Peak Performance Sports & Spine - December 2019





As part of our Nepali team, we were grateful to have Dawa Yangzum Sherpa, the youngest Nepali woman to climb Mount Everest (at age 21), helping us with our journey. She led us over the mountain passes, where she taught us about climbing at altitude. We focused on “one step, one breath.” If it was not for the constant support and knowledge of the incredible Nepali community, we wouldn’t have made it! On the clinic days, we had tents set up specifically for dentistry, general medicine, women’s health, and pediatrics, to name a few. I was stationed in the body-work tent, where I worked with another physical therapist from Nepal, Tora Akita, and an interpreter, Sonom Lama. Tora focused mainly on dry needling, reflexology, and cranial-sacral work, while I applied my skill set of strength training, joint mobilization/manipulation, and muscle- energy work. Being present and listening to our Nepali patients was the best thing I could do. I focused on education and helping create meaningful functional movement changes that would work in their life. There were a few impactful changes I was able to witness. One was of a young man who had a “valgus elbow” deformity that happened from falling off a horse seven years ago. He was lacking about 25 degrees terminal elbow extension, which severely limited his ability to live and work. I was able to successfully manipulate his elbow and help him regain full elbow range of motion in just one session!

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to go on a monthlong, life-changing journey with my wife, Hailey, and a group of clinicians from around the world. The trip was led by Roshi Joan Halifax from the Upaya Zen Center. Through this organization, our Nomads Clinic was able to serve people throughout the Humla region in Nepal and have a truly enlightening experience. The 2019 Nomads Clinic in Humla included 27 Western clinicians and support team members, partnering with an extraordinary group of Nepali clinicians and health workers, plus a large Nepali community of support. Our main objective was to deliver direct medical, dental, and educational care to remote villages, particularly women and children. With the Nepali team leading the way, we worked to be sensitive to the cultural beliefs of the community we were serving. Each morning, we would set our intentions for the day and work with a “strong back and soft front” in an effort to be as present as possible. I didn’t realize it then, but I was receiving care as well! This was a transformative experience for all our Western clinicians. In the span of 30 days, we spent 10 working in the medical clinic and 20 trekking. Each day, we either woke up to head into the clinic or got our hiking gear on and set out. Overall, we hiked more than 170 miles and served 1,333 patients. Our group had to climb over a couple of mountain passes, the highest at 18,000 feet, which was incredibly humbling.

The most impactful moments of the trip were seeing how friendly, present, and compassionate the Nepali people are. Every member of our Nepali team and the patents we served in the rural villages of the Humla were incredibly kind. It was a community feeling of mutual inclusion. I made connections with people on the other side of the world that will stay with me for the rest of my life. There wasn’t a moment I didn’t feel loved and supported. It was a humbling and genuinely amazing experience. The biggest thing I am taking away from this trip is the inspiration to be more present and aware of the needs of others. Being part of the Nomads Clinic allowed me regain clarity on why I chose to work in health care. My goal is to deliver compassionate, quality care in order to best serve the community I am in. Thank you.

–Michael Blizniak

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