With one look in the endoscope, the otolaryngologist stated that there was a very large angiofibroma taking up the majority of my right nasal cavity; it had not only given me a deviated septum, but had also already affected my right tear duct and was growing at a rate that could lead to irreversible damage. It was that day that I went from thinking about Pokémon, soccer, and school to thinking about whether I was going to make it out of the surgery and why in the world this had to happen to me.
My first surgery included an embolization of all major arteries supplying the tumor to reduce the size along with reducing the amount of blood loss that was going to occur with the removal of the tumor. The doctors and specialists came up with two approaches regarding the second surgery. The first approach was to break my zygomatic arch, make multiple incisions on the right side of the face, and remove the tumor. Although this procedure had a somewhat guaranteed success rate and a low probability of the tumor reemerging, the downfall would have been an immense amount of blood loss along with facial reconstructive surgery. There was another approach, much less practiced, which included doing the procedure completely endoscopically through the nasal passage and mouth, removing the tumor in sections that would entail a very long process.
On the morning of the surgery, the doctors, surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, and all the other medical caregivers who were involved came into my room to speak to my family about the two approaches. My parents asked that the latter of the two procedures be attempted in case there was the slightest possibility of avoiding the invasiveness of the first approach. The doctors agreed to first attempt the surgery endoscopically because although it was not the guaranteed route, the outcome in the long run would involve no facial deformities, plastic surgeries, or scarring on my face.
They then stated that if there was any question of success during the surgery that they would have to revert to the first procedure, and there were no guarantees. When I heard this I began to cry, as I was overwhelmed by the fact that I may never be able to play sports the way I used to, and might never look the same again. As soon as the doctors noticed my breakdown, they all came over and began to talk to me asking me about my favorite soccer players, what position I played, what I wanted to be when grew up, and simply did everything they could to make me feel better and trust them in the upcoming surgery.
The head surgeon, “Dr. B”, stopped everything and came over to my bed side, reassured me he was going to do everything in his power to make sure that I was going to be all right, and I never felt more confident in someone before in my life. He held my right hand while my dad held my left, and the anesthesia kicked in. The anesthesiologists, otolaryngologists, and medical staff worked for seven hours until the procedure was completed. I remember waking up to my family and Dr. B in the room. The doctor put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Derek, the surgery was a success, no facial cutting necessary, and you’re going to be all right,” and left the room.
It was that day that I found my calling as a medical doctor. At the time, there was no one that could tell me that this situation was going to be a positive thing, but now when I look back, it was a life-defining obstacle that makes me who I am today. If it was not for this significant challenge, I would not have found the dedication, desire, and compassion toward medicine that I do now. My goal in life is to be the physician that Dr. B was to me, ensuring my patients that all my hard work will allow them to feel confident in putting their life in my hands just as I did when I was a patient, and to be confident in myself to ensure them that everything is going to be okay when they wake up.
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