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On work, family and madness

Fast Confession - Plastic Surgeon Jan Měšťák: I Will Either Pass Away on a Volleyball Court or on a Patient

Karolína Lišková
20.Aug 2018
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7 minutes to read

He is a force of nature. Exactly in this way could be described famous plastic surgeon Jan Měšťák under whose hands passed many a famous face. In his 74 years it would be extremely difficult to catch up with him, to get ahead of him would be almost impossible. You will not easily meet as vital ´pensioner´ as this one. He himself says with exaggeration, that he can do without food or drink and almost without sleep. He operates round the clock not only at the Clinic Esthé, but also in the Hospital Na Bulovce. Every day he spends many hours in the operating theatre; in an interview with Luxury Prague Life he however started to talk not only about work, but also about his vitality and view of life.

You really do fifty V-ups every day?

I start with that to wake up a bit. In addition to the others, push ups and squats, I exercise a bit with weights, too. I am not completely normal, so don´t take me quite seriously. But one has to train, when grown up…

But you will now be 74 years of age!

I will be.

Why don´t you take a rest?

But from what, I am not tired. When I get tired, I will say that I am tired. Yesterday I operated well into the night, on Tuesday I operated in Hospital Na Bulovce, on Monday also well into the night. What is good is that I do not have to sleep much to feel fit.

Prodej exkluzivního domu, Praha-východ
Prodej exkluzivního domu, Praha-východ, Okolí Prahy

But after all, you are retired, or should be...

I cannot retire. My buddies always say that I will either pass away on a volleyball court or on a patient. There is nothing in between.

Yet sometimes one needs to switch off, just watch the TV or something.

 Perhaps sometimes because of my wife (laughter). But I rarely miss sport on television.

For example I have a grandfather, who is just over seventy and for twenty years now he´s been waiting to pass away. He takes piles of pills, barely walks and honestly, this is how I imagine a typical Czech pensioner in his seventies, eighties.

Professor Pafko, a person whom I feel very close to in all respects, and perhaps he feels the same about me, too; he also enjoys sports and also keeps on operating. The truth is that I work really a lot, but it is not just operations, of which I still perform around 25 per week, but I also write; monographs, professional and popular articles, I teach students of medicine, I am member of scientific committees, of professional societies… Once a man succumbs to what doctors or those in his circle say, that´s the end of him. ... For example, Professor Zveřina and Professor Štulík recommend to me that I should not play volleyball, also forbidding a lot of other things.

I know Professor Štulík very well, he saved my friend.

Well, there you go; they both said that on the basis of the findings on my cervical spine that I must not do sports, nor operate and that I should have my cervical spine stabilised. That I have an absolutely tapered cervical canal causing impression of my spinal cord. But I operate the same as I did twenty years ago, doing sports, too, so it not like that at all.

It is a question of your mind, of how you set it up. For example, yesterday I had again many operations and when I was on my eights, logically my thoracic spine hurt, so that breathing was more difficult. But you must not admit it to yourself, and it is possible when you stop thinking about it.

I know a lot of people who could beautifully go on living, but they don´t because they are sceptical about everything. They complain about all sorts of various pains, many life problems, people around them. And on the other hand, there is a great number of people who have considerable health and life situation problems and yet they live their lives to the full. And from those we should take an example!

Do you go for regular check-ups?

Only exceptionally. I understand my body the best. It is known about me that I also operated on myself when I didn´t like something about my skin. There were dozens of those and I can stitch it up too, after all, I am plastic surgeon. And it is also true that sometimes I stitch up a smaller wound caused by clumsiness, for example when cooking, without analgesia, when it is just two or three stitches. It does not hurt as much as many people think; after all, injection into the wound, to deliver the analgesia is painful too.

There are a lot of strange things about me, I know. If you heard about me and my drinking regime; obviously, I do drink, but I don´t drink like sipping something every five minutes. I am not against the maintaining of a certain drinking regime. But everything in moderation as my Mother used to say. There are some diseases that require extra intake of liquids, such as inflammations of the bladder or kidney diseases. Also, peak sporting performance, or work in demanding conditions require a higher intake of liquids. But for people without physical activity or otherwise healthy to check their smart phones that notify them every hour of their need to drink, like in the National Theatre where you can see women during the performance to drink every ten minutes from PET bottles, I consider to be absolutely abnormal. There is even a new term of psychogenic disorder of dependency on drinking regime, called polydipsia. Unfortunately, it also applies to children. It is demonstrated by a constant feeling of dryness in the mouth and thirst, accompanied by frequent urination and in adults obvious oedema of the face, mainly of the eyelids and swelling of the limbs. Because I perform a large number of operations of the upper and lower eyelids, I immediately notice excessive intake of liquids on the basis of atypical swelling of eyelids. Sometimes the swelling is so great that I refuse to operate!

Nonsensical observance of the drinking regime has its further consequences. According to the statistics, every minute 8 million PET bottles is sold worldwide, of which only around 7% is recycled. Others are taken into the sea, so for example in the Pacific Ocean there are whole islands visible from an aircraft which are entirely made up of PET bottles. Scientists have calculated that by 2050, in the seas there will be more PET bottles than all fish put together! But what is also certainly worth considering is, and recent examples have proven it, is that fish meat contains a large amount of plastic particles.

