thinking about “The Future”, and finally making a transition out of what I imagine (and hope, God Willing), to be my last venture in formal education is simultaneously exciting and terrifying.
Despite the fact that 22 is hardly any different from 21, and the relative change between these two ages are lesser than my last turnover, I can’t help but feel like something’s changed in the air, in my life.
Maybe it’s the weather speaking through me, but this last year has been a very different one. In these last two years, I’ve realized how often I’ve made the same choice I had pounded and brainwashed myself into believing since primary school: making sacrifices to living in the moment for my perceived “future”.
All the way through primary and secondary school, I had separated my formal education from “the future”, planning a million ideas and hopes pinned onto this imaginary projected me of the future. At the time, I was content to just put my nose to the paper and grind my way through the fundamentals that would furnish my future. After all, I convinced myself, if I work hard now, I can have all the time to play and enjoy myself later.
But grad school has only reminded me that I will never be done with laying the bricks of foundation. And well, it’s taken me 22 years to realize that I’ve learned only the most minute of fractions of what composes the world’s amount of knowledge. And frankly, at the rate I’m going, I’ll never learn it all in time. Hardly have the time to experience all the amazing places on this planet.
And maybe that’s why I’m suddenly affronted with the realization that I have so little time to do what I had always dreamed of doing.
After my dad passed away, my family and I often shared stories as a form of bereavement and healing. Of the many stories we shared, the one where my dad related to my mom over how happy he was to have had a fulfilling family was the one that struck me hardest. Some might say he ‘sacrificed’ his career for us. And maybe objectively that is true, but he sure never acted like it was a “sacrifice”.
To my dad, being with family was his form of “living in the moment”. He worked hard to keep our family running, but he also knew when to let go and cherish the time he had with us.
Standing at the cusp between formal education and “the future” or “the rest of my life” has only reminded me of this. I am reminded time and time again of the chance to live and experience what I cherish in this limited time span.
To that effect: Happy Day, World :) And thank you, to my parents for having me, my grandma, siblings and friends for shaping me into who I am today. It’s good to be alive.
Patients of surgeon Harold Gillies during WWI and WWII
Okay, these photographs pissed me off a bit, because they don’t show off how much of a genius Dr. Harold Gillies, the father of modern plastic surgery, was. Rhinoplasty, skin grafts, and facial reconstructions have been practised for centuries. However, it was this New Zealander surgeon who standardized these techniques and established the discipline of “plastic surgery.”
The introduction of more destructive weapons of WWI and WWII resulted in devastating injuries. In addition, in trench warfare, the head was more exposed than the rest of the body, and soldiers’ faces were often shattered or burnt beyond recognition. Despite the best efforts of surgeons, many soldiers were left hideously disfigured. Traditionally, the edges of facial wounds were simply stitched together, but when scar tissue contracted faces were left twisted and disfigured, so a new type of surgery was needed.
Gillies rebuilt faces using tissue from elsewhere in the body. Antibiotics had not yet been invented, meaning it was very hard to graft tissue from one part of the body to another because infection often developed, so Gillies invented the tubed pedicle,” where he used a flap of skin from the chest or forehead and “swung” it into place over the face. The flap remained attached but was stitched into a tube. This kept the original blood supply intact and dramatically reduced the infection rate. After many surgical construction, grafting, and healing, which could take months to years, the tentacle-like tubing would be removed, and (volia!) a new face!
He was also the first to do sex reassignment surgery from female to male in 1946, then male to female using a flap technique in 1951, which became the standard for 40 years.
tl;dr, these were his patients BEFORE the surgery. He didn’t DISFIGURE these people he HELPED them.
This guy is truly amazing.
Thank you for clarifying!
Thank you so much for taking the time to educate us on the truth! The original post is what’s wrong with the internet, people pass off incorrect information as valid.
Tomorrow, my husband will land in the US of A, for the 2nd time in his life, God Willing.
And I can’t help but fear and worry that he’ll experience prejudice again for his inability to fluently speak English.
And just thinking about his last encounter embarrasses and angers me.
Especially when he only told me after much prodding and feeling inadequate for not being able to speak the language he never learned formally because he grew up in rural China where English teachers took classes to the fields for free labor.
As he looked away, scratching his cheek lightly and mumbled about being ignored and spoken to loudly with zero tolerance and complete ridicule as he tried to call my American number from the airport because he had no idea how to get through customs. That being the 2nd international flight of his life and his first in an English-speaking country.
When he called me, i could hear his apologetic tone, and some horrible officer speaking in loud, ridiculously articulate tones with a condescending smirk.
and i was embarrassed to say this was my home.
And I felt terrible, letting him experience it all over again tonight, when he texted me through WeChat and asked, “Do you know what I need to do to get through customs from landing in Chicago and where to go for my next flight?”
I’ve never been to the O’Hare airport, but i’ve heard some pretty awful stories from family and friends who’ve had to zip through about the not-so-friendly encounters.
As I looked up the airport map and saw the terminal trams and relayed what I could with the limited information, I prayed he would meet no resistance.
And can only pray that God keeps him safe and away from those who choose to judge him for not being able to speak a language that he was never taught, but one he fought to learn on his own, even if it was broken.
And I can only pray he does not have to cross paths with ignorant individuals who presume their superiority and overlook his hardworking, beautiful personality, his multilingual self that appreciates everything and everyone no matter their differences. A personality masked by his inability to communicate with a monolingual ignoramus.
But I also know that even if he meets such resistance, he will never generate resentment, and will instead greet it with his beautiful personality to love, to tolerate, to learn and to smile.