AwareNow: Issue 25: The Light Edition

Page 91

“The most difficult thing in this process is to accept.” LAURA: We’re looking forward to sharing with our readers some before-and-afters. We realize and respect that some of these photos may be really difficult to look at, but this is what we’re talking about. Life happens. Trauma happens, when you least expect it. It comes from a variety of reasons — illness, injury, civilian violence. Different cultures feel it’s okay to behave in certain ways to disrespect each other, for example throwing acid on a woman to shame her. To that point that you were sharing, Ruth, that’s what I was talking about. I used that word, ‘magic’, because in that process, the miracles taking place are undefinable really. This is the power of the human spirit and the power of collaboration.

One of the things that you love about working with the trauma survivors is when they begin to see their beauty — their internal and external beauty. Self acceptance. They begin reintegrating back into the life process, honoring their new self. Your techniques are so incredible, and I loved the way you defined beauty and how you translate that to your patients through your art and your medical prowess. What is most difficult about the procedural techniques? You mentioned it’s such a long term recovery process for people. How would you define some of the greatest difficulties with this process?

RUTH: The most difficult thing in this process is to accept. Second, for me, it’s when I work on burns. It’s very hard. We need to fight it. We need to make it happen. We need to keep fighting it again and again. Sometimes, with the back and forth, they lose hope sometimes. When they come back, I need to remind them that it will be there. We are together in this. I need to bring them back to the mission. We have a mission, and we need to finish it. That’s the difficulty. People coming with this hope. Then there’s ups and downs. It’s happened to a lot of girls that I’ve worked with. In the end, they’re like, “Oh my God. I cannot believe this.” We show them the before-and-afters. They even forget sometimes, because they got used to it. They accepted it.

LAURA: Ruth, you work on many different extreme types of physical trauma that affects these survivors, not only physically, but mentally, emotionally and sexually, in terms of self identification. I agree and respect how you identify with that. Probably the most difficult thing is how they feel about themselves and helping them stay in the process. Continuing to fuel that hope, that’s through listening and respecting. It’s probably one of the first times that they are sharing the depth of their story.

RUTH: Most likely, they go through the medical. The doctor will do the job, but we can’t forget there is a lot of psychology in there, because now they can actually express to someone what they are thinking and feeling. When they do the surgery, the surgeon will ‘fix it’. That’s the technical thing. But to shine the work of this doctor, it’s actually me. I’m trying to make it look beautiful. It’s like a puzzle, where we work together — the doctor, the patient, and me.

LAURA: It’s your skill. It’s the finishing work. We want to make sure that we are educating and sharing this work of community collaboration on this side of trauma. In the ‘Fellow Travelers’ column, not only are we interviewing the trauma survivors and the thrivers, but also the individuals who are providing this incredible, powerful medical collaboration. It takes an incredible team. But the finish work that you do, Ruth, is so extraordinary. I’m so excited to share the before-and-after photos. You see the joy in these women’s faces. You see… I know that we honor their journey. We see their pain.