Wednesday, 30 May 2018
Blind Student Earns M.D. #guest writer by Sharon Cohen article by Sharon Cohen, is not the first blind person to earn a medical degree, nor the second, or even the third. Nevertheless, the article is inspiring, and it contains fascinating and useful details that can inspire and inform parents and teachers who may have never considered medicine or the sciences as a potential career path for blind youngsters. Here it is: The young medical student was nervous as he slid the soft, thin tube down into the patient�s windpipe. It was a delicate maneuver and he knew he had to get it right. Tim Cordes leaned over the patient as his professor and a team of others closely monitored his every step. Carefully, he positioned the tube, waiting for the special signal that oxygen was flowing. The anesthesia machine was set to emit musical tones to confirm the tube was in the trachea and carbon dioxide was present. Soon, Cordes heard the sounds. He double-checked with a stethoscope. All was okay. He had completed the intubation. Several times over two weeks, Cordes performed this difficult task at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics. His professor, Dr. George Arndt, marveled at his student�s skills. �He was one-hundred percent,� the doctor says. �He did it better than the people who could see.� Tim Cordes is blind. He has mastered much in his twenty-eight years: Jujitsu. Biochemistry. Water-skiing. Musical composition. Any one of these accomplishments would be impressive. Together, they�re dazzling. And now, there�s more luster for his gold-plated resume with a new title: Doctor. Cordes has earned his M.D. In a world where skeptics always seem to be saying, stop, this isn�t something a blind person should be doing, it was one more barrier overcome. There are only a handful of blind doctors in this country. But Cordes makes it clear he could not have joined this elite club alone. �I signed on with a bunch of real team players that decided that things are only impossible until they�re done,� he says. That�s modesty speaking. Cordes finished medical school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the top sixth of his class (he received just one B), earning honors, accolades, and admirers along the way. �He was confident, he was professional, he was respectful, and he was a great listener,� says Sandy Roof, a nurse practitioner who worked with Cordes as part of a training program in a small-town clinic. Without sight, Cordes had to learn how to identify clusters of spaghetti-thin nerves and vessels in cadavers, study X-rays, read EKGs and patient charts, examine slides showing slices of the brain, diagnose rashes, and more. He used a variety of special tools, including raised line drawings, a computer that simultaneously reads into his earpiece whatever he types, a visual describer, a portable printer that allowed him to write notes for patient charts, and a device called an Optacon that has a small camera with vibrating pins that allow his fingers to feel images. �It was kind of whatever worked,� Cordes says. �Sometimes you can psych yourself out and anticipate problems that don�t materialize. You can sit there and plan for every contingency or you just go out and do things. That was the best way.� That�s been his philosophy much of his life. Cordes was just five months old when he was diagnosed with Leber�s disease. He wore glasses by age two, and gradually lost his sight. At age sixteen, when his peers were getting their car keys, he took his first steps with a guide dog. Still, blindness didn�t stop him. He wrestled and earned a black belt in tae kwon do and jujitsu. An academic whiz, he graduated as valedictorian at the University of Notre Dame as a crowd of 10,000 gave him a standing ovation. Cordes finished medical school in December but still is working on his Ph.D., studying the structure of a protein in a bacterium that causes pneumonia and other infections. Though he spends ten to twelve hours a day in the lab, Cordes also carried the Olympic torch when it made its way through Wisconsin in 2002 (he runs four miles twice a week) and has managed to give a few motivational speeches and accept an award or two. He�s even found time to fall in love; he�s engaged to a medical school student. But Tim Cordes doesn�t want to be cast as the noble hero of a Hallmark special. �I just think that you deal with what you�re dealt,� he says. �I�ve just been trying to do the best with what I�ve got. I don�t think that�s any different than anybody else.� He also shuns suggestions his IQ leaves his peers in the dust. �I just work hard and study,� he says. �If you�re not modest, you�re probably overestimating yourself.� Through the years, plenty of people have underestimated Cordes. That was especially true when he applied for medical school and was rejected by several universities, despite glowing references, two years of antibiotics research, and a 3.99 undergraduate average as a biochemistry major. Even when Wisconsin-Madison accepted him, Cordes says, he knew there was �some healthy skepticism.� But, he adds, �the people I worked with were top notch and really gave me a chance.� The dean of the medical school, Dr. Philip Farrell, says the faculty determined early on that Cordes would have �a successful experience. Once you decide that, it�s only a question of options and choices.