History of Doc Shazam…a Recursive Trip down Memory Lane

History of Doc Shazam…a Recursive Trip down Memory Lane

I invented blogging. No really.  As a first year medical student in 1998, I was trying to develop a Visual basic application that would auto-publish entries from an access database on my home computer to my University web account, but alas, I was busy with things like anatomy and biochemistry.

The following year, a senior student introduced me to the idea of creating a blog, which at that time, was still an unheard of medium for creating web content (and who had ever heard of “content”?).  Finally, by the end of my intern year, while sitting in the ICU trying to keep a twenty year old race car driver alive, I wrote my first blog post.   Then I wrote another and another. I documented my revelations about learning medicine, the journey that my own patients revealed to me.

Daily as my sleep deprived mind both memorized standard practice and absorbed new journal articles, I was constantly writing.  I’d care for a sick child and in my mind I was blogging about it.   I performed my first trauma resuscitation and in my mind I was blogging.  When the Amish family of a dying man sang in the ICU…I blogged about it.

At that point, my blog was one of the most popular medical blogs and the first emergency medical blog that I know of. As popularity increased I tried hard to both capture my thoughts, emotions and experiences while remaining anonymous. I shared my journey of becoming a physician with my readers..through the cold clinical discoveries, to saving my first life, to learning (again) that patients are people…my thoughts were all open.  All of these things I shared publicly, with the world, with anyone who had an internet connection.

Interview requests from medical writers came and I declined.  I did not want anyone to know who I was, I feared that I had shared too much about myself.  But at the same time, my family felt closer to me than they ever had. My father still recounts stories from that time…stories I’d never told him personally, yet he’s got the words nearly memorized. My grandmother kept a printed stack of my stories on her reading table. When I miss my grandfather…I can just revisit my blog and the memories come flooding back (and I usually shed a tear or two).

Through my anonymous blogging life I made friends, grieved for friends, watched friends rise to (relative fame) and yet I retreated.  At points in my life my blog was my solace, my retreat and my joy. My blog sits now docile for the most part, a series of a thousand or so tiny milestones in the process of becoming a physician. It will always be  a part of  who I’ve become, who I was then and who I’ll be tomorrow.

Blogging is a powerful tool.

The Landmark Forum -My experience at the Introduction.

I quickly texted to my friend, “google landmark forum, is it a cult”?

I texted this  line to a friend while sitting in the “introductory” session of the Landmark educational meeting. A  friend had invited me, after telling me some of the good experiences she’d had.  When she described it, it sounded like a combination of motivational coaching, business coaching and personal development. All good things I thought, and I’m always interested in “bettering” myself.

From the moment I walked in, I knew that this was not what I was expecting. I had brought work to do, planning to simply listen in on their meeting and get my work done (it still remains undone as I type this).   The room was laid out like a church with pulpit almost, and as people strolled in the greetings were similar. Warm hugs, arm squeezes, even a tear or two.

I was quickly spotted as a visitor and many people came up to greet me.  I began getting uncomfortable almost immediately and sent of the above text to my friend.

After introdcutions, the “guests” were whisked off to a separate room for a separate session.  I was a little dissapointned as I’d come to sit in on the interesting information that my friend said they’d be covering (Brain science).

There were only 2 of us, plus a nice man with a nametag that read “Introduction Leader”, and an “introduction leader in training”.  Wow…whatever this thing is…to need to have introduction leader’s in-trianing  means that they’ve got a pretty big funnel of educational training for their “leaders”.

In the tiny room, our leader sat with a book stand next to him and his 3 ring binder with all the information he was supposed to cover with us.   He led us through a not-uninteresting exercise, but clearly one with an specific motive…to get you to see how messed up you really are inside.

I am currently going through some business buildign activities, and I’ve been very proactive and trying to launch a new branch of my small business…making phone calls, gathering market information, etc.   I picked this activity as my item to work on for the session.  But this didn’t fit his model at all…the leader’s example of “what I’m already doing”, “what I already have”, and “what I’m already being”, were all negatives….his was also a business situation…what he was already doing was letting sales leads slip by, not closing calls and spending his time doing efforst that were not buildign the bottom line.  What he was already being was…”selfish, irresponsible and close minded”.  He said that the point of the last part was to really “tell one on yourself”.

HUH?  What I was already being was forward thinking, proactive, seeking new education and opportunities…all good stuff…I just need to complete the last pieces of the puzzle to make it all a go.

If I didn’t already feel uncomfortable this was really starting to seem like an ill-intended, misguided effort at getting vulnarable people to sign up for an expensive course in self-help and common sense.  Not that those are bad things, but having gone through a number of small business coaching sessions that were all quite helpful, as well as being in a business that helps others achieve things they never dreamed possible (completing a triathlon), I was very dissapointed at the Introduction Leader’s approach to “discovering possibilities”.

None of the introductory session was aimed at finding solutions…and I certainly wouldn’t expect to find a solution in 90 minutes to a large problem.  Instead, it was devoted to giving you “carrots”, with examples of personal breakthroughs due to realizations of childhood traumas that have defined your personality to adulthood. (Things like being told by your school-age crush that you’re ugly, not being able to make final ammends with a deceased loved one, etc).

The suggestion taht every one has some childhood trauma causing limiting behaviors in adulthood I find very insulting. I live an examined life. I’ve overcome innumberable obstacles to get into medical school, become a  physician, invest profitably, start a small business and help other people reach their goals.  I constantly read business books looking for new,  different and better ways to accomplish my goals.

