Changing Spots, a Leopard 40 catamaran
Explore the world by sail
My Ancient History - Medicine
I trained/worked for many years, including one year as a staff physician in Pediatrics, at the University of California Davis Medical Center
in Sacramento. Prior to retirement at the end of 2006, I worked as an Allergist/Immunologist, (adults and children), and Pediatric
Rheumatologist for almost 20 years (since 1987). This was with Mercy Medical Group, a large multispecialty clinic in Sacramento,
California, and a 1.5 to 2 hour drive to the San Francisco Bay area, where I sailed. Although this is probably the best job in the world, I had
a dream: - to sail the world. The staff, my colleagues, and my patients were a pleasure to work with. They made it very
difficult to leave, and turned my five year plan into nine years.
My PhD was in cancer immunology, with Dr. Julia Levy at the University of British Columbia. My Post Doctoral research was in transplant
immunology, with Dr. Rudy Falk at the University of Toronto. Both were mainly focused on cell membrane receptor biochemistry and
immunochemistry. I am Board Certified in both Pediatrics, and Allergy/Immunology. I am a Fellow of the American Academy of
Pediatrics, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, and the American College of Rheumatology. Yes, I went to school
for a long time! Hence the alphabet soup after my name.
Besides patient care I also did numerous lectures, got to travel extensively (both professionally doing lectures and speaker training, and
leisure), and published in peer reviewed journals, medical magazines, and a chapter in an Allergy Immunology textbook. I had fun writing
several patient information handouts. You may be interested in the latter, even if you don't have the problems. I tried to make them as fun
and interesting as possible. Check them out; they are free to a good home. My patients have sent copies to friends and family all over
I enjoy teaching and this site is for my patients, many of whom asked to know what I was going to do when I retired.
Sometimes it is very difficult not being an Allergist and teacher. At a cafe in Newport, RI, I observed a teenage girl using her albuterol
(rescue) inhaler with the "wrong" technique. This is the package insert, twenty year out if date method, giving all the side effects and
only a small amount of the potential benefit. It was very difficult to not say anything, as I bit my tongue.
Thank you all, for all your support and encouragement.
Robert Watson PhD MD FAAP FACR FAAAI
The documents at the bottom of this page are not just for my patients, but are general information, which has not been published
elsewhere. I hope they have some entertainment and educational value for you.
|Disclaimer - Most of this page is written for my patients, or people with an interest in medical
issues, and is not directly sailing related. It does however, contain free medical information!
Opinions expressed here are my own, so I can't blame anybody else!
You are never better than your attitude. - RW
Some of these documents may need to be opened in "read only". Click on the underlined words to open them.
|I have no financial interest in any of the information presented here, and no bias
(except my own). It is free and I am not trying to sell anything, but wish you
musings on terrorism:
we must not, cannot lose the war.
The first salvo of the first battle of the Third World War, of the Third millenium has
been fired. The battle has been lost, the perpetrators have won, and they will very
possibly get away with it. BUT, they may have already lost the war, and we may win
without even firing a shot.
This disgusting act of almost unimaginable evil was not an attack on the US, but was
an attack on the world. If the attack were against the pentagon, or possibly even the
white house, then the attack would have been against the US. However, when
innocent, non-combatants, in the WORLD Trade Center, are targeted and murdered
without any possible justifiable cause, this became an attack on the whole, civilized
world. The outpouring of support and sympathy from every civilized country in the
world proves it.
After the shock and disbelief, the pain, grief, and numbness set in, followed rapidly
by frustration and anger, and an over whelming desire for revenge. This battle was
lost but our resolve has been forged. We can win the war, but only if we handle the
trigger of revenge with restraint.
Before you enter a war or battle, you must have an objective. A historical and
perhaps natural reaction is to wipe out the “enemy” who is perceived to be anybody
associated with the perpetrators. Blaming Muslims and Arabs for this atrocity makes
just as much sense as blaming White Christian males for the Oklahoma City
In view of the determination, planning, and skill required to commit this attack, the
terrorists who attacked us were not stupid, and MUST have had a goal. If they
achieve it – THEY WIN. Undoubtedly, killing a few thousand Americans was not their
goal. I believe that their goal is to stimulate us to react like they do, with such
uncontrolled hatred and evil that we lose the sympathy of the world and turn it to
disgust against our people. Once the mighty US attacks with force, against a small
enemy, and with extensive collateral destruction of innocents, our enemies will gain
sympathy, and we will have lost the war.
We need to carefully determine an objective in our war against terrorism. We cannot
win their war, their way, since they willing give their lives, which they hold so
cheaply. Let us establish the battlefield, rather than waging their war on their field.
Once we establish our goal we must win, not just find a release for our pent-up
frustrations and anger. Our goal should not be to just wipe out these evil monsters.
It may not even be possible by direct assault, since, by now they are very well
hidden. We don’t even know how many people, groups, or countries were involved.
