For as long as I can remember I wanted to be a surgeon. Not even a doctor but specifically a surgeon. Our family friend Darrell Fowlkes, who owned Darrell’s Auto Service would always remind me when I brought in a car for repair how I said I wanted to be a surgeon when I was just 4 years old. “Jonathan,” he would say, “I remember when your brother Myron (my brother’s name is Meyer but Darrell’s southern accent translated his name from Meyer to Myron) drove up here pulling a boat and you were sitting in the back (apparently child safety laws in 1977 were lax enough to allow a 4 year-old to sit in a boat being pulled by a truck) and I asked you want you wanted to be when you grew up and without hesitatin’ you said you wanted to be a surgeon!”
And so it came to be. Clearly at 4 years-old I had no idea what a surgeon was but it was clear that my father was a surgeon and he seemed happy and was always home for dinner and available for his wife and 7 children. I was reminded of Darrell’s story through a train of thought which I will now allow you to board.
This past Thursday, as is customary on Facebook, pictures are posted for #TBT which is the now universal abbreviation for Throwback-Thursday and the hashtag allows similar sentiments to be broadcast across Twitter and Facebook. As part of my practice Pacific Heights Plastic Surgery, we sometimes post photos for #TBT. I noticed the framed picture below on the wall in my office. I’ve had that picture forever and it never dawned on me to highlight what a wonderful picture it is until my wife suggested it.
This photo was taken when I was about 16 years old and I was observing my father operating during one of many operations I got to “scrub in” for. This particular operation was a laparoscopic case, meaning that the entire operation was done with long narrow instruments through skin incisions no bigger than a centimeter and allows the surgeon to remove a diseased gallbladder or appendix without a large incision. Back in the ’80’s, this was a big deal. Laparoscopic surgery, which we now take for granted was in its infancy. My Dad was the first to perform this operation in our small town of Alexandria, Louisiana. I was so grateful that I got to scrub in and see the procedure first hand – something that is harder and harder for a child of a surgeon to do these days with concerns about privacy and liability. My Dad, always forward thinking, was sure to introduce me to the patient ahead of time and ask her permission for me to watch the case but obviously not do any part of it! She gladly agreed and the operation went smoothly and she did fine.
My Mother, always forward thinking as well, realized that this moment of me scrubbing in and observing my Dad would one day be priceless. Since she knew I was going to the OR with him, she was sure to call the circulating nurse in the room with us and ask her to take photos. I wish I knew who that nurse was to thank her now. This was the last photo of me in an operation with my Dad unfortunately. He passed away 5 years later but luckily I had this wonderful opportunity, and my Mom had the foresight to capture this photo for throwback Thursday and let Darrell know I finally realized my goal!