At intermission, I tried to leave, by politely telling him that I was just going to wait in the lobby until my friend’s session was done.   He turned bright read and got very fidgety.  He said, “Before you decide to leave, can we have another conversation about this?” Man, was he desperate to have me stay in the room.   I already knew that I was not interested in this thing, whatever it was (I still don’t know).

I took a break and did some pushups, handstands and planks in the hallway (I was missing valuable exercise time!!), and checked my cell phone.  Not only did my friend text me back, but her boyfriend too. There on my blackberry, two texts one right above the other simply said, “CULT!”  I laughed about it, knowing that somehow my instincts of “this just doesn’t feel right” were correct.

During the second portion ( I did decide to stay), we opened up a new pamphet, and I took the registration card out and obnoxiously tossed it in the air behind my chair, making a statement that yes, I am interested in being a better person…no, I am not going to sign up for the landmark forum tonight.  Now what do you have to tell me?

I could paraphrase what he talked about in the 2nd half, and there was nothign inherently good or bad about the content…but I failed to see the connecting of how signing up for the landmark forum TONIGHT was going to be the only way I’d slove the puzzle of letting my past limit my future.

In the end…it was 3 hours wasted, and my work is still not done.  But I felt compelled to share this with my readers and whomever else my stumble across it.

Mike Leach Suspended over Concussion Controversy

Mike Leach, head coach of Texas Tech football is suspended for allegedly mistreating a player who had suffered a concussion last week in practice.

Reactions around the blogosphere range from the ridiculous to the absurd.  Former wanna-be football players are basically saying that the player should “suck it up” and that coaches hazing football players is a rite of passage.  It reminds me just a little bit of surgeons and docs (like me) trained pre “residency work hour restrictions” and post.

Those of us trained pre were of the opinion that “it’s just part of the training”, “you’ll be a better doctor for it”.  And I’m sure that many of these former football players feel the same way.

What I can’t understand though, is how anyone can think that they know the best way to treat and diagnose a concussion when they have no medical background or concept of what real head injury is.

In my previous post on Concussion Rules Stir Controversy, I commented that were I a sideline coach, I’d pull every “mildly concussed” player from the game.   The standard of care at one point was that if any syptoms were present, that the player should not return to contact sports until at least 7 days have passed without any sypmtoms of a concussion.

Since many concussions result in a “post concussive syndrome” that can persist for days to months, there’s no way to predict when I player can return to play.

It’s a sticky situation, and if you have an abusive or belittling coach, it can really put the player in a tug of war between phsyicians and coaches.

Regarding the suspension of Texas Tech Coach Mike Leach, whatever the truth is, it highlights that every school, be it high school or collegiate, needs to adopt a policy on concussion management for players.  Remove the head coach from the decision as he should not be involved…let him coach football.

Are Computers Eating our Children?

When I first started reading this post by Pittsburgh Web Designer Nathan I thought I knew what the post would be about.  But Nathan goes on to describe children so elegantly and eloquently that when he introduces the idea of computers eating our children, it makes me want to grab the first child I see and remove all batteries from all their toys, run to the nearest windy park, help them  fly a colorful kite and make up imaginative stories of fairies and dragons and goblins!

as anyone who’s ever seen a 12 year old wreck his bike into a barbed wire fence at 25 mph and not feel the need to cry until he realizes no one will wait up for him to hear his story, they are nearly invincible. My point is, that children are not real, they are simply a developing organism which will someday turn into a jumbled twine of conscious thought, buried emotions, and ever-mounting divorce papers

Read the rest of his entry here

Life is Short and Cyclocross Rocks

I left teh Rocky Mountains 3 days early this summer in order to come home for a memorial service for a good friend of mine who died suddenly & unexpectedly at the age of 39.  Myself and the rest of his friends were crushed…I feel cheated that I will never get to go climbing with him again, or drinking or running or just sitting around a campfire. I’m mad.  But spending the weekend with my dear, old friends was wonderful.  I couldn’t have gone through all of it by myself.

While tragic, it made me realize how much time I spend idle and unfocused. I’ve been far more optimistic thinking to myself, What would Mikey do right now?  He wasn’t one to waste time with anything…always planning his next adventure.

Tonight I had a choice to race another crit or to do cyclocross practice.  Since I always finish last in the crits, and every single moment is painful, I thought, why flagellate myself? Cross is fun, fast, requires skill and technique and practice.

I was one of 5 women there and about 15 men. For the most part we held our own and for 2 of the women, it was their first cross experience ever. I think they are bike shopping now.

Rocky Mountain Summers are Back

Rocky Mountain Summers are Back

This is my 5th summer working in the Rocky Mountains at a small rural ER.  Since last year, the ER has been totally renovated.  It now has the appearance of a modern, urban ER with trauma bays, sliding glass doors providing privacy in each room, a psych observation room with the ability to lock down all supply doors, an orthopedic room and more. Its beautiful, but I miss having a true “Emergency Room” which provided  a stark contrast to my urban inner city and referral hospital environments.

I worked the first four days upon arriving here, so it wasn’t until yesterday that I had a chance to go out for a ride.  I was all ready to hit the road when I looked at the fork on my bike, and it was a bit crooked. I pushed down and uh oh…Fork screwed. Headset broken. Head tube cracked. Damn.

On the drive out west, i had run into a metal “warning” bar while going through a drive through and heard an awful noise on the roof.   The mountain bike rolled backward over it’s front wheel holder and was simply thrown free of the impact with no frame damage to the bike that I can tell.  The road bike was not so lucky as the forks were securely locked into the fork mount carrier.


I called my bike shop back home and  had them super-stat a new bike build that should be here by the weekend.   An expensive mistake all in the name of a quick breakfast. Guess I know where I”ll be spending this month’s paycheck.