Goals.

So I’ve come to realize it’s a false notion to think there will be some long consistent period of days off with a surplus of free time, and I’ll find myself completely caught up and all the pended things on my ‘To Do’ list all done. Instead I think it is going to be more like trying to fit in all my tasks -like updating this blog- amongst a series of short sleeps, long work days, never ending learning and the necessary naps to keep my shit from all coming unwound.

With that, I wanted to put together a list of goals for myself for residency. The idea and my first day were about 43 days ago, but hey better late than never. If anything, the first few weeks have really shown me how difficult this whole residency thing can be. I have quickly learned that it is going to take real effort to be a good resident, good husband, good brother, good son, good person and good to myself amidst this crazy schedule.

Hopefully I can look back on this post over the next few years and keep measure of my efforts. They may sound a little cliche or a little overzealous, but that’s the point of goals eh? Go big or go home.

Dear self,

  1. Focus. The next 4 years are the opportunity to become a good physician and immerse yourself in the learning experience. Biking, running, climbing, fishing, (insert hobby) are going nowhere, focus on being the best damn ER doc you can be.
  2. Be an active learner. Try to take something from every patient. Don’t expect the world to spoon feed you knowledge. It will not happen and even if it did, you don’t have the attention span to learn that way. Take responsibility of your own learning.
  3. Don’t forget to care. You live in the hospital now. You are used to the madness of the ED, of life, of death, of suffering, of chaos. This shit is not normal for the rest of the world. Don’t forget that and make sure you stay relatable and cognizant of the patient experience.
  4. Be human. Experience your emotions: the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful. Don’t just be a robot and try to ignore your feelings. Learn from the bad, let yourself grieve appropriately and remember the saves and hero days.
  5. Be a better husband. Being married to an EM physician is not easy. The schedule and overall experience’s only constant is change. Don’t be a burden of a partner. Make sure she knows she is still the center of your world and special to you. Don’t forget date night and the for-no-reason-other-than-to-tell-you-i-love-you things. Don’t try to bargain your effort away from your relationship for everything else.
  6. Embrace failure. The last few weeks have been incredibly humbling and keep that always trying to improve attitude. Never become smart enough or good enough or fast enough or wise enough.  Always pursue just a little better.
  7. Stay fit. No one will fault you for getting a little out of shape with the bad hours general lack of money and the horrible stress. Don’t take the easy way out. Eat better. Exercise even when you’re tired. No excuses. Run that ultra. Don’t put life on hold.
  8. Be happy. Do the things you love. Keep smiling. Be the person people want to have on shift or in their lives. Residency’s hard, life’s hard, but spreading a smile is an easy, small win every time.

With Love,

     Self

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    Smile. Life is good.

 

Well..

(bows head..)

 

(slowly walks back into the room..)

 

(crickets…)

 

 

Well..

It’s been a while, eh?..

 

I think it’s time to dust this blog off and get back to it. We all know the saying about excuses and the terminal end of our GI tract, and I’m not much in the mood to talk bellies after a month of general surgery.

Let’s just say there was a much needed break over the spring followed by a quick ramp up to the realities of starting residency and being an intern. I ‘unplugged’ from medicine and real life then promptly reconnected with an accidental finger on the prongs with wet hands and I may have sharted a little shock to start my intern year.

It’s been crazy. I’ve already worked harder than ever before. I’m impressively tired. But being a doctor is rad. It’s one of the coolest things I’ve done yet. There’s been a lot of adventure and medicine stories over that last few months that I can’t wait to share. Stay tuned. There’s so much to catch up on.

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Mountain movement

Life has always had this funny way of presenting the most interesting of things at the most perfect of times. Maybe I unconsciously seek out or I simply notice these moments more because of their relevance or maybe it could even be skewed into some sort of ‘sign,’ but I like to think it’s more of an amusing coincidence in each of our wondrous life journeys. Life’s funny sense of humor subtly revealing itself. All that fancy talk aside, the video above really seemed to capture a lot of my feelings after the last month out here in Utah. I just happened to find the video this morning, and it finally spurred me to put some thoughts to words about some of my adventures over the last few weeks.

