A Letter To My Boyfriend's Brain Surgeon

My boyfriend has a door in his head. He’s had it for a long time. When I touch his hair I know that beneath the long, parallel scars on his scalp is a suspended mess of bone and a set of hinges, ready to be swung open whenever he needs to be fixed. My skull is a mostly solid mass of cartilage and bone, but Dwight’s has been sawed through and exposed to the air and to the careful, trained hands of you, Surgeon. He’s closer to the world than most people.

Medieval surgeons thought the mind existed in the heart. We still emphasize those tough blood muscles: I heart you; you are in my heart. Surgeon, you and I know better. We know that what we conceive of as the heart exists in that spongy grey mass in our craniums. I occipital lobe you. You are in my corpus callosum.

You saw him first as a little boy with blue eyes and a dreamy face, and you’ve watched him grow into a tall twenty-four year old with a soft voice. Twice you have peeled back his skin, opened his skull and carefully removed the bubbles of air and horror that pressed up against his cerebral cortex. He trusts you. Dwight told me once that his earliest memory was lying calmly in the backseat in the car on the way to the hospital, as his terrified parents drove their son to the operating table. He wasn’t scared. He believed in you, Surgeon, and he was not afraid to die. He still isn’t. That fear belongs to the people who love him.

Were you scared, Surgeon, to feel the interworking of this whole person pulsing beneath your blue gloves? Did you nervously touch the crackling nerves entwining to create his particular makeup, miraculously forming his gift for silly puns and his love of sharks? Did you sense the promise of him against your fingers?

You don’t have to worry, Surgeon. When we bike, Dwight always wears a helmet. He’s protective of your work. He is careful. He tracks his headaches and dizzy spells and sends them to you, casually, like a grocery list, while I wring my hands and worry. He tells me, “don’t worry. You won’t lose me. You get to keep me forever!” I still worry, lying awake sometimes at night wondering what if. What if the light behind his bright eyes went out, the love that lights me up from the inside out?

Dwight never takes your work for granted. Surgeon, he is grateful to you every day. He never asks why this has happened to his brain. Instead, he asks why he was saved. Some people would rage against what the universe has done to them. Dwight is so dumbstruck and gratified that the universe let him live. He says he wants to make the world a better place. That he has to. Surgeon, I am pretty biased on this topic, but I think the world is a better place because he is in it, so thank you. There is really nothing I can ever say to thank you enough, Surgeon. I’m sure no one ever can. You’ve saved hundreds of people. Dwight is the most precious person in the world to me, but he’s just one of your patients. Every one of them is somebody’s most precious person.

Two weeks ago, Dwight had a severe dizzy spell that resulted in him having trouble writing legibly. He tells me that isn’t as bad as it sounds, but if you ever need to open the door in his head again, Surgeon, I just wanted you to know—once, when we were visiting the ocean years ago, I spun around, stretching my fingers towards the rocky crags of the Pacific Northwest coastline and exclaimed, “This is my favorite place!” He laughed along with the surf, and came over to wrap his arms around me, his eyes aglow. “This,” he whispered, “This is my favorite place.” Thank you for that day, Surgeon. Thank you for your steady hands and your own dexterous brain. Thank you for this miracle of a person. Thank you for the door in his head. TC mark

More From Thought Catalog

  • Jordan

    Very nice

  • http://hydeparkblvd.wordpress.com Allison Berger

    lovely.

  • Anonymous

    Oh my GOD this is exquisite. So many beautiful little passages; the end brought tears to my eyes. Magnificent.

  • Olly_Hymnia

    This is somewhat how I feel about the doctors who treated my boyfriend’s cancer when he was still just a child. Some of the best moments of my life have been with him, and without them he wouldn’t be here. I wonder if any of them know the person he’s become, the person they saved – the person that loves me and makes me feel like the world can be better, is better, will be better, every day.

  • your cousin

    This is so pretty and nice.

  • Asdf

    This is beautifully executed from start to finish. Very well done.

  • Catt

    This was incredible. Thank you.

  • Anonymous

    Super lovely. I don’t know how doctor’s get so detached, but I know it’s out of self-preservation.

  • scin

    this is beautiful, but too close to home.
    i can’t wait to be able to read this all the way through.
    thank you.

  • scin

    this is beautiful, but too close to home.
    i can’t wait to be able to read this all the way through.
    thank you.

  • moo

    Beautiful text, and very touching. I almost cried at the end.

  • Anonymous

    This was unbelievably saccharin. Are you kidding? I mean, my dad may be a brain surgeon so I’m a tad jaded but give it a rest. Next time the guy almost dies give the surgeon a couple of really nice bottles of red wine (they ALL drink or at least need things to regift without having to run errands because they are so busy fixing your boyfriend and numerous drunk drivers and stroke patients) and say thank you. Also, FYI: he talks about you with his wife and possibly his kids if you do something embarrassing like gush about your emotions, hug him or write something completely humiliating like this.

    • Sarah

      Wow, you are a miserable person.

    • Lorelei

      You’re a disgusting excuse for a human being

    • your cousin

      Go fly a kite.

    • idk

      so your dad comes home to gossip and talk shit about people who are grateful to him for helping their loved ones? um, ew. i probably have an old training bra he can borrow.
      he’s raised you very well too btw.

    • Blow

      Apparently the life of luxury your brain grew accustomed to
      due to the fact your father was a brain surgeon turned you into an unsympathetic miserable
      piece of shit.

