01: The emergency mind with Dan Dworkis, Md-PhD
This episode is the audio from a talk I gave in Venice, CA, in April 2019 as part of a series of talks called Wisdom and Whiskey. Many non-crucial details of emergency medical cases, like when a case happened or the age or gender of the patient, have been changed randomly to preserve patient confidentiality. I was really excited to give this talk—below you’ll find some additional notes, clarifications, and ideas for further exploring and building your emergency mind.
05:28—The medical kit I’m referencing here is called the “Lightning X Extra Large Medic First Responder EMT Trauma Bag Stocked First Aid Deluxe Fill Kit C,” but that was too long to say. It’s available here. I’m not affiliated with this in any way, but I think it’s a great example of what a seriously stocked first responder bag might look like.
05:32—It’s actually called the “Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Sing-a-Song Med Kit.” It’s available here. I also have no affiliation with Fisher-Price, but I do very much support kids learning about medicine.
13:21—There’s a lot of wonderful things out there about the idea of Memento Mori- if you’re interested in learning more, check out the Daily Stoic’s post on The History of Memento Mori.
14:02—This style of poetry, in which the poem is written in the last moments of the writer’s life either as a reflection on existence or a gift to those who remain alive, is called Jisei. I keep a copy of this book of Jisei poems compiled by Yoel Hoffman near my bed and read it regularly before going to sleep at night.
15:27—Stoic philosophy is an important cornerstone of my personal work building my own Emergency Mind. The Daily Stoic is an amazing resource for a large number of reasons and I highly recommend checking their books and newsletters. They offer both an excellent introduction to and a much deeper exploration of the core concepts of Stoic philosophy. The Memento Mori Medallion they offer can be found here.
19:12—For those interested in approaching the main texts of Stoic philosophy, I would recommend Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. Meditations was Aurelius’ notes to himself on how to lead a better life—there are a number of excellent translations available here. Within Meditations, Book I has a somewhat slow start involving Aurelius listing at length members of his family and friends he’s grateful for having learned from. I’d recommend starting at Book II and then going back to Book I at some point if you like what you read.
19:35—To Marcus Aubrey, if you’re reading this, I certainly don’t mean to imply you’re not a philosopher (which you certainly are in many ways), just that you’re not an ancient Greco-Roman Stoic philosopher in the same way that Marcus Aurelius or Seneca is. I really dig your stuff. Hope I get to meet you and exchange notes on life someday.
23:45—I actually think I was first introduced to this exercise not by my own martial arts instructor but in the excellent book Zen in the Martial Arts, by Joe Hyams
25:52—The gum-elastic bougie, usually just called a bougie, is a really useful backup tool for placing a breathing tube. There’s a good description of it here from the Department of Anesthesia & Perioperative Care at the University of California San Francisco. In practice we don’t usually reach backward and get it ourselves, since that might alter our view of the inside of the patient’s throat. Instead we either have it prepared ahead of time or call for it to be handed to us when needed.
31:04—For Pema Chodrön, a great place to start is her book Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change, or this article about the idea of Shenpa. For Jocko Willink, a great place is his book with Lief Babin called Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win, or his podcast which I often listen to on the way to my shifts, available at www.jockopodcast.com.
37:04—The Hôpital Universitaire de Mirebalais (HUM) is a truly amazing place. Details about the hospital and the ability to donate to its cause can be found here. My description of this case is heavy with the emotion I felt and feel for these two young humans and for the wonderful community they were born into. Because of this I made a few mistakes in my retelling of it. First, we brought all the emergency doctors together, not all the doctors in the hospital. Second, we did not have neonatal vent capacity in our hospital at the time of this case—I can’t actually say for sure it didn’t exist anywhere in the country at that time, but I don’t believe it did and I know we didn’t have it. Most importantly, I want to reiterate how proud I am of the team at HUM for the incredible work they did for this family, and for the incredible work they continue to do day in and day out for their community. I’m honored to have been able to work with them.
40:24—For a great introduction to Epictitus, check out a book called The Manual: A Philosopher's Guide to Life, which is a modern-language revision of Epictitus’ classic book the Enchiridion (handbook). The classic version is available here, the modern one here.
40:56—The obituary of Garrett Matthias (03/26/2013-06/06/2018) can be found here. I am extremely grateful to his family for sharing his thoughts with everyone in the way that they did, and though I never met him or them, I have learned considerably from reading about him. Unfortunately, I made several mistakes in this part of my talk: I incorrectly stated that he died of leukemia—he actually passed away as a result of stage 4 alveolar fusion negative rhabdomyosarcoma. I believe I also misunderstood his quote of “See ya later suckers” – on a closer reading about his life it seems that this was not his last words but instead a favorite saying of his.