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If this is your view, then you should ask for more anesthetic ASAP.

3 Things I Learned From Watching My Father Perform Surgery

(Besides the fact that there was no way I was going to become a surgeon.)

In 1998, my father was approaching the sunsetting years of an incredible career as an orthopedic surgeon. From what I can recall, he truly loved his work and, if you don’t mind me saying (I’m going to say it anyway), he was a total badass at it. He was regarded as one of the best hip replacement surgeons in the region.

Hip replacements were always a thing. Hip replacements would always be a thing. Hip replacements put my two older sisters and I through school.

Me? I was a recent college graduate and was looking for what my next step was going to be. And by “looking for what my next step was going to be,” I mean “playing a lot of 007 GoldenEye on Nintendo 64.”

One day, my dad had the idea of having me come into the hospital with him later that week to watch him do surgery. Like, be in the room with him while he was operating. Me. Wearing scrubs, the mask, those shoe cover things. All of it.

Oh hell yeah. This was going to be awesome.

I learned a lot that day from the corner of the room. Too much to blog about here. But here are three of those things:

1. Provide value to whomever you’re with, wherever you are, whenever possible.

My dad worked not just for his family, but also for his colleagues.

Me: “Dad, why is everyone calling you ‘Rev’?”

Dad: “It’s my nickname around here.” (Wait, my dad had a nickname?) “It’s short for ‘Reverend’ because I always work on Sundays to let other doctors attend church with their families.”

Oh. Mmmhmm. Ok. When he wasn’t with us, there was a whole other side to him, and spoiler alert: he was badass on that side, too.

I immediately made the connection to every Christmas morning when we were younger and had to wait for him to come home from work. Sometimes as late as 1:00 or 2:00pm (which is “late” when you’re 8 years old and have been awake since 5:00am). All my friends had already run downstairs, opened presents, and were playing with all their sweet new loot. While my sisters and I were just sitting around complaining about Dad working and having to wait for him.

Ohhhhh. He volunteered to work so his Christian colleagues could spend Christmas morning with their families. Every. Single. Year.

Well aren’t I the a**hole.

2. Embracing true innovation is a requirement, not an option.

In the operating room, the whole hip replacement surgery took around 45 minutes from first incision to stapling and stitching it up. My dad explained that back in the day, it used to take just over two hours to complete this same procedure. They had to go in blind, mess around with stuff, take an x-ray, wait for the x-ray film to develop, then study the film to see what they did, plan out what to do next, then go back and continue the procedure with the new information and plan. Then, repeat those steps as many times as needed until the film showed that they were successful.

But on this day, they had a big “C-arm” thing that was a…well…big semi-circle thing shaped like a C…that was constantly taking x-rays of the patient on the table and showing what was happening in real time on a screen. Thus, reducing surgery time to almost a third of the time. That, folks, is what I’d call “true innovation.”

“If it helps you do your job, then it’s part of your job.”

— Someone smarter than me

They call it a medical “practice” for a reason. You’re never done learning. My dad understood that “true innovation” is not innovation for the self-indulgent sake of “innovation,” but for the sake of making things better. If getting better was the goal, he was all-in. He was always learning, absorbing, processing, and improving. And not just in the operating room.

3. Every phase has a purpose. Don’t rush through it.

I was afforded the opportunity to have a “slacker phase” and holy shit did I take advantage of that opportunity. I remember the morning when I won GoldenEye on Nintendo 64. I celebrated for five seconds, stopped, exhaled, and then thought, “Oh goddammit. I need a f**king job.”

Today, with an MBA, over 12 years of experience in corporate communications, and having founded my own e-commerce music supply business, Magic Room Brand, I feel it’s safe to say that my slacker days are behind me. But I get it: I’m lucky to have had them at all. I’m not sure who I’d be, or what I’d be doing now, if I didn’t have the chance to get that out of my system.

That was the only time I was in the room while my dad was operating. If his objective was to get me interested in medicine, then it didn’t work because holy shit, you guys, it was gross. But that day was eye-opening, to say the very least. I never saw Dad the same way again, and I think he knew it.

Perhaps, that was his objective all along.

#bewhatyoumake

Vijoy Rao, Son of Dr. Aswath N. Rao || Founder // Magic Room Brand
Music gear built for musicians who care. Sound, strength, and sustainability.

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Vijoy Rao

Vijoy Rao

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Drummer • Painter • Father • Founder of @magicroombrand • Lover of records, ballpark nachos, and bad puns — sometimes all at once. www.magicroombrand.com