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Reader of the Month: Dr. Francisco Gómez Bravo

We don’t usually give Reader of the Month awards, only stars to top commenters who actually post useful or funny stuff. But this reader doesn’t comment in Gizmodo, even while he confessed he’s addicted to it. He doesn’t send us stories or suggestions to [email protected] either. Or corrections. Nothing. In fact, I met him today for the first time, after my dog Jones bit me on the mouth this morning, cutting a very deep and nasty 1-inch-long injury in the shape of a seven—just below my inferior lip. His name is Dr. Francisco Gómez Bravo, and he’s one of the top plastic surgeons here, in the Old Continent.

Until that fatal moment, it was business as usual. My morning started like it normally does lately: dead in bed after a hangover from a night out, as opposed to my usual half-dead state. Addy and myself are moving to London next month, so we are enjoying Madrid and our friends here as much as we can, which means going out for tapas, great dinners, good wine, old rum, and dancing ’til late.

But I digress. The European Team—Addy, Kit, and myself—woke up today around 3AM New York time. That’s 9AM for the Cool Geek of the Week and her husband, and 8AM in Portugal, where Kit lives. Brian appeared briefly in Campfire an hour later, bragging about his Wii Fit skills, and weeping about his long-lost super-hero figure from his boxing days—when he really looked like Captain America instead of a blogging version Cartman in spandex—like we all do in Giz except Buchanan, who looks like Kenny. We all talked for a bit, and then he left to pack for Brazil, where he’s flying to now.

After he left, I started to scan the feeds, and work in the Mac OS X multitouch story, interviewing the author of the software over iChat. Addy popped in another window and told me that Jones was sleeping in a funny position, curled over one of his toys, next to her feet on the sofa. Jones is our border terrier, and happens to be one of the smartest, cutest, and most lovable dogs I’ve met—unfortunately, border terriers are also killing machines, as you can see here:

Yes. Killing machines that look like teddy bears, but killing machines anyway.

Wanting to see the Xmas-in-May carol scene, I sneaked into the living room. See, I play with Jones like I’m a real dog. And with the facial hair, the scruffy look, and the games over the rugs, he totally buys it. I’m his pal and his enemy. I give him food, get him out sometimes, play with him… and fight for his toys. So I slowly came closer to him, and his favourite chewing thing. He felt I was coming and—half-opening one eye—he growled.

I got closer. He growled back.

A little bit nearer. The primal guttural sound kept increasing. I could hear the always-bemused Addy softly saying “Jooones…”

Now I really was getting near to his toy.

He snarled.

I forced half an inch more. And then it happened.

In a millisecond, I had a small hair ball hanging from my lower lip, some kind of Son of Cujo chewing my flesh, making warm crimson spray all over my t-shirt. I felt it wet on my arms and chest while Addy screamed, Jones screeched, and myself—eyes wide open and completely silent—tried to make sense out of the blur of hair and fangs.

Two seconds later I was in the bathroom.

All I could see was the cold water instantly turning into red thanks to the massive bleeding from the highly vascularized—and extremely tender, as I discovered—face tissue. I looked up in the mirror and I saw it. A big seven dripping blood all over my neck, painting the white basin with blood. Luckily for us, we have a big hospital two blocks down from our home, and a few minutes later we rushed through the emergency doors.

Being the vain sucker that I am, the only thing I could think about was a huge scar just below my lips. Terrified, I kept asking everybody as they got me into a small operation room: “Do you think it’s going to look OK?” All I got was smiles, a few vague “sure you are,” and one “the other day a girl came in with a dog bite and half a lip gone, so consider yourself lucky.” All until a young doctor—can’t remember her name, but she looked like she was doing her practice years—came into the room to see me.

She was honest and told me that, most likely, the injury was going to get infected. Dog bites come with a load of nasty bacterium, so they are difficult to heal. She also pointed out that she would only use two stitches to hold it together, so in case it got infected, the goo could escape the injury easily. I didn’t ask that, so I insisted, and she conceded: “yes, you may get a nasty scar. But don’t worry, you can hide it with your beard. And it can be quite attractive.”

