The Mental Game: Preparing for Brain Surgery

Question: How do you prepare yourself to perform a brain surgery?

 

Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa: The way you prepare to go into the operating room is an absolute concentration, an absolute love for what you do, and you have to have that passion in your heart, you have to feel that fire in your belly, right before you go into the operating room. Why? Because you are literally walking a fine line every day in what we do between life and death. And even though we're walking that fine line every day, you can never be too prepared. So what I do all the time before I go into the operating room, nights before, days before, every time I meet a patient, I think about their disease.

Their case gets put in my brain. I think about it, I dream about it. I conceive the different avenues, the different corridors, the different ways that I'm going to treat this disease, how I'm going to approach it, which angle I'm going to take, how the tumor is going to look. And I dream about this and I think about this in such a way that when I come into the operating room, my heart is palpitating. I have all this amount of energy and passion and concentration. All my senses are hyper-acute. This is this patient's most important day in their life, and as a consequence it's my most important day in my life, and I come in to work with them, side by side, man to a man, as I said before. And I concentrate and I put all my efforts, all my passion, my determination, my resilience-- my dreams come together that moment.

 

Recorded on: July 2, 2008

 

When you walk the fine line between life and death, you can never prepare too much, says Dr. Q. He'll even plan his strategies for a brain surgery in his sleep.

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