Anton Krupicka is an amazing mountain/endurance athlete, and I dream someday of pursuing objectives similar to his own. What I think that AK has near mastered is the art of movement in the mountains. He has found ‘purpose’ in his life based in that -dare I say it- pure form of existence that comes with moving in mountain terrain. Many people including myself have happened to ride that high of physiologic neurotransmitters, the body drugs, that come with such a intense experience and it is addicting. There’s the famous John Muir quote, “The mountains are calling I must go,” and those words are much more profound than any hashtag or bumper sticker can contrive. Once you experience the range of emotions: excitement, fear, exhaustion, gratification, accomplishment and often humbling that come with the mountains, the stuff creeps into your soul and you just can’t get rid of the want, the need to experience it all again.

It is a bit of an understatement, but the last few years in school have put a real damper on my mountain endeavors. Save a few trips with family & Gabi, and some short adventures packed into the unfortunate realities of medical school, it’s been a long while since I have really been ‘getting after it’ in the mountains. Luckily, I have had the last few weeks to rekindle that relationship. It didn’t take long before the feeling of pulling on rock, transitioning my safety in and out of rope systems and tapping into that focus of moving high above the actual and existential ground reignited my passion for the lofty peaks. I love this shit.

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The full alpine climbing experience on Storm Mountain

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Indian Creek with Alan and Emily

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The creek is spectacular

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Splitters

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Supercrack

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Little Cottonwood Canyon multipitch with Al

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Can’t beat a good climbing partner

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Mt. Olympus scramble

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This.

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Squaw Mountain

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22 pitches worth or movement on rock = rad.

Distracted.

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Holy smokes did I get behind on this thing. I gotta admit that a whole bunch of life happened all at once, and the blog unfortunately slipped through the cracks. The biggest and scariest thing that took over was Gabi’s accident. Coming home late from clinicals and on a particularly nasty, rainy February night, a young kid ran a redlight and hit Gabi head on. Luckily she and everybody involved was okay, but the Fiesta or Giesta rather was completely totaled. Of course, the kid didn’t have insurance and no witnesses stopped to give a statement and a he-said, she-said debacle ensued with insurance over the last few weeks.

Blah blah blah I don’t want to complain, but the gist of the story is that I want to put a challenge to my friends to stop driving distracted. I’m guilty of it too. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve pooped without my phone in the last few years. We’re addicted to the darn things, but please put ’em down while you’re driving. I have done my best to do so, and I just want to remind my friends. We get away with thousands of seconds of distracted driving, but it only takes one to ruin someone’s life. Luckily nobody was hurt too bad here and the accident was not too harsh of a reminder.

All that seriosity aside, I want to keep this blog something a little more lighthearted. With that, I happily announce that Gabi and I did embrace the ultimate outdoor stereotype and are driving a saweet new Subaru. Living the outdoor cliche dream I guess with our Subaru and candidly-placed black lab in the backseat..

We also moved out of Cleveland. I wrapped up rotations and hit the road to Utah. Currently in an Advanced Wilderness Life Support (AWLS) and a Search and Rescue (SAR) course for the month of April. Also been trying to make up for 4 years of med school with 4 weeks of adventuring here around SLC. I’ve been busy and plenty of photos and trip updates to come soon.

Thanks y’all for hanging in there over my unexcused absence. I’m gunna try and get this thing turned back over and running back on track. Til then keep adventuring my friends and tune back in soon. Plenty of adventure and medicine to come!

Older musings – MedWAR

Here’s a piece I wrote for the ACOEP Fast Track a few years ago, and I thought I should share here while I’m working on a few other projects. I’ve got another MedWAR follow-up piece coming soon, but for now this is a great intro to these types of races. Hope you enjoy the read!

You can find the original piece here: https://issuu.com/acoep/docs/the_fast_track_-_summer_15_final_dr.

