Be Careful What You Wish For

What's your wish?

It is frustrating to be on a search mission for old medical records.  I’ve doggedly looked for various records from several doctors in a variety of nooks and crannies.  But when a nondescript manilla envelope with a return address of “Green Bay Plastic Surgical Associates” arrived in my Chicago mailbox I was too terrified to open it.  It sat there on my desk, seeming to taunt me with its nonchalant ability to so easily ruffle my feathers. 

 But a day of reckoning had to arrive and I gingerly opened the package, pulling out 25 or so pages of photocopied medical records from my plastic surgeon for 20 years, Dr. Harold Hoops. If memory served me correctly, I went to Dr. Hoops after my original surgeon Dr. Thomas E. Lynn died several years after my accident.  While I still have not been able to find Dr. Lynn’s original records, I quickly discovered that I had in my hands Dr. Hoops intake records and nearly 20 years of notes on my case.

There in his chicken-scratch of a doctor’s scribble were his notes on the history of my case: 

Medical Records : Chicken-scratch of doctor's scribble

Post-traumatic burn scars of the right leg and buttock; burned at home, age 2, at home stepped on lighted burner, stove, pant leg caught fire; initial care by Drs. Lynn and von Heimburg; St. Vincent Hospital, 3 months.

With just these few couple notes, I had confirmation of the stories I’d heard my whole life.  I kept flipping through the pages and then I saw it — four photos of my own leg, front and back, taken at Dr. Hoops’ office when I was nine years old.  It was hard to believe but I’d never seen a photo of my own leg like this.  I gasped in shock at the sight of it.  Then, turned the page and put the packet back in the manilla envelope.  I needed more time before I would be ready to look again.


  1. Anne I really hope you got closure. One of my childhood friends, she’s like my sister. When she was an infant she tilted the pot of hot water on her body. Her mother didn’t know what to do, her ignorant neighbors told her to add eggs on the burns. When she got to the hospital the tissue was diformed. Now a 25 year old she’s always hiding her left arm and leg always wearing sleeves.
    I never noticed because to me she’s perfect but she was very subconscious about never finding someone to look passed her scars and love her.
    Today she is married with a baby on the way.
    Her scars upset her every now and then but she thanks god she’s healthy and happy.
    I wish you the same Anne 🙂


  2. I am so glad you got confirmation on how the accident happened. I hope you can find some closure. This may sound completely corny but after all those years, I can honestly say that I never knew someone who went through what you did and handled it with such grace! During those crazy high school years, you never showed any signs of outward scaring. Maybe it was your charming personality and wit that overshadowed any type of insecurity you may have been feeling!


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