Today a good friend of mine asked me about an event that occurred approximately 20 years ago. It changed my life, but most importantly It changed the way I interact with my patients.20 years ago, I became a patient but not just any patient, I got very, very sick–critically ill. Suddenly, I went from being...
I am amazed how quickly time goes by. In the last few days, I have been thinking about everything I have learned since I came to the US for post-graduate training. It is fascinating to realize that the more I know, the more I have to learn.
My career is very special to me because it is what I always wanted to be – a Doctor / Heart Surgeon. In the last few years, since I have opened my heart and mind to the Lord, I've also started enjoying my career in a different way. Nowadays, I pay more attention to important life lessons that I learn with interaction with my patients and their families. In other words, I pay more attention to how they react to the information and advice I give them, as well as their reactions to the outcomes.
In previous blogs I have mentioned that I have always believed in God. In fact I have never stopped believing in him. I grew up with that believe since very early in life. I just don’t know anything different. But I should disclose that at some point in my life I was distant when it came to worshipping Him. I don’t have a good explanation as to why other than I felt it was not necessary and I also felt that we ‘humans’ had made it more complex than what it should be. In my mind, all of what we needed was to be good people.
In last blog, I tried to share with you some insights and information regarding medicine and post-graduate training. The objective was to help you understand how doctors are trained and dealing with the human body is very complex. Also, I wanted to clarify that a medical mistake doesn’t equal negligence. For instance if a doctor makes a mistake that doesn’t make him/her a bad doctor.
In today’s blog I would like to share some thoughts and insights that could help you understand your doctor a little bit better. I truly believe that by understanding how we get trained and what we face that you will be able to understand that mistakes do happens in medicine, but when they do, that doesn’t mean that your doctor isn't well prepared. There are few careers that require the amount of time in school and post-graduate training as medicine does. Depending on the specialty, there might be another 7 years of training after graduating from medical school. This lengthy academic commitment gives you an idea of the complexity of the human body. It takes a long time for us to settle down in our specialty.
Since we just recently celebrated the Resurrection of Jesus, I decided to meditate and analyze this event, which is a key component of our Christian faith. In fact, it is the resurrection of Christ that sets us apart from any other major religion in the history of mankind. As you all know, I was raised in a very religious Christian environment. For instance, the life, death and resurrection were embedded in me from early on in my life. It was so well set in my mind that I have never doubted any of it just based on faith. Obviously, as we grow up and go to college, we are exposed to multiple philosophies and strange ideas. I must say that I have witnessed very smart people with very good arguments about their beliefs that are far from mine. Actually, it is very impressive because some arguments sound very convincing. I have witnessed masterminds capable of defending positions that are obviously wrong, but they have a way of making it look good. I am sure you have seen those as well.
Today’s blog is very special because it is about reflecting deeply about our lives; are we doing what we are supposed to be doing? Are we doing what we would like to be doing? But these questions can be asked differently, in a very unique manner: How would you live your life if you knew exactly when you are going to die? In the last few days I have been reflecting about those questions. But let me tell you how I got interested in the topic; two Sundays ago, I went to church and the sermon ended with a very thought provoking question: How would you live your life if you knew that you were dying in a couple weeks? That particular day, the readings had to do with readiness so we are not surprised when the Master (God) unexpectedly visits us.
I am sure that each one of us has heard or said the following the expression, “I will forgive you but I can't forget what happened” or “I forgave you but hadn’t forgotten”. Now, I would like to ask a couple interesting questions: Can you forgive without forgetting? Is it necessary to forget when we forgive? Today’s blog is about healing and moving forward. Each one of us has felt overwhelmed with sadness especially when a good friend did something that hurts us deeply. Or if we have done something that hurts a beloved one.
One of my goals is to read the whole Bible from Genesis to Revelations. I must say that I have started this process several times and I have read a significant amount, but not from beginning to end. In fact, I have started two times this past year and probably several other times in previous years. Since it is something that I truly want to do, every time I stop then I have to re-start again and obviously, I start from the “In the beginning” in Genesis. I have read this particular book of the Bible multiple times.
During the last few days, I have been looking at my new adventure as an author and I must say that it has been extremely rewarding from both a personal as well as spiritual point of view. For the most part, it has been an enjoyable journey especially the weekly blogs. You might remember that writing didn't come naturally to me, in fact, I hated it. It was one of my weakest areas in academics. All of that changed once I decided to write about Jesus in my book “The Physical Death and Resurrection – a Surgeon’s view”.
After I read the book “The five people you meet in heaven” I decided to meditate and figure out who those people were that have been so instrumental in my life. If you haven’t read this book I strongly recommend you do it. It is a fiction novel with a message that there are five people in our life whose interaction with us made us what we are.
The world has changed so much. I have noticed how important customs and traditions have been forgotten or we have walked away from them. Simple gestures that positively affect human interaction have been neglected or forgotten. I am referring to the simple but important “Good Morning, How are You?”