� Farrell worried a bit how Cordes might fare in the hospital settings, but says he needn�t have. �We�ve learned from him as much as he�s learned from us. One should never assume that any student is going to have a barrier, an obstacle, that they can�t overcome,� he says. Sandy Roof, the nurse practitioner who worked with Cordes in a clinic in the town of Waterloo, wondered about that. �My first reaction was the same as others�: How can he possibly see and treat patients?� she says. �I was skeptical, but within a short time I realized he was very capable, very sensitive.� She recalls watching him examine a patient with a rash, feel the area, ask the appropriate questions, and come up with a correct diagnosis. �He didn�t try and sell himself,� Roof adds. �He just did what needed to be done.� Cordes says he thinks people accepted him because most of his training was in a teaching hospital, where he blended in with other medical students. One patient apparently didn�t even realize the young man treating him was blind. Cordes grins as he recalls examining a seven-year-old while making the hospital rounds with Vance, his German shepherd guide dog. The next day, he saw the boy�s father, who said, �I think you did a great job. [But] when my son got out, he asked me, �What�s the dog for?�� With his sandy hair and choirboy�s face, Cordes became a familiar sight with Vance at the university hospital. The two were so good at navigating the maze of hallways that interns would sometimes ask Cordes for the quickest route to a particular destination. Some professors say Cordes compensates for his lack of sight with his other senses especially his incredible sense of touch. �He can pick up things with his hands you and I wouldn�t pick up like vibrations,� says Arndt, the anesthesiology professor. Cordes says some of his most valuable lessons came from doctors who believed in showing rather than telling. �You can describe what it feels like to put your hand on the aorta and feel someone�s blood flowing through it,� he says, his face lighting up, �but until you feel it, you really don�t get a sense of what that�s like.� Dr. Yolanda Becker, assistant professor of surgery who performs transplants, noticed that Cordes had a talent for finding veins. �I tell the students, �you have to feel them; you just can�t look.� For Tim, that was not an option.� Becker soon became one more member of Tim Cordes� fan club. �He was a breath of fresh air,� she says. �He appreciated the fact people took time with him to feel the pulse, feel the grafts, feel where the kidneys are. He asked very good questions.� Cordes� training included observing surgery, helping treat psychiatric patients at a veteran�s hospital, and traveling beyond the hospital walls to the rural corners of Wisconsin. For six weeks, he experienced the front lines of medicine with Dr. Ben Schmidt, accompanying him from house calls to the hospital, tending to everything from heart trouble to chicken scratches. They took time, too, to indulge Cordes� passion for cars. Cordes, who reads Road & Track and Car and Driver magazines faithfully, is a Porsche fan. Knowing that, an internist in Schmidt�s clinic brought her husband�s metallic gray Turbo 911 to work one day. Schmidt took the wheel, roaring down the road with Cordes in the passenger seat, his keen hearing detecting the sounds of the valves opening up. Cordes also enjoys camping and canoeing with his fiancée, Blue-leaf Hannah (her exotic first name comes from a character in Centennial, a James Michener novel). They met when both interviewed for medical school. �I was just mostly curious how he was going to do it,� she says. �I must have asked him a million questions.� �I figured she was just sizing up the competition,� he teases. She was impressed. �He was smart and pretty modest,� she says. �Handsome, too,� he adds. �Yes, handsome,� she laughs. They began dating and will marry this fall. It�s a match made for Mensa. Hannah is now in medical school. She already has a Ph.D. in pharmacology; her dissertation was on a human protein implicated in heart disease called thrombospondin. �Too long for a Scrabble game,� Cordes jokes. The two have talked about starting a research lab together someday. Looking back on medical school, Cordes says he savored the chance to help deliver babies and observe surgery, things he�s probably not going to do again. �I just made it a point to treasure them while I had them,� he says. He once thought he�d become a researcher but is now considering psychiatry and internal medicine. �The surprise for me was how much I liked dealing with the human side,� he says. �It took a little work to get over. I�m kind of a shy guy.� Cordes plans to attend graduation ceremonies in May. For now, he�s humble about his latest milestone. �I might be the front man in the show but there were a lot of people involved,� he says. �Everybody was giving a good effort for me and I wanted to do right by them.� for this and much more. check out my website www.mugambipaul.com
Wednesday, 23 May 2018
