E-Memoirs

Change is good. Unless it refers to your marital status...

As I sit here at my desk thinking that a blog is overdue with all the recent changes in my personal and professional life, I am shocked to discover that it has been 3 months since I last checked in. It’s a good thing no one’s life hangs in the balance with my posts given my inconsistency but I have been very busy so hopefully you’ll forgive me and keep reading.

On June 30 of this year….18 short days ago…I left the multispecialty group that I had joined when I first started my Plastic Surgery practice. The reason I joined the group 13 years ago was pure and simple: I had no idea how to run a business and that affiliation offered me the resources that I didn’t have. As the years and my practice evolved, it became clear that I was indeed able to handle the day to day functions of my office. Separation from a group like that is a massive endeavor and I started planning my exit two and a half years ago. In the end, the split was relatively painless for all and I am free and clear on my own: how it was always meant to be when I made the decision at 16 years old to become a Plastic Surgeon. To enter my office, you would not know anything is different…except for the joy and levity I have embraced since I have been free.

We have seen changes during this transition that I admit I never would have imagined. Anyone at all familiar with West Magnolia Plastic Surgery knows Becca. She and I have been together since the very beginning, literally. At one point in a prior transition, West Magnolia Plastics was just the two of us…our desks touching at the corners in a tiny shared office. We had to keep our voices down when talking on the phone as we sat side by side. We moved offices together twice, finally to our home here. I could not have fathomed a practice without her running the show but her happiness is far more important than our alliance and she made the decision to leave here to pursue her Master’s degree in counseling. The world needs her out there more than I need her here and she is forever a part of this practice. Becca…how I love you and am so proud that you are pursing your dreams.

With Becca relinquishing the reins as Office Manager, I was tasked with finding someone to come in and take on the job. The idea of managing a growing and expanding practice that is on the cusp of leaving a multispecialty group after more than a decade with new computer system, new personnel, new payroll…SO much new…would be daunting to most anyone. I can attest that I would have turned and run in the other direction. I cannot even believe my good fortune in finding Ashley to run this office. She came across our world first in an entirely different capacity that was not a reasonable fit for her skills and experience. It broke my heart because at the time there was not another position here for her. Everyone that met her loved her and we were certain when the time was right it would work out. Within weeks of that first meeting, Becca had made the decision to pursue further education and in the meantime, I received an email from Ashley that remains one of the most elegant compositions I have ever read. She is everything and more and I am blessed beyond all description to have her by my side moving forward.  

There has been ample rearranging around here and I don’t just mean the furniture. Most of you that have stuck with us through the years (how I love your loyalty, trust and friendship!) are probably used to seeing the ‘usuals’ where they always were. Tiffany at the front and Patty just inside the door in her little cubicle. No more…but only for the positive. Patty’s space is now a corridor to The Retreat and she has assumed the role within the entire office of Patient Care Coordinator. Her calm kindness and gentle demeanor is unwavering and I am so proud that she is overseeing scheduling of all my patients, cosmetic and insurance. Tiffany…awesome, amazing Tiff…is now our Marketing and IT genius. She just earned her Associates Degree after years of attending classes before and after work and online. It’s a tough reality when you become the old guard in a group and all your techie questions are directed to the young ones. Tiff has been instrumental in launching the new practice between social media management, configuring our new electronic medical records, trouble shooting an entire new computer server between what is now a huge physical space. We have added people to our team and we are very excited to introduce them to everyone. Reyna is at the front and doing a great job of welcoming our friends when they come to see us at West Magnolia. With additional services available, we now have a full-time aesthetician, Emilie, and a massage therapist, Belinda. I feel like the mother hen with all the pretty little chickens running around.

I would be remiss in not mentioning Carina and Travoya. It takes both to keep me in line and even then, it’s a handful but I am so grateful. Carina runs the operating room at West Magnolia Surgery Center and Travoya runs the clinical office. Travoya had her beautiful baby boy earlier this year and although I imagined he would be the office mascot, she did not share the same image. I love you Carina and Travoya and I absolutely, unequivocally could not maneuver my professional life without you. I wouldn’t want to.

