument was that every surgery boosted her income by a predictable margin, and that once she was ready to retire she planned to have them removed, as they impeded life as a private citizen. Amish men at the mall would walk into walls staring at her.)

Call me crazy, but I don’t think this counts as “practicing medicine.” Whenever I talked to a plastic surgeon, I tried to balance the polarities of the job. On the one hand, a talented plastics specialist at Ohio State University had repaired the faces of two of my friends when they hit hard, unforgiving surfaces. Others gave women maimed by cancer a chance to feel whole again. But on the other, well, a doctor friend of mine put it best: “A kid with asthma in Brooklyn has to take four buses and trains in the middle of January to get a breathing treatment and we can’t seem to do anything about that, but let a cardiologist’s wife want to upgrade to a D-cup, and man, we are all over that.”

All this by way of taking the long way around to the NSFW link o’ the week: The Plastic Surgery Beauty Enhancement Awards, brought to you by Make Me Heal, for “all your cosmetic surgery and anti-aging needs.” Actually, the links above are SFW, but if you go further into the site — and don’t think I don’t know where you’re headed, you perverts — be advised it’s not only unsafe for work, but probably unsafe for breakfast, too. Especially some of the postop photos.

Ah, beauty.

So, bloggage:

Nothing is sacred, but this, this! Is elephant dung on the Virgin Mary!

Oh, look. The president of the United States committed an act of craven bullshittery. Shocked, shocked. Etc.

Back to real work now. You all flay Scooter in the comments.

Posted at 9:14 am in Current events, Movies, Same ol' same ol' |

13 responses to “Plastics.”

  1. Connie said on July 3, 2007 at 10:12 am

    I’m not flaying Scooter, I’m flaying Bush. Who is now the least popular Prez since we began tracking. Carter is no longer in last place.

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  2. nancy said on July 3, 2007 at 10:16 am

    George Bush makes Jimmy Carter look like Abraham Lincoln.

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  3. Dorothy said on July 3, 2007 at 10:36 am

    I had a hellish night, no pun intended (you’ll understand once you see the pictures). Prez and Scooter are not even on my radar screen today. Sorry I don’t have the HTML skills just yet. I have used it in the past but today is a rough day. BTW this is not my house, but behind me and to the left.

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  4. John said on July 3, 2007 at 10:46 am

    Dorothy, so glad you and your neighbors are okay…the pictures do look scary!

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  5. Connie said on July 3, 2007 at 11:15 am

    My kid’s friend says she wants to be a plastic surgeon so she can help disfigured children. Do you think they all start out that way?

    Dorothy, that does look scary.

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  6. Dorothy said on July 3, 2007 at 11:21 am

    Let’s hope so, right Connie? I mean about the plastic surgeon aspirations.

    And you guys are right – it was extremely scary. At first I thought it was my house when I heard him saying “Get out of the house!!”

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  7. brian stouder said on July 3, 2007 at 12:05 pm

    1. Good to hear that all turned out well, Dorothy.

    2. Doctors are, essentially, very highly skilled, and highly paid, mechanics Agreed – and it seems that one of the most essential elements of any good Surgeon is monumental self-assurance

    3. Gotta agree with Connie – President Bush (who I voted for on 4 occasions, including primaries) is a flat disgrace. All the Original-Recipe Bush haters are correct to say “We were right!” (AGAIN!) – and despite knowing that others saw (and continue to expect) new lows like this one coming all along – still I confess that this took me by surprise. Bush seems unable to deny Cheney anything, at all

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  8. 4dbirds said on July 3, 2007 at 12:26 pm

    I was an original hater but I won’t say I told you so. I learned long ago in my army days that I could disagree passionately with people and still like them and like them very much. I have to agree with Eschaton when he asks where Bush’s compassion for Karla Faye Tucker ( was those few years ago. You know, since he’s so concerned about excessive sentences.

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  9. ashley said on July 3, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    If you go to an orthopedic surgeon, it *does* look like a mechanic’s garage. Same tools, just a bit cleaner — depends on your doctor, I guess.

    And I still say that a physical therapist and a dominatrix have the same skill set, just a different wardrobe.

    With any luck, hopefully the Libby connection will mean Fred Thompson is looking for an acting gig in 16 months or so.

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  10. Vince said on July 3, 2007 at 3:01 pm

    You’ve got a stronger stomach than I. There’s no way you’d get me to watch surgeries of any kind.

    Have you heard about the newest non-invasive surgery here in Oregon?
    No cuts to the skin. No visible blood.

    But this creeps me out too:

    >Portland doctor removes organ in the abdomen through a woman’s mouth.

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  11. Vince said on July 3, 2007 at 3:03 pm

    I tried to post a link to the article. I’ll try again:

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  12. Kim said on July 3, 2007 at 6:04 pm

    Wow, Dorothy. That is scary. My neighbor’s house burned down in the middle of the night several years back (an arson by a public official’s troubled kid) and, true to form, I heard nothing. One of my kids skips a breath, I’m up. Eleventymillion firetrucks in front of my house? Nighty-night.

    I think the WashPo had some hed today that said Bush didn’t consult the Dept. of Justice or the usual experts for this decision (hey, he IS the decider, right?). I figured why would he? All GWB needs to do is ask Dick Cheney. Ugh. Read the WashPo’s series on the vp and weep. It’s so depressing, and I sure don’t want to do that right before July 4.

    Happy Independence Day, ya’ll. Use it. Our country needs you.

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  13. MarkH said on July 3, 2007 at 7:22 pm

    We had the same kind of neighbor-house fire recently, too. We live in a rural area just off the highway. So at 2:00AM, with no traffic on the road whatsoever, local fire trucks blare their sirens and Deb and I lept out of bed. The house was so involved and flames so intense even on a winter night, we weren’t sure right away if it was us, or next door. Turned out it was some friends’ about a mile away. No one hurt, except after a battle with the insurance company, I heard later.

    Scooter…hmph. I know what kind of audience I’m dealing with here, but I’ll still say I’ve got no problem with the sentence commutation. If Patrick Fitzgerald is really the lawyer he thinks he is, he would have made good on all the bell-clanging he did to claim involvement of EVERYONE in the VP’s office in Plamegate, and nailed Cheney himself. He couldn’t do it because he didn’t have it, and he knew it, early on. Instead, he goes around thumping his chest post-Libby-conviction about justice served because he got Libby. For what? For being stupid, basically, and specifically for running interference and covering for Cheney, when he didn’t have to. Then he really screws up by trying to use Russert for cover. Ooops!

    And what of the real culprits, who Fitzgerald knew about all along, Richard Armitage and Robert Novak? Skate City. “Just a coupl ‘a guys sittin’ around talkin’ ’bout covert agents…”Hey, Bob, waddaya y’s’pose would happen if the world knew who Joe Wilson REALLY is?” “Why, Dick, I think you’ve hit on something…”. I don’t believe Cheney, Rove, or Libby, or anyone else were the original leakers at all (remember Deep Throat’s line from “All The President’s Men, “the truth is, these guys just aren’t very smart…”) This gets dropped in the administration’s lap, and calculating political types that they are, they tried to figure out how best to use it to their advantage and they screwed it up, that’s all, and brought the spotlight back on them. Fitzgerald got the wrong guy, period. Now, if W pardons him, that’s a different matter altogether. Perjury is perjury. even Clinton got hauled in for that, albeit with a lighter sentence. He just lost his law license.

    There’s a reason the presidential race has started this early: everyone can’t wait for W to leave office. Myself included. Just my $.02. Sorry if anyone’s offended,

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