THIS SITE IS ABOUT SECOND CHANCES AND THE PURSUIT OF A HIGHER PURPOSE IN THE FACE OF FEAR!
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THIS SITE IS ABOUT SECOND CHANCES AND THE PURSUIT OF A HIGHER PURPOSE IN THE FACE OF FEAR!
From the end of December 2019 until January 6th of 2020, I suffered from a severe and life-threatening COVID-19 infection that resulted in my hospitalization in the ICU. I was told by the ER physician, who cared about me as a colleague, to make my final arrangements. He felt that due to the severity of the bilateral pneumonia that I was suffering from, the low oxygen saturation and the clinical presentation, based on his experience, I most likely was not going to make it out of the hospital alive. I was 51. As you may be able to imagine, that was a huge shock. I made several calls and made final arrangements to protect my young kids’ future financial security, and then sat back in the gurney in a state of shock!
I believe in God strongly, and I felt that my life had been spared many times, but I thought that God intended to end it by COVID. My entire life started to flash before my eyes like a movie. My life had been spared in 1990, when a group of young armed robbers who had been on a killing spree in Chicago, decided to let me live. It had been spared in a car accident, when I ended up being hospitalized in the ICU with a collapsed lung, and I could have died. Several times I had ended in the ICU, during one episode of which I had nearly died. I also reviewed the struggles of my life, since my teenage years, and all that it had taken to become a doctor. Working and attending school had not been easy. As far back as I could remember and up until that night, all I could remember was school, residency, building a medical practice, working to provide for a family and raising kids, and now it was about to end.
I then started to think of all the things I wished I had done differently during my life. All those choices that I had made that I wished I could take back. All those mistakes I had made. All those people I had hurt in the process, and how I wished I could erase those mistakes, or somehow find each of those individuals and apologize to them one by one. It was a very strange feeling. A very incredible, private, and spiritual time. It was two in the morning. I had a very difficult time breathing. I did not feel well at all. My whole body was weak. I was perspiring uncontrollably and shivering. My eyes could not focus, and everything seemed blurry. I could hardly sit up and had to just lay down. I fell asleep.
The next thing I remember is that I was in the ICU in a small room, connected to a whole lot of machines and tubes and IVs. I was alive. That was good. Those few days were almost the most memorable and impactful six days of my life. They were truly an opportunity for me to start reflecting. After six days, due to a shortage of hospital rooms, they had to discharge me home. I was still extremely sick and weak. I could hardly walk and my eyes could not focus. COVID is a terricle disease. It had affected everything. After I finally got home, still feeling sick, I was truly thankful that my life was yet spared one more time. But this did not really sink in as much until I read on Facebook that another cosmetic surgeon who was two years younger than me, and had no previous medical conditions, who had been in the same hospital's ICU at the same time as I was, had just passed away from COVID. It could have easily been me. I could have been the one who died, and he could have been the one who was spared! This has been on my mind since the moment I heard the news. This was a sad, shocking and impactful experience that has permanently changed my outlook on life. This was very real. He had three small children. A young and wonderful man, who also practiced cosmetic surgery in Beverly Hills. This truly drove the lesson home. Life can end in the blink of an eye. It is so fragile and unpredictable. We should never take anything we have for granted. But COVID also taught me so many other lessons that I am going to spend the rest of my life sharing them with others.
Admittedly, I am a very stubborn man. I guess it takes a lot to have me challenge my own beliefs and positions about things. But those six days did the trick. They started something that nothing else seemed to have done before. Those of you who know me know that I have had almost all the challenges that a physician can possibly experience in life. Financial, professional, social, legal, and personal. I had survived them all, and none of those huge problems had cracked me. After all the hugely devastating experiences I had in my life, I was still as self-righteous and egocentric as ever. COVID-19, the little virus had done the job.
Since COVID, my life has changed. It has found a new meaning. This website is an extension of that meaning.
MY DECISION AFTER COVID:
My decision after my near-death experience after COVID has been to be true to myself and to my purpose in my life. I don’t want to take my life and my blessings for granted. I intend to enjoy and appreciate those things that I have in my life to the full extent possible. I plan to do my best to fulfill my calling in my life.
