Category Archives: Medicine and Health

Why your hands swell while hiking: the real reason

The myths of why hands swell while hiking

You’re five miles into a hike with a group of friends. You’ve never been hiking before and it sounded adventurous and fun and a great way to to get out and have fun with friends, enjoy being outside, and relax for a bit. And you’re having a great time with the exception of a weird feeling in your hands. Your wedding ring and watch are getting tight and your skin feels taut. Your arms feel bloated and you look down and sure enough you’ve got big old sausage fingers. Are you dying? Do you need to turn around and race to the hospital? Maybe you have cell service and after you post a quick pic to insta you do a quick WebMD search. It says you have heart failure or this weird thing called thrombosis. Now you’re worried and want to go back so you can do more internet searching before you head to the ER. When you get home you dig deeper in your internet searching and get more specific. Instead of just searching hand swelling, you search had hands swell while hiking and find an Outside Magazine article, where you may learn that you’re suffering from hyponatremia. You find a facebook thread of loads of confident expert internet commenters recommending the cure-all tip of hydration or electrolytes.

But nearly all this information you’ll find is absolutely, jarringly, painfully wrong, so I hope this article becomes the one to top out on the google searches so maybe some people will learn the real answer, and learn a real solution. You don’t have heart failure, you’re not alone, and you don’t need to hydrate. Continue reading Why your hands swell while hiking: the real reason

Questions of a disoriented third year medical student

“We talked about how we were the only two people in our family with any background in healthcare. I said to him, ‘In a little less than three years, I’ll be Dr. Cobb, how crazy is that?’ He looked up from his lost gaze and said ‘I hope I’m here to be able to call you that,’ and for the first time in my life I understood that he may not actually make it that long, that he was dying.”

I wrote that sentiment two years ago today and while my granddad never had the chance to call me Dr. Cobb, reading through these words today made me feel immensely better about his passing. A little over two months ago he died of respiratory failure after contracting pneumonia. I was studying for my board exam when my mom called me to let me know I should come into town. I packed up my things and was there with him and my family when he breathed some of his last breaths. Continue reading Questions of a disoriented third year medical student

My granddad, Donald Cobb

A few days ago, as I sat watching my granddad take some of his last breaths, I couldn’t help but want to fight and resist the reality that was quickly transpiring. He had developed pneumonia over the last few days and it was progressing quickly. As he reached for each breath with every muscle in his body, I thought of all the medical measures they could do to save him. But he wouldn’t want to be saved at all costs and despite my desire to have him around for eternity, I respected that. But it was so hard for me, as someone who has been learning about all the ways to interfere in the process to just sit back and accept what was happening. Continue reading My granddad, Donald Cobb

3/8 MD

Last year at this time I was out in Colorado living out of my car climbing 14,000ft peaks. I was single, voluntarily homeless, and smelly. I had left school for a 10 month leave of absence just a couple months earlier and was taking advantage of that time to spend some introspective time out in the backcountry. But this year things have been going a lot differently and I couldn’t be more thrilled about it. Continue reading 3/8 MD

M2 round two

Today was my first day of round two of M2 and as I sat through repeat classes I realized I can do this. While it’s certainly daunting, second year of medical school feels much more manageable this time around. I watched all my friends move on and progress in their studies, pass the first step of their board licensing exams, and their success gives me confidence.

Read about M2 round one here!

Continue reading M2 round two

Heading home

I’d been sitting in the Walmart parking lot in Cortez, Colorado for nearly 24 hours, with only one break to make a run to the Cold Stone at the shopping center across the street. It’s walking distance, especially considering my ridiculous standard of “walking distance” but I drove. It’s dumping snow out there, wet snow, and I didn’t want to have to change clothes and switch out my moccasins for boots. I’ve been alternating between lying in my backseat and sitting up front. I pull up front when I want to turn the heat on and charge my iPad. I’m watching YouTube clips of climbers and comedians, a strange combination, and using the WiFi that spans across the entire parking lot. My windshield is covered in snow so I have a bit of privacy as shoppers get in and out of their cars on either side of me. But I’m exhausted and tired of this set-up. Continue reading Heading home

Rescue on Quandary Peak

It’s Christmas day and I’m in Colorado living in my car. I’m out here on my own accord. I want adventure, I crave adventure, so I came out to these sub zero temps to climb some mountains, do some snowboarding, and actually have a white Christmas instead of the warm drizzle back on the East coast. But I’m in Starbucks in Breckenridge now and I miss my family and miss my home.

This morning I began an ascent of Quandary Peak just south of Breckenridge. It’s one of the 52 Colorado 14ers and is decidedly the easiest winter route. With a long gradual, broad east ridge it allows the hiker to stay out of avalanche terrain for the duration of the climb with no pitches greater than maybe 30 percent. Continue reading Rescue on Quandary Peak

8 tips for first year medical students

1. They’re done trying to weed you out

You’ve made it to medical school, congrats! Admissions looked at you extremely thoroughly, analyzing nearly every element of the past few years of your life. They are confident that you’ll make a great doctor. Now they’re going to support you in every way they can to get you the residency spot that you want. At this point it’s seen as a failure of the school if you don’t make it, so take a deep breath and relax knowing that all the your school wants you to succeed. Continue reading 8 tips for first year medical students

How to help a stressed medical student

Listen

Most likely this is all a stressed medical student needs. If you pull this one off, you’re very likely one of our very best friends. A crucial part of this is allowing for silence. Don’t feel the need to interject at every pause. In fact, we’re probably not done talking yet. Silence makes us feel like you’re listening whereas a rapid response makes us feel like you really just couldn’t wait to get out what you wanted to say.

Chris Pratt I'm always tired Continue reading How to help a stressed medical student

My Granddad with vascular dementia

He remembered I was in med school, asked me how it was going. Usually I have to remind him. He reminded me of how he was a medic in the Navy during the Korean War, forgetting he had told me this story more times than I could count. I loved hearing about his life though and listened intently. We talked about how we were the only two people in our family with any background in healthcare. I said to him, “In a little less than three years, I’ll be Dr. Cobb, how crazy is that?”

He looked up from his lost gaze and said “I hope I’m here to be able to call you that,” and for the first time in my life I understood that he may not actually make it that long, that he was dying. Continue reading My Granddad with vascular dementia