***

Keeping Medical School Wild

Struggling to catch my breath and the rest of my team, I was realizing just how out of shape I had become. A few months of endless studying and minimal physical activity culminating in a weeklong marathon cram for the EENT final was not the ideal preparation for an adventure/wilderness medicine race. Man, I wish I could breathe, or take this pack off, or maybe just remember how the hell to read a compass again.

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Team Wild Heritage

My two buddies and I were in Tennessee for the MedWAR medical wilderness adventure race. The MedWAR events focus around handling medical emergencies in the wild with minimal equipment while simultaneously hiking, running, biking, and navigating over miles of harsh terrain. Our day consisted of 12 miles of racing up and down the mountains of the Cumberland Gap handling everything from MIs and crush injuries to heat stroke and a tension pneumo. Both medical and wilderness survival- based skills are tested with a team’s performance based on a combination of the two. With a little luck, the cumulative knowledge of a few second years, and a lot of sweaty and winded miles, our team Wild Heritage managed to eke out a second place.

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Look at those smiles..

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..and the multi-tasking!

Results aside, the true highlight of the day was how much fun our team had during the race. Regardless of the mental and physical exhaustion of the race, we laughed and smiled from start to finish. This sort of type two fun combined with a post-race beer, BBQ, and a campfire made for an unforgettable weekend. Contrary to what the typical adventurer will say, medical school is not the end to all things wild and exciting. Yes, the nights spent out under the stars and the weekends spent chasing epic [insert hobby here] conditions are fewer and farther between, but medical school still allows for some awesome experiences. I mean, how often do you get to spend the day flying downhill on a mountain bike, pop a chest, trail run across mountains, sew up lacerations, climb a ropes course, and splint a broken femur?

MedWARs is the perfect marriage of my former wilderness- based life and current medical skill set in development. My backpack used to be stuffed with ice axes, carabiners, and ultralight alpine gear, but now I haul around Pathoma, First Aid for USMLE, and a DIT Step 1 Study Guide. One of my biggest struggles has been trying to find a new balance in life between the long hours of studying and taking time off for the adventures that keep my spirit strong and my sanity intact. This, I am certain, is no different than what my senior colleagues (and inevitably my future self) also work to maintain. I constantly remind myself that medical school is no different than developing any other wilderness skill set. It takes many years of hard work and commitment before climbing 5.13, paddling class V whitewater, or sinking ice tools into WI5. Medicine is no different. Luckily for me, I found my niche in the world of wilderness medicine, and with events like MedWARs I have the opportunity to work on all these passions both new and old at the same time. I cannot wait for the next MedWAR race coming in the fall, but for now the primary objective is to survive Step 1. Then I’ll get back to figuring out that compass thing.

Sidetracked.

So I’ve come to realize as have many of my friends or family that get a 4 day late returned phone call or text that there is a perfect inverse relationship between my time spent outside and my interaction with electronics. What I am really trying to say is that I am sorry for missing one of these weekly blog posts last week. I was off and packed in a solid 7 days worth of adventure into 5, and I know I didn’t have any idea where my phone was at least half of that time.

Now that the match has happened I have tried my darnedest to embody the advice of all my mentors to enjoy the next 5 months as much as humanly possible. My family insists that my one greatest skill is the ability to find free time whenever people insist there is none. Really my dad calls it ‘dicking off,’ but I prefer to think of it as just making time. All the same I really hope to pack as much climbing, running, biking, traveling, adventuring and simply living with Gabi and Watson over the next few months.

I was going to do a long trip report of my adventures last weekend with some epic photos to match, but quite honestly I only took a few blurry iPhone photos and the real story is that it was just a couple nice days off.

Day 1: Went to Athens to visit Wyatt. Ate/drank Jackie O’s pizza and beer. Amazing as always. Reminisced with some old friends. It’s amazing how true friends can pick up right where they left off regardless of whether its been days, weeks, months even years apart. Cheers dudes!

