I was born with diastrophic dwarfism. It’s an orthopedic condition which… well, I don’t know the friendly an clinical medical terms, so we’ll say there are deformities involved and I’d have a hell of a time trying to have a normal lifestyle.
When I was born, my parents were directed to an up and coming doctor who specialized in dwarfism. He studied me in detail, and put me through a whip-round of surgeries to fix up my ankles, knees and so on. I was his first patient for most of these procedures, which he had only started researching and developing. The surgeries weren’t particularly fun (the ones I remember) and I had them every few years from birth straight on up to my teens. To this day I still react to ‘hospital’ in the way veterans react to ‘vietnam’.
But, thanks to the corrections, I’m able to walk without pain, I can drive a car, I can take my own showers, I can dress myself, I can do damn near anything I gotta do with a minimal level of gadgets and adaptations. Basically, if it wasn’t for this guy, I would not be living the Chad I live today, I wouldn’t be able to go to normal schools, go to college, get the job I have… I’d be screwed. He fixed me.
He declined payment for the operations when we couldn’t afford it, or when the bastards at the insurance companies didn’t wanna cover us or didn’t understand the procedures well enough to know we needed coverage. He didn’t care about the money. He took on hundreds of patients from all around the world, people who would have had no chance otherwise or would have had unnessecary procedures done by ignorant doctors (limb lengthening, anyone?). He knew what to do. He did it selflessly, working long hours every day, going home tired, sacrificing his personal life for the sake of others…
He was a friend, a trusted confidant, and one of the most gentle and caring people I’ve ever known. He healed me.
His name was Dr. Stephen Kopits, and he passed away in his sleep the other day. I just got the phone call from my mother a few minutes ago.
Dr. Kopits had been fighting a brain tumor for two years now. He had to cancel his appointments and operations… only doing ones in dire need. He dedicated himself to documenting his procedures he’d largely invented himself, so the next generation of dwarfism would have proper treatment. I don’t know the status of that project, and right now I don’t care. Humanity just took a blow to the gut today. I know I did.
The funeral will likely be this weekend, so I’ll have to cancel Saturday (movies at Josh’s) or Sunday (WWE King of the Ring). Not that this matters to me. The man deserves the homage and I’m going to be there.
And I guess that’s all I have to say about that.