I know that I was meant to be a healer, a teacher and an entrepreneur. I plan on doing these things for the rest of my life.
Although I am not sure if I would practice medicine or surgery personally, utilizing my leadership, teaching, philanthropic, administrative, and entrepreneurial skills, I would make sure I would be instrumental in making healthcare accessible to tens of thousands of people.
MY LIFE BEFORE COSMETIC SURGERY:
I was born in Persia. When the Iran-Iraq war broke out, I was a young teenager. Since I remember, my entire life's passion and motivation was to become a surgeon. After the war, the universities were closed-down, and the chances of attending university were unlikely at the time.
Many teenagers like me flee the country. At the age of fifteen, without the privilege of having the supervision of my parents, I also had to flee the war-stricken country, under those circumstances. After 4 months I arrived in Los Angeles. My brother who is two years older and I rented an apartment together. I got myself a job and enrolled myself in high school. I continued to work throughout high school, college, and most of medical school. I graduated high school at the age of 17. After high school, I attended junior college. I was on the Dean’s list and got accepted into an accelerated, off-shore Caribbean medical school's dual degree BS/MD degree program. I decided to go to this school not knowing that later it would make my chances of becoming a surgeon in America and an ABMS board-certified plastic surgeon hundreds of times more difficult. This was one of the biggest mistakes of my life. and I made it at the age of 19 which affected the rest of my life.
Lesson I Learned: "Quality of our life depends on the method of our decision making. Objective, un-emotional, based on facts and data usually proves to be the most effective method in the longrun.".
Cosmetic Surgery, a Double-Edged Sword!
The First Mountain of My Life!
CONCURRING THE FIRST MOUNTAIN OF MY LIFE, COSMETIC SURGERY:
Nevertheless, despite many difficulties and tremendous challenges, I completed my medical studies and after medical school, I completed two years of general surgery residency, followed by three years of cosmetic surgery fellowship training and passed the written and oral examinations of the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery.. This was a board of specialty that had been established about twenty years prior and was working towards recognition as one of the Boards of Medical Specialties (ABMS) like Internal Medicine, General Plastic Surgery, Orthopedic Surgery or Neurosurgery. Being that medicine is a very systemic, traditional, and for a good reason strictly standardized and of course political field, American Board of Cosmetic Surgery not being an ABMS recognized board of specialty was always a problem, and the Medical Board of California also will not recognize it until it becomes ABMS recognized. This was a huge problem my entire cosmetic surgery career.
I started my cosmetic surgery practice. I placed a few small ads which was all I could afford, and as soon as I did a few surgeries, I started to get referrals and suddenly my practice got busy. To attract patients and to hellp people, i tried to keep my prices low. By 2005 I had by the grace of God developed a very successful cosmetic surgery practice. In fact, in 2003, unbeknownst to me, Daily News, one of the main newspapers of San Fernando Valley had conducted its annual consumer election of Los Angeles service providers, and I was named the Runner Up, in the second position, as the best Cosmetic Surgeon.
That was one of the highlights of my career and I felt as if I had achieved what I had worked so hard, for so long for. Soon I was able to buy a beautiful home in one of the most prestigious neighborhoods of Beverly Hills, from the head of the Department of Plastic Surgery of one of the most prestigious hospitals of West Los Angeles. I felt as if I had reached the summit of the mountain of my life’s dream. I felt like an eagle soaring. Life could not be better.
BEGINNING OF A PAINFUL CRASH:
I am a highly entrepreneurial person. While my first passion was always cosmetic surgery, I was always a natural entrepreneur since childhood. I have created and owned businesses since I was young. I have always truly loved entrepreneurship. When I started my practice, I was gifted by a business name in my sleep. I immediately woke up and wrote the name down.
This became the name of my business, I trademarked it. I called my practice New Me Institute and later, New Me Surgical Institute. As I marketed the name and did surgery, I kept receiving referrals and kept marketing and kept receiving referrals. I was in entrepreneurial heaven. I could not get enough. I loved the challenges and the education of entrepenuership. I enrolled in business school. I wanted to grow. I kept trying to hire qualified partners to expand the business.
