The moment I realized I was not perfect occurred when I was lying on a gurney in the pre-op area at the University of Washington in Seattle. A surgical intern was digging around in my arm to find intravenous access while my parents sat off to the side praying. In that moment, I transformed from a doctor to a fearful patient being prepped for an urgent surgery for a rare medical disorder called achalasia.
It wasn't an illness that appeared overnight. I was slowly losing the ability to swallow and was suffering incapacitating chest pain from a stricture in my esophagus. The stricture physically grew tighter in my chest as my own stress levels peaked to the point of career burnout.