About 12 years ago, Ben, my friend from Germany, and I went to the Dolomites in Italy to do some recreational rock climbing. In the Dolomites, there is a network of metal rope cables that was built into the mountains during World War I. It’s called the Via Ferrata and is used for recreational climbing. There are many different climbing trails, from flat simple and easy hikes to ‘oh my God’ vertical climbs. You wear a harness with 2 clips (carabiners) and both are used to clip onto the metal rope cables. When you get to a stud that is holding the cables to the mountain rock, you unclip one and clip to the other side of the stud and then do the same with the second clip. This way, you have at least one clip attached to the cable at all times. Therefore, if you slip off the rock, your fall will be limited to the length of the harness rope.
I had never done or considered rock climbing before and didn’t really know what to expect. My friend is a pretty decent climber and he reassured me that it would be fun and not so difficult. The first day, we did a simple but beautiful (well, everything in the Dolomites is beautiful) hike, climbing up and down fairly safe and simple trails, under a small waterfall and over a small river. We never went more than 10 feet up, and it was a good first experience in using the harness and clips. I could tell that I wanted more of a climbing experience!
The next day, he said that a friend, Gabi, who is a mountain rescue climber would join us for the day’s climb. For some reason, I didn’t think twice about where we were going, what trail we were climbing. I trusted that my friend would know what I was capable of doing and what I was not! Meaning, I only saw the BENEFITS of climbing for the day and NOT THE RISKS myself.
We took a tram up to a higher part of the Dolomites, then hiked for an hour into the mountains. Nearing the end of the hike, I saw a few climbers go up a steep vertical climb, thinking ‘wow, those people are brave’ and ‘there’s no way I could ever do that’.
Shortly, we reached the base of our climb. Ben pointed to the climbers I had seen a few moments earlier, and I then realized that we were going to go on that exact climbing trail. “It’s not too hard,’ he said. I’m sure I did a pretty quick calculation of RISK at that point, but I had no way of assessing the risk. The only thing that reassured me was that Ben and Gabi were there with me. Gabi attached a safety rope to my harness as an additional protective measure and we started climbing. All I can tell you is that it was probably the most scary and the most exhilarating experience I have ever had. If you want an existential God questioning or God affirming moment, that was one for me. I took the RISKS and I totally got the BENEFITS out of that experience.
Taking risks, good risks, is important. Without taking risks, we have no way of enjoying our lives beyond what is basic. No skiing. No flying in an airplane. No driving a car or riding in one.
When it comes to cosmetic surgery or medicine in general, you have to consider risks along with the benefits. If a doctor does not go over both risks and benefits with you, then you may be taking a lot more risk than you would want to take.
I spend a lot of time explaining to my patients why a person would want to have a treatment like Botox or fillers. Both Botox and filler injections are not all that easy to do well. Problem solving requires an understanding of the problem, knowing good treatment options to correct that problem, and the skill and judgment to execute the treatment properly. The next blog will be about these two treatments: Botox and facial fillers. Click on the link to go to my website for more information.