Many of you that have been to the office over the years certainly noticed that we were stuffed to the gills in this historic space. When I took over this space 10 years ago, I made a fateful decision to allow part of the first floor to go to another office suite. I never could have imagined that my practice would grow so much over the years: novice mistake. I regretted that decision almost immediately for so many reasons, not the least of which was that I now needed the additional space. The front corner of this building has the original honeycomb tile on the floor and the beautiful French doors at the entrance. The suite was leased by an attorney that became a friend. I loved seeing him when we parked at the same time on Magnolia and visited in the morning. I told him in no uncertain terms that I loved having him next door…but if he ever left the space I wanted dibs on taking it over. That became a reality in the fall when he announced he was relocating his practice to downtown Fort Worth. Opportunity knocked…

My vision for additional office space was to expand the non-surgical arm of my practice. As a surgeon, I love to do surgery. Having a surgical suite on site is a gift and a dream and I would love it if everyone that came through the front door wanted a tummy tuck and breast augmentation. Sadly, that is not reality and some people just wish to have a more uniform complexion or tighter skin. Sometimes people just want a facial or a massage. I love to have facials and massages. I also love smooth, tight skin. The additional space was clearly earmarked for a med-spa to allow me to expand non-surgical services. The challenge was what to call it…until I started construction and found myself retreating over there for the beauty and the Zen of the space. Hence, The Retreat on West Magnolia.

The space is a beautiful (if I say so myself) reinvention of an antique space. With the vintage tile and exposed brick comes a fully functional spa space. The laser options I previously offered now live over there with much more room to execute procedures. The Sciton® Joule laser allows for a myriad of skin resurfacing options. Fractional laser resurfacing, micro laser peel or phototherapy for pigmentation concerns. The Thermi®RF system is designed for skin tightening: face, neck and vaginal rejuvenation are the most popular options. These procedures are offered with local sedation or topical anesthesia and with little down time. SkinPen is a micro needling device that creates a microscopic injury in the tissue with the resulting effect stimulation of collagen and elastin and overall improved skin texture and tightness. I have had each one of these procedures done in multiple over the years and can attest the the brilliance of each of them. Great things can happen without having to have surgery.

As I was outfitting this beautiful space on this most exciting corner (Magnolia and Henderson), I watched the happy people walking by between Cat City Grill and Melt and Heim Barbeque and Kent&Co. Wouldn’t it be nice, I thought to myself, if there was an option for these people to enhance their day on the Magnificent Magnolia Mile. I wonder if it’s a mile or more than that and if anyone has coined that term yet? I will be measuring it in my car from one end to the next after I leave here today…

Facials and massages are the bread and butter of any spa atmosphere. Bringing these services to The Retreat became an obvious inclusion. The option to have a relaxing procedure without any evidence that you indulged yourself…except for the blissful look on your face…meshes perfectly with the phenomenal atmosphere along West Magnolia. With an affection for facials and massages at other spas through the years, I am quite familiar with the nuances that make an experience extraordinary. A glass of champagne is always lovely but the artsy world that I am positioned in here demands more. We offer a full bar here to launch your experience…have a nice Scotch on a rock or a sip of good tequila to start your relaxation. Of course, we have champagne as well but sometimes it’s nice to have options. Put on your warm lavender booties and your soft robe and disappear into a nap while your massage evolves or your HydraFacial progresses. When you’re done with your experience, finish your sip and head out into the world. I feel certain the barbeque will taste even better (IF possible) and the company at Kent&Co will be amazed at your Zen.

