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    Sunday, April 23, 2006

    Hesiod once said...

    "Before the gates of excellence, the high gods have placed sweat."

    -Hesiod 8th century B.C.


    I'll be MIA for the next week and a half or so, probably won't be able to post, but will still make time to visit all of your sites and comment. Surgery is completely consuming every moment of my life right now. Good training.

    Monday, April 17, 2006

    Easter on the Ocean


    Every Easter I usually do something in the wilderness. I like to take some time out to reflect on what Jesus did on this particular weekend. I ponder his last meal with his buddies which would have been on Thursday night. I think about what he was thinking knowing it was his last meal, and his last time with his best friends. Later that night, he asked his buddies (who were clueless) to pray for him, to be there for him. He was let down- those guys were tired, it was late, and they didn't know. Kind of like a buddy falling asleep on guard duty, really dangerous stuff, we call those guys "blue falcons". Then the police came and arrested him in the middle of the night. He was then caught between two politicians, and a bunch of angry religious zealots in an illegal arrest, unlawful trial, and bum sentence (no due process of course); all night being beaten between the groups only to finally be traded for a murderer, and then sentenced to flagellation and crucifixtion. Also of note, his best friend, when accused of being his buddy, completely disassociated himself- wouldn't even claim he knew the guy. We would call that "selling out". What a night. Then after being literally torn to pieces, with no food, no water, he then carried a cross carved out of a tree to his execution site, where he was given vinegar to drink. This all happened in one night and morning. Finally, he was hung with these really long nails, they had to be close to a foot long. He finally passed away, but not without asking God to forgive his killers. Then a couple of days later, he rose from the dead!

    This is what I pondered this weekend. I have often asked myself "do I really believe that a man rose from the dead?". There I said it. I also wonder if other Christians think about this. I've only been a Christian for six and a half years, so these questions are still out there every now and then. Then I also wonder if non-Christians ever consider this, not if Jesus was a good teacher and all, (I think everyone acknowledges that) but if the guy really rose from the dead. If you really think about it, its a lot to swallow. And more importantly, what the ramifications of that question would mean. I mean if I believe a guy can come back from the dead in his own power, that's kind of crazy, maybe even a little insane. However, if He really did, then it validates all of his almost psychotic claims. But, I've once again come to the conclusion that I do indeed believe that Jesus lived, he healed the sick and the lame, and then he died, and then he rose from the dead. I believe it because my gut tells me its true. Don't get me wrong, I can put forth quite the intellectual argument for Christianity, and I believe it is a sound, logical, and relevant faith, but ultimately it still comes down to an almost primitive instinct, at least for me. That may not be enough for some, but I trust my gut. I suspect my belief also has a lot to do with hope. There is no other story I have ever heard in my life that has such hope for us, for human beings. Hope for something more. I thirst to live life, and no matter what I do I always get a sense that there is something more. That's what I've been thinking about this Easter.

    Switiching gears...

    So, I did all this thinking in the context of a seakayaking adventure on the outer banks of North Carolina. Bear Island specifically. I headed out at 4AM Friday morning, arrived in Swansboro, NC, at 630 and rented a kayak from an old man named Lamar. Lamar looked like something out of a Hemingway novel. He had almost cancerous bronze skin, as wrinkled as a Shar-pei, with a skinny stature, but disproportionately large shoulders, I assumed from all his kayaking, and large, leathery hands. He was the kind of old man, that you just want to beg for him to tell you a story. I felt like a little boy in his presence. He asked me a lot of questions, and was curious as to why I was alone, I asked him a lot of questions and asked him if he's ever seen a shark. "All the time." said Lamar, "They like to come up and surface next to you, but they always go away- they're just curious you know?" Lamar continued, "but there was this one time when a big one followed me when I was a couple miles off shore... it was about twelve feet long and it kept coming up next to me, and then finally was just right behind me, fin outta the water and all! Made me really nervous, and I paddled harder than ever paddled in my life, but it finally left me alone." I was awestruck. Lamar has crossed the Arctic Northern Pacific, paddled in Wales, Australia, all over the US, seen sharks, orcas, whales, and manta rays. I felt like I was talking to a lost race of a man. We talked quite a bit, and by the end of the weekend I had an offer to come paddle with him next time in the deep, which I can't wait to do. During my paddling retreat I saw some neat stuff, most significantly, a beautiful sunrise, and sunset, and a quiet paddle in the light of the full moon. The ocean glowed. It looked like something from another planet, I was alone, and it was dark, but light at the same time. Hard to describe. Sometimes "beautiful" just isn't sufficient. I also was followed by a pack of four dolphins for an hour. That almost made me piss my pants at first, because they were so close and I thought they were sharks (I was paranoid from Lamar). I could reach out and touch them with my paddle when they first surfaced. I had packed my kayak with a tent, bag, food and water, and camped out on one of the smaller islands, there were oysters and clams everywhere, so I started a fire and shucked some oysters, and had a feast. All I did was paddle, eat, sleep, read, and paddle. It was glorious, one of those rare times in our lives. Time went a lot slower too. It was like a never ending weekend. I paddled over twenty miles and my shoulders and core are still feeling it. Alright- I could go on and on, but enough of my sap. My Easter was great, and I had to share.

