Sunday, April 15, 2012


Have you ever conquered something you thought not possible?

Have you ever had something so daunting in your future that you don't see any way of successfully leaping the hurdle?

I feel as though I'm having quite a few of those recently. I mean, I am graduating from medical school, a 4-year project, in just mere weeks! I'll be the first to admit it was a day I thought would never come.

The most recent hurdle was this weekend. A group of friends here in Michigan convinced me to sign up for a Tough Mudder race. We had all completed a Warrior Dash a few months prior, and we thought the next logical step would be to do Warrior Dash on steroids -- aka Tough Mudder.
I really wasn't worried about the race. I mean, it's only a 10-12 mile run (I know all you non-runners are cringing at my use of "only"), and I've done many a marathon. And really, when I looked at the course map, a lot of the obstacles looked pretty doable, especially as I had a team of 6 to back me up. And then I saw them: the tunnels.

I am claustrophobic. Claus-tro-pho-bic. PHOBIA. So much so, I couldn't watch any of the footage of the Chilean Miners until after they were out of the mine. So much so, I actually walked out of Titanic the first time I saw it because of all the people getting trapped in the boat... Ugh. My chest is tightening just thinking of it.

So these tunnels, yes, plural "tunnelS", aren't actually short. They're fairly long. The first set was pipes made of PVC set on angle down a trench and up the other side. The second set, was an actual tunnel dug into the ground that turned right and left and was DARK!
It took every ounce of courage and will power and lung space to get me through those tunnels. But, I did it.

We all did it.
I couldn't have done it alone...

Every member of the team had at least one obstacle that was deterring them. For some it was the 1/4 pipe, others the 30 foot jump, and for some the electrical wires. It didn't matter, we pushed each other through and pulled each other over every obstacle. And we all completed the entire thing! All 7 of us!
The 7 of us holding hands as we cross the finish line!

I know, I said we were a team of 6, but we gained an extra teammate by helping a lone racer on the first obstacle. She stuck with us the whole way and we were more than happy to have her. We weren't the only ones helping other people out. The entire day we saw strangers helping strangers. Everyone was willing to spend extra time on obstacles to help others out of the water/mud or over the wall/hurdle.

It was beautiful. It was the way life should be. And then I saw this video and it completed the whole experience!

I wouldn't have done this weekend any different. Even though I can't take a deep breath due to the bruises on my ribs and I can't sit down without holding onto something first. But it was worth it to earn that orange Tough Mudder headband!
And I forgot to mention, it was freezing and in order to keep morale up, we SHUFFLED after every single obstacle! Yep, we were those people! And it was epic!

Monday, April 2, 2012


A friend from high school went into labor on Saturday. After 40 weeks of growing a baby and 23 tough hours of labor, she delivered a baby boy who's heart stopped beating just minutes after delivery. The doctors were not able to revive him.

My heart broke when I heard the news last night. Though she and her husband live far away from me, I had been attentively following the progress of her pregnancy through the wonders of the internet.

How do you express the grief and devastation you feel for someone when you're so far away?

I struggled in sending her a message to convey my condolences, because, how do you tell someone whom you rarely talk to that you grieve for them? That you would wish away their pain? That though you yourself have never felt such a grievous loss, you are crying for them?

I don't know how to talk to her about it and I probably won't because by the time I might see her, it will be months from now. And then how would I bring it up?

As I think about this tragedy, I contemplate my future in medicine. I know that someday, one day, not too far in the future, I will be the doctor giving the news of a loved one's death. I don't think I will ever be able to do so without crying.

Last month, I stood by as my attending physician broke the news to family after family. Working in an ICU, this is an incredibly common occurance. I teared up each time.

It will be worse in Pediatrics. Far worse. And when I think of it, I dread having children of my own, to spare myself the potential heartache. Because no matter what stage you lose a child in, you have lost a child and a parent should never have to bury their child.

But we can't think like this. If we thought this way with everything, would we ever truly live?

We have to take those chances in life in order to experience life.

We have to push past the doubts that plague every decision and live. We have to live.