Sunday, December 28, 2008

Half Man, Half Tree

Warning: Post contains graphic video and pictures.

I'm watching this documentary on TLC about an Indonesian fisherman named Dede with an unusual skin disorder. His body is covered with warts and his hands and feet are covered with so many warts that they are starting to look like branches. Hence, the nickname "Tree Man" that Dede is usually called. I had read an article about him a couple of months ago and was shocked by the pictures but, watching this documentary really made an impression on me.

Watching him trying to live a normal life with hands and feet so weighed down by warts makes me feel so shallow. I worry about trying to get rid of a couple pimples on my face or why my hair is limp and not curly from the curly girl method. His number one worry is providing for his family including his son and daughter. He provides for his family by participating in a freak show with others that have similar skin disorders.

Another man in Romania named Ion had the same condition. He underwent surgery to remove a layer of warts on his hand and skin was taken from his thigh for his hand. One of the first things he said after recovering from surgery was that he couldn't wait to shake his friends' hands. I'm always self-conscious of my sweaty palms, especially during the Lord's Prayer at Church when everyone holds hands, and here's this man who can't wait to shake people's hands because his fingers finally look like fingers even though the surgery damaged numerous nerves and his sense of touch is barely there. He also couldn't wait to return to work as a tractor driver. He was so excited he could finally drive a tractor again. Me - I'm disappointed when the weekend goes by too fast and Monday is right around the corner. I should be excited like Ion to be returning to a great job, especially in comparison to his, and working for a strong and wonderful company.

There's a scene in the documentary where Dede, the Indonesian fisherman, and his other friends that perform in the freak show, are eating lunch. They have a discussion about how hard it is to even split a boiled egg because they can't really use their hands for anything. Then they talk about how God made them like that so God will know what to do. So many other people in their situation would be angry with God. Then they talk about how it seems like all of them are always calm and never get mad. I know if I'm already having a bad day, one more bad thing would just ruin the rest of day or week for me. These people have been having bad decades and they can still laugh and joke around. You don't get the feeling either that they're hopeless or that they've given up on life.
Whenever I see or hear about situations like this, it always brings me back to reality and what SHOULD be in important in life. Being healthy is one of things I easily take for granted. I should be thankful I can get up in the morning by myself, brush my own teeth, leave my home and drive my own car to work. I should be thankful I'm strong enough to finish a step or weight lifting class at the gym. I shouldn't be focusing on the extra pounds that I've gained because of all the food I easily have access to, which is a blessing in itself. I should be thankful that there's a Walmart, Target, Walgreens, Rite Aid, and shopping mall all within 5 minutes of me and not be all sad if they don't have my leave-in conditioner or limited edition MAC lipstick in stock. Dede didn't have a hospital closer to him than the one located four hours away.

Even though I should be packing for my upcoming trip, I don't feel like this time was wasted. This reminds me of what's important but, easily taken for granted. A lot of the things I worry about now probably won't even matter to me in a year. I should have that hunger for life like Dede and his friends and Ion. I was worried earlier about obtaining travel size products for my trip like shampoo, conditioner, body wash, etc. Instead I should have been packing with no worries and just be happy that in the next few days I'll be reunited with my family for the New Year. When I look back at this time, I won't be thinking about that great travel size lotion I bought, but the time I was blessed to spend with my family.

Video from mrblogged on You Tube and picture from


A. Rose said...

Very well written. I watch documentaries like these and watch news about those more unfortunate than me because it humbles me and reminds me to be grateful for what I have. People like these are truly blessed by God because they have the gift to look past all the materialistic aspects of their lives and realize what's really important--family, love, life in general. My prayers go out to them and their families, that somehow they may always find the strength to smile, whatever the circumstances.

End of mini-essay. Sorry. Great post.

jjavier said...

true that babe

MakeupByRenRen said...

i saw this documentary this weekend and you're right, it does make you appreciate life truly for what it is...

Blueberry said...

That story is pretty sad...

but... i can't believe that he has children. :/ i know, i know. that's insensitive. but still. he's lucky in that way.

Janelle said...

What an eye-opening story. Thanks for sharing it with us, Marjorie.

I hope you had a Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year!

Girl with Curl said...

A.Rose: You don't have to apologize about your mini essay. I enjoyed it. I always like hearing what people have to say.

jjavier: Thanks babe.

MakeupbyRenRen: I didn't really get to catch the part 2 of it where he underwent treatment.

Blueberry: I'm not sure when he had kids. I think he had a wife too but, she eventually left him.

Janelle: Belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you too!