Dr Charles Rockhead is the woman's physician

By DONNA HUSSEY-WHYTE All Woman writer husseyd@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, October 08, 2012

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AS a child growing up in Lucea, Hanover, Charles Rockhead's mother was told by his paediatrician that he would never learn because of what was diagnosed as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), or short attention span. Today he is a sought-after obstetrician and gynaecologist who has been making strides in technological surgery, the CEO of an all-inclusive medical complex, and the brains behind other organisations in planning.

"I suffer from ADD, so I am always trying to find something else to do, some business, some job, something to create," he told All Woman in an interview last week.

"When I was a child my mother was told that I would never learn because I suffered from short attention span. It affected my mother severely," he recalled. "She cried over it, and then by the time I went to school there was a lady by the name of Enid Gonzales, who, along with my mom, recognised that I was really and truly just pretty smart."

Gonzales was the principal of Lucea Primary and Infant School where Rockhead started his first stages of education. She decided to channel his energy in a positive way in order to always keep him busy. Thus she gave him the responsibility of answering her phone at school.

"She was able to channel my creativity in other ways, otherwise I would constantly get myself in trouble," he said.

As he got older, Rockhead recognised that the way to deal with his disorder was to create things.

"And so today I kind of wear many hats," he explained. "What I do I don't do for the love of money. It's done because I would die if I never had something occupying my time. I have to find something to challenge myself. So based on that I get up every morning from 5:00 and end about 11:00 to 12 midnight when I am burnt out."

Rockhead started medical school at age 17.

"Being in medical school I got a little bit bored," the now 40-year-old said. "I wasn't challenged. So by the time I reached internship I was not too sure which direction I was to take."

So while he knew he wanted to do medicine, he was still not sure what area of medicine he wanted to settle in.

"My first rotation was paediatrics at Bustamante Children's Hospital which [wasn't for me]," he recalled. "My second rotation was obstetrics and gynaecology at Victoria Jubilee and I ran into my boss, Beverly Gordon. She was a very order-oriented woman. Based on how she used to approach problems, I was very impressed with her modus operandi."

This made his choice a little easier, especially after his third rotation in surgery.

"By the time I went into surgery rotation the level of violence — gunshot wounds, stab wounds, domestic violence... I can remember Christmas Day of that year the first thing I came and saw at Kingston Public Hospital was like three gunshot wounds, motor vehicle accidents, stab wounds, and I couldn't see my life going that direction. So I decided it was going to be obstetrics and gynaecology."

What made it easy, too, is the fact that he had many sisters, and so the process of communicating with women was very easy for the doctor.

"And I found it was easy for them to understand me. So that's how I ended up choosing gynaecology. And I have no regrets."

Today he has performed hundreds of non-invasive and minimally invasive procedures, guaranteeing patients minimal or no scarring and less recovery time than with open surgeries.

He ensures that he is always at the height of technological advances, guaranteeing that, for example, women who do not wish to have open surgery can have malignancies like fibroids removed through the vaginal passage or burnt out through small incisions on the abdomen.

Dr Rockhead deals with pregnancies, including ectopic pregnancies, labour and deliveries, miscarriages, sterilisations and infertility. He also deals with cervical cancer, tumours of the ovaries, endometriosis, hysterectomies, and vaginal surgery, among many other procedures in women's health care.

Dr Rockhead has used his craft to help women who may otherwise have not be able to have children, who have suffered years of embarrassing bleeding, those with various malignancies, and those who have been sexually abused.

The doctor said his choice of career has allowed him to touch human lives on a deeply personal level.

"In the process you create lifelong friends with absolute strangers who come to you and expose their innermost sanctums. They expose their fears, their situations of family life, their situations of abuse — abuse that alarms me a lot, both sexual and physical abuse among young women.

Dr Rockhead's need to create more ways to impact lives saw him forming the Amadeo Medical Complex on Young Street in Spanish Town. The all-inclusive medical complex has 15 doctors, including four general practitioners, three gynaecologists, two surgeons, two paediatricians, one urologist, one physiotherapist, one dietician and one dentist, and a support staff of 12.

The complex also offers ultrasound, ECG, surgeries and the screening programmes sigmoidoscopy (medical examination of the large intestines) and colonoscopy (an internal examination of the colon and rectum).

A father to an 11-year-old government scholar son who is in second form at Campion College, Dr Rockhead said he has passed on to his son the importance of thinking outside the box.

"The greatest thought I can give my son is to think outside the box and not take anything for granted," he said. "Also, to work as hard as possible and to know that the most important thing in life is to recognise that failure is normal, it is the only way you can understand what success is."

"I love success," said the man who describes himself and "headstrong". "But success doesn't equate to money. I don't do things for money. I do things because I like success. I like to see success around me and I love to see everything around me succeed."

For this doctor, who attended Rusea's High up until fifth form, it was at Munro College where he completed his sixth form education that had the greatest learning and growing experience on his life, as he said it was while there that he learnt survival skills and the ability to think outside the box.

"I believe nowadays our children cannot think outside the box and that is why we are failing," he reasoned. "And failure does not mean not passing an exam, failure is the ability not to be malleable in any situation. If people don't think outside the box they don't use their ability to conjure up thoughts and express ideas and put it into reality. What happens is that people sit around and wait for somebody to tell them what to do or to help them along the way. So I think that is what is lacking among young people — the ability to think outside of the box."

Dr Rockhead is an explorer who does not smoke or drink and loves gadgets. He also loves travelling and fishing.




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