GET TO KNOW DR FARHADIEH
- What made you get into medicine?
I come from a family full of doctors, engineers and businessmen. I was exposed to medicine from an early age and was always interested and fascinated by the workings of the human body. But finally, enough despite this, MASH the TV series encouraged me towards medicine and in particular, surgery. It seemed an obviously interesting way to live a life and help my fellow man.
- If you could have any other profession, what would it be?
Hard to say, I am a bit of a wonderer, I am fascinated by ideas, organisational visions and process optimisation execution. So, in short, I am interested in lots of things, from AI, to gene splicing, to comparative religious studies, ancient history, banking, geopolitics, construction and design of large structures, public policy and management. I think I could have enjoyed any of them.
- How do you balance work and home life?
Now that is a difficult question, and you would have to ask my wife, family and friends as to whether I balance it well or not. I am a little bit old fashioned in that I think when you commit to take care of patients and operate on them that requires you to be there for them first and always, so my phone is always on. In addition, I have been now twice appointed Chief Editor of one of our major reference textbooks and from the start of the journey to holding the final product in your hands this often takes about 2 years. It’s an all-consuming endeavour that requires coordination between 130 plus colleagues, publishers, time to read the material, do research and further reading to endure that the final text is perfect. I try to exercise, read, and spend time with my family and friends. But I am not sure if I ever switch off and I am uncertain of its impact on the life work balance thing.
- What was the hardest case you have ever had to work on?
Hard to tell, there are different aspects of different surgeries that stick in one’s mind. But if I were to consider an overall, it must be the hand replant that I did early on in my career. The sheer extent of the injury of the colossal effort that went into saving the patient’s hand, reattaching it, before transferring out to Melbourne for further surgery remains a stand out case.
- Who is the one person you look up to?
I think we all have many parts of different people that we come into contact with that we look up to and learn from. My parents, mother and father for their steadfast morals, for their grit, their love and their sacrifices in life are role models. In medicine, like all apprenticeships we become cultivated parts of natural and learned tendencies of our more senior and sometimes more junior peers. I was influenced greatly by two vascular surgeons that I worked for early on in my medical career. Though they were chalk and cheese they are both amazing surgeons and share in common a sense of pride in their job, a love of their patients, a dedication to the craft, a sense of fair play and honour. Themes that resonated with me with other mentors during my Plastic surgery training.
- If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
I love Sydney, not sure if I would trade it for anywhere else, but Lake Como, the Greek Isles, or the Caspian coast, and London, Paris and New York are also on the list.
- What is your biggest fear?
As humans we all have fears. I am not sure if I can think of what my biggest fear is, I will have to think about that.
- What is your favourite family vacation?
Being with my family, I do not much care where, so long as we get to hang out, rowdy lunches, good food, wine and chit chat.
- What motivates you to work hard?
I was institutionalised early on by my parents 🙂 I do not know how else to work. If you are going to work, you might as well put your best effort in.
- What is your favourite thing about your career?
I get to do some of the coolest most diverse surgery, I get to chat with my patients and go with them on their journey.
- What is your proudest accomplishment?
Is pride a sin 🙂? Without a shadow of a doubt it is finding and having the audacity to ask my wife to marry me. I think in my career completing triple board certification and formal clinical fellowships were a special to me. Being recognised by my respected international peers for my contributions to our field with our textbook remains an academic and clinical highlight. It’s like an Oscar for an actor 🙂.
- What is your favourite procedure to perform?
I like all surgeries, it’s one of my favourite things about plastic surgery. The body is the mission, problem solving, and technical aspects are applicable across the board. The same effort that goes into a facelift can be used for reconstruction of the face after trauma or cancer. The same meticulous attention to detail of microsurgery can be applied to breast augmentation or rhinoplasty surgery.
- What is your favourite book to read?
There are many, here is a short list, Unbearable Lightness of Being by Kundera, The Outlander by Camus, The Trial by Kafka, One hundred Years of Solitude by Marquez, The Fall of Rome by Gibbons ( abridged version), Rights of Man by Thomas Paine, Reflections on the French Revolution by Edmond burke, My uncle Napoleaon by Iraj Pezeshzad and the list, I fear, goes on.
- Which would you rather do: wash the dishes, mow the lawn, clean the bathroom or vacuum the house?
I like all of them, I can do any of them and use the time to think and clear my head. Besides, I like organising things.
- If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Hmm, difficult call, spaghetti Bolognese or Chelo Kabab (traditional Persian kebab with rice).
- Have you ever had a nickname? What was it?
Yep Ross, my full name is Rostam, named after both of my grandfathers who were named after one of the heroes of Book of Kings. He loosely is the same as Hercules in Greek mythology but more powerful and more Edwardian in chivalrous manner 🙂.
- If you could go back in to time, what year would you travel to?
Difficult question, if it were possible from a personal perspective to my magical childhood 1983 or 1984 to be precise. Outside of my own interests I would want to witness too many events to be able to mention just one.
- What is the best gift you have ever received? What is the worst gift you have ever received?
Best gift, easy my children, worst gift, nothing springs to mind.
- Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Hard to say these days, with what the world has looked like over the last few years I have given up on predicting. I would like to continue to practice, teach and contribute if it were up to me.
- If you could go back in time and change one thing, what would it be?
For myself or for the world? I would not change anything as I have become who I am because of all events that brought me to this moment in time and I am very happy with who I am and what I stand for and what I do. For the World it’s hard to tell, I imagine some moment in time that could inextricable change human history for good, stop Hannibal crossing the alps, stop Alexander from burning Persepolis down, stopping the fall of the Persian and Roman empires, Genghis Khan stopping him, Ivan the terrible, the crusades and the list of terrible wars and famines that one would like to stop goes on.
- What is the longest you have gone without sleep (and why)?
A couple of days … it was long before the safe working hours. I now know what I was feeling was delirium towards the end.
- What is your favourite family tradition?
Backgammon and chit chat.
- What three items would you take with you on a deserted island?
Music, books (ebooks are fine) and wine.
- Do you collect anything?
I used to collect stamps and Tin Tin but that was a long time ago.
- If you were a ruler of your own country, what would be the first law you would introduce?
Equal rights for all, vote on everything, sack me as leader 🙂.
- How many languages do you speak (and which ones)?
Two fluently: English and Persian. I made some dismal efforts at French, German and Sanskrit too.
- What is one thing you will never do again?
- If you came with a warning label, what would yours say?
Honest, kind, hardworking and can be hard work and on occasions user unfriendly 🙂.
- Which of the five senses would you say is your strongest?
Hard call, I love vision for colours and forms cannot be denied, hearing for music is the thought of the universe and touch for our lives is summarised in touch.
- If you could give current and future medical students advice, what would it be?
Think long and hard about what you want to do, why you want to do it and then go for it. Do not take no for an answer… ever.