Day 2: Went and rode mountain bikes in Kanawha Forest outside of Charleston, WV with Adam & Steve. Amazing as always. Awesome weather. Got crushed by the climbs and was one big leg-cramping exhausted mess by the end. Hit up Black Sheep burritos again in downtown Charleston. Baaa’d ass burrito with the habanero death sauce = baaaaa’d ass next AM. Worth it.

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Climbing that WV two track #strugglefest

Day 3: Helped clean up some mtb trails around Athens with old friends. More sunshine and Vitamin D fueled happiness. Played a quick round of disc golf. Gabi and Watson rolled into Athens. Ate Kiser’s BBQ. Those who know, you know. Then camp out, bonfire, beers, stars…

Day 4: OU climbing comp with Wy. Scored a 2nd. Stoked! Felt a little old climbing with all the new scene there. Time sure flies. More Kiser’s. Drove to the New River Gorge. Crashed at AAC campground. Sweet spot. Rain on the truck cap and instantly asleep.

Day 5: Wy’s first day climbing outside. Watson’s first day as a crag dog. My first time back on real rocks in longer than I want to admit. Wet and rainy but still found some dry stuff out at Summersville. Climbed some trad routes at the sport crag. Neat. Lit the fire in Wy, I know he’ll be back there soon. Hopefully that dude gets strong, drags me out on trips and rope guns for me some day! Dinner at Secret Sandwich Society in Fayetteville. Another awesome meal. Drove all the way home that night. Got back to CLE around 3AM. Full. Tired. Satisfied. Spent. Happy.

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Orange Oswald Wall

Thumbs up for days off and getting back to adventure. Here’s to another round of that!

 

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My climbing gang.

I freaking did it.

I matched. I matched into my #1 pick at Doctors Hospital in Columbus. I can’t freaking believe it. The shitty statistics, the months of auditions and interviews, the madness all paid off and I just matched into emergency medicine. I get to be a real doctor, an ER doctor! This is like a 20 something year old dreaming paying off, and it all just feels too surreal. I can’t believe it.

I’m gunna go a little Nascar/Supercross here for a second and put a shout out to all my sponsors and pit crew. Thanks Mom and Dad for giving me the world, the keys and the direction to be successful. Thanks to Paige, Jaelyn and Wyatt for always believing in their big brother. Thanks to Dr. Bloxdorf, Dr. Romanello, Dr. Donze, Thomas, George, Chris, Magdy, Cam and all the other residents at St. John’s for helping mold me into a solid EM applicant. Thanks to the group at OVMC Dr. Hrutkay, Dr. Gooch, Dr. Barr, Chance, Adam x2, and Sasha for the awesome wild med experience and teachings in the Wheeling ED. Thanks to my new Doctors family Dr. Casey, Dr. Frasier, Leigh, Tanner, Andy, Geoff and all the other residents for welcoming me to your kickass program. Thanks to my buddies Kent, Marcus, Sam, Andy, Kevin, Max, Nasir and the rest of my OU-HCOM family for keeping me sane between exams and always laughing along the march through med school. Thanks to all my adventurous homeys Shane, Steve, Adam, Cory, Kevin, Brooks, Dustyn and Corey for always keeping me inspired by your own adventures and letting me live vicariously through your trips and pictures!

Thanks to Watson dog for always acting like and making me feel like the coolest dude on the planet. You were the best bad idea I ever had and I wish I could be half as fast, strong or funny as you! And most of all, huge thanks to my #1 fan and supporter, Gabi. My wife, my best friend, my rock and the glue that holds my proverbial shit together. I wouldn’t be any of what I am today without you and I am forever in your debt for all you do to support me. I love you chica.

Today marks the official start of the next chapter of my life. It’s been a crazy ride and I imagine things are only going to get wilder. I can’t thank everybody enough for their support and help along the way. Sorry if I missed anybody on my list, but I promise that no support or help went unnoticed. Y’all are the best and I am backed by the coolest and most amazing collective group of people that I could ever imagine. Thank you all.

Today I can officially put the ER in adventurER. All systems go and commence launch sequence. Friends, I. AM. STOKED!