Print Story Dr. W
By Gedvondur (Thu Dec 22, 2016 at 11:46:00 AM EST) Death, pain, hospital, avacados (all tags)
I have been remiss in my diariazing. Apologies. I need to share more, it’s good for me and sometimes I fear for our little community here.

I know I keep writing about what happened to me, I’m sorry for that, but this is where I get it out, amongst friends.

Yesterday I found out that the surgeon that nearly killed me (on accident) passed away last January.

You see, I hadn’t been keeping up with him, I fired him less than six months after I got out of the hospital. Dr. W was a general surgeon, but in reality he spent all his time on stomachs and the esophagus. Most of what he did was gastric bypass and gastric sleeve, for weight loss. He also volunteered his services in poorer countries, just having come back from Peru when he died. He was a professor at the medical college. He was 62.

He was also an asshole. He embodied the arrogance and condescension of the surgeon. I didn’t fire him because he almost killed me. He wasn’t quite Dr. Strange level (for those of you who watch Marvel movies) but he was still arrogant.

I fired him because two months out of the hospital and he began treating me like a bariatric patient. A gastric sleeve was part of what was done to me, to permanently prevent my stomach from going back into my chest. My hiatal hernia had been so bad that with the standard pull-it-down-and-stitch-the-diagram surgery I would have likely relapsed within two years. He had actually begged me to get the gastric sleeve. Called me three times because I didn’t want it. That arrogant man begged me and I relented. A professor who teaches this surgery, has done it literally thousands of times bent his neck and begged me.

But he soon forgot, because I was and am still fat, that I didn’t come to him to lose weight. I came to him to keep from dying from the birth defect that was my hiatal hernia. I resented being treated like a bariatric patient.

Dr. W treated bariatric patients with a mixture of arrogance, condescension and impatience. He seemed to believe that excessive weight was a personal character fault. He was selling a surgical solution to a problem that was bigger than physical. He could not believe or didn’t seem to understand that if it was as simple as “eat less and exercise” there wouldn’t *be* fat people. It’s more than that. Issues of body shame, mental health, personal perception, and coping mechanisms are all part of it. So he treated anyone that wasn’t on what he viewed the straight and narrow in terms of weight loss like children, scolding and unsympathetic.

The strange part was that I *was* losing weight. I was losing weight at an unhealthy rate 7-10 lbs a week. I couldn’t swallow anything thicker than cream of mushroom soup. So that’s what I was living on. I had scar tissue pushing on my esophagus, scar tissue from the sepsis that HE gave me, above and below the diaphragm.

He scolded me. Said I was eating too fast. Not chewing enough. Went so far as to give me a timer and a baby spoon, one bite per sixty seconds. Refused for weeks to acknowledge that this was *more* than just “guys always eat too fast” with the implied “and you, you fat bastard, are worse than the rest.” That sentence should tell you everything you need to know about how complicated a relationship with food, body, and self-worth can really be.

I had balloon expansions, over eight of them. Had to be put out every time, twilight. Eventually I was able to swallow, that took until almost Christmas. When I was out of the woods I fired him. This wasn’t my fault and I was angry to be belittled and treated with thinly veiled contempt. I was angry that he seemed to FORGET why I had a gastric sleeve and that the problems I had were because of my surgical complications, not because *I* ate too fast. Fuck, I couldn’t eat cottage cheese without getting it stuck in my throat.

Despite all that happened and the trouble I’ve had since, I still believe the surgery was the right thing to do, given what I knew at the time. Dr. W was right about the gastric sleeve to prevent the hernia from happening again.

Now he’s gone. In Chicago, just after getting off the plane from a mercy mission to Peru. I remember, fevered and in peril for my life, him sitting in my hospital room looking at my wife with sad eyes. I remember him shaking my father’s hand and looking him in the eyes, making connection.

I remember, the one time my Mother met him (she mostly had to take care of our dogs, including the one with hydrocephalus) that I had to make her promise not to shout at him. She was so mad that the man had hurt her only child. She regularly referred to him as “that fucking asshole.” When you earn enmity of my Mother, it’s no small or short term thing. She restrained herself, only for me, and he was human for once.

He was a *gifted* surgeon. What happened to me was a one in a million chance. He taught others his craft. He helped *so* many people. He was dedicated to helping the poor in other countries. He donated time, experience, wisdom, and money to those in need. He literally healed the sick. On rare moments when he let his guard down and smiled, you could see the man under the surgeon.

I’m upset and I don’t understand why. He died January 2016, but I only just found out. He hurt me physically in a way that I’m still dealing with. I know it wasn’t malice or carelessness, but it still happened. I have the scars on my skin, in my abdomen, and in my head. What should I feel? I shouldn’t feel sad that a man who hurt me such is gone. I shouldn’t feel happy that a man who did so much for so many is gone. I shouldn’t feel anything, should I?

But I feel….sad. Regret that I would never close what was no doubt a small loop in his life, but a big one in mine. I’m sad that a man who worked so hard for others would now not get his glory years of retirement and well deserved accolades. I feel sad that the good work he did is now done. I feel sad for his wife, his children, and the people who worked with him.

It is complicated. I will talk about him to the therapist I just started seeing who is trying to help me get over what happened. But I think, after thinking about it for almost a day now, that at the end the world is less without this arrogant surgeon. Good bye, Dr. W. I won’t miss you, but the world will.

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Dr. W | 6 comments (6 topical, 0 hidden)
This is all very familiar to me by ambrosen (4.00 / 3) #1 Thu Dec 22, 2016 at 12:31:15 PM EST
Well, I only skimmed it, because it's incredibly painful. But yes, that kind of medical misfeasance really scars you mentally.

I'm sorry by Gedvondur (4.00 / 2) #3 Thu Dec 22, 2016 at 12:41:53 PM EST
Didn't mean to drag up memories for you.  I'm finally getting therapy for the PTSD from the incident.  I always thought I would just learn to deal with it, but I have been unable to do that.  I've only had a few sessions, we will see how it goes.

[ Parent ]
Trauma by miserere (4.00 / 3) #5 Thu Dec 22, 2016 at 01:39:40 PM EST
I'm glad you're getting therapy, because you went through something unspeakably awful. I'm glad you're writing about it, too. Keep writing and keep moving forward. And I think it makes sense that you had unexpected feelings around the surgeon.

[ Parent ]
People are complicated by ucblockhead (4.00 / 5) #2 Thu Dec 22, 2016 at 12:40:05 PM EST
We always want to categorize people as villains and heroes, but in reality, most of us are both.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
Heh, very true by Gedvondur (4.00 / 4) #4 Thu Dec 22, 2016 at 12:44:35 PM EST
I just didn't think I'd be *upset*.  I was surprised by the emotion.  In some ways, I'm glad I'm not joyful over it.  I think I'd have been disappointed in myself.

[ Parent ]
tfw you harbor anger or hatred you cannot act on by the mariner (4.00 / 2) #6 Thu Dec 22, 2016 at 03:44:25 PM EST

Dr. W | 6 comments (6 topical, 0 hidden)