Appreciating a Confident Surgeon
This week I underwent hip replacement surgery at Columbia Presbyterian hospital, a place I trust and have come to love despite the fact that each time I used to go there, it was for a medical reason. Recently, it has also become a place of business since we work with the transplant clinic in putting on educational seminars for patients, care partners and donors and also run two clinical trials with medical scientists there.
However, on Tuesday, I was there for my hip. As I was waiting in pre-op with my sister, Lisa, I started to panic… what if I don’t wake up, what if I can never walk again, what if I bleed out on the table etc etc. Running through my head were all the scenarios that are unlikely, but possible, according to statistics. Remember, statistics convey how many individuals out of 100 will face some side effect, but for each person afflicted with that issue, it 100 percent affects that person.
My blood pressure started to increase, so did my heart rate and for a moment I thought of just quitting and stumbling out of there - in pain but at least still alive!
Five minutes later, my surgeon walked in, wearing his scrubs, with his mask and cap on. Really I could only see his eyes, yet I sensed his presence immediately. He exuded confidence and experience. He didn’t say much, but in those few minutes, I was totally back onboard to go for the surgery and I trusted him completely.
So what was it that he did? He made sure to communicate clearly and assuredly what was going to happen, with a tone of voice that did not hesitate. I knew that he had done this very procedure numerous times before and he had considered all alternatives that could happen. He said, “You will be back on the tennis court in no time and as soon as we are inside the OR, I have all the gadgets and tools I need to address any complications - don’t worry”. Then he drew his initials “JAG” on my right hip with a quick stroke and I was ready to go with him anywhere he wanted to take me!
He gave me confidence in my own body as he spoke to me, and I could finally imagine returning to the teenage me who played tennis 3-4 hours daily and running 10k afterwards! I was ready for the match, so to say, and that was thanks to Dr. Geller.
This experience shows me how important it is to present yourself honestly in a situation, as well as it is to be prepared. No outcome is guaranteed yet perception often becomes reality!