If it weren’t for a successful career as a physician, Dr. Tarun Bhalla would be a magician. Lucky for him, he likens his role to performing magic: “Once families realize what we do and how we do it,” he said, “the connotation of anesthesia can be compared to an illusion or even hypnosis.”
As Akron Children’s newest pediatric anesthesiologist and chair of the hospital’s Department of Anesthesia & Pain Medicine, he gets to work his magic each day at relieving children’s pain and discomfort. He helps patients manage acute or chronic pain, whether from surgery, painful procedures or trauma, to improve their physical, psychological and emotional well-being.
Which celebrity do you look the most like or which sitcom character do you act the most like?
Some family and friends have told me that I look like the Bollywood actor Varun Dhawan. I am still trying to figure out if there is a resemblance. You be the judge.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I would live in Barcelona, Spain. I love the culture, food, people, ocean and landscape; it has it all.
If you could choose your age forever, what age would it be and why?
I would like to be 39 forever. It’s an age where I’m an adult, I have appropriate responsibilities, however, I can still eat anything and enjoy life with minimal aches and pains. Once I arrived in life’s 4th decade, it was a different story!
Who makes up your family, including pets and their names?
My wife, Kamy, and our two daughters, Simran, 8, and Sonika, 3.
If you were stranded on a deserted island, what 3 items would you bring with you and why?
I would take my wife, Kamy, and daughters, Simran and Sonika. My wife is a no-nonsense, fearless woman and a solid support system. Simran is my geographically knowledgeable, very resourceful and extremely kind child. She is learning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and could aid in our self-defense on the island. Last, but certainly not least, Sonika is truly the “wild card” and “wild child.” She has a low center of gravity, is quick on her feet, feisty and makes her own rules. She’s a perfect mate on a deserted island – a true survivor! Although only 3 years old, she eats like a teenager, so we may likely run out of food quickly.
What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
The first thing I like to do in the morning is work out. I enjoy yoga, swimming and cycling.
What was your first car and what’s your dream car?
My first car was a hand-me-down from my older sister. It was a teal blue Toyota Paseo. Frankly, my dream car is anything that runs, is low maintenance, and gets me to work and home safely.
What’s your favorite food? Who makes it best?
My favorite food is anything Mexican. I am nondiscriminatory as long as someone puts in good effort!
What was your first paying job?
My first paying job was at Chuck E. Cheese’s. I was the mouse!
What’s your quote, mantra or personal slogan you live by?
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
Something you’ve always wanted to do and still want to do it?
If I were not a physician, I would love to be a magician.
Lucky for me, I actually see similarities between performing magic and providing anesthesia. Just as a magician steps on stage, captivates an audience with brief commentary, guides them through a magic trick and expects a successful outcome, we as anesthesiologists are navigating our families and patients through the perioperative experience.
In addition, once families realize what we do and how we do it, the connotation of anesthesia can be compared to an illusion or even hypnosis. Families entrust their child with a pediatric anesthesiologist to be in an anesthetized state for a surgical procedure. We have total control of hemodynamics and patient physiology, which on a daily basis is a life or death situation. That’s a great honor and responsibility that comes with our profession.