Everyone’s so busy these days! We wake up, we go to work, we have to stop by Time Warner after work to drop off that old router, then an old friend wants to catch up, then our boss surprises us by letting us know we need to turn in that report tonight, and by then it’s 11 PM and when are you going to have any time to work out or work on that startup idea you had? At least, it seems that way. When you ask folks if they’d like to spend time together, we all hear the same thing: “I don’t have the time.” It’s possible they’re telling a white lie to get out of spending time with you. That they do have the time, but they’d rather spend it getting some work done, so they have more time to spend with someone else, later. But if that’s the case, there are an awful lot of people around telling that white lie. I suspect that we’re not all telling lies to each other; we’re telling a lie to ourselves. The lie is that we don’t have enough time to do everything. So, whatever gets added to the calendar first is what gets done. The fact of the matter is, we all have the same amount of time. Elon Musk runs three billion dollar companies with the same twenty-four hours you use to drop clothes off at the dry cleaner and grab a sandwich at Wendy’s. If you aren’t able to do what you want to be done in that twenty-four hours, the problem isn’t your calendar; it’s you. That’s the secret this headline promised. But it needs to be explaining. What does it mean that you’re the problem? Well, if you’re complaining that you never have enough time, you’re probably packing your day with high-time, low-reward activities. Most people in Kenya do. In fact, many such activities in Kenya are considered valuable. Activities like: list of 4 items •Stopping in on social media. Most folks pause throughout their day here or there to message someone, send some snapchats, scroll down their Twitter feed — but combined, these take up 3.8 hours of your day. That is four solid hours you could be spending with friends, reading that book you have sitting on your nightstand, or finishing up that home improvement project. (If you want to learn how much time you as an individual waste on social media, RescueTime can tell you). •On a related note, pulling out your phone. What can feel like five minutes of wasting time can often be upwards of fifteen minutes (or more). For the average Kenyan, this adds up to four hours of the day. There is some overlap between phone and social media use — but not as much as you hope. And it turns out most of us underestimate our phone use. To see how much time you spend on your phone, download an app that will tell you. •Driving. Driving to and from work is a necessary evil, but many people waste a lot more time driving around running unimportant errands. In the age of Masoko by Safaricom, jumuia upcoming uber the most significant way to waste time is driving half an hour to a store and back to buy something that can be packaged and shipped to your house (for less money, I might add). Many major grocery chains also offer grocery services where they pick the items off the shelves for you. All you have to do is show up at the store and have them load the bags into your car. This can save you multiple hours a day of driving. •Puttering around. This includes activities like: Standing in front of your fridge, staring into its depths as if it has the answers to life’s great questions. Sitting in front of the TV and watching whatever it happens to be playing for a few minutes. Staring into your closet wondering what clothes to wear for today. These activities have little to no value in your life, and yet they take up valuable mental energy. list That bulleted list makes it seem so simple. Most of these time-wasting activities are easy to spot. It’s so easy for me to sit here and write “stop doing these things!” And yet, people still do these things. Why? We’re forced to conclude that it isn’t the wasted time that concerns people. In my case, I spend time running errands because there is nothing, in particular, I’d rather be doing. So the problem isn’t that I don’t have enough time; it’s that I don’t have the will to do something else. But if we’re wasting time, turning off our brains, why not go whole hog? Regarding relaxing, spending two hours watching a movie is always more rewarding then spending two hours browsing low-performing HuffPo articles. I suspect that it is because we are not willing to turn off. There is a pressure in Kenyan culture to go-go-go, to be doing, creating, achieving. There is no space in Kenyan culture for relaxation, for watching a movie. Sure, we do these things, but we always say we’re doing these things with a tone of apology. There’s an implicit understanding that the ‘ideal’ action is to be working, and that relaxing is an unwanted but necessary part of existence, like getting sick or having bowel movements. It’s regrettable that Kenyans feel ashamed of this because relaxation is as sweet and valuable a part of life as work. When we feel ashamed of relaxation, we try to squeeze it out of our phones at work or social media at home, like teenage students trying to gossip when the teacher’s back is turned. There is no teacher. We are in charge of ourselves. It’s time to let ourselves know that it’s okay to take a break. This is how people waste their time. Instead of working, or relaxing, people drift off and spend their time in between. It slips away from them without their knowledge. Then they come out of the trance, dazed and blinking, wondering where the hell the day has gone. In previous ages, it wasn’t possible to fritter a day away this way. The farm needed working, the meat needed curing, the goat needed milking, and a million other things. On top of that, there were no phones or internet. If you weren’t working, you were staring at a blank wall. If your only other choice is crushing boredom, it’s pretty easy to choose work. In this day and age, it is the frittering which is so easy. Notifications blink and pop and bounce on our devices and the devices of everyone else around you. Other people bob their heads, ducking in and out of their phone like it’s their only source of air. It’s hard to resist the urge when everyone else is doing it as well. My call to action is this: permit yourself not to be doing. If you are going to be doing, do — don’t waste time on social media or driving around or standing in front of the mirror wondering which shirt you’re going to wear. And if you don’t want to, don’t — put on your nightie and rewatch House M.D. for the seventh time. Whatever you do, don’t waste time doing neither. you can visit my new website www.new.mugambipaul.com
