The Scars You See – And The Ones You Don't

Physical scars can be erased. Emotional scars need to be repaired.
I have a thyroidectomy scar on my neck which serves to remind me about my near death experience more than 12 years ago.  I remember the vivid details of that day, as if it had just happened.  
I was one day past a complete thyroidectomy to remove a papillary thyroid cancer which I found just a few months earlier.  The operation was difficult for the surgeon since there was some tumor on the nerve that innervates the vocal cords.  The surgeon was so relieved when my voice was unaffected after the meticulous surgery.  
After the surgery, I stayed in the hospital overnight to monitor my calcium levels.  In the morning, my levels were low, but not critical.  I convinced my doctor to discharge me while insisting that I could have my labs checked first thing in the morning.  
Upon awakening at home, I felt tingling in my arms and immediately ran to the bathroom to see if I had a positive Chvostek’s sign.  Chvostek’s sign is a clinical sign of nerve hyper excitability due to hypocalcemia. When tapping the side of the face, the muscles on the same side of the face will contract.  My husband rushed me to the hospital, but by that time my muscles were in a state of tetany (seizure-like contractions).  I received calcium gluconate in the hospital and immediately felt better.
Years later, that memory is still fresh in my mind. Every morning, when I look in the mirror, the scar serves as a constant reminder to me that life is short and to live it with no regrets.
However, for years the scar has also served as a symbol of fear.  Fear that the cancer would recur, or that something else would adversely affect my health.  
After twelve years of focusing on health and wellness, I am healthy and I no longer need a physical reminder of this experience, so I chose to have a Fraxel laser treatment to remove the scar.  
Two more treatments will completely erase the scar, but I will never forget the valuable lessons the experience taught me.
Have you had an experience that made you more cognizant of your own mortality? I’d love to hear about how your life has changed since.

Stay at Home or go to Work?

The age old debate continues.  To work or not to work?
Mothers decide to work or stay at home for many different reasons.  Staying at home may just be more economical, and less stressful for them and the family. Moms can spend quality time with their children and not miss the milestones of life.  Most importantly, if you so choose, you can always go back to work when the children are older.
However, working women may choose to work because they enjoy adult interaction and having their own identity in addition to being “Mom.”  These women can earn a paycheck and positively contribute to the family’s finances.  Additionally, they hope to raise independent children and set a positive example as a role model.
Society and other mothers are quick to judge women in either category.  It is assumed that working mothers don’t pay enough attention to their children and that stay-at-home moms are not very interesting.  
In my own personal experience, my sister and I both completed medical school and are each mothers of two boys.  My sister decided to work one day a week, and I decided to start my own medical practice and medical spa.  
Two very different life choices that created a significant conflict in our relationship.  Both of us believed we made the right choice…and ultimately we both did.  
For me, working gives me a sense of accomplishment that I desire and a need to feel fulfilled.  I have worked hard to balance my career and family and I have raised healthy-minded, independent children. 
The bottom line – the decision to stay at home or work is an entirely personal choice that you have to make for yourself based on your personality and goals.  It is not anyone’s place to judge what is right for you or your family.
If you’re a mom, have you decided to stay at home or go back to work? What are your reasons? Do you feel judged for them?

Want Others to Value You? Start By Valuing Yourself

“Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you won’t DO anything with it.” Dr. M. Scott Peck – noted mental health physician and renowned author 

In the last few years, this quote has become woven into the fabric of my life. In my earlier years, I hoped for people to value me. Then one day I realized no one would value me until I valued myself.
Once I valued myself, it truly changed my life. On a personal note, there were people I spent time with that did not add value to my life. I removed these people from my life and immediately met new people who were confident, happy and more aligned with my personal and professional mindset.
Valuing myself led me to value my patients and my practice more. I hired staff members who were vested in their job and the service they provided for the patients. I realized patients with negative attitudes drained me by not allowing me to take proper care of other patients. Those patients made me question my decision to be a doctor.
Thankfully, as I have become more clear and purposeful in my life, these negative patients have dwindled. They have been replaced by pleasant patients whom I value and value me in return. The result is an enhanced physician-patient relationship which is beneficial to both parties.
By valuing myself, I have given myself time to explore my other interests. I have developed a love for writing, public speaking and media appearances on television and radio. These outlets add dimension to my life, thus allowing me the perspective to help people in different ways.
What have you done to value yourself that improves your day-to-day life?