On the Job: Operation

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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - Only the best and the brightest have what it takes to heal others through the delicate art of surgery. Today, I'm at Anderson Regional Health System ready for an operation.

Dr. Azhar Pasha is the director of the Pain Management Center. That means his goal is to help treat chronic pain, and today we're in on the action.

"The procedure that we're going to do is called a spinal cord stimulator," he says.

So we're headed to surgery to see a patient with failed lumbar surgery syndrome. I have to put on the appropriate clothes, and the next step is scrubbing in. Everything has to be immaculate, even underneath our fingernails.

Once we head into the operating room, we complete preparations with our gowns, face masks and gloves. Believe it or not, Dr. Pasha thought it was best not to let a completely untrained person perform an operation, so we staged a re-enactment. Our patient? A brave volunteer on staff. But he talks me through how the procedure would go.

"We implement two electrodes in the back of the spine, and we implement a battery under the skin, sort of like a pacemaker for the back, and by using this technique we can stop the pain signal from the back and the neck from going to the brain," the doctor explains.

Dr. Pasha has been working in pain management for the past 15 years, so he says he's always confident, but still cautious.

"I'm never concerned about the technique to be able to do the procedure. However, every time you work on a patient, you do a procedure or a surgery, you're dealing with human life, you're dealing with somebody's family member," he tells me. "If you can't do this treatment to your mother, you shouldn't do this to a patient. It's the mother test."

I got to practice my suture technique, and I don't know that I'd pass the mother test. Go see a real doctor, Mom! But good news! Our fake patient survived.

"It's a time I feel relief," Dr. Pasha says while removing all his gear. "I feel the accomplishment that we were able to do the procedure successfully."

He says it's incredible to see the results from his work, but more importantly, he loves to see the relationships he builds with the community.

"My kids joke with me, they can't go to Walmart with me because I see at least five patients. They actually count now," he laughs. "They say, 'Okay Dad, number one!' So I at least see five patients when we go to Walmart or Sams, but I feel very fulfilled by the fact that I have patients who care about me and ask about me, and I think it's what keeps me going. it's what keeps me motivated to do this."

If you have any suggestions for a career you'd like to see featured "On the Job," email me at candace.barnette@wtok.com.