At Wolf Den Strength we see people from all walks and with varying struggles. Despite their differences, they all share something in common. They made a decision to improve themselves and make positive changes. It takes courage, honesty, and forward momentum to take responsibility for your health. I’d like to share with you a personal story on how to do just that and how building up your “experience files” in your brain can help you overcome any obstacle you face.

Some years back while still in medicine, our surgical team was approached with a time-sensitive challenge. There was a famous Orangutan named “Peanut” in South Florida at a local zoo that wasn’t doing well. She had signs of a gastrointestinal obstruction that wasn’t resolving through conventional medicine and possibly needed surgical intervention. This was a first for all of us. We had never performed surgery on an Orangutan before.

Gainesville Gym Surgery Training Fitness Strength conditioning alachua weightloss

Peanut & Fraternal Twin Pumpkin

While she was on her way we discussed the surgical plan. The first phase of planning was to perform a CT scan of her chest and abdomen to determine if there was an obstruction and if so, where. This would minimize our cut to close time dramatically instead of just performing exploratory surgery. She, in fact, did have an intestinal obstruction but it was because her intestinal lining was thickened from having suspect lymphoma that had metastasized and became obstructed. She needed emergency surgery.

My job that day was to be responsible for her anesthetic episode. Having worked on both humans and animals, I was better equipped to handle her species because of the similarities in anatomical structure to humans. We elected on the most appropriate drug protocols to minimize any risk to “Peanut”. Fortunately, I still had my old SWAT medic bag that had my human intubation equipment which came in very handy. After gaining IV access and performing her CT, I successfully induced anesthesia and the surgical team began the procedure of looking for the obstruction.

Gainesville Gym Surgery Training Fitness Strength conditioning alachua weightloss

Peanut in CT

The surgery and anesthesia was successful. The obstruction was located and unfortunately the section of involved intestine was in danger of being necrotic so a decision to perform a resection & anastomosis (RNA) was made. An RNA is when a section is removed and the two healthy ends are reattached. The anesthetic episode went uneventful. “Peanut” was stable throughout the procedure and awoke without incident post-operatively.



What lessons did this teach me? First of all, I will freely admit that I was scared. This wasn’t just a routine abdominal surgery that we had performed a thousand times before. This was a different species with unique considerations and anatomy. She was a prominent figurehead at the facility that housed her and was loved by many. I was solely responsible for putting her in a state of unconsciousness, maintaining optimal homeostasis, pain control, and bringing her back to world safely without any long or short-term risks. This was indeed a major challenge and my emotions began to wreak havoc. Here is what I did:


An honest assessment of my emotions

I realized from my experience that my behavior controlled my emotions and not the other way around. If I allowed my emotions to control my behavior, everyone around me would see how utterly nerve wrecked I was taking on that responsibility. So I took a deep breath and told myself I had done this a thousand times over. That this was just like waking up in the dark, in your bedroom and going to the kitchen. You know you’re way around your bedroom and home so well you don’t even need to turn on any lights. You just walk through the obstacles because you know exactly where they are and how to maneuver around them. This was the case that day. I knew what I knew as-if I had done it a thousand times with my eyes closed and I needed to behave accordingly. This approach built momentum.

Building Momentum

Once I took on that “as-if” attitude, it was time to put it to practice. When I established the IV access and began the initial sedation for the CT scan, it built momentum that I could handle the next step. Once the CT scan was completed, I prepped the OR and got ready for the induction. This built even more momentum. Once we decided it was a go, I approached the episode with confidence and vigor that no matter what obstacle was to come, we would take it on and succeed. Momentum turned to action.

Maintaining Accountability

Once you’re in, you’re in, and there’s no turning back. That momentum carried us through a successful surgery. When you don’t have time to think, you revert back to your training. We had trained for this without even realizing it. It was an objective we took on willingly and accepted full accountability for its outcome. We were accountable for ourselves and for the life of this Orangutan.


Gainesville Gym Surgery Training Fitness Strength conditioning alachua weightloss

Peanut in Surgery

Why did I share this story with you?

It seems at times that people don’t realize the lessons that can be learned in our gym and from each other. I had every option not to run anesthesia but chose to face it head on. It was one of many experiences I was able to place in my “experience file” that I could draw on in the future. The more positive experiences I place in the experience file in my brain, the more likely I am to succeed when challenged later in life.

Last night’s discussion with one of our members about not quitting reminded me of this experience when I thought to quit but chose not to. You all have the choice to do what you want and when it comes to your health, you have the power to choose your outcome. It’s your choice to eat like crap or not. It’s your choice to be active or not. It’s your choice to educate yourself or not. It’s your choice to make an investment in yourself today, not 5 years from now when it might be too late. Being healthy takes work and an investment of your time.

IMG_2146[1]So if there is anything you can learn from this, try these 3 things:

  1. Take an honest assessment of yourself
  • Are your really healthy?
  • Can you run up 3 or 4 flights of stairs without being winded?
  • Do you really think taking all those medications is making you better?
  • Can you do better?
  1. Build Momentum
  • Pick up the phone and call us
  • Send us an email
  • Stop by and have a chat about how we can help you
  • Take action that you can’t back away from
  • Start acting “as-if” you already started by making a few changes in your life
  1. Be Accountable
  • Seek help from friends and family and let them know you are ready for change
  • Step up your game and get started
  • Accept personal responsibility that you are in control over what happens to you

By following these 3 simple steps, you are capable of making great changes in your health and your life. We are here to help make that happen for you. Our Wolf Den Pack is growing and we want you to become a part of our family.

Complete the form below and get your new momentum started. Visit us on our homepage for further information on who we are and what we do.

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