I have never watched the show, but the commercials give me enough information to understand that these people have extraordinary powers.
Real heroes don't have to. Real heroes don't even think they are heroes. They do the right thing because it is what should be done, and they would have a hard time living with themselves if they didn't. They may not be a hero to everyone, but to some people they are such important people that they evoke admiration, praise, and gratefulness.
Doctors get labeled with the tag. It is natural to think that when another person saves your life, you should regard them as a hero. This is especially the case where the doctor caught something that wasn't expected. I have a patient who had typical chest pain with almost no risk for heart disease. The stress test was negative, but I couldn't convince myself that this wasn't cardiac chest pain. The cardiac cath showed a 95% Proximal LAD lesion (AKA 'the widow-maker'). To this patient I am a hero. In my eyes I would have been devastated if I had missed it. I would have questioned my ability as a physician. To not pick up the heart disease would be bad medicine. This patient should expect nothing less of me.
Real heroes, in my eyes, are people who do things that most people can't. Seeing someone lose 100 lbs by sheer willpower and keep it off - that is what amazes me. People who are addicted to drugs and become sober and the husband and wife that kept their marriage strong through the death of a child - I feel honored to be in their presence.
I have one patient who especially inspired me. When I first met her she was the stereotypical "typical Medicaid mom." She was a 16-year old who had a baby out of wedlock. She was not raised by her father, but had a strong mother involved. Everything pointed to a future where she would become dependent on the system - having herself and the child on Medicaid, collecting Welfare, and not finishing high school. This may seem harsh, but there have been too many people that I have seen who have taken this easy road out - one that looks at life as an unfair thing that they can do nothing about. But she didn't follow that road. She finished high school and then some college. She now is married and holds down a job.
She is one of my heroes. I would that others held this type of person higher than they do people like me. What she did was far more difficult than anything I have ever done.
Why do I talk about this now? Those of you who follow my Twitter feed probably can guess. I was in NYC last week for the Consumer Reports summit. When I was in my hotel room unpacking I noticed a radio that hooked directly to an Ipod. I immediately went for my Ipod in my coat pocket so I could finish listening to the audiobook I listened to on the flight to NYC. It wasn't there.
I felt sick. Next to oxygen, my Ipod is the most useful thing I have ever encountered. I listen to music, podcasts, and have recently delved into the world of audiobooks. Mrs. Dr. Rob gave me a new 120 GB Ipod for Christmas, and my dependency deepened. I felt lost without it, almost crying when my searches came up empty.
The next morning I called 311 and reported it missing for the Taxi and Limosine Commission. They took down my information and said they would pass it along. I put little stock in this actually happening, and so started shopping for a replacement (I didn't want to have to actually listen to the radial - egad!). Then on Sunday afternoon, I got a call on my cell phone; it was the cabbie who had driven me to the hotel. He reported that he found it on the floor of his taxi at the end of his shift. I was elated.
The cabbie then delivered the Ipod to fellow blogger Nick Genes, who agreed to send it to me. Nick now knows what is on my Ipod - thank goodness I erased the Barry Manilow. It is in transit at this very moment. My life will be whole again.
This cabbie, who could have kept the Ipod and nobody whould have known, he is a hero. I will send him a thank-you note and a reward, but he delivered it not sure he would get either.
Thank you, Mr. Cabbie - you did things that were unexpected and that others would not have done. You showed character where it isn't often shown. I enjoyed talking to you on the way to the hotel, but now I am just glad to know there are people like you out there.
You and all of the other heroes I meet.