E-Memoirs

The Wonderful World of West Magnolia

It’s 5 o’clock in the morning and I am sitting here in my office alone. And that is a truly wonderful thing for so many reasons. Let me elaborate…

The first reason is that I have this beautiful office to come to and work. My office is in a renovated, historic building erected in 1931. The name of the building is the Max Mehl building because it was built by Max Mehl…a famous coin collector from that era. My personal office within my office is Mr. Mehl’s original office. It’s a comfortable space with settees, rugs, and a fireplace. I even have room in here for a my big incline treadmill that sometimes I even use. The office up front is exposed brick, stained concrete floors. It’s a perfectly professional space for what I do but an inviting, warm environment to greet the patrons of the plastic surgery world.

Within my office is our surgery center, West Magnolia Surgery Center. This is the second reason that it is so wonderful that I am sitting here right now. It is a fully accredited surgery center where I perform all of my cosmetic procedures from face lifts to abdominoplasties to breast augmentation. As extraordinary as it is to have a surgery center on site, it is tremendous for me as the space is dedicated to the memory of my mother, Pamela McLaughlin. I lost my mother six and a half years ago and that is the greatest tragedy of my life. That she was the epitome of fun and fabulous and so full of life and joy is her ongoing gift to our patients…her operating room is where many great transitions take place. She would indeed be very, very proud.

All the great office space and operating rooms in the world are worthless without two very important things: patients and personnel. Which is the third reason I am so blessed on this and every day. Let me introduce you to some of the people that make what I do a blessing and a gift every day.

Toni is my best girlfriend. I met her when I moved to Fort Worth over 11 years ago. She is a nurse anesthetist which means she was first a nurse then an ICU nurse then trained beyond that to administer anesthesia. She has given me anesthesia perhaps 5 times over the years when I pursued personal renovations. She has put my husband, my mother, my father and my sister to sleep for various procedures over the years. She truly has a gift for the art of anesthesia and I feel qualified to say this as a surgeon who has worked with SO many anesthesiologists and anesthetists over the years. I trust her with my life, literally. When we are not in the operating room working, we are probably out there in the world playing. Toni and her husband David introduced me to my beloved husband Jeff so they are my fairy godparents. You’ll hear more about them later.

Tim is my right hand man. Literally. He is left handed which means we mesh perfectly across an operating room table. I have known Tim since I moved to Fort Worth when I was a young, scared little surgeon. Tim is a surgical technician which means he pretty much runs the show from getting the whole set up together then participating in the entire procedure as a first assistant. I found out years after I started that Tim’s routine was to operate with the new surgeons and help show them the ropes, sense their likes and dislikes and diffuse the bombs which, stereotypically, all surgeons are. So it came to my attention that I was an assignment at first but we were meant to be, I believe, and have been fast friends ever since. He has more talent in the operating than many surgeons I know. I have assumed a role of bossy big sister to him…I would hope he wouldn’t say ‘mother’ as I’ve only got him by 10 years. In the all girl world of West Magnolia Plastic Surgery, he is the only boy allowed.

Becca is my office manager. And my friend. She has literally been in my practice longer than I have if that is possible. I moved to town about 11 years ago and initially joined another surgeon in practice. She was already in that office for about a month before I arrived. When I left that office to establish solo practice, she came with me. She is genuinely one of the smartest women I know and has one of the strongest faiths I have ever encountered. I have leaned on her for many things over the years and have always found comfort and answers. She runs my life here and that is not an easy job to do. I accept that.

Patty has been in my practice for almost 8 years. When Becca and I set up shop we clearly needed help. The day Patty interviewed, Becca was so impressed that when it was my turn to interview Patty she begged me not to screw it up. I didn’t screw it up; Patty came on board and has evolved into the insurance genius and the skin care expert in this office. She has the sexiest speaking voice I have ever heard and if she read you the phone book you would be fascinated.

Tiffany and Carina complete our office world. They have been her between 1 and 3 years and I love them both. My office is laughter and happiness. Every day? Not so much. But just a couple of days ago I was doing office procedures and two separate patients stated that it must be so great to work here because it’s a happy place. Isn’t that amazing? I wonder how anyone in this office would address that comment if I wasn’t standing right there? Hmmm.

In the operating room, I am blessed to have some of the finest nurses helping us in the recovery room. All of these women are grossly overqualified to care for our patients, and that is a great thing. Jamie and Leslie are both nurse managers in the Trauma department at the big hospital down the street. They call their days here in the recovery room their princess shifts because it is a notch down from trauma patients in the emergency room. Alice is a former ICU nurse that has seen and cared for more critically ill patients that I will ever encounter in my life. She is also overqualified to help patients wake up and go home but isn’t that what you would want?

The fourth reason I am so blessed and happy to be sitting here in the early morning hours is my patients. Without patients there would be no West Magnolia Plastic Surgery. Today I have 5 cases. I am doing a tummy tuck, 5 breast augmentations, breast lifts and liposuction. We start early and work late. And that is the greatest gift I could imagine. For patients to come to my office in the first place, discuss their concerns with me, trust me with their surgery is what defines my life.

I am filled with gratitude and love. It may not sound appealing to many others to be up in the middle of the night getting work done before the day starts but for me this is what it is all about. If would be my privilege to introduce anyone to my world here and the people in it.

‘I’m going to make everything around me beautiful-that will be my life.’ –Elsie de Wolfe

Here’s up to it!

E