WHEN YOU LOOK IN THE MIRROR - INTRODUCTION
I promised I would post my book as it comes together. Here's the introduction. Hope you find it intriguing...
When you’re about eight years old and it’s dark and you’re supposed to be asleep and some adults are whispering not very softly and not very far from your bedroom door which is closed when it never is closed there’s no way in the world that you can sleep. I did what any red-blooded American kid would do. I got out of bed using my best commando tactics and cracked the bedroom door hoping no one would notice.
No one did.
Just to make sure I pressed myself flat on the floor where I could watch without being seen like the G.I.’s in all the war movies I saw at the Roosevelt Theatre down on Clinton Avenue. The light glowed yellow-white in my brother’s room at the other end of the hall and I could make out two strange men in his room, bending over his bed, and my mother and father at his doorway. My brother was about three or four and what I noticed most of all was there was no fussing and no crying. Even to my little kid’s eye the men moved with palpable authority and purpose, ancient shamans performing an ancient rite, and after a while they straightened up and the sense of relief that washed out of the room felt like a warm tide. All these years later I can still feel that warm tide.
My father led them to the staircase and walked down with them and it was then that my mother spotted me and sent me one of her trademarked looks that sent me scurrying back to bed without my feet touching the ground. It was quiet after that and I must have fallen asleep.
“Your brother had a some bleeding,” she said by way of explanation the next morning when I came down for breakfast, “but the doctors fixed that and he’s going to be okay.”
End of the story. That quick. That simple. I knew he had his tonsils out the day before but I had no idea what tonsils were and why they had to come out but I knew that bleeding was not good and I knew the doctors had fixed it. I saw them. They used some kind of magic trick right there at the end of the hall that made everything okay.
I knew I had to learn the secret. I knew I wasn’t going to be content until I had somehow wormed my way into that brotherhood, until I, too, had become a shaman, a healer, someone who stopped the bleeding and made everyone feel better. I had been bitten.
The consequences of that moment would take me past the lure of being a cowboy, my first love, although not entirely past and not permanently, and it would draw me back from being a writer, although not completely, and clearly not permanently. It would stand guard in the corner of my bitter cold room in the row house in Philly when I was a med student when the bed called me like a siren song and I would whisper “one chapter more” and then go out to the White Castle to get a burger and a second wind. The burger cost a quarter; the second wind, no pricetag. It would walk with me as an intern in Philly, down the windy, dark alley to the Emergency Room, 12 hours on, 12 hours off, for ten weeks. And in the delivery room at 2 in the morning, all by your self, and some catastrophe struck and you looked around and realized you were IT. There was no backup.
“Do you really want to be a doctor, kid?” As a very young intern in the ER of a city hospital, the senior residents would ask me that, spitting “doctor” out like an insult when they came down out of a warm bed to see a patient that you had called them to see and by God there had better have been a good reason. “Why did you do it that way, doctor? “You think you’re good enough?” was the implied challenge.
So you strove to be good, to be better than good, to be the icy cool pillar of strength in an emergency, the doc who knew everything, the kind of doc other doctors looked up to when your brain was doing the flamenco and why couldn’t anyone hear your heart going like castanets?
That’s what drove a med student who was a year ahead of me and who looked like a young Jack Palance. Everyone called him the Turk because for some reason we imagined a “Turk” was someone who never gave up and he was always in the library, always grinding, always studying. He couldn’t stand the thought of not knowing everything and the frustration he felt because it was humanly impossible drove him to attempt suicide as a Sophomore by taking barbiturates. They found him in his room and pumped his stomach and did some primitive dialysis which was all we had in those days and his classmates specialled him around the clock and he pulled through.
He finished at the top of his class and accepted a high-powered internship but a few months into the program he finally succeeded in ending his life. He had found out the secret; he couldn’t know everything and he couldn’t stand the thought.
After four years I finally was one and the thought humbled me and inspired me through a year of internship and years of residency and it has continued to do so for more than half my life.
I followed my heart, first from gynecologic surgery and obstetrics and then to practicing with a strong commitment to alternative medicine perhaps because of the influence of my long-dead Grandmother who was renowned in the “old country” as a healer. Whatever it was, it was not hard to come to the realization that there had to be more to healing then fixing the problem once it had developed.
When anti-aging and aesthetic medicine broke on the scene in the late 1990’s I finally found out why I had gotten my medical degree. I proved the Zen Kaon: when the pupil is ready, the teacher will appear. Very simply, I had never had as much fun and felt so creatively challenged and excited in decades.
This book is about that journey but mostly about the past 14 years and the adventures I had in anti-aging and aesthetic medicine. My hope is that along with some of the stories of the perils and pitfalls and joys of practicing my readers will come away with some good information, some tools to evaluate the many ways it is possible, in this brave new world, to look and feel better than you could possibly have imagined.