Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 - Thoughts

At Crater Lake November 2013 

Since returning from Timor life has been busy.  Both Stephanie and I think often of Timor and miss the people we grew to care for there.  One exciting recent piece of news came from Lourenco (Lorenzo), the young Timorese man who took over the community health project upon our departure.  Lourenco informed me via email that the team recently held a community health worker training.  This is something that we had hoped to achieve but had run out of time and in all honesty I had my doubts as to whether it would come to fruition, but it has!

Our final days in Timor were a whirlwind.  Spending time with friends, training Lourenco to take over the project, and then the day before we were to leave Stephanie and I each ran a ½ marathon and marathon respectively.  The Timorese government had taken over the organization of the event in the final month and unfortunately they did not have much time to prepare.  Thus, there was little water to be had on the course and no food.  I ran in my thin Luna sandals which had been fine on the trails I regularly ran on but over 26.2 miles of flat pavement my legs and feet got very beat up.  Oh, and it also poured the majority of the race!  This led to increased friction with my clothing and for the first time in my life I experienced severe nipple and inner thigh chaffage – ouch!

Home stretch!  Most of the second lap they had let traffic back on the streets - nice!

Despite these challenges both Stephanie and I finished – nice!  Our post-race high was briefly deflated after we sat with sore legs for 3 hours in the Dili airport only to learn our flight to Bali had been canceled due to the rain. Doh!  Fortunately our amazing landlady Rosalia allowed us to return for one more night and made us some amazing food to bootJ  Our second go the next day was successful but meant we had only 1.5 hours to make our connecting flight in Bali.  This required us to literally run through the airport to make it, as in Bali they make you check out and then check back in with each arrival.  Being a day after our race this was quite painful on the legs but the fear of missing our trans-pacific connection spurred us onwards.  We made it:)

Stephanie and I with the race director.  They seemed very keen on taking a photo with us after the race.  I think they just wanted a photo with some sweaty malae (foreigners) for future publicity but who knows:)
Eventually we made it back to the good ‘ol USA and had several days to spend with each of our families before heading out to Wisconsin.  From July 4th – November 15th we lived and worked in Milwaukee, me finishing up medical school and Stephanie working at Core/El Centro, a not for profit, bilingual (Spanish and English) wellness center in Southside Milwaukee.  Stephanie was the children’s wellness coordinator and was in charge of educating and caring for children of parents who came to participate in the center’s various classes (yoga, zumba, etc.) all offered on a sliding scale and taught bilingually thus allowing lower income families to enhance their wellbeing with modalities normally not available to them due to financial, linguistic, and child care barriers.  A highlight for me was attending the Wisconsin Bicycle Summit in Madison with my bike project promotion teammates Tatiana, Alejandro and Dr. Waters and seeing their excitement about the future possibilities for how bicycles can impact the health and wellness of the people of Southside Milwaukee!

Stephanie with some of the kids she worked with at Core/El Centro.  I volunteered a couple of times and was very impressed with Stephanie's control of the group!  Key activity?  Freeze tag until the kids dropped from exhaustion:)

Southside Bicycle Team in Madison at the Summit.  L-R: Tatiana, Dr. Waters, myself, and Alejandro

On November 15th Stephanie and I finished packing our possessions into my 87 Mazda truck and began our journey driving across the country.  

On the road in the Mazda!  Fully loaded we did ok on the flats but on a few mountain passes we got down to 35 MPH or so - worse than the semi-trucks!

Wide open lands in Dakota.

I had started my medical school journey by driving out to the midwest and the return journey back west was a beautiful and grounding way to draw my experience to a close.  We do not know the paths we do not take but I could not be more pleased with the education I received over the past 4.5 years at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.  The gut feeling I had before starting in Wisconsin, that the UWSMPH would be a place filled with people who would help me to become a compassionate and well-rounded physician, proved true.  I am extremely grateful to many individuals associated with the UWSMPH.  Thank you.  I am also grateful to my parents Dick and Julia Wauters and the numerous other family, friends, and mentors who have supported me along the way - thank you!!!

Arriving back on the west coast I did have one final month’s rotation in Klamath Falls Oregon in order to check out their program as a possibility for residency.  The month was a blast and I would be happy to end up in Kfalls!

Atop Moore Mountain in Kfalls during a trail run.  27 miles of uninterrupted single-track just minutes from town!

On December 20th 2013 I officially completed my medical school education – woohoo!

Currently Stephanie and I are in Portland for the holidays with Stephanie’s family.  We have several residency interviews to complete over the next couple of weeks and then must decide how to rank our choices.  The programs also rank the applicants they have interviewed and then both parties submit their rank lists to a central computer that uses an algorithm to match applicants with programs.  We will find out where we are going on March 21st  (Match Day) when results are released across the nation.  I got myself quite worked up about where to go for medical school and I am thus endeavoring to take a more relaxed approach in this next stepJ

I read several books in 2013 that impacted me in a big way and would like to share:

1) Born to Run (Christopher McDougal) – Convinced me to switch to a different foot strike and to use more minimal shoes (and sometimes run barefoot!).  In the past I would have knee pain running anything over an hour but now can run for close to 4 hours and I am training to do a 50-mile trail ultramarathon!  The feeling I sometimes get out on the trails, completely in the moment and alive, body moving fluidly and swiftly through beautiful terrain, gives me chills and has me going back time after time.  Today was one of those days.

On an 11 mile trail run today with the sun beaming down between massive trees.   Amazing!

2) The Power of Now (Eckhart Tolle) – A very interesting book focusing more on the spiritual aspects of life that has me attempting my utmost to live in, and enjoy, the present moment.  Huge impact and my go-to reading now when I am struggling.

3) Eat to Live (Joel Fuhrman) and In Defense of Food (Michael Pollan) – Both rocked my world.  I am not sure how this information is not emphasized in medical school but I am glad to be finding it now.  I think if the ideas found within these books were followed we would see perhaps only 5% of the current hospital admissions.  I have personally been endeavoring to incorporate more vegetables, fruit, beans and whole grains in my diet and have never felt better!

Well, that’s all that comes to mind for now, thanks for reading and please do write!

Happy New Year,

Michael and Stephanie

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