Operating room voice leads to first publication on faith for local doctor.

Vienna resident Neeraj Bhushan keeps Tuesday mornings for himself, clearing off his busy schedule to take a long walk before stepping foot in his office at Reston Hospital Center where he works as an internal medicine specialist. During a Tuesday morning walk late in 2005, Bhushan felt a terrible pain in his knee, rendering him unable to finish his walk.
"The knee suddenly started to hurt really bad," said Bhushan, recalling the experience. The pain was a result of a torn meniscus, an injury he sustained playing basketball 10 years earlier. Bhushan saw a colleague, an orthopedic surgeon, whose office was on the same floor as Bhushan’s. The surgeon recommended surgery as an answer to Bhushan’s woes. What transpired in the operating room the day of the surgery changed Bhushan forever and drove him to write his first book, "The Wide Open Door."
"I panicked because of possible complications, I even envisioned myself dying," said Bhushan, who understood complications from surgery having practiced internal medicine for more than 25 years in Reston at that time. As the operating room lights became brighter and the surgeon and the anesthetic technician made final preparations to put Bhushan under for surgery, Bhushan heard a third voice. It was a man’s voice, he said, that whispered to him, "Why are you afraid my son, I’m right here." Bhushan said he was scared to hear the voice. "It was just me on the operating table and I was talking to this voice," he said. Bhushan then calmed down and "surrendered" himself to the voice, before the surgery started.

WHEN BHUSHAN woke up from the surgery, which involved drilling three holes into his knee, he walked into the bathroom without any crutches, not limping and not feeling any pain. The surgeon prescribed strong medications to ease the pain once he got home, but Bhushan never did feel any pain in his knee as he went to sleep. Doubting that he had surgery, Bhushan waited until his wife went to sleep and undressed the knee. When he saw where the surgeon drilled, evidence that surgery did take place, Bhushan broke down.
"I felt that some power, which I believe is God, touched my knee," said Bhushan. "I started feeling that some other power than what we [doctors] do healed me," said Bhushan. "I was healed by spirituality, not medicine."
For almost a year Bhushan tried to come to terms with the belief that he benefited from direct contact with God. "I was bothered that I was given that privilege," said Bhushan. When he could not, Bhushan started to write "The Wide Open Door," a recollection of his experience, and other stories of patients he has had in his 29 years at Reston, who had quick recoveries not explained through medicine. Although he was always a man of faith, growing up in a Hindu family in India and joining a temple once he immigrated to the United States, Bhushan said his experience has taught him to surrender to God’s will. "I never understood the meaning of faith," he said speaking of his early spiritual life. "It was always a trade or negotiation," he said, going to temple in exchange for a positive view from God. "This experience has led me to believe in unconditional surrender," said Bhushan, chairman of an advisory council of the Rajdhani Mandir Hindu Temple in Chantilly.

"WE MEET OFTEN," said Vikram Khushalani, Bhushan’s friend of more than 30 years and patient for 28 of those years. "When we used to meet before we would talk lightheartedly," said Khushalani. "Now, we are talking more and more about spirituality," he said. "He [Bhushan] seems to be little more at peace."
Khushalani said Bhushan has always been a sensible doctor whose goal is to put his patients at ease. Since Bhushan’s surgery, however, Bhushan’s devotion to relaxing his patients has increased. "It is more so now," said Khushalani.
Jisele Alter, Bhushan’s office manager who has worked with him in some capacity since 1981, said compassion is Bhushan’s top characteristic. "He has an unbelievable amount of patience with patients," said Alter. She said, from personal experience, that going through surgery is a very scary experience. Bhushan, she said, does everything in his power to calm his patients, even the most difficult ones. "He’s a fantastic physician," said Alter.
"The Wide Open Door" is scheduled for publication in November, according to Bhushan. There is also a tentative book signing date at Borders in Tysons Corner scheduled for Nov. 29. Bhushan said there has been "tremendous interest" expressed in the book from his patients and friends.
The strengthened spirituality Bhushan has found since his knee surgery has unleashed a series of ideas on other books Bhushan hopes to author, each of which will center around faith. He has starting writing two of those books already and has conceived an idea for another. "This has opened another part of my brain," said Bhushan.

By Mirza Kurspahic

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