My wife, Fara, and I are building a facial plastic surgery practice in Cincinnati, Ohio that our children will be proud of as they grow and mature. Our children are the most profound, beautiful gift we have ever been given. And whether our son and daughter choose to enter the field of medicine, Fara and I hope that our example will lead them to a life focused on the care of others. Their existence is the embodiment of our practice’s values. We at Harmon Facial Plastic Surgery care for our patients as we care for our children.
How Having Children Changed the Way I Practice Medicine
Dr. Jeffrey Harmon
We Handed Over the Care of Our Son for Surgery
Our son had long had difficulty breathing through his nose at night. This difficulty worsened significantly when he had an upper respiratory tract infection. I had seen these symptoms countless times as a head and neck surgeon. I knew his adenoids – tonsils located in the back of the nose – were enlarged. Enlarged adenoids can cause nasal obstruction that worsens when children are sick as they swell. X-rays confirmed my suspicion. Fortunately, I trained at Cincinnati Children's Hospital (CCHMC) and, as a result, know the staff well. One of my close friends and former co-residents is a pediatric head and neck surgeon at CCHMC and would be doing the surgery. Our son refers to him as “Doctor Doug.” He is a wonderful person and a wonderful surgeon. Our son could not have been in better hands.
I have witnessed children falling asleep in the induction room hundreds of times as a resident. The induction room is adjacent to the operating room. It allows parents to be present until their child is asleep in some but not all cases. Similarly, I have performed an adenoidectomy hundreds of times. And while this experience prepared me for how to behave after our son fell asleep – hand him over to the care of the anesthesiologist quickly so a breathing tube can be placed – I was not prepared for how I would feel when I left the induction room. I was also not prepared for how I would feel witnessing the fear in my wife’s eyes upon leaving the induction room. We had truly given up control over the health and safety of our child for the first time since his birth.
I was not worried about our son receiving anesthesia medications, nor was I worried about the surgery, which is extremely low risk. My only concern was whether there would be surprise difficulty placing a breathing tube. This concern dates to my years responding to airway emergencies at CCHMC and the University of Cincinnati Medical Center where I was the airway specialist expected to place a breathing tube when the anesthesiologists were unable to. It is very difficult to give that responsibility up because I know my capabilities in this regard. It was especially difficult when it was our son. It is in giving up control over the medical outcome of our own child to another provider that I understood how it feels for loved ones of patients to give that up to me as a facial plastic surgeon.
The anesthesiologist had no difficulties placing a breathing tube. Surgery lasted minutes. Our son recovered comfortably at home. He is now breathing through his nose well. Surgery was the best decision we could have made for him.
I Understand How Significant the Decision to Undergo Surgery is
The essential core of any successful aesthetic facial plastic surgery practice is excellence in patient care. I care for my patients as my family. However, I did not truly understand what that meant until I had children and then entrusted the care of one my children to another surgeon. I understand not only how patients themselves feel when they submit their care to me but also how it feels as a loved one handing that care over. I always practice with that in mind.
Trust Your Face to a Facial Plastic Surgeon
It is important to seek a fellowship-trained specialist in plastic surgery of the face and neck when you have concerns about your face or neck.
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