On the other hand…

On the other hand…

On the other hand, quitting our job sounds like a good idea.

We can fish & bike as much as we like…

Are you in with me Louise? (aka Squeezie, aka Weesie).

Let my Patients Go Surfing

I have just finished reading Yvon Chouinard’s outstanding book titled, “Let my people go surfing…the education of a reluctant businessman.” In Chouinard’s world, there is a constant battle of escape vs. committment. His early days of forging pitons for personal use in climbing blossomed into a small business in which mail order was only for those climbing buddies that couldn’t get to the back of his car in Yosemite or the Tetons. His early employees were fellow climbers and surfers who took off as soon as they had enough money to fund their next trip. At which point, they returned to blacksmithing, or packign boxes or innovating new designs to save up enough money for their next adventure.

Central to these adventures, of course, is an environment in it’s natural state…clean water, flowing streams, healthy salmon populations, non-scarred rock faces. Chouinard’s first-hand witnessing of the irreversibly scarred rock faces of Yosemite from his very own forged Pitons spurred the “clean climbing” revolution of removable chocks that did not leave indelible marks on the rocks. An essay appearing in Chouinard Equipments 1972 catalog changed the face of climing forever…and also began Chouinard’s committment to environmental causes.

Reading his book stirred up my deep, now buried thoughts, about how man and the environment should interact. Ethics begun by my early exposure to hunting, fishing & camping, and carried on by my involvement as an Outward Bound Instructor after college. In the many years that have passed, however, I have had other things ot occupy my time, like learning anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, and jumping through the myriad of hoops to get liscensing and DEA approval for the prescribing of addicting narcotic medicines. Not really what I’d set my mind to when I first dipped a paddle into the clear, cold waters of the North Country Boundry Waters 15 years ago.

My first reaction to reading the book was to quit medicine and get a job with Patagonia…but what would I be qualified for? Well, as a former “dirtbag” outdoorswoman, I would be at least as qualified as most of his initial employees. But Chouinard’s unwavering committment to the environment in the face of trying to run a profitable consumer business is inspiring. COuld I not do the same thing in medicine? Is it possible for a physician to support the environment, not just by actions and monetary donations in her free time, but to really practice medicine in a way that encourages “sustainable” energy consumption and minimal environmental impact?

What are the environmental costs of every prescription for Albuterol that I write? For every xray, CT or MRI that I order? Are there pharmaceutical companies that are environmentally responsible the way Patagonia is? Companies that try to reduce their environmental footprint on the world? Companies that adhere to these ideas through product research, development, clinical trial testing and evenual manufacturing of the drugs? If these companies exist, what drugs do they make? What drugs are they researching? Is it possible for me to only reccommmend to my patients those drugs made by such environmental responsible companies? WOuld they be mainstream drugs, or only drugs that could be used by a minority of patients? COuld a pharmaceutical company like this even exist in today’s pharaceutical, research and drug approval environment?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I want to find out. Call me naive. I prescribe only the drugs that I know, based on my understanding of current medical research, to be unequivically helpful or necessary. I recommend over the counter and generic drugs whenever possible. But beyond these basics, I’m sure there is a lot I am blind to.

In a very short search, starting with Patagonia’s web page, leading to the Grist, I discovered the Consortium for Conservation Medicine

The Consortium for Conservation Medicine is a unique collaborative institution that strives to understand the link between anthropogenic environmental change, the health of all species, and the conservation of biodiversity.

This sounds like good start for my research, but if you have any other thoughts, please let me know. How far can I go with these ideas? Can I charge into a new direction? Can I earn a living doing it? Can I pay off my student loans? Or will I have to go back to being a “dirtbag” climber/kayaker and declare bancrupcy just so I can “go surfing” on a clean beach while working for an environmentally responsible organization? Will Yvon Chouinard even consider giving me a job???

Heil Ranch

What a pain in the butt this ride was. I much prefer the massive bedrock slabs and contoured grooves to this trail, described as “smooth singletrack” in the guidebook, itwas anything but. Endless miles of 3 foot wide sand trail smothered in loose, square sided softball sized rocks. Every single rock required a muscle or balance move to roll over, move aside or steer around. With a hardtail bike, this became old quickly. I had alread come to the conclusion that I needed a full suspension bike to avoid repetitive trauma to my low back from the hardtail…but if the only reason is to roll over crap like this trail, then I’d rather give up mountain biking. Fortunately, there are scores of other rides available. Give me Lions Gulch or Hall Ranch anyday over this rubble. Even Johnny park is better than this.

Oh yeah, a bad day of mountain biking beats a good day at work! 😉

Hall Ranch

Wow, this was an awesome ride on Hall Ranch, > 3000 acres of Open Space close to Lyons, CO. I had the worst side cramps in the world, that almost turned be back in the first mile. I kept biking/resting/biking/resting. Once the first 2 mile, uphill rocky switchbacks were over, the view was spectacular, and then riding packed singletrack, it was awesome.

I worked really hard on this ride, over 1000 feet of vertical, and hard vertical at that. On my way back at the turnaround loop, I see this woman come charging past…on foot! Holy crap! I got back to the brink of the climb and sat down on a bench to enjoy the spectacular view, and here she comes, charging down the trail…she was faster on foot than I was on my mountain bike! I never did catch her on the way down. Crap. I wish I could run like that. The way down the rocky switchbacks was not as hard as I expected, and I even navigated almost all of it, walking only short sections. I was fairly proud of myself, although much more tired than I thought I should be. When I got back to the car and looked through the guidebook again, I got super bummed out to see that while advanced riders can expect to do this loop in about an hour, novices to intermediates can expect 1 1/2 – 2 hours. Although I logged 2 hours, it was more like 2 hours and 40 minutes including breaks. Well…at least the scenery was great.