Coming Back From a Near Death Experience with Dr. Kenneth Hughes, Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
Unfortunately, I, Dr. Kenneth Hughes, have endured the near death experience in my own life and my perspective is obviously different than many of my plastic surgery colleagues. The patient role is something I learned before I became a doctor and helped me to empathize with my patients. I see a lot of patients in my office both before and after surgery and they frequently tell me of pain or concerns that they have about surgery. I can certainly relate to pain and surgery as I have undergone six major surgeries myself. They are usually shocked. I seem relatively young and healthy. Why have I, Dr. Kenneth Hughes, had so many surgeries?
Literally, my first week of medical school I was involved in a serious automobile accident that totaled my car. Though I did not die, there were days when I certainly thought that would have been a better option. Although I survived the event, I was not right by any stretch. I ultimately had to have several surgeries to repair my back, my shoulders, my jaw, and my abdominal wall. Though I was grateful to be alive after a serious accident, I could have never anticipated the kind of pain I experienced and the amount of time it would take to rehabilitate myself. The jaw surgery I thought was trivial, and though my jaw was wired shut, it was easy. The shoulder surgeries, though part of the clavicle was removed to help have a functional shoulder, this was not particularly bad either, although it has a destabilizing influence for a serious weightlifter and athlete like myself.
By far the worst life-altering or life-shattering event was the injury to my back. The nerves were compressed on both sides of my lower back causing excruciating pain and leg atrophy. I endured the pain for over a year before getting surgery, but it was the question as to whether I would ever get better that was the most upsetting. I had gone from someone who could literally do anything physically to someone who could barely walk. I eventually had surgery and did not move much from the bed for a period of months. I started slowly rehabilitating myself though it took years to rebuild my physique.
The truth is that no one is ever prepared for something like this. Even walking was problematic and difficult at best. I remember that I took all of my medical school exams standing up because I could not sit. I was able to make it through medical school and honestly, it was easy compared to the physical struggles I faced.
I still work out regularly and lift weights, and I am grateful to have healed to return to a more reasonable life. However, those were some dark days (years really), and I would not wish that experience on anyone.
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