I Am Not Entitled to My Face
I Am Not Entitled to My Face
Something has gone awry with modern medicine. This something reaches beyond the issues of inflated costs, indifferent care and inaccessibility. The thinking behind modern medicine has gone astray. It’s as if a mad scientist was at work creating Modern Medicine and Frankenstein emerged.
We don’t usually see Frankenstein because we are blinded by all the white. We imagine all is well until the white veneer is peeled away, and we see the thinking process behind it. This only occurs in extreme cases because we rationalize the less extreme.
This happened to me in the nineties when I lost my thyroid gland. I had a mild hyperthyroid condition. The endocrinologist ordered an irradiation procedure. He said it would reduce the activity of the gland. “That’s not the bad radiation, is it?” I asked.
He laughed. “No, no, that’s not the bad radiation.”
And so I lost my thyroid gland. And then I discovered that synthetic hormones don’t work very well. Still, I didn’t blame the thinking process until…
In 2007, I saw an ENT for tinnitus. That’s ear ringing. Ear ringing has nothing to do with sinus issues. The ENT said he was ordering scans to see if there was a tumor near the inner ear. These unusual (for ear ringing) tests enabled the ENT to find sinus polyps. He then did three unnecessary nasal and sinus surgeries, destroying my nose and my face.
So now I am seeing doctors about repairing the damage done by a doctor. One of the kinds of doctors I am seeing is plastic surgeons. And I have learned something extraordinary from these men in white coats. I have learned that I am not entitled to my face. My real nose, I am told, does not adhere to “normal cephalometrics,” which is the current cultural standard of beauty. According to “normal cephalometrics,” I should look more like Joan Rivers than say—Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez or Sarah Palin. These last three women are ugly—according to “normal cephalmetrics.”
I am especially disturbed by the world “current”—the current cultural standard of beauty. I don’t care what’s “current.” I also don’t care about “cultural” if that means “Caucasian,” though I happen to be white. I just want my face. But I went through a stack of magazines just to see what really is current, and guess what? Note to plastic surgeons—Barbie noses are out. I have a file of full-page model ads. Not a dinky nose among them. It’s over. Get over it. Stop cutting off women’s noses. Get current.
The bridge and midsection of my nose were drastically reduced in the “polyp removal.” According to the plastic surgeons I have seen, the solution is to reduce the lower third, making my nose look like a pencil. This—they say—is what men find attractive. Maybe somebody needs to tell Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez. Maybe somebody needs to tell men.
One of the plastic surgeons did a graphic transformation of my nose on a computer screen, allowing me to see my face with the pencil nose. This event just happened to take place on Halloween Day, as the Fates laughed themselves sick.
“That is not my face,” I objected. I held out the sweaty photo of my real face taken a few months before the surgery.
The plastic surgeon crossed his arms and shook his head. “I can’t do that,” he said. “That goes against normal cephalometrics.” With a professional wave of his arm, he added. “You might want big fins projecting off your face for cheekbones, but, I, as a professional, won’t give you that.”
This last statement was especially insulting and hurtful. Before the surgery, I did, in fact, have the perfect nose for my face. My facial proportions had been correct. These were the facts, by any normal person’s standards. The surgery had ruined my face.
Modern medicine has got its goals reversed. It “fixes” what isn’t wrong, and won’t address what is.
We’ve all seen the monstrosities created by plastic surgeons—the slick, shiny basketball breasts, the balloon lips, the pencil noses, the cat eyes. These hideous alterations turn women into cartoon caricatures for which plastic surgeons are willing to lend a hand. A woman’s normal face, however—her God-given face—stolen by a surgeon’s knife—is characterized as a monstrosity.
I had a lovely face. It was no monstrosity. If plastic surgery was a healing profession, the surgeon’s goal would be to restore my face to its natural appearance. But according to the surgeons I have seen, “professional standards” rule it out. I could have big, flabby fish lips, but I am not entitled to my face.