Plastic particles are also contained in tap water. In Congress they investigated composition of tap water and found 93 percent of plastic particles. And that is United States Congress. I think that in France, Britain and Germany relatively lowest quantities of plastic particles were found, 74% while on average it is 83%. In addition, plastic nanoparticles may penetrate into various organs where they can instigate serious health problems.

I have also heard of it.

And women drink, must drink, because it allegedly improves the complexion, detoxing the organism, which was scientifically also proven to be nonsense. And if I were to look at it from yet another angle... There is such a terrible water shortage, as we hear from various media. When you imagine that some women, as they confided in me, go to pee ten to fifteen times per day, which represents up to fifty and more litres of water used for flushing down the toilet per day, I would let them pay the water bill for them to realise what a nonsense they fell for.

Let us move on from the water now. I am interested in you. What about at home? You have a wife, grandchildren...

Just another of my abnormalities. I love kids above all, but the word ´grandfather´ goes terribly against my skin.

Luxusní vila na prodej - Klánovice - 465m
Luxusní vila na prodej - Klánovice - 465m, Praha 9

However, you have the age to be a grandfather.

I will explain why this is so. First of all, my image of a grandfather is in a made-up scene; a grandmother hands him a pram with a baby and asks him to go to a single tree at the end of the path. And he is told that when he gets there he is to wave to her and that will be a signal for him to turn round and walk back the same way.

And I would adhere to something else. In my second marriage my beautiful daughter was born when I was 53 years old. I was very bitterly resented when someone said that she has a good grandfather. I remember how one day my daughter came from school and her classmates nastily told her that their grandfather is younger than her daddy. My daughter took it very well and we both laughed at it.

Children of my son from my first marriage call me "didi", children of my daughter, also from the first marriage, call me "John". Both nicknames are pleasant. I am convinced that I won´t mind from my current daughter!

Do you sometimes have a holiday?

Of course I have, but I use it up on backlog, for which I otherwise have no time at all. It is completion of monograph on aesthetic rhinoplasty, i.e. nose jobs, finishing of professional publications or resolution of various problems that accompany my many functions which I perform. The people closest to me are not too neglected, because their sleep is significantly longer than mine. In addition, family is for me really in the first place. While I was not perhaps entirely lucky in marriage, nevertheless all my children are wonderful and for those I will of course always find the time. 

You must be mentally very strong indeed. How do you release your valve?

During the whole period of my 40 years of clinical practice as a surgeon and plastic surgeon I came across so much sorrow and misery, whether through the birth of the most serious child birth defects, neoplastic diseases or injuries, that I had to create a certain scale of values which accompany not only my medical but also my normal, everyday life. I know with absolute certainty where sorrow is the greatest. For me the most important thing will always be the happiness and health of a child. If the person is a good parent and loves his children as he is supposed to, everything else is passing. A break up with your partner or work disagreements do have some solutions, but a serious illness of a child? For me our own health stands far beyond the health of a child.

What is on the other hand very encouraging and also charges me with energy, it the happiness of those I operated on successfully and helped them to gain their lacking confidence or health. Therefore, the prospect of me finishing with operations is not on the horizon yet, because I still get many patients who turn to me with confidence and how can I refuse them? It really is impossible. I still have a waiting list for consultation at the Clinic Esthé which is longer than five months and operations at the university clinic for 2019.

Are you interested in superficial things such as clothes, cosmetics?

Shoes yes, it is my weakness. I have so many ... and jackets also. Thanks to me, half of Moravia is well dressed. When I don´t wear something for half a year, I donate it.  My Mother also taught me that when I have a black briefcase, I should also have black shoes and a black belt, same applies to natural colours. Also, I differentiate between clothes I wear to the clinic or for sport. Usually I have a jacket and a tie, for sport jeans and sports footwear. I use Eternity as after-shave and have used Nivea cream in the morning for decades.

Doctor, thank you so much for the interview. 

Fast confession:

Who do you think is the best plastic surgeon in Prague?

The one that knows the whole spectrum of plastic surgery. This means inborn defects, acquired defects, cosmetic defects; but when he does only cosmetic defects, he is not a good enough plastic surgeon.

The most famous celebrity you operated on?

The Prime Minister of United Arab Emirates.

What is it you are looking forward to the most when you retire?

That I will keep on working.

Will regular attendance at cosmetic salons postpone the necessity of plastic surgery, such as a facelift?

Definitely not.

The worst injury you have ever operated on?

It is always the saddest thing in young children when they are bitten by a dog.

What are you like as grandfather in one sentence?

I am not grandfather, I am John or Didi.

What did your youngest daughter make you most angry by?

That she is too modest, humble and good.

Did you make something to wear or at least stitched on a button?

With regard to the operations, I performed countless on myself and of course as plastic surgeon I can sew and I had been to the army for two years, so I did everything myself.

Do you think that politicians should resign their functions when it transpires that they plagiarised their dissertation work?

I think so. When they have scientific work to do, they of course have to look up things, but they should not copy it.

What do you do to prevent your hands from shaking?

I daily exercise with dumbbells.

How do you spend your time when not operating or doing sports?

I work.

Where did you last go with your wife?

That is terribly long ago and perhaps it was Australia.

What captures your attention about a woman at first glance?

The eyes.

Name three of your vices?

In my case, I don´t eat, don´t sleep, don´t drink.
Interviewee asks the editor:

How is it that you are so beautiful?

Perhaps I got that after my Mother.
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