01 December 2006

Even and Odd

My son taught me how I could tell the difference between even and odd yesterday. He said that all I had to do was to count out little pirates and then combine them into pairs. If someone was left over, that meant the number was odd, but if everyone was in a pair, it was even. Why couldn't I have learned even and odd that way!?
I find that working in a modern hospital, there are medical challenges, and administrative challenges. I completely prefer the medical ones! I am far happier fighting through a long and difficult operation than I am spending the morning in meetings, like I did today. We have an opportunity to make our hospital better for children. At these meetings, I am surrounded by brilliant doctors from every imaginable specialty of care for children, and it is amazing that with all that brainpower, we still struggle to make progress. That's the kind of stuff they didn't teach me about in medical school.
So, as I was leaving a two hour meeting, I ran into the parent of one of my patients who was trying to get a test scheduled for her child. I took her straight to my friend on the inside, and helped her take care of it without waiting on hold or talking to a machine. It was the most usefull thing I got done all day!
B and I both have a fencing tournement coming up! Well, he's young, so it is no big deal. But my old joints have a hard enough time getting through a workout! I'll probably fall apart, but I'll let you know how it goes. Sometimes in practice I feel like Kramer in the Seinfeld episode when he was taking a karate class with a class of children over whom he towered. However, those youngsters are much faster than me so I think it evens it out!
Take care, be mellow, and love life!

25 November 2006

Giving Thanks

Hi, friends! Thanks for stopping by. We are spending an awesome Thanksgiving weekend home, together, with the exception of birthday parties, fencing classes, and a couple of operations yesterday. I am thankful that we are together, and my heart goes out to the families, including those of surgeons in my own department, who are not together this weekend. I am also thankful for a good result in an operation I did yesterday. My friends in the nursery called me in to help, and due to their vigilance and early call for a surgeon, I was able to help a little one out before their troubles had gotten too bad. I felt for the parents, spending Thanksgiving with a loved one in the hospital, and I admired their strength and hopefulness. I hope for a speedy return of deployed friends so that they are once again safe in hearth and home.

A lot has happened since I have last posted. The US elections were a long-due indication that our countrymen and women have finally come to their senses about this war. I hope that this change in government heralds a speedy return of our troops to their families. I was emailing with an Iraqi friend after elections. He has had to move his family several times this year for safety. Please keep them and many others like them in your thoughts. He asked me what I thought the elections might mean for Iraq, and I told him I hoped that a rapid removal of the irritant of the primarily US forces in Iraq would reduce the justification that insurgents are using to recruit and kill their own people. He hoped there would be some improvement since it seemed to get more dangerous every day. I hope I can see him and meet his son someday. We shall see; I continue to pray for peace, and I am uncertain of how I can help in any small way to bring it about.

We have been fortunate to have been able to publish an academic account of the children we cared for in Iraq. You can read the abstract and an article about it.

Also, the group I worked with published important information about how to better treat battle injured troops.

And I was able to work with a surgery resident to add to the medical literature an account of a rare condition known as Frasier’s Syndrome, to hopefully help other children in the future.

We miss New England down here in San Antone. We had a good chance to get a taste of Nor’Eastern life when we went ice skating. It’s tough deciding what to where when it is 80deg outside the rink!

We also had a fun visit from my brother and father. It wasn’t quite Thanksgiving yet, but we deep fried a turkey and M made all the traditional fixin’s . It was great to have family close.

Hope you all stay safe and love life!

Until next time,


01 October 2006

Grand Rounds Tomorrw

The weekend has flown by quickly as usual. It was a bit of a flashback to medical school to pull an all-nighter last night. Tomorrow I am speaking for general surgery grand rounds on the topic of transportable ECMO. I'd never heard of it before residency, so for those who would ask, it is ExtraCorporeal Membrane Oxygenation: a sort of artificial lung to keep babies alive when their lungs aren't working. It was a pleasant surprise to see that I wasn't completely useless today. I ran a mile with B. and then played raquetball with him for an hour. Not bad for an old guy. Anyway, hopefully tomorrow the video works, my uniform doesn't fall appart, and I get up on time. I threw in a picture of our transport systems for fun.

Have fun and love life!


09 September 2006

Getting the Word Out about Some Good We're Doing!

Greetings Friends!

So good to have you stop by. I had the pleasure of putting together an article describing the kids we took care of in Iraq. It was a great chance to get the word out about a little bit we were doing for the children whose lives have been disrupted by the war going on around them. It was published in Archives of Pediatric and Adoloscent Medicine, and you can link to it here. Our awesome Public Affairs department at the hospital put us in touch with a very kind reporter, Cindy Tumiel, from the local paper, the San Antonio Express-News. She wrote this very insightful piece about the article and did a better job than I could converting medical-ese into real English. I loved seeing the different takes that people took on the "message" and it is impressive to see how people can draw such different conclusions: Here, here, and here. I'm just happy to highlight the hard work that the Red Tail Medics of the 332 are doing keeping people alive over there.

Take care!


