I Was the Patient! Reflections of a Breast Augmentation Surgeon

Dr. Taylor's hand injury.

I was the patient!

News Flash: I am a really bad patient!

As a plastic surgeon offering procedures such as breast augmentation, tummy tuck, and facelift in Columbus, Ohio, I do surgery almost every day. And I, too, have had some surgery. My personal list includes 3 breast augmentations, liposuction 3 times, as well as a tubal and ablation. But none of these experiences compared to my recent accident and time as “the Patient.” I have to admit—I am NOT a good patient!

Every doctor should be a patient periodically.

Here is what happened: I am a runner, and my favorite time and distance are “5 at 5.” Yes, that is 5 miles at 5 am. I was in my zone, finishing mile 4 and just appreciating the holiday lights and the stars when I just looked at my phone to change the music. Yes, I was a distracted runner. I hit the “iceberg” chunk of ice in the road and tripped. I went down on my knee, right hand, and face, shoulder outstretched.

After I realized I had fallen, I involuntarily reached down to my right hand and “popped” my fingers back into place. And it didn’t hurt at all. I felt my face and realized it was bleeding, but my jaw seemed OK. I had to run a bit to get home. As I ran, it didn’t hurt, and I thought I might be OK. But then I got home, saw the blood everywhere—it looked like a crime scene. My right hand running glove was drenched with blood, and as I peeled it off, I realized my hand was bleeding—and THEN it hurt. The laceration was deep; I could see flexor tendons moving.

When you are hurt in an accident, it does not hurt—at first.

I am guessing the shock dulls the pain at first, but WOW—after the shock, or let’s say general anesthesia wears off from surgery, does it hurt. So, I went to the ED to get stitched up. NEEDLES into the wound…. should I say any more?  At this point, the ED doc gave me something to help me “chill,” which didn’t kick in until we were done. Oh well.  I was a little—shall I say, whiney. I think I said, “No stitches—no stitches—no stitches. Can’t you use glue?”

Hilarious in retrospect. I also whined a little with the irrigation fluid and tetanus shot.

When my patients ask me about the pain after surgery, I usually tell them what my previous patients tell me—”Not too bad… manageable.” But let me say—YES, it does hurt—for a time. We give pain medicines, but everyone has a different pain threshold. Mine is pretty low, apparently!  The numbing medicine hurts, and the stitches pull, and you can FEEL it as they go through your own skin. I will have much more sympathy and empathy for my patients when they say they “can feel it!”

Stitches hurt—going in and coming out.

Since you already know I am a bad patient, you will understand that I took out my own stitches.  This is not easy to do with your left hand, but I managed. Ouch!

And after they were all out, the area on my hand was so tender. Of course, that is to be expected, but for so many weeks—geez! Again, my empathy quotient was rising fast.

It takes time—1-2 weeks for sure.

Healing takes time. And we often tell our patients that it is not “magic,” and they will not feel like themselves for about a month. But did I really listen? It is not just the area that is healing, while that is sore. It is the change in the other everyday things that are impacted. So, for me, I could not use my right hand—to fasten buttons—and spent a few weeks in leggings! Also, I could not type—so there goes doing all the computer work. And don’t even get me started on the personal hygiene ADLs (activities for daily living); I missed my right hand a lot.

Some things are not in our control

Most of the time, my patients have very smooth and uncomplicated journeys. (You can read more about my evidence-based approach to safe breast augmentations in this related blog post.) But when there is a little post-op “trip and fall,” so to speak,  sometimes the patients blame themselves. It is always good to remember that much of our day is out of our control, and we can only choose how we respond to bumps in the road. I was running full speed ahead, and then literally—STOPPED.

I had to cancel work and change my schedule. My patients were so gracious and accommodating—here’s a special shout out to my wonderful, wonderful patients who rescheduled and took it all in stride.  They handled it better than I did, I think.

But it has given me time to reflect and be even more grateful for my health and my fantastic work environment.  My patients and my staff are the very best.

I’m almost better now.

It has been a month since my fall, and I am on the mend. I can work—yea! But my fingers are so stiff when I wake up, and they get sore by the end of the day. Oh yeah, it takes time! I am better and better every day.  I think this has been a very good lesson for me!

Now that I’m on the mend, and the experience of being a patient is fresh in my mind, I’m back at work, tending to the plastic surgery needs of men and women throughout the Columbus area. If you’re ready to explore your plastic surgery options, you can use our online contact form to request a consultation, or you can call my office at (614) 569-2649.

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