It was not the money that motivated me as much as the passion for entrepreneurship. I wanted new me to be national and global. So I tried to learn professional, academic business, get a degree, and hire other surgeons to join my practice There were many problems. For a couple of years, I could not recruit anyone with sufficient cosmetic surgery experience who wanted to work for me. I could hire new graduates without enough experience but I was not willing to subject my patients and practice to that.
Most highly skilled and qualified cosmetic surgeons are in high demand. They did not want to work for the salary I was able to afford to offer. They could earn a whole lot more on their own.
During these years as I was searching for permanent, qualified partners, I increased my work hours to a point where I was only sleeping three to four hours per night. The demand for my time was increasing and I could not slow things down,
The overhead had become massive, I was expected to do all the surgeries myself and I had to watch every little thing to make sure nothing went wrong. It was insanity. "WAY TOO MUCH OF A GREAT THING!". I loved everything that I was doing. Every moment of it. I could not get enough of either. Not enough of cosmetic surgery and not of entrepreneurship. But unfortunately it had become way too overwhelming, and no matter how many administrators and managers and topline staff I hired to help take the load off, instead they just added to the overhead!
In the meanwhile, my purusit for great, talented cosmetic surgery partners continued. The problem was my patients wanted me; and if some oe else did the surgery and something did not go perfect, as the medical director and the captain of the ship, Still I was the one who was responsible to fix the problem. So, it both increased the overhead of the practice because I had to pay the surgeons' salaries and be responsible for their complications and unhappy patients. That was a deal that I had not signed-up for!
This crazy routine continued. Lack of sleep, fatigue, ego-trip of a hot-shot surgeon in Beverly Hills, greed, the strain on my marriage and family relationships, and all kinds of bad choices ensued. These bad choices had started to reverse things in my life. I was no longer at the "peak of the mountain". I was "on the way down". When the financial melt-down of 2008 came about, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. It became a free-fall. Ultimately, in retrospect, almost all my problems may have been caused by my own poor choices.
If early on in my career I felt like an eagle soaring, I was now on my way down, and it was going to be a crash-landing, it ultimately did not end well. I ended up not on the ground, but it felt like I was under the ground. I lost everything. I felt crushed in every way imaginable.
In the meanwhile, as I explained in the blog article below, "WHY EXCELLENT BUSY COSMETIC SURGEONS MAY HAVE UNHAPPY PATIENTS?", my mental state started to deteriorate as all the pressures were compounded with the unhappy patients complaining. I needed to calmly educate them, and simply resolve their misunderstandings. But with all the emotional and mental pressures I was under, I was in no state to do that. Instead my interactions with others further aggrevated them and created a viscious cycle that ended up involving me into all kinds of additional troubles. Eventualy i found myself in trouble with the Medical Board, legal issues, financial loss and devastation of my great professional reputation. I had also extended credit to many of my patients in good faith which they never paid me despite their great results, causing me hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses and making me feel betrayed and cheated. I ended up in even deeper depression and my mental health deteriorated even further. In the meanwhile a lawyer brought six simultaneous malpractice lawsuits against me. He also hired a TV reporter to unbeknownst to me create a horrible video to make me look like a monster. They edited the video and only showed the portions of it that made me look upset when I learned I was set-up and they succeeded in making me look like a monster. Later, the rest on the internet picked up the vieo and ran with it. It became a national news. You could see Dr. New Me, the Monster that now had become totally depressed, and with all the antidepressant medications had ballooned up into a human fat-ball, on a large number of internet and television news sites. I was also mentioned on a few sites as America's most dangerous physicians and God knows what else. I gave up after that. Everything had become a huge, overwhelming mess and the Medical Board pursued the issues hence my license was suspended and revoked.
Later,after I got to know the attorney who had brought the six lawsuits against me, he turned out to be a very nice guy. He was just rying to make money. I learned that he hired the news reporter to make the news clip to get back at me for my angry behavior towards him in the beginning.
I learned another lesson that in a bad situation, my own poor behavior would only make the situation worse. It has been eleven years since that time. I have come a long way. It takes moment to moment awareness.