    Monday, April 10, 2006

    Belcourt, North Dakota- ay?

    A Native American reservation in Belcourt, ND. That is the location of my clinical rotations which I have been assigned to for May-June. So, I've never been, but I hear it's cold up there- ay? When I was told North Dakota, I thought to myself, *hmmm. when was the last time North Dakota ever entered my mind in a thought.* Thus bringing me to the conclusion that I am certain that the words "North Dakota" have never crossed my mind or my lips since taking geography in high school. I even tried to remember whether it was a blue state or a red state in the last election, but I came up with nothin'- I don't remember a thing. Is that bad? Folks from up there probably did the same with Mississippi until Katrina, and the MSM's memory of my state certainly has vanished as of late. Anyway, North Dakota here I come! I'm looking forward to it. I plan on doing some intelligence gathering here in the upcoming weeks in order to find out a little more about my future Area of Operation. We are allowed to do our clinical rotations on the reservation as it provides more freedom and scope in our clinical training than a civilian hospital. From what I've heard it's some of the best training offered in this course, and worthy of the culmination exercise for an SF medic. In other news- after staying up until 2AM studying last night, and studying all weekend non-stop for my final Med Blocks B exam; I will be going directly into my Oral Board exam tomorrow afternoon, WOW. I am pretty freaking sleepy right now to attempt to study, but a pot of coffee is brewing. What is the Oral Board? It's where you are given a mock patient whom you must assess, diagnose, and provide a treatment plan for while a Doctor, and three P.A's assess your skills. The scenario could be just about anything that could possibly happen on a typical SF mission ranging from a teammate who came down with diarrhea, a local village mother bringing in her child who has a mysterious rash, to an indigenous village leader with some sort of hemorrhagic fever, you name it- it's possible. So, I'm looking forward to that being over after tomorrow. Then a small break for Easter before surgery begins. Then- the hits just keep on comin'.

    Thursday, April 06, 2006

    X-rays and Osgood Schlatter

    So, I recently learned how to take an X-ray. It was a one day class, and pretty cool. After our lecture and demonstration we all paired up with a buddy, as usual, and began taking X-rays of one another. I took the first X-ray of my friend, Drew, who thought it would be really cool to have an X-ray of his skull to hang in his room. So, of course, I obliged and shot an X-ray of his huge noggin, and it is currently on the wall in his room in full view. I think he's planning on shooting his whole body while he in his surgery block. Funny guy. I, on the other hand, decided to take an X-ray of my knee. I have always had a large, funny bump on the anterior proximal portion of my tibia, right below the knee cap. It's been there since I played high school basketball, and it has always given me some minor, dull pain when I do a lot of running, jumping, rucking, or whatever to this day. I never had health insurance growing up, so if I wasn't dying I didn't see the doc much. Lately, while learning about orthopaedics, we came across a common finding for young althletic kids called osgood schlatter's disease. I hate the word disease because it makes it sound so bad, but really it's nothing. Anyway, when my instructor began showing some pics, with the signs and symptoms, and immediately I knew I had it. This leads us back to the recent X-ray. First off, my knee pokes out pretty far, and when Drew saw it he kind of freaked out, but continued with the X-ray to do some further investigating. Of course, once we saw my film there was no doubt. My particular malady actually is a full avulsion from the tibia rather than a partial as seen in this photo. What does this have to do with the price of oil in the Middle East? Not a thing.

    All in all, it's been great learning how to do X-rays, now I just have to learn how to read them which, I'm afraid, is a whole 'nother deal.