Today, I saw my neurosurgeon. Not from a hospital bed, not even in a hospital setting. I got into work a little early, and saw a message that our chief medical officer (CMO) would be around this morning. The CMO of my company also happens to be the man who helped save my life two years ago at UCLA.
I actually passed him in the hallway before he was formally introduced to me. His face was familiar but he wasn’t wearing a lab coat like I had always seen him, so I didn’t recognize him out of context. When he was being shown around our office, there weren’t many other people around (it’s 9AM at a startup). When we were ‘introduced’, I said “good to see you again” instead of ‘nice to meet you.’ I think THAT is when my face clicked. He had no idea that I was working and graduated at all, let alone working for a company that HE helped start.
I never actually met Dr. Martin consciously until after I had left the hospital, at a follow-up visit. When I was his hospital patient, I was (mostly) unconscious, and he would come and observe me in the middle of the night. So, to ‘meet’ him all over again, this time as professional colleagues, was incredibly gratifying. We were as close to eye-to-eye as a 5’2” girl can get with a 6’6” man, and we were talking about WORK. Not my surgical plan. Not my ongoing disability.
This man’s only job is to fix someone’s brain. He looks at the insides of people’s heads all day, every day. Did he have to field my mom’s 100 questions at 3AM in the ICU? No. Did he have to counsel my subsequent surgeons on how best to handle my case? No. Out of the thousands of heads he’s operated on, did he have to remember mine? No. But he did.
He has gotten to see me come from a nearly-vegetative, but smiling, girl in that hospital bed to a college-graduated, research colleague. Hell, this isn’t full circle, this is like 1000 revolutions around the sun. He was thrilled to see me doing well, but even more excited to have me working for him. I think, for his profession, he sees a lot of lost hope. He told me that I am one of the most resilient people he knows, that I have only gotten stronger. I think that I am one of those few cases he looks back on to remember that it’s not always all doom and gloom. For that I am as thankful as he is.