Word and Image


I did a spinal fusion operation upon this woman. I won’t be mentioning names. I had already performed a neck operation upon her that turned out successfully. After the second spinal operation, she disappeared. She never returned for a post-operative visit. Six months went by and one Tuesday, she’s back on my office schedule. When she came in I said,  “Where have you been?! We did a major spinal operation and you disappeared. I’m supposed to follow up with you until the healing is complete. Where were you!”

Her sheepish reply, “Doc, I lost my insurance. I was embarrassed to come back because I couldn’t pay.”

My response, “Once I’ve done an operation, my responsibility is to take care of you until you recover, no matter what happens. It’s just the fair thing to do.”

“Well, I didn’t want to tell you, but, I did something,” she responded.

“Oh brother! What? Did she injure herself and the implants all fell apart?” I thought of all kinds of dire possibilities as she continued.

“Well, you see. After the surgery I felt so good. I was walking around and soooo happy. I went out and did something.” And with that she raised her right pant leg up above her ankle.

Yup, those are my initials. I don’t think I would have picked roses, but the initials are mine. “What?! What did you do?” I stammered and thought of her husband whom I had met some time ago and who was about a foot taller and one hundred pounds heavier than me. Just what I need, a jealous husband as if I don’t have enough on my mind.

“Oh, don’t worry Doc. My husband’s seen it and he loves it!”

I almost didn’t get a picture of this tattoo, as she didn’t return for many months. But the next time, she returned I got my shot. Some of this stuff you just can’t make up. And, the picture is the proof. After all the years of asking patients to name their kid after me, this is what I have to show.

7 responses

  1. This is such a strange but heart warming story. She apparently was grateful of your surgical skills beyond belief. Someday I have to write on my blog about a strange experience I had on an architectural job. I was at a housing project taking measurements for the job, and an older gent was following me all around the complex. He even followed me to the roof as I was specing roofing materials for repair work and into the apartments that were getting redesigned. This went on for hours.

    Finally he got the nerve to approach me. With out a word at first, he reaches in his pants (not the pocket, I might add), and pulls out….not what I thought he would….a roll of cash, all hundreds, like I have never seen before…HUGE.

    Then he proceeds to try to get me to accept it. You could not possibly guess why either. He wanted to BUY ME! Yes purchase me and have me for his own. Yikes, I maybe should have been a little honored and flattered, but honestly, I was creeped out. At least your woman (patient) did something that was far more endearing. I too thought she should have maybe selected a stethoscope or the medical seal or something more YOU. But hey, its the thought that counts, right?

    November 19, 2011 at 7:55 am

    • Yes, you have quite a tale! That is just not the sort of thing that you would ever imagine happening. It’s like something surreal from a movie. The things that people will do sometimes amazes me. I am glad that you were unharmed.

      November 19, 2011 at 8:14 am

  2. One

    Oh Victor! This is hilarious! You must have done such a great job. If anyone needs a spinal fusion operation, I know who to recommend.

    November 19, 2011 at 9:06 am

    • Yes, I have shown this picture many times when I have been asked to speak. The audience pauses as the information sinks in, there’s a moment of disbelief, then a hearty round of laughter and even applause. Some stories are just too much to believe and the image is the proof.

      November 19, 2011 at 11:00 am

  3. What a fun and heartwarming way to start the morning! I had to chuckle thinking of the potentially-angry husband who is a foot taller, and then smile upon reading about his gratitude as well as the woman’s. What rewarding work you do!

    November 19, 2011 at 6:34 pm

  4. Your initials made it into a piece of body art. Victor – you are quite the hero!

    November 21, 2011 at 8:00 am

    • Wonderment and relief were the first thoughts that I had.

      November 21, 2011 at 12:25 pm

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