While hunting for the hockey game last night on TV, my boyfriend Gary and I gave up and got sucked into watching a show about face transplants instead. I was mesmerized with the concept of actually having someone else’s face instead of your own, and all the psychological adjustments to that reflection in the mirror.
This man (pictured above) had been attacked by a bear, leaving an entire side of his face destroyed. He was given the nose, lip, skin, muscle, and even bone of the donor (source: Discover magazine). I couldn’t find a picture of his face before the surgery, and likely you wouldn’t want to see it; they showed it on the show last night, and his face still looked raw and twisted even years after the attack.
It made me think of how much all of us complain about minor things, a wrinkle here, a gray hair there, moaning about our eyebrows or oily skin or a pimple, when people like this man are grateful simply to have a recognizable face. On the show, when he saw his face for the first time after the surgery, he sat with the mirror in one hand and kept touching the new side of his face with the other, the side of his face that had been twisted and mangled for years after the bear attack. He said it was “like a dream”.
It was hard not to sit humbly and realize that my gripes and complaints are absolutely nothing compared to what some other people have to endure, and next time I’m fussing about my hair sticking up or a faint line under my eyes, I hope I remember what this man went through to repair his face, and I will gratefully accept that I have it pretty good, actually.