MAR 2014

EyeWorld is the official news magazine of the American Society of Cataract & Refractive Surgery.

Issue link: https://digital.eyeworld.org/i/276058

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/ E W IN OTHER NEWS 206 March 2014 "Seeing patients at Tenwek and doing surgery at Tenwek was cer- tainly outside my comfort zone. D oing things without my regular equipment and sometimes with no equipment—the whole situation was very different. Then climbing a mountain was outside my comfort zone. It's not typical for me," he said. After they left the hospital and went on a safari, they set out for Tanzania and Mt. Kilimanjaro. Climbing the mountain Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro was his son's idea, Dr. Rapuano said. Patrick learned that the mountain was close e nough to the hospital to visit and climb, and suggested the idea to his father. It worked out perfectly, Dr. Rapuano said, with many factors falling into place to allow them to do the climb together, including his partners helping him with his on-call duties. Sadeer Hannush, MD, another member of the Wills Eye cornea service, who had previously volunteered at Tenwek and climbed Mt Kilimanjaro, was extremely helpful with advice and lending equipment. As soon as Dr. Rapuano knew that they would be attempting to ascend the mountain, he began to train. "I was very religious about using my elliptical machine and running. Whereas sometimes in the past I would say 'I'm tired, I'm not going to exercise today,' it was basically every day that I could, I would exercise," he said. He also had to prepare the equipment to make the climb— backpacks, clothes, etc., he said. Patrick carried a solar panel to charge their mobile phones, which was useful on the mountain, especially on Christmas to call their family back home. The climb itself wound its way up the mountain with hiking during the day and sleeping in the evening. The cook would make meals for Dr. Rapuano and Patrick to eat, includ- ing pasta on Christmas. Each day, they made progress. Dr. Rapuano used hiking poles when he could. The mountain had difficult terrain in some areas, with the guides care- f ully showing the way, he said. In the middle of the night on the summit day, the guide woke Dr. Rapuano and Patrick. They dressed in four layers of clothes against the cold. The next hours were intense, as they made their way up to the summit, walking in their guide's path through the dark. D r. Rapuano encouraged himself on so that he and Patrick could see the top of the mountain together. He said he was thinking: "Just put one foot ahead of the other and keep going, keep going, keep going. I can take another step, I can take another step," he said. Finally, they reached the top, j ust as dawn broke and the sun streamed across the mountain. Reaching that point was "exhilarating," Dr. Rapuano said. "You've worked so hard— months to prepare and days to go up the mountain, and the last six hours, you've been climbing in the dark and you feel like you have suc- ceeded in your goal. It's an emo- tional goal, it's a physical goal, it's an unpredictable goal because with acute mountain sickness, you could be an hour from the top and have to stop," he said. "You're thrilled that you've made it through this unpredictable part and you're happy you emotion- ally made it, and you're happy you physically made it, and then you're at one of the most beautiful places you could think of with the sun coming up, and you're above the clouds. It's incredible." "Then as you start to go down, the other people climbing up are asking, 'How is it up there? Is it worth it?'" he said. "And absolutely, it's worth it." EW Editors' note: Dr. Rapuano has no financial interests related to this article. Contact information Rapuano: cjrapuano@willseye.org Mt. Kilimanjaro continued from page 205 Dr. Rapuano and Patrick celebrate Christmas at the base of snowy Kilimanjaro. Standing atop Uhuru Peak, the highest point in Africa Before beginning their descent, Patrick and Dr. Rapuano enjoy the beauty of one of Kilimanjaro's glaciers. Source (all): Christopher J. Rapuano, MD 204-208 ION_EW March 2014-DL_Layout 1 3/6/14 4:43 PM Page 206

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