My Newest Inspiration

Little known fact about me: I LOVE podcasts. Love, love, love them. I listen to them while traveling (which I do a lot of) and they make traveling so much more enjoyable. I feel like I’m expanding my brain AND being entertained all at the same time.

PLUS it feels like I’m just listening in on an intimate conversation between two people. There are so many times I’ve laughed out loud on a plane and the person sitting next to me must think I’m crazy. (Tom Bergeron is incredibly funny when being interviewed, BTW!)

I listen to podcasts about everything from real estate investing and entrepreneurship to meditation. Anything that can help me learn in different areas of my life. Tony Robbins, the TED radio hour, the Tim Ferriss show, and the 10% Happier podcasts are my absolute favorites, but I have close to 10 that I listen to intermittently.

Recently, Arianna Huffington has been making the rounds on my favorite podcasts.  She is one AMAZING woman! Not only has she written 15 books, she also started the Huffington Post.

She has some very compelling thoughts on self-care. She felt so strongly about helping others handle stress and prevent burnout that she started a wonderful website called Thrive Global (check it out here!) that gives all kinds of healthy living tips.

One of Arianna’s MANY books

Her story and her spirit are inspiring. During one of these podcast interviews, she said something that really resonated with me. She was talking about how times have changed in terms of technology, and she said, “We are drowning in data and starved for wisdom”.

Drowning in data and starved for wisdom. Repeat it. Think about it.

This is such an eloquent description of our times. Not just in the field of business – in the field of healthcare, too.

We have gone down the rabbit hole of data and pharmaceuticals and SCIENCE and we have forgotten our purpose. We are a country leading the way in cutting edge trial studies. But we are also a country leading in obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

According to the National Academy of Medicine, the US spends over $200 BILLION a year on unnecessary tests and treatment. Talk about drowning in data! What do these excessive medical tests give us besides an empty wallet??

Why not empower people, educate people, and incentivize a healthy lifestyle? I haven’t seen a meaningful public health drive since the “Just say no” campaign. Creating an education campaign would not be that hard, and it would cost a LOT less.

We should start with the basics before spending billions of dollars on data that doesn’t mean anything. Or better yet, use the data that IS available to create meaningful change. Educating people on stress, sleep, and healthy eating habits would be money well spent.

Sometimes on our path to greatness, we forget why we started down this path in the first place. We forget the essentials. Health care is an industry built on the premise of helping people improve their health.

It is just that simple.

So thank you, Arianna, for being my inspiration this week. You are a breath of fresh air.

Ethiopia’s Attitude of Gratitude

I just arrived back from an amazing experience in Ethiopia. I mean…AH-MAZ-ING. There are only a few things you really remember vividly your whole life, and this will be one for me.

The people, the culture, the love and gratitude were all shockingly more than I had expected. Ethiopians are a beautiful people, and the whole group that went on the mission acted like one cohesive team right from the start.

Experiences like this always make me look at my own life through a different lens. We complain about our healthcare, but some of the families we worked with walked for days to see a doctor about their spine deformity. YES – you read that right – they WALK for DAYS. Not miles. Days.

He gave me a thumbs up for the lollipops!

Could you imagine your family walking for that long just to see a doctor? Once at the hospital, these patients will be taken in – no questions asked. The care and determination help make their hospital system an amazing thing to see.

I’m not saying that any healthcare system is perfect. The US has lots of room for improvement, too. But in striving for the biggest and best in healthcare, we forget the basics. We shoot for super precise scans rather than a better primary care system. We demand individualized cancer treatment, rather than focusing our efforts on prevention.

The best healthcare systems have BOTH great technology AND a great basic standards of care. A great standard of care that every person – every patient – has access to sets the foundation of better health for everyone. The best care shouldn’t be limited to those with the biggest wallet or the best employer-based insurance.

The CUTEST little girl who we got to visit

Honestly, traveling to Ethiopia made me realize how gosh darn spoiled we are in America. All the little things that many of us take for granted were HUGE for these kiddos. Handing out candies, for example, made these kids light up like Christmas morning. Their gratitude for all the little things is something we should all remember in our daily lives.

Their attitude of gratitude is forever memorable.

I’m ever so grateful for this amazing trip across the world to help these remarkable people. They will always remain in my heart.

 

Follow me to Africa!

There is so much craziness going on in the world right now. Everywhere I look, I see chaos. Multiple hurricanes, earthquakes, shootings…it just seems like the world is getting crazier by the day. There is so much out of our control that surrounds us and affects us every day.

And I don’t think it will ever get better. Not because the situations are completely dire – I do believe the people affected by these situations will heal and overcome. I just believe that the world is heading towards MORE chaos.

To me, this is the law of entropy. Entropy – the law of order and disorder in physics. It’s defined by the fact that nature leans from order to disorder in isolated systems. (I know…I hated physics, too! But this one kinda made sense for me!)

So what does this mean in real life? Well, when you think about life, things tend to get crazier. We grow up and then do what we call “settling down” AKA get married and have kids. Whew, kids are absolute chaos. I have NO IDEA why this is called settling down. Then those kids have kids, and the amount of children in the family keep multiplying, one generation at a time.

This example of entropy isn’t exact by any means. Its just what I think of when I think of the craziness of life. The stress and the chaos never get better. When it rains, it pours. That’s life.

And that’s why we need to understand how we can help each other. Everyone is going through their own problems. Everyone has their own stress. Without each other, we’re just a big pile of emotions and chaos.

