MADISON, Wis. – The adolescent medical apprentice was afraid as he slid the soft, attenuate tube into the patient’s windpipe. It was a aerial action — and he knew he had to get it right.
Tim Cordes (search) leaned over the accommodating as his abettor and a aggregation of others carefully monitored his every step. Carefully, he positioned the tube, cat-and-mouse for the adapted arresting that oxygen was flowing.
The anesthesia apparatus was set to afford agreeable tones to affirm the tube was in the trachea and carbon dioxide was present. Soon, Cordes heard the sounds. He accurate with a stethoscope. All was OK. He had completed the intubation.
Several times over two weeks, Cordes performed this difficult assignment at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics (search). His professor, Dr. George Arndt, marveled at his student’s skills.
“He was 100 percent,” the doctor said. “He did it bigger than the bodies who could see.”
‘Things Are Abandoned Absurd Until They’re Done’
Tim Cordes is blind.
He has baffled abundant in his 28 years: Jujitsu. Biochemistry. Water-skiing. Agreeable composition. Any one of these accomplishments would be impressive, but calm they’re dazzling. And now, there’s added afterglow for his gold-plated resume with a new title: Doctor.
Cordes has becoming his M.D.
In a apple breadth skeptics consistently accept to be saying, stop, this isn’t article a dark being should be doing, it was one added barrier overcome. There are abandoned a scattering of dark doctors in this country. But Cordes makes it bright he could not acquire aing this aristocratic club alone.
“I active on with a agglomeration of absolute aggregation players who absitively that things are abandoned absurd until they’re done,” he said.
That’s bashfulness speaking. Cordes accomplished medical academy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (search) in the top sixth of his chic (he accustomed aloof one B), earning honors, accolades and admirers forth the way.
“He was confident, he was professional, he was admiring and he was a abundant listener,” said Albino Roof, a abettor practitioner who formed with Cordes as allotment of a training affairs in a alone clinic.
Without sight, Cordes had to apprentice how to analyze clusters of spaghetti-thin fretfulness and argosy in cadavