AwareNow: Issue 25: The Light Edition

Page 89

RUTH: (continued) that collide together. It’s artistic and medical at the same time. I’m so happy to share my knowledge with people that need my help.

LAURA: That is really beautifully stated. That is the strength of our integrative health partnership and what you have been providing for all these decades with your training as a medical professional and as an artist. I also share with our viewers, the focus of the ‘Fellow Travelers’ column, that this particular edition of AwareNow is called ‘The Light Edition’. It’s about finding light in the dark. So, know that trauma, tragedy and miracles are all a part of the life process. They do not discriminate or distribute fairly. Simultaneously, it’s amazing what we’ve learned about life and trauma. It’s occurring across all diverse cultures, ethnicities, colors, countries, genders, religions and humanity. You’ve worked with many, many extraordinarily challenged traumas survivors beyond most people’s imagination, and you do it with so much positivity and respect. There’s a lot of magic that happens when someone meets you because they come to you completely decimated.

RUTH: It’s true. They see me as… ‘the magical person’. I don’t say it this way, because it’s far from that. I wish I had the wand to fix the world, but that’s not how it works. The idea is to come and see that they have hope in my hands. And that to me is huge. It’s driving me to work on them and make it happen. That’s the most important because they are feeling that they have hope. They put it in my room, in my hands, and how could I actually destroy this little bit of hope that someone has?

LAURA: That is so true. And being a life altered trauma survivor, we’ve known each other a long time — personally and professionally. From complete disfigurement, I had such a blessed recovery from a tragic and traumatic event, a burn survivor, a helicopter crash survivor, myself. One of the things I wanted to ask you is how does trust impact your relationship with your patients?

RUTH: In the beginning, they come with hope. They don’t know if I can really do it, but for them, even a little bit is huge. When I hear this and I feel like I know I can do more than just a little bit, I take it as a project for me. I really put all of my knowledge, soul, talent, and everything I have from all my years to this specific project. I don’t care how long it’s going to take. Some of them have come, and they are with me for 8 months. We do it step by step, and we never give up. We know it will get better. We know it will be okay. You can feel whole again. That for me, is a blessing — for me and for her. I can’t even explain the joy I have from that.

LAURA: It is undefinable. I would also share that I feel that you adapt to each particular individual. As human beings we’re not cookie cutters. We have similar emotions, but the way we handle our traumas are different. So, I would imagine that they come in particular terrified. Our goal is to find that spark of hope. But when they come in that decimated, and they don’t even recognize themselves… I feel that one of the most important healing components is love and respect. And you bring that to each and every one of these individuals.

What are some of the feelings that your patients share about how their scars and disfigurement impact their self worth as well as their physical mobility?

RUTH: Let’s talk about a specific patient that I have. She was burned, half of her face. Her ex-boyfriend threw battery acid at her face and destroyed half of her face. She is very beautiful, and he has an amazing attitude. That’s one thing that makes this story already beautiful, but you can tell that she doesn’t want to take pictures. She wants to show only the other side or a very different angle. When I started working with her and giving her back the color of her skin, creating her lips and eyebrows back to normal, it can take a long time — months or years. I try to teach them… “You know what? Let me tell you. You now need to start to love yourself. Love those scars. Love everything that will happen to you, because it has a reason.” She’s not from the United States. She went back to South Africa. I’m so happy because she’s become an ambassador to talk there, because it’s very common for them to throw acid on young girls if they think something is not right to them. You see that today she is teaching people to love themselves and to love their scars. I am thrilled. Yes, she looks amazing, but with any scar, it’s a scar. We’re going to make it better. What happens is they start to love the new them. I love it. This is the main thing for me. When I see that I get this point to people, it’s a miracle for me. It’s a miracle… Then it’s amazing that I have some people coming in and saying, “You see this scar? I want it gone.” It’s not happening. It’s not going to go. It’s a scar. It can get better, but don’t say ‘gone’.