18 March 2006

Try and find this post

It is such a thrill to discover something that a family ranging from toddler to decrepit adult like me can enjoy together. It is also exciting to realize that there has been a hidden world that you haven't noticed in your own backyard. The boys and I recently discovered the world of geocaching: the sport of using a global positioning satellite receiver to find hidden treasures across the world. Many of them are hidden in little parks and spots of green that I have been driving by for years without knowing the secret stashes they held. The boys really seem to enjoy it. In spite of her contacts, M has the best eyes of all and has saved us a few times when we have been ready to give up. My father did bring up the argument that it couldn't be a sport if it didn't involve a ball, bat, or club, but come on, they call darts a sport!

Have fun, love life, be mello,


16 January 2006

Coppolas shining in fencing and publishing!

Our oldest boy took third in his fencing tournement this weekend so we were psyched for him! he's picking it up quickly and most importantly, he is having a good time.

Below is a press release we wrote to get the news out that M. was chosen as a finalist in a writing contest! We are really excited for the Awards banquet in March. The dress code is "dressy Western"! How cool is that. It's a whole new world for us.


By the way, I went a little crazy with the links.


“Local Author Named Finalist in National Contest”

Made A Difference for That One: A Surgeon’s Letters Home from Iraq, a new book compiled by a San Antonio author, has been named a non-fiction finalist for the 2006 EPPIE Awards. The winners will be named at the 2006 EPIC (Electronically Published Internet Connection) Conference awards banquet, being held March 18th at the historic Menger Hotel in downtown San Antonio. EPIC presents these awards for excellence in electronic publishing in more than 20 categories.
Made a Difference for That One is a collection of letters sent home by Dr. Christopher Coppola, who was stationed in Balad, Iraq from January to May, 2005. A pediatric surgeon at Wilford Hall Medical Center in San Antonio, Coppola worked as a trauma surgeon in Iraq, taking care of wounded American soldiers, as well as Iraqi soldiers, civilians, and local children. Dr. Coppola wrote of his experiences living and working in a war zone in illustrated emails home to family and friends. His wife compiled these letters and photographs in a book and published it with http://www.iuniverse.com/. A portion of the proceeds benefits Fisher House Foundation, a home away from home for families of wounded soldiers while their loved ones are recuperating at 33 locations around the country.
An excerpt of Made a Difference for That One was previously published in Army Times and Air Force Times. The book was also lauded on National Public Radio’s Faith Middleton Show, and an article about Dr. Coppola will be appearing in the spring issue of Yale Medicine.

Review copy available upon request.

For more information, please contact:

Christopher Coppola, ccoppola@pol.net

Additional information may be found at:

http://www.fisherhouse.org/ (Fisher House Foundation)
www.geocities.com/candmcoppola@sbcglobal.net/ (Book website)
http://www.epicauthors.com/ (Electronically Published Internet Connection)
http://www.epic-conference.com/ (2006 EPIC Conference in San Antonio)
www.rjjulia.com/faithmiddleton/index.htm (NPR Faith Middleton Show)
http://www.iuniverse.com/ (iUniverse publisher) (Review of book at Books in Print)

14 January 2006

Home late is still home!

Dear Friends,

Wow, it's 2006 and 2 weeks have disappeared since I've last posted. Since it's 2:52 AM and I can't sleep, what better time.

Just a few scattered thought's today.

Today (actually yesterday) I helped take care of a teenager with cancer. I had a small part in the care. I showed up at 0700 when their operation started, and said "call me when it's my turn!" I had a quick appendectomy to do, and then made rounds with the chief resident on my service. (Actually a second year, but since that's the highest ranking resident to rotate on my service, He's the chief! You know how it goes in residency: When the bosses go home, all the responsibility falls in your lap. The saying is "Boy by day, man by night". (Allowances registered for the residents for whom the revision "Girl by day, woman by night" would apply.) Truth is, the responsibility is always mine as the attending, but it's important for the residents to learn that surgery means it's always my fault.

So I check in on the operation after five hours, because that's how long it was supposed to last, but the first team needs more time. In all they needed 14 hours of time! They did an amazing job with their tour de force and managed to save the teenager's limb. For my part, I got to do a lot of hurry up and wait today. Since I live 45 minutes from the hospital, it just did not seem like an option for me to go home, not with a child asleep on the table. Finally at 21:30, I stepped in and performed the biopsy the child needed and finished in an hour and a half. Happily the patient tolerated the long day in the OR with strength and stability. My heart went out to the parent who had to endure that long day and evening of waiting and worrying. Your prayers for this child's recovery and cure would be dearly appreciated.

A lot of friends at the hospital are prepping for their deployment. It really brings back memories of being in the same situation a year ago. Even though I finally wandered home at midnight, it was a another precious homecoming, feeling lucky to return to the warmth and love of home, and not be oceans away longing for return.

Be bold!


We fight the good fight, and we treasure the days when the sun glints on the crisp snow and you can see Lake Tahoe shimmering in the valley below. No matter how hard a day at work is, it's harder when you're sick and you have no choice about being at the hospital. I'll take the hard day at work, any day.