Category Archives: June ’14

Acute mountain sickness, hell on earth

I wanted to believe it wasn’t happening again. I lied to myself, I lied to her, lifting my face up from the mud “just some mild altitude sickness” as I lay on the trail. I held my hand up with my thumb and index finger just an inch apart to emphasize “mild”. She rightly didn’t seem convinced and set her pack down. She was waiting for her husband and decided some ibuprofen may help me. I returned my face to the ground and lay curled up just off the side of the trail. Just before she had arrived I had drank several liters straight from a creek launching down from the alpine snowfields. Liter after liter I guzzled the snowmelt like my life depended on it. In reality, my life did depend on it, but more so it depended on my body’s ability to accept it. Continue reading Acute mountain sickness, hell on earth

Medical school personal statement

This is my medical school personal statement that I wrote for my application. I wrote about an incident that occurred while I was working the Luray Triathlon last year but didn’t feel comfortable publishing it until now. I’ve since been accepted and will be attending Eastern Virginia Medical School and am thrilled about the future and the beginning of my career in healthcare. So here it is, my medical school personal statement:

For children, health means the ability to play and explore. It means fun at school with friends versus a day at home in bed. Throughout my childhood, this is the definition that health assumed. But with the last breaths of a dying man, health adopted a new reality. Health is life itself; it is the ability to observe and exist on this planet for another day.

I was working a triathlon in the Appalachian Mountains in Virginia in late summer. At the swim finish a tall, large man, wearing just a swimsuit and goggles stumbled out of the water and with help he made it up on the beach to sit on the cool sand. Within moments, he laid down, his breathing stopped and his heart along with it. Knowing only basic life support, I stayed out of the way and let the paramedics take over, but standing just a few feet away, seeing color in his skin, the life still in his body, I believed there was still hope. I remembered a story of another triathlete last year who was revived from a similar situation and this memory brought me hope. Continue reading Medical school personal statement

Shyeah, no.

I like biking and I like going places, so logically I thought I would like the two together but I was wrong, dead wrong. The last 48 hours were absolutely torturous. I began a test ride from Virginia Beach to Richmond, VA to see if I would enjoy biking across the country. In reality, it was me beginning an adventure in secret after a highly announced and altered adventure before. It was tough changing my plans so severely from a Bahamas trip to a Tortugas trip, despite each being equally exotic and challenging. Continue reading Shyeah, no.

Key West to Tortugas, Part 3

My boat glided up onto the beach as I popped open my spray skirt. The dense smell of sweat and urine assaulted my nostrils. I slipped out of the boat and fell into the water, tried to stand, and contented myself with wading. I waded in the water for minutes, looking up on the island at the campers. Occasionally one would walk by and give me a look of total confusion, but the refugee Cubans arriving moments before distracted them from my arrival, at least long enough for me to learn how to walk again. Continue reading Key West to Tortugas, Part 3

Key West to Dry Tortugas kayaking, Part 2

I was on the east side of the Marquesas so I had a few miles before I even reached open water. I paddled through the center of the circle of islands all the way to the west side where I saw three boats anchored in the lee of the island. In the flats I could see a couple fins swaying to-and-fro. I knew what they were but paddled up to get a closer look. A very large 7-8 foot nurse shark was sifting through the murk to find crustaceans. I startled him as he startled me and I continued on my trip. I soon was out into open water and felt the gusts pick up on my back. It would be a tailwind ride the entire way, making for a questionable return in the coming days.10380547_10204212389648781_7354232033001364636_o

Continue reading Key West to Dry Tortugas kayaking, Part 2

Key West to Tortugas, Part 1

It’s hard to understand the months of preparation from any other vantage than my own. They think I just though of the idea of an open ocean paddle this morning, and they think I am crazy.

He asked me how far I was going to be paddling out and I responded saying I was headed for the Tortugas. “Do you know how far that is?” he asked with a concerned expression on his face.

I laughed and said “yes, yes I do”. It is a common silly question in a long list of them that I have recently become accustomed to. Minutes later, as I prepped my boat on Higgs Beach in Key West to set off for my open ocean voyage in a standard kayak, another man walked up and asked me if I was training for something.

“Actually, I was training for what I’m about to do right now,” I responded. Continue reading Key West to Tortugas, Part 1

The intersection

One rainy day in college, just before Thanksgiving, I stood out on the side of 311 near Roanoke with my thumb out. I had been threw hell the past few days but still was ecstatic. I was excited for my warm cozy bed, a large PK’s pesto pizza, and a good Pixar movie. But I was most thrilled about what I had just done, the grueling solo backpacking adventure I would remember forever. Hour after hour people sped by me without even the slightest hesitation. And eventually one man took the time to roll down his window, slow down, and flick me off. I was baffled by his judgement. Initially I thought, no I’m not one of them but then wondered, one of who? He could know nothing about me from his drive by and from his attitude, never would.

Continue reading The intersection