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Understanding Risk Related To Outdoor Health

Dr. Robert “Brownie” Schoene, an enormously talented, accomplished, and insightful physician who resides within the bedrock of wilderness medicine, gave a wonderful presentation about the concept of risk at the 2010 annual summer meeting of the Wilderness Medical Society. Risk is inherent in outdoor activities, whether it is part of exploration, adventure, science, or industry. I am going to summarize his approach to the topic, which is among the most important general concepts in the field, and editorialize with some of my thoughts.

When one thinks of risk related to outdoor health, it is about the possibility of suffering harm, damage, or loss. When a person is aware of the possibility of a specific risk, he or she usually weighs the risk against the possible benefits. When you hike on a slippery, snowy trail in early spring, where the trail winds over patches of ice near ledges from which a fall would cause a severe injury, is the experience worth the risk? When you ride a wave on your surfboard when the waves are intimidating and you are outside your comfort zone, is the improvement in performance worth the possibility of a tumble and possible muscle tear or broken bone? Sometimes the answer is easy. When I travel to a third world country, I always run the risk of acquiring infectious diarrhea. The benefits of the mission supersede the discomfort, and I both anticipate the risk and prepare for treatment by carrying oral rehydration supplies and appropriate antibiotics.

I love the quote from Winston Churchill that Dr. Schoene used to illustrate a risk-taker’s approach: Read more »

This post, Understanding Risk Related To Outdoor Health, was originally published on Healthine.com by Paul Auerbach, M.D..

When To Accept That “The Beast” Is Winning

Steve Jobs in 2010

It was a bombshell that shouldn’t have been unexpected. Steve Jobs resigning. Anyone who saw him knew he was sick and, just watching him on television, it was obvious to me he was getting sicker. When you get so thin, when your color is not good, when you are probably taking heavy duty drugs that have side effects, you certainly don’t feel good. And when you don’t feel good, it is tough to think clearly, and make decisions with certainty. That is not a good thing for the CEO of one of the most successful corporations. It is actually a tribute to his will that he carried on so long. Many of the rest of us would be on a beach, taking it easy and celebrating every day. Steve Jobs celebrated every day by running Apple.

But at some point, given life is a terminal condition anyway, you have to accept that “the beast,” whatever it is in your case, is winning. I know that for myself. I have had a long remission with leukemia. But I know it could come back and even newer drugs might not “win.” I am thankful for the success treatment has had for so long. And I am sure Steve Jobs is thankful his diagnosis several years ago didn’t lead to his demise right then. We thank him, too, for iPhones and iPads and several other wonderful gizmos he has in the works that will blossom in the future.

Knowing when to call it quits – not accepting death – but accepting disability or a need to spend time differently – is a hard part of being a patient, it stinks. But it is reality. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Andrew's Blog*

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Latest Book Reviews

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When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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