Our goal is to end terrorism for the world. The only way we can capture the terrorists
is to work with their hosts and supporters. Embarrass them with a deluge of world
disgust at the actions of their guests, and force the hosts to turn over their guests to
account for their actions to the whole world.
How does the world eliminate this terrorism scourge, which preys on the weak and
defenseless? Now is the time to try. The civilized world has acknowledged this attack
as evil, even though some of the countries or groups have condoned or even
supported terrorism in the past. Now is the time to challenge the world to denounce
terrorism and all its supporters. We must define terrorism, complete with examples of
acceptable versus non-acceptable actions. Nations, groups, or individuals, who act
outside of these acceptable limits will be ostracized, punished, and not given haven.
If we outlaw terrorism, the victims of this tragedy may not have died in vain. On our
current path, in ten years we will have security checkpoints at all national and state
monuments, major attractions, and public buildings. Even simple travel will be
bogged down, just like air travel has been. If we outlaw terrorism, someday, even the
airport checkpoints will not be needed, and we will again be able to show our freedom
to the world. Score one for the free world; the terrorists lose.
Robert D Watson PhD MD
This was written one month after 9/11, long before the invasion of Iraq.
Background - Trinidad jungle experience story
I had never heard of the Hash House Harriers (HHH) before I got to Grenada. I still don't know much about them, but the
group apparently started in Malaysia. They describe themselves as a drinking club with a running problem. They have
people go out in the wilderness to create trails, many of which lead to dead ends. The trails are marked with shredded paper,
often only to find an “X” at the end of the numerous false trails. The end of the real trail is marked with a party. Some run,
some hike, but you can expect hills, mud, and wading through water – and lots of interesting people.
I never managed to “do a hash” while in Grenada, but did a fun one in Trinidad, - and another on Halloween.
What a way to celebrate Halloween!
This hash (my second, but not my last) was more of an adventure than I expected. Not a fun one, and certainly spooky, but
what an adventure! My life is never dull.
I am not an expert in backwoods survival, but I was asked to write about my experience. I would also like to apologize for all
the inconvenience I caused people.
A mistake should always be considered an opportunity to learn, and possibly to teach.
The lesson is that even with the thought of a hundred meter shortcut to the end of the trip, the approaching darkness, and a
cold beverage, DON'T DO IT. Stick to the marked trails. The people who set them (although it may not always feel like it)
have been over the trails several times, and have planned the route, and the dead end trails. They could be just trying to
lengthen the course, but they could also be aware of the dense growth of thorny vines. Once snared, it can take a long time
to get free.
The others in the small group returned to find the marked path, and I then realized there was no way to continue ahead. By
the time I extricated myself from the prickly vines, the shadows had diminished and it was hard to see which way we had come,
and to orient direction. I had run out of daylight and still had difficult terrain to cover to get to the trail.
If you ever find yourself stranded or lost, (not at a hash, since you will never leave the marked trail!)....
My scout training kicked in and did fine, with lessons to share. The more unknown the area, the more dense the undergrowth,
and the more rugged the terrain: don't travel in the dark. That is an accident waiting (not for long) to happen. Before dark,
find a spot which is open, and try to relax and take stock of your resources – hopefully you have something besides your
wits. The spot should be open so you can see and be seen, and hear and be heard better.
Don't wait for dark to start making noise
Start trying to communicate your position early, before dark. I don't carry a whistle (a good idea), but can do a very loud,
shrill whistle. Make the sound slow and deliberate. Vary the tone and length so it doesn't sound like a bird. Try three blasts,
so they can zero in on the direction. I also had a camera, and after the third whistle (after dark), would flash it in the direction
I was blowing. (A good idea, but nobody saw it anyway!) Also try shouting, especially if you can hear voices. Of course if you
carried a GPS, cell phone or flashlight (worth considering) things could be different. Although I could hear the music, and the
festivities, I could not be heard, even when the noise stopped. (The dogs heard me though, and started barking after my
The search party
Once somebody is noticed to be missing, stop, and have complete silence for at least a minute or two periodically, with
everybody listening. If you are the searcher, you need stop, listen and look around carefully every time you make your
shout. That is the cue that you are listening, and invites a reply. I heard them get closer, and closer, and could hear them
calling my name. I responded to their noise (shouting or blasting a horn) every time with a shout, loud whistle and camera
flash; confident they could hear me. Then they were further away; and then gone. I don't think it was forest acoustics that
allowed me to hear them and for them to not hear me. It was extremely quiet in my neighborhood – except for the
mosquitoes. I never saw any lights, except the fireflies.
I wasn't worried, but was certainly not comfortable. I still had a bit of water left, some trail mix snack (but it made me thirsty),
and a multifunction Swiss Army knife (not much help), a disposable thin plastic poncho (wonderful!!! get one and carry it), but
no lighter or matches. Other items included band aids, and tissue paper. Had I known I was going to be there all night, or if I
had a flashlight, I would have cut some fronds and leaves to put on the bare dirt (a large leaf cutter ant mound). As it was, I
broke some dead palm stalks (quite hard, but effective) to lie on. The bare dirt was comforting, although not comfortable,
since I knew I wasn’t going to sit on some poisonous creature.