Needless to say, I was less than fascinated by the perspective of looking like Captain Steve Zissou for the rest of my life, as much as I like my red hats.

Thirty minutes and two anti-tetanus shots later I was at home, back in business, thinking about the possibility of turning into Indiana Jones (fame and girls pouring all over me) or Harvey Dent (I would have to kill Jason, who thinks he’s Batman.) And then, my friend Fernando Santiago popped in iChat. I told him first what happened, and then my fears. “Man, I have a friend who is one of the top plastic surgeons in Spain,” he said, “let me call him.” Five minutes later, another reply: “OK, meet me at the Ruber in half an hour. He’s going to see you.”

The Ruber is a very posh and super-expensive private hospital here in Madrid, so I went there with my credit card ready to be melted, obliterated, and disintegrated into oblivion. The words “Harvey Dent. Harvey Dent. Harvey Dent” kept hitting my brain, however, so I didn’t care. As we came into Dr. Gómez Bravo’s office, the first thing that surprised me was how young and sharp he was. Then I saw his completely clean desk, with an Apple Cinema Display, keyboard, and a wireless Wacom Graphire tablet top, with a Mac mini on a side table, mixed with books and folders.

All smile, perfect shirt, and elegant tie under his white coat, Dr. Francisco was really cool. He explained to me that—while it was true that dog bites usually get infected—the highly vascularized tissue in my face would make infections difficult, as the thousand of blood vessels—which made me look like Daredevil a couple of hours before that—would bring plenty of white cells and antibiotics to kill the bacterium.

He put this weird glasses on and start looking closely, cleaning the blood from the just-stitched seven. “Hrmmm…” he said—in my mind that immediately sounded like he would have to cut. The whole head. Then change it for a new one, and give the old one back to me in a jar. “There’s a mismatch in how the injured tissue meets the chin,” he continued, “You need a couple more stitches to align it perfectly. Otherwise, the scar would start growing big, red, and nasty. Hypertrophic scar.” Or something like that.

All I really heard was: “Harvey Dent.”

He then ordered some six zero thread (“the hospital will charge you for that later”,) and proceeded to—very gently—sew the injury exactly how he wanted it. “There,” he finally said, “we are done,” after five minutes. I was happy. Relieved. I’m going to survive. Bye Harvey. He-llo Harrison! The three of us then started to talk about more mundane things, like the web page he wanted to do. He asked what did I do for a living. “Tech journo,” I said. “He writes for an american site called Gizmodo,” added my friend Fernando.

“Are you kidding me?” his eyes wide open. Fernando and myself looked to each other and said “no” at the same time. “Wait, do you mean you are “Jesús”? The guy who writes in Gizmodo US? What the… I read Gizmodo constantly, every day! I was reading one of your articles when you came through the door!” And pointing at this Apple screen, he opened Safari, clicked in the History menu.

The last twenty lines were all Gizmodo entries.

I was absolutely astonished. Here I was, a mere mortal, a jibba-jabber writer for a tech blog, a rambler for rent (see above) in front of a guy who is one of the top plastic surgeons in the country, charging a zillion-kajillion dollars per hour. And not any plastic surgeon: Dr. Gómez Bravo mainly does extreme reconstructions after big, very traumatic accidents. Not stupid boob jobs. He actually fixes lives—basically, this is a guy who must be considered a demi-god amongst his patients.

And there he was, talking non-stop, and telling me he was a huge fan of my work and Gizmodo; that he always reloaded the page many times a day, and just loved it. And he talked about it not just once, several times, naming specific articles, and just chatting about it until we left.

Then, as he was saying good bye, he opened the door for us and said to his secretary: “everything is OK.”

Which really meant: “he doesn’t need to pay.” And yes, while I know that he received and treated me because I’m one of Fernando’s close friends, his gesture was the best, most elegant thing I’ve seen in a long while.

So for all this, Dr. Francisco Gómez Bravo is the Gizmodo’s Reader of the Month (and to me, reader of the whole year.)

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