Today, I would like to wish all of you, yes ALL of you — MERRY CHRISTMAS! Today, I won’t say – HAPPY HOLIDAYS! – Instead, I will say – MERRY CHRISTMAS! The reason that I wish MERRY CHRISTMAS to you is actually very simple: I am a Christian, and as a Christian, I've learned that during this season I should wish peace, love and happiness to all mankind regardless of religious creed, race, culture or political views. Instead of saying “Peace, Love and Happiness” to you and your family - we say “MERRY CHRISTMAS”.
Some expressions have become so popular they are accepted without fully understanding it. In fact, social media can make any expression go viral around the globe in a matter of minutes. One of those popular expressions is “I have no regrets in my life,” or “I live my life without regrets." I must say that my mind sometimes captures expressions and/or events for no particular reason. This time “I have no regrets in my life” caught my attention. I am almost positive that this particular expression came out incomplete from some personal coaching book or lecture.
I remember how I felt when my first child was born. What an amazing sensation! I felt my heart speeding up as well as I had to take deep breaths. Now, I am a Dad! At that point, I said – wait minute - I haven’t been a parent before! So I immediately started to meditate about my new role as a parent.
I am amazed how quickly the time has passed by. For some reason, I have been remembering my last days in the Dominican Republic prior to my moving to the US. It appears like it was yesterday but in fact, It was 25 years ago. Maybe, I am remembering that episode of my life because recently, I have been mentoring young physicians and guiding them in their career path.
This past weekend was the second anniversary of my father’s passing.
Even though, I think about him everyday, this past weekend was more profound. I have been at peace because I know that he is in heaven, I have no doubts about that. You might have read other blogs where I share an important experience or a lesson that I learned by his side. Today I would like to share a very good one because it shows how God’s love projects through His chosen ones.
I believe that it's important to try to achieve excellence not only in our career or profession but also as human beings. We should try to be the best parent, best brother and best friend. But the pursuit of excellence should be based on the comparison of being a better person than you were yesterday, not comparing yourself to other people. In my case, I also want to be a better surgeon than what I was yesterday.
What happens after a person dies? At some point of our lives, each one of us has reflected on that question. It doesn’t matter how strong our faith is, I truly believe that we all have thought about it. In fact, we would like to know for absolute certain whether there is life after death. But there is a problem; we will have to die to see if there is something after passing.
I believe that every so often we should stop for a minute and think about our journey in life. Where did I come from? Where am I going? How did I get here? Every time that I analyze these questions, I always end thinking about a Sunday during my childhood.
Halloween is just around the corner, and I thought I'd share with you something rather funny that happened to me during my very first Halloween in America! The following story occurred in 1990 just a few month after my arrival to America in order to start my surgical training.
I am sure that all of you have heard that expression before. In fact, you might have told that particular expression to someone or you might be the recipient of it. The scenario usually occurs when emotions start to take over the content of the discussion. In fact, I can tell you that most likely the heart rate has gone up and we are breathing faster. But, I have also heard a variation of the same expression; “It is not what you are saying – It is your tone”.
There is not doubt that we live in a very complicated world. It is a world in which ideals, and points of view are constantly shared among each other. Social media provides a continual forum for endless discussions about politics, sports, religion etc.
As I read the Bible, from the Old to the New Testament, I keep finding very interesting characters. But also, I have found very complex episodes. Some of the episodes and characters have been used as weapons by non-believers against our faith. But one thing I find very interesting is the fact that the Lord has chosen regular people to spread the word.
Since the release of my book, “The Physical Death and Resurrection–A Surgeon’s View”, I have been using several avenues to share the book to reach more people. One goal of the book is to encourage believers in the faith, and another to provide a resource to people who are unsure of who Jesus really is and what his death & resurrection meant. In my book I focus a lot on Jesus–the man. I present very relevant historical and socio-political facts regarding this legendary man. The book also revealed the science behind the crucifixion proceedings.
On my Facebook page, I always try to share anecdotes and positive messages. I do it because I am convinced that there is so much negativity and loss of values n our world. Today I would like to share a beautiful and meaningful tradition. This tradition is one of the great memories from my hometown in the Dominican Republic. Honestly, I have no idea how the tradition started or where it came from, but one thing for sure, it was the rule at the Norbertos' house.
At some point in our lives, we look forward to meeting someone. In fact, we might have established a relationship via the Internet but yet we haven’t met this individual face to face. It is not unusual to create our own ideas or expectations about this person we are about to meet. It is not unusual to be disappointed once the actual meeting occurs. The reason for the disappointment might be due to false expectations about our Internet friend.
One of the big challenges that we, Christians, are facing is the continued and overwhelming attack from the non-believers. Years ago, before the Internet era, their arguments had more limited exposure to the public. But everything changed with the Internet and social media. I have also noticed how their arguments have become more aggressive and radical. I remember listening to statements like this: "I believe in Jesus as an extraordinary man, perhaps the most pure revolutionary, but just a man”. This last statement is benign compared to what is being said nowadays such as, “There is no historical proof that Jesus existed”