Mosquitoes buzzing quadrophonic in your ears.
The poncho hood around the head, and tightened in place did wonders. (see photo) You could still hear the constant
mosquitoes, but they were no threat. Its pretty sad when you take great pleasure from outsmarting a lowly bug. The poncho
also was invaluable when it started to rain. Not only was I dry, but I collected a bit of drinking water. The mosquitoes didn't
take all of my blood while I managed to sleep a while on the forest floor. Indeed, I found very few bites, but it may be that they
weren’t noticeable with all the scratches and thorns. Of course, I was wearing shorts.
I was concerned that I may need to get up and go in a hurry, so didn't take off my boots. They were soaked, and that made
me prone to blisters. In retrospect, the boots should have come off.
Hopefully you carry some, especially in the tropics. When it gets low, it is a tough call to put dirty water (and possibly bacteria
and Giardia) into your clean water, but at least make note of where the water is, and keep an eye out for clean looking,
moving water. If water is scarce, fill it anyway, and you will have the luxury of worrying about water quality much later. Vines
tore the cap off my water bottle, and then dead leaves fell into the little that was left. I drank it anyway. I found a Coke bottle
somebody had littered and filled it from a muddy pond, but didn't need to drink it. (Maybe littering isn't always bad!) Don't
drink your water early: make it last, and take small sips to wet your mouth. Your body can hang on to fluids better when you
are a bit dehydrated. But, too much dehydration will impair judgment.
A walking stick
A knife is handy to cut a walking stick. This can make hiking much easier, and safer. A walking stick becomes even more
critical when you get tired, and can prevent falls. It will also help to cross water, and clear some of the brush and thorns out of
the way, not to mention critters.
You can't dwell on the possibility of encountering snakes, scorpions, tarantulas, or whatever your pho-bia might be. Make
lots of noise, and be careful where you put your hands. Try to look ahead of your feet, probe with your walking stick, and
these creatures shouldn't be a problem. You are far more dan-gerous to yourself than they are! If you feel hopeless,
panicky, or severe fatigue, stop, find a place to lean or sit down, take a break, and regroup. But I am sure glad I didn’t run
into any fer-de-lance (“This species is very dangerous and is the cause of more human fatalities than any other American
reptile.”) or black mamba snakes! (So many people mentioned both these snakes that it was a surprise that I could find no
record of black mambas outside of Africa! That said, the fer-de-lance is MUCH worse than I had heard.)
To be completely prepared against every possible emergency, you would need to tow a large trailer. A lighter (critical in cold
country), a water bottle with built in filter, and a small flashlight would have been nice. The light from the camera screen
helped a bit as a flashlight, but I wanted to reserve the battery for the signal flash. This list would be dependent on the
possibilities of the terrain and journey, not the usual expectations. Of course if you take critical medicines, you should always
carry a few days supply, in case of events such as cars breaking down, flight delays, bridge collapse, earthquake or ???
You must rest and sleep. Without it, your judgment will not be good, and you need to be sharp and rested when it gets light.
Again, orientation is very difficult in a dense forest (even a small cheap compass would help), especially if it is overcast.
Orientation is critical if you are aware of the direction of escape. If not, you should travel up, to find the higher ridges, or
down, to find a stream you can follow down. That said, if you find a well worn trail, take it and mark your direction by breaking
branches in your direction of travel, or lining up stones or sticks. Make it very obvious, and it will help anybody who is looking
for you. Until they can hear you, or finds signs of your presence, they will stay on the trails.
Are we lost yet?
If you find that you are coming upon familiar terrain, and traveling in a circle – don't panic. If you are not sure it is the same
area you have already passed, mark it like the trail markings. Rather than going around in circles, take a break, reconsider
your orientation and plan, listen, and try to relax. Above all, DON'T GIVE UP. Consider finding an open area or trail, and rest
or wait for help, if you get too tired or frightened to continue. Don't try to move fast, but move carefully. Stop often to listen
and take in your surroundings. You shouldn't be in a hurry to get hurt, or to go in circles. I can tell you that I was never so
glad to finally find a well worn trail, AND shredded paper. But I still had to find the right trail to get to the end. I never did, but
after a few tries, backtracked to a road, and it was easy from there.
You learn so much about yourself when you get out of your comfort zone, and push limits. It is a great feeling (when its
over!). At no point was I in serious danger! Yes, it was scary, but only in the morning, when even in daylight it was difficult to
orient and get through the impenetrable bush. The fireflies at night were beautiful.
People have been so friendly and supportive. I almost lost it when I knocked on the door of the Blackmans' home and asked
for water and to make a phone call: “you must be the person they were looking for, thank God, you're alive.” They opened
their home to me, and called HHH to advise them of my return. It is also reassuring to know that fellow cruisers and hashers
can be so concerned about one person, in a world where we hear so much about all the negatives. – thank you all.
Rob Watson - 2009
Not a happy camper!
Awaiting dawn in the forest