Seeing the chaos of what’s been going on the past few weeks, I also have to say that we can do better. WE CAN DO BETTER, PEOPLE!! It just starts with one simple act of kindness.

A few weeks ago, I was offered a chance to go on a medical mission trip to Ethiopia. I will be providing neuromonitoring for scoliosis cases during this amazing 11 day trip. These are people who have severe back curves – so bad that they might suffer collapsed lungs or paralysis without surgery – and neuromonitoring is imperative to prevent damage to the spinal cord during surgery.

Off to Ethiopia!

I jumped at the chance. How could I say no??? This type of kindness is life-altering. No matter how badly we’d like our lives to be in a bubble, we don’t live in a bubble. We live in this huge world with billions of people who need our help.

There is someone out there who needs help. Just think about that. There is someone in this world RIGHT NOW who could use your help.

This world is moving forward at a wild pace. Rather than burrowing in our safe place, we need to branch out. We need to lend a helping hand to our fellow humans. The laws of entropy show us that we are headed towards more chaos rather than less – so we might as well get used to our world rather than hiding from it.

So I have a challenge for you. I challenge you all to do something to help someone this week. Whether it’s donating to a cause or volunteering or joining a support group or bringing a meal to a neighbor. Do some good this week.

Stay tuned to follow me on my journey!

A day in the life of an anesthetist

Ahhhh, the operating room. The OR. Where I work. It’s a mysterious place that brings mixed emotions to the general population. Many people think the OR is either really cool or really scary. I am personally immune to thinking either, but I CAN promise you that the operating room is NOT like anything you see on TV.

The operating room is kind of like Vegas – what happens in the OR stays in the OR. Since people undergo anesthesia for their operations, no one REALLY knows what goes on in those bright white rooms unless you work there.

But millions of people enter these rooms every year to have surgery. MILLIONS. Meaning, more than likely, you will have surgery in your lifetime. Perhaps it’s to fix a joint or a broken bone. Or maybe you need your appendix out. I personally had all my lymph nodes in my left groin removed as my cancer progressed, so I know how scary surgery can be when you’re the one in need.

Whatever the reason you need surgery, you will need to rely on one very specific person/team to keep you alive.

No, not the surgical team. The anesthesia team.

The anesthesia team is your BFF in surgery. We keep you safe and sound throughout your procedure. We are like an internist/pharmacist/pulmonologist/cardiologist all wrapped up into one.

So what the heck does THAT mean?? What is involved in anesthesia?

We have lots of fancy equipment to look at the most important systems in your body. We keep your blood pressure and heart rate in a normal range and your blood going to your organs. We use a ventilator to help you breathe. We look at your history to know what systems we need to focus on (such as your kidneys/liver/blood sugar) to keep them within normal limits. We have every possible drug we need to keep you alive.

All this takes a LOT of knowledge. Every drug we give has side effects. Every tweak has an effect. Some days are a tightrope walk to keep everything in balance. Anesthesia is what makes surgery safe.

But even more than keeping your body functioning, we keep you asleep and without pain throughout your procedure. Surgeons can do amazing things, but they cannot do their jobs while you are awake.

This is also the most terrifying part of anesthesia. Many people ask me “will I wake up” or “will I feel any pain?” The odds of waking up during surgery are between 0.1 – 1%, depending on the situation. You are more likely to be born with 6 fingers or get a hole in one than wake up during your surgery.

Undergoing surgery is similar to getting on a plane. The fear of undergoing anesthesia is mostly due to a fear of letting go – we do not like the complete lack of control. Someone else is in the driver’s seat with our bodies.

And that’s scary. Don’t let this fear rule your decisions. Surgery is safer now than ever before, thanks to improvements in surgical and anesthetic techniques.

So before your next surgery, make friends with your anesthesia team. Even while you are asleep, they will be your guardian angel.

Hiking with Heart

This past weekend, my husband and I went on a hike. We live in the mountains, so we try to do this often.

But this hike was different. This hike was with hundreds of our friends.

JEEZ, does this girl REALLY have hundreds of friends?? Well, in a way, yes! We hiked with an amazing organization called Jen’s Friends and it was an all-out community effort.

One of the many inspiring signs along the hike

I was first introduced to Jen’s Friends when I was going through cancer treatment. I had heard of the group, but I had never really taken notice until I was going into the local hospital for hydration therapy during treatment. The nurses practically shoved the paperwork into my bag to sign up as a patient.

Of course I didn’t really want to be labeled as a cancer patient (although I certainly looked the part after losing 20 pounds). I reluctantly signed up thinking I might need the support in the future.

I quickly found out that this group does it all! They help local people with ALL things related to cancer treatment. Groceries, gas, transportation, bills, EVERYTHING! They ought to be a part of the “Miracle Network”, because they are truly a life saver for many people in the area with cancer.

The organization was first started to help a girl named Jen with her cancer treatment. It grew to be a completely non-profit volunteer organization with 100% of the proceeds going to help people with cancer throughout all stages of treatment and healing. They provide monetary and emotional support in ways I wish ALL communities would provide.

So last weekend, my husband and I climbed a mountain. It was a tough climb, but the few hours we spent huffing and puffing were nothing compared to the climb we had through cancer treatment. If we could hike this mountain last weekend, we could hike any mountain, big or small.

And we did it with hundreds of our friends.

To find out more about Jen’s Friends, please visit their web page at http://jensfriends.org/wordpress/