Friday, 4 May 2018
The handshake from a blind perspective: #the white cane miles: As usual you know Mpofu namba 1 I love Public transport not that it’s the best but that’s how social and economic lifeline is. Mostly when I travel to town or to far distances I love the busses. They are full of intrigs. We have the famous preachers who would like the Blind like me to evaporate from the world we become “Sighted” As though we the Blind have requested so! Anyway there might be those Blind guyhs who are debatably praying for miracles but am not one of them. The equating of blind with ignorant and the automatic assumption that we need and want fixing cause great harm to those of us who are blind. It makes us into beings who always need charity and have nothing to offer in return other than gratitude. My God doesn’t think that way. God created me and I believe (at least on good days) that I too am “wonderfully made.” This view of disability leaves me free to use my talents to love others and work for justice instead of waiting to be healed in this world or the next. That’s why I remain Chief Disability soldier.on the other hand, some religious fanatics emphasize on the following extracts: One of the major root causes for the discriminatory acts against PWD in Kenya is religion-related. Theological interpretations of disability have significantly shaped the ways in which society relates to PWD. The Bible is intermingled with texts that have been interpreted in oppressive ways and together these continue to reinforce the marginalization and exclusion of PWD in the social, economic, political, and religious life of the society. Eiesland (1994:73-74) identifies three theological themes that have created obstacles for PWD. The first is conflating disability with sin. The belief that disability indicates punishment for wrongdoing and mars the divine image in humans has often barred those with disabilities from positions of leadership or stigmatized them for their presumed lack of faith. The second theme views disability as virtuous suffering. Disability has been identified as suffering that must be endured in order to purify the righteous, a teaching that encourages passive acceptance of social barriers for the sake of obedience to God. The third theme perceives PWD as cases of charity. Although charitable activity for PWD is at times a means of creating justice, it subverts justice when it segregates PWD from society and keeps PWD out of the public eye rather than empowering them for full social, economic, and political participation. The outcome of all these themes is what Eiesland (1994) has referred to as a "disabling theology." The Bible, which is the major source of Christian theology, illuminates this further. anyway let me return to my issue Blindness (or any disability) has its difficulties: • I have to ask again and again for what I need from others • There’s a bubble around me in public such that people hesitate to approach me • It costs more to buy adaptive equipment than regular gizmos. • Sometimes I’m discriminated against. I deal with the frustrations daily which consumes more energy than not being blind. But there are also the positives of being blind: • Humorous things happen as I interact with a sighted world. • I’m more aware of the interdependence of us all. • I know that many people are helpful most of the time. • I get to have an intelligent being, my white cane AKA “fimbo yangu” plus my latest Soundscape app, by my side as I walk through life. • The frustrations both from the blindness and from interacting with “spiritually blind” people make me stronger. list end If you feel compelled to share your good news about the future as you understand it where the blind see, or if you want to pray for my sight to be restored, please consider doing the following first: list of 3 items • Get to know me and my world before you decide how to make it better. • If we’ve discussed faith and we’re at the level of knowing each other where you’d be comfortable with me praying for you, then feel free to ask if I’ll pray for you and offer to pray for me as well. • Then ask how you can pray for me and do the praying from my perspective of needs. I may ask for healing, for strength to fight discrimination or for patience to deal kindly with others’ responses to my disability. If I ask for something you don’t agree with, like a driverless car that’s too expensive and might malfunction and bring us all to Heaven before our time, pray for more accessible transportation options instead e.g crossing in Thika road or westlands. This is my real Handshake movement. If you want to share your best guesses about Heaven, listen to mine as well. Maybe together we can make a little Heaven on earth where both the sighted and the blind understand that we all are wonderfully made and have gifts to share. this is the real handshake!