Doctor, Heal Thyself

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One thing I never thought about before I went to medical school was how much I would be exposed to various illnesses as a physician. I guess you could say it’s an occupational hazard, but it can be downright frightening when you are exposed to some of the most virulent microbes which circulate in communities and in hospital environments. You’re bound to catch something at intervals.

Most people think of hospitals as disease-riddled, and they’re pretty much correct. But there are other places which have the potential to make you too weak to whip a gnat.

One of the worst environments is the pediatric setting, in which walking Petri dishes, also known as children, traipse into the clinic and somehow fling their nasty germs onto you. Before you know it, you are struck with a horrific infection that require an army of medications before you begin to feel human again. I remember spending the majority of my time in every single pediatrics rotation I completed, whether it was as a student, intern, or resident, so ill that I spent my days feeling like I had been hit by a truck, with a pressure cooker for a noggin, fuzzy-brained and miserable from whatever pathogen those little brats had brought to me.

Another microbe-filled gathering place is urgent care, a setting in which I have worked regularly over the past couple of years. Last year, when I was working more shifts than ever, I contracted three upper respiratory infections which progressed to bronchitis, and developed acute gastroenteritis (stomach flu) twice. Thank goodness I always get a flu shot every fall, otherwise I am sure I would have been hit with influenza as well. I see patients who are so sick that they can barely stay awake during their exams, people who have no business being out in public.

I recently saw a young female patient with a 103 degree fever who looked very ill, so I tested her for strep throat and influenza A&B. The nurse on staff asked if I wanted both, to which I replied, “Absolutely. I wouldn’t be surprised if both tests lit up like Christmas trees.” And they did. She actually had both influenza A and streptococcal pharyngitis. Poor girl.

It’s my duty as a physician to care for others, and I take it very seriously. But I will admit that my attitude towards my own illnesses is similar to the attitude of the Black Knight. My attitude is that it’s “only a flesh wound”, or “just a scratch” when I am ill or injured, so when I finally break down and admit that I am ill or injured, I am definitely in a bad place physically.

I suspect this attitude is similar to that of other physicians. So keep that in mind when you see that your provider is under the weather. We are only human as well.

How To Choose Your Next Show

Originally published on RxGirl on Saturday, 03 August 2013
If you compete then you know that prepping for a contest keeps you focused on a singular goal. But what happens when that show is over and your placings compel you to shift your strategy? Financial considerations, geographical logistics and time needed to improve on your physique are variables which can come into play. This is true regardless of whether you are an Amateur competitor or a Pro.

Whatever you do, refrain from jeopardizing your financial security or your job security and only do those shows which you can truly afford. If you need to work on building muscle, leaning out, or improving balance or symmetry, you need to be realistic and give yourself enough time to make those changes before you hit the stage again. If you know that you have weak points with your presentation (posing, competition color, suit selection, makeup, hair), make sure that you correct these issues so that you bring a noticeably improved package to the stage.

If you are competing locally and have yet to qualify at the national level,I always advise selecting a national qualifier for your next show. If you are near the bottom of the barrel, choose an event which is at least 12 weeks out so that you have enough time to make improvements. If you are nationally qualified but have never stepped on the national stage before, you might want to compete in a local or regional event in a metropolitan area so that you get more of a feel for how a large scale show is organized. It is important to bear in mind that national level events have stiff competition, so make sure you practice your posing and get everything lined up in time for the national stage.
NPC Team U teaser
Master’s level competitors always face a bit of a disadvantage because of their age, so I always advise them to confine their national appearances to pro qualifiers which feature Master’s divisions. Keep in mind that a Pro Card is a Pro Card, regardless of whether you get it as an open or a master’s competitor. I also advise master’s competitors to enter as many divisions as possible to increase their chances.

For Pros, it might be a good idea to consider Pro events in different parts of the country so that you are seen by different IFBB judging panels. This also enables you to increase your exposure and fan base. If you or your sponsors can handle the expense of international contests, you may consider traveling out of the country. If you are chasing after an Olympia qualification, you could stack shows so that you increase your chances of getting into the top five and getting points.

Whatever level you compete at, remember to have fun and enjoy the journey!