I was born with a heart defect that was “not survivable” in the 1950s. My Uncle Louis had just finished his internship and was weighing competitive offers for his residency when he heard my diagnosis. To get the experimental heart surgery I needed, he threw away those offers and traded his medical residency. He agreed to work (pretty much as an indentured servant) for the state mental hospital in Norman, Oklahoma. My parents, Uncle Louis, Aunt Wese, my cousin Doug, and I all moved into the staff housing and lived there for the duration – which explains a lot about my present mental state.
Now, this was the era of breast worship, so the doctors refused to make the incision on my chest; instead, they went through my back, cutting me nearly in half. I was left with a perfect bosom, and a magnificent scar on my back. Whenever I got tired of being pestered with questions of how I got such a huge scar, I just told people I’d been attacked by an enormous shark. That shut them right up, and it was well worth being grounded.
Uncle Louis went on to become a renowned surgeon in Oklahoma City. However, his own sons didn’t know about his sacrifice until I told them, shortly after his death. That’s the kind of man he was. It’s no wonder he had such a special place in my newly-repaired heart.