      • Anonymous

        I had no life of luxury. Surgeons don’t make as much as you think they do and it flies out the door pretty damn fast, especially if they are raising kids. Think about those student loans and how long it was before my dad started actually working and making money? He didn’t earn a legitimate salary where he didn’t qualify for food stamps until he was 32. Public school, used cars, both parents worked, and while my dad paid for college I had no help the instant I finished school and was not allowed to move home because “independence is a virtue”. Graduate school was only to be paid for if I decided to go to medical school. I am not unsympathetic, I think you people don’t understand what exactly surgery is and why doctors don’t become your best friends for life afterwards. It is a job. It keeps them away from their families, it can be boring and the people they work for are arrogant as hell, the patients can be incredibly demanding and have impossible expectations (as do their families), it was a bitch to get certified in the first place and they are constantly fighting to stay on top of the latest techniques, but ultimately they are normal people who just did their job. In the words of my father: figuring out what to do is the hard part, a monkey could do the actual surgery. I get that you’re happy that he’s okay but thank the doctor and get on with your lives.

      • Alice

        calm down, dude. she posted an essay on thought catalog, it’s a think piece. she’s not braiding friendship bracelets. it’s not like she gave it as a dramatic monologue to your dad or anything.

    • Blow

      Apparently the life of luxury your brain grew accustomed to
      due to the fact your father was a brain surgeon turned you into an unsympathetic miserable
      piece of shit.

    • Rachel

      Well if your father’s discussing patient files then perhaps he should not have his license and you my dear should not hold onto that God Complex too much because it’s your father’s success, not yours.

      • Anonymous

        Doctors can discuss patients as long as they don’t discuss specifics. “I coiled this man’s aneurysm and this woman freaked out and cried on my shoulder. It was successful but she lost it anyways.” No big.

    • Rachel

      Well if your father’s discussing patient files then perhaps he should not have his license and you my dear should not hold onto that God Complex too much because it’s your father’s success, not yours.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2VXPKDT5ZYPBKSVYUKWCOZ4PU4 le gnome

      As someone who works in the medical field, I understand your father’s need to distance himself from emotions. If he didn’t, he would’ve burned out a long time ago. No matter how HE feels, there will ALWAYS be people who are so grateful for his sacrifices in life because those sacrifices allowed him to saved their loved one. The suggestion of gifting them with something that could, if needed, be regifted is awesome. But don’t judge people for being thankful for what he does. 
      Your comment about how he ‘OMG talks about you and your ridiculous behavior on probably the worst day of your life’ was super awesome, and speaks a lot to YOUR character, not his. He needs to decompress. It sounds like you are jaded because his lack of giving you a super easy life made you have to work harder. Get over it. Lots of people work really hard for what they have and it isn’t handed to them by mom and dad. So sorry your dad feels that’s a good thing and is instilling it in you despite his ability to help.

      • Anonymous

        My parents don’t have the resources to give me a “easy” life. He is a doctor not CEO. In academic medicine especially, doctors don’t make the money you think they do. I don’t hold anything against them and wouldn’t be on here defending my dad if I did. I’ve got a good thing going on my own and I was referring to the fact that he doesn’t support me in the positive. I worked all the way through college and was employed before I graduated so I made a smooth transition. My job is paying for my MBA in the fall. I haven’t taken a dime from them since I was 20 (I graduate a year and a half early and saved them a bundle too). I respect my parents which is a lot more than I can say for most of my friends.

        I still think this is horse shit and BTW, Le Gnome, we all know you manage medical waste or something.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2VXPKDT5ZYPBKSVYUKWCOZ4PU4 le gnome

        Yeah, nurses sure do manage that medical waste. *yawn*

    • Chrissy

      Sickening and rude.

      These words are her personal thoughts, not cheap wine, which you evidently favour, that can be pissed out.
      Respect that, why don’t you.

  • guest

    loved it

  • guest

    loved it

  • http://twitter.com/janettegomez Janette Gomez

    I’m a medical student and while there are a lot of downside to my chosen professions (like the fact that I have about 8 more years of learning to go), it’s stories like this that make it all worthwhile!  thank you! :) 

  • Tearstearstears

    I cried.

  • Sarah

    Completely beautiful from start to finish, I got teary towards the end. Please write more for Thought Catalog. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/earthtonichole EarthToNichole

    Bawling. beautiful writing.

  • http://twitter.com/aaliznat Tanzila Anis

    its beautiful and emotional. and reflects the love you have for your guy. priceless. hugs!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jesperdahl Jesper Dahl

    Absolutely beautiful!
    Thank you for writing this!

  • http://www.sophiajeanne.com Sophia Jeanne

    Crying. This is beautiful.

  • http://www.twitter.com/mexifrida Frida

    Heartwarming.
    I’m happy that you and your boyfriend have found each other and thankful to the surgeon as well for making this happy story possible.

  • jessi jae

    this is so precious. 

  • Björn

    I have no problem with admitting that I almost cried while reading this. Beautiful.

  • Chrissy

    I cry every time I read this. It is my most favourite and undoubtedly the most beautiful piece of writing on thoughtcatalog.
    My life long dream is to become a doctor. But lately, I came to the realization that I am inadequate in achieving the marks. And truthfully, I gave up. But now that I’ve read this article my dream has reignited. Thank you. Your love for Dwight and gratitude to the surgeon motivates me to never give up. Because this, your beautiful words of feeling, highlight what a doctor must do and what it means to be one. Not for the glory of the title or the money but saving the lives of people’s loved ones.

    If Dwight’s surgeon ever read this, he would be greatly grateful and maybe even overcome with joy? Joy from achieving his goal.

    Again. Thank you. For sharing this and for boosting my motivation. I sincerely hope Dwight and yourself live a very happy life because of the door that the surgeon has created.

blog comments powered by Disqus