I am now the co-founder of an amazing non-profit, Fighting Right, that evolved from the tremendous success of BoobieQue last year. The friendship, compassion, dedication of Carrie Carter, Matt Wallace, Laurie Bates, Emma Heim and Erin Rahr to make that dream a reality is unparalleled.  My one-year cancerversary was June 22. The past year has been a whirlwind of amazing opportunities and overwhelming grace and generosity on the part of so many. I have cemented a lifelong bond with Gabriel Starling who, at 9 years old, has done more to help others than many can declare in a lifetime. He is unstoppable and I am baffled that I have the privilege of being by his side for all that he does. I have been blessed with awards that I could never have imagined this time last year: HealthCare Hero, Community Advocate of the Year. If I had known when I was 9 years old how powerful and fulfilling it was to give back and help others, I would hope I would have had the insight and heart and soul of Gabriel Starling to do so. I have said it many, many times but without any hesitation, cancer gave me far more than it took away from me.

What else is new? Oh yes…had to get remarried a couple of weeks ago. What? Yes, you read that right.

When I left the multispecialty group, I lost my insurance. I knew this would happen but somehow imagined it would be more of a gentle process. Tried to fill a prescription for the sexy reflux I was recently diagnosed with. Aging is not for sissies, people. When the Pharmacy alerted me to the insurance status, Jeff’s answer was to jump onto his coverage as his spouse. Seemed like a brilliant idea. All we had to do was provide his insurance company with proof of our marriage. We were married in Belize 9 years ago. An official, legit, honest to God marriage with two officiants to boot, one of which was my beloved Poppy, Joe Lewis. We were unable to locate our copy of our marriage license at home so called the Tarrant County clerk’s office to provide us a copy. And that’s when the party started…

It seems we never filed our marriage license with the county. The solution, we were told, was to present to the Courthouse, fill out some paperwork and pay a nominal fee and they would date the certificate our original wedding date. That was easy, we took a selfie with the new certificate and faxed it the insurance company. Disaster averted, we thought.

Turns out you can only retro date a common law marriage and although that is legally binding in Texas and perhaps perfection for many couples, not OK for me after being Mrs. Nipples for the past 9 years. Back to the Courthouse that same afternoon, completed a formal license application and found a District Court judge to sign the 72-hour waiting period waiver. Our beloved friend Travis Heim had offered the preceding day to officiate our ceremony, largely as a joke because who would have imagined we would be getting married. Again. Well, he did officiate that night and although we had reached out to Chester Cox at Kent&Co for some real estate on the patio there to complete the obligatory paperwork, our amazing friends turned this into a real wedding. I walked down the ‘aisle’ to some Aerosmith playing on the sound system on the arm of my fairy godfather, David Lewis and my fairy godmother Toni Lewis was my matron of honor. Beautiful words were spoken, kisses were exchanged, a cake was cut and bubbles were poured. Some fried chicken factored in there somewhere, too. In 2018, Jeff and I will be celebrating both our 10th and our 1st wedding anniversaries. Who says life is not an adventure. What I say more often than that is ‘you cannot make this shit up’.

To complete the update of personal and professional lives, our beloved Lucy just clicked over her 16 and a half birthday on July 10. Amazing. She remains in general good health for a canine centenarian but is slowing down. I know we are on borrowed time with you, sweet Lucy. May your days be filled with naps and snacks and the occasional slab of Heim brisket, lean cut of course to help keep you fit and trim. Tucker, the little white ‘we got you at an auction on a Sunday night while drinking red wine’ is 6 years old and awesome. I am a big dog girl but you’ve opened my eyes, little one. If only you knew how to brush your teeth and would do it daily. Whew…little dog breath!

Keeping my eye on the prize right now with a trip to Italy in October. It’s very powerful to have something to look forward to, to work for. I will welcome a little break when the time comes but until then there is much work to be done here.

I start most every day here at my desk before anyone else arrives, before the sun is up. I walk through this space and marvel at the opportunities I have been given and am filled with gratitude for so much. For the women that make my world go around here in the office, the OR and The Retreat. Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together. Nothing fell apart here, but change and growth are inevitable. We have such a GREAT thing here at West Magnolia Plastic Surgery…I long to share it with you in every capacity. Come by for your massage and enjoy your little cocktail. Raise your glass while you’re here and utter the mantra of my beloved mother:

 

Here’s up to it!

E