When we eventually went to court to defend my practice against each of the cases and presented our defense, thanks to the evidence, the truth, the before and after pictures, documentations, and the expert witness testamonies, nothing came of those malpractice lawsuits, and with God's grace they were all resolved. They all went awy but too little too late. The mental, emotional, and financial devastation that they caused me will be forever a pamrt of my every moment. That video did something to me and my self-esteem, self-confidence, my reputation, my ability to earn a living, my social life, and even my relationship with my children that I can't even describe with any words.
One thing I learned is that there are amazing people who have great intentions, but when they hear something, without adequate investigation, or objective knowledge, jump into conclusion and spread the information. This can become cyber assasination. The internet world has become such a double edged sword. I love the side that can help us grow, learn, teach each other, help and assist humanity, be impactful in a positive manner and make our worl a much better place. I watch YouTube and educational channels and videos, use the sites that can help my life in some positive way or help me help others.
On the other hand, there are all these toxic social media and dark sites. All these destructive sites that have been designed with no good intention, accountability nor interest for the best interest of our human family.
Sometimes even media intentionally participates in these kinds of behaviors.
When we say dishonest things towards others, spread hatred, try to hurt someone intentionally by spreading information that we know is not true, knowing it will truly devastate their life, assassinate their character and destroy their reputation, all with the excuse that this is America and we have the right to Freedom of Speach, that is not exercising our rights, it is something else.
At the end, the lessons I learned from all of these experiences are still being processed. Working on myself and trying to overcome my anger, reactive hatred amd resentment, I have decided to turn this around. I have accepted that I was the cause of it in some ways. I prefer to not be a victim. When I see myself as a victim, I give my power away. There is no power in being a victim. As a victim, there is nothing I can do to change something that has happened to me. But as a person who was responsible for what happened, perhaps in some way responsible , even if not directly responsible, then, I have all sorts of power. I can change all types of things, do all types of things and learn all types of things. Suddenly I am in a position of power.
I have shifted my victim position a, nd starting this blog, educating my previous patients, writing articles on the internet, writing to YELP and communicating with FOX news who allowed this "FAKE NEWS" be aired as real news and the sites that used it to increase their traffic and etc. are all the things I intend to do. Additionally, as stated, I have learned that by challenging someone in a bad situation and upsetting them, I am only going to make the situation worse. I am constantly learning from the experience and sharing what I learn so that in itself is worth a lot.
Nevertheless, after all the previusly mentioned devastating experiences, the six lawsuits, this video got aired and all its aftermaths, I felt as if I had had a free-fall crash-landing and found myself proverbially six-feet-under.
FROM SIX-FEET-UNDER TO THE TOP OF THE GROUND:
Since 1990 I have been involved in the self-help movement and I have been in every way possible feeding my mind with self-improvement concepts. It was using these concepts that I crawled myself out of the hole, one inch at a time.
Sometimes it felt like crawling out one inch took a whole month. Somettook at times I slipped back into the hole a lot further down due to one bad choice. It took 10 years to finally make my way all the way out of that hole. During these ten years, I attended numerous seminars and classes. I participated in countless counseling and therapy sessions, and I read hundreds of self-help books and videos.
TOWARD THE TOP OF THE SECOND MOUNTAIN:
Once I was successful at climbing out of the hole that I had put myself into, it was time to start climbing up a new mountain. This time, the mountain will be much bigger, lusher, and greener, I am in no rush to get to the top and I am taking as many people as I can with me.
It is a matter of helping others and the purpose is to be of service, being true to my life's calling and making a difference.
Making mistakes is human. But this time around, as I have grown wiser and learned a great deal from my many mistakes, I get to catch myself early.
I created a nonprofit organization in the nineties to participate in philanthropic efforts, serving others. I am now increasing these efforts.
In the last fourteen years, God has put me in a clinic in the South Los Angeles and the South-Central Los Angeles where I have been serving as the administrative consultant. I have learned the joy of living on my life's purpose. Through the nonprofit organization, we are now planning on providing medical services to the needy and underserved in all those communities that are in need and lack access.
I also have developed a consulting firm wherein using my business degrees, I can help other entrepreneurs (www.AmericanEliteGlobalSolutions.com). I love teaching, as well as sharing my knowledge and experiences. I also have developed an educational online institute called American Elite Institute (www.AmericanEliteInstitute.com).
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