News of my mentor’s death came all too sudden and was very shocking. I was tremendously saddened by the news, and couldn’t quite enjoy my time off at my latest IFDAS (International Federation of Dental Anesthesiology Societies) conference in Hawaii. A group of us were supposed to join him in Hawaii for the conference but, unfortunately, this untimely incident happened. It took me a few days to absorb the news and much longer to blog here about how much we are missing him already. I suppose I can go over all his achievements, but that would be way too many pages. Here’s a link to a nice summary: http://www.ada.org/news/6818.aspx . Instead, I would like to share my relation and connection I had with him.
To start it off, I feel so deeply honored, privileged, and lucky to have received tutelage from him, and would bet every one of the residents who had trained under him and Dr. Chris Quinn would feel the same way. Dr. Yagiela and Dr. Quinn were like our “Mom and Dad” for anesthesia. I know it sounds funny, but we are like a family. Former residents and attendings of the UCLA dental anesthesia program would always gather one night to have dinner at all the dental anesthesia meetings.
At Scottsdale, Arizona, we were gathered at the lobby of the hotel we were staying at, getting ready to go dinner, and a colleague came over to say hi to John. He introduced us to him, pointed to all of us and said “these are what I live for now.” From that statement alone, you can tell that he had put his heart and soul into the UCLA dental anesthesia residency program. We are essentially an extension of his family, and he treated us as such. All the residents also share a bond, even if we didn’t train at the same time, we took care of each other.
Dr. Yagiela is super smart, feared during our meetings for asking questions because he is almost always right, at least in the subject of anesthesia and dentistry. Part of the reason I latched on to him so easily was that he was very similar to my father. My father is a well known economic scholar in Taiwan and has written textbooks for finance and other subjects. After he retired from the banking industry, he was invited to be a professor at local universities. They both have mirror personalities, except one in the anesthesia and pharmacology field and the other in economics and finance. I was able relate to Dr. Yagiela real quick, and I picked up a lot of hobbies that Dr. Yagiela had enjoyed, from photography to scuba diving, and also got quirks like becoming a mac user.
One of the memorable times I had with Dr. Yagiela was visiting Joshua Tree Park on the way back from Arizona’s annual meeting. We both took out our camera’s and started shooting scenery, and of course lizards whenever he spots one.
He showed me how to find the north star to get the twirl from exposing the camera for 20 minutes, and what to look for doing a macro shot on a lizard.
Funny thing was I ended up finding a motel with an interesting decor, and was really meant as a B&B. Should have camped like real men! LOL. He offered to host a camping trip since I don’t have much experience in camping.
Dr. Yagiela has left a huge footprint. I feel committed to help continue his legacy in the world of dental anesthesiology. I hope all the past residents could combine our strengths to leave a mark in history just like he did. I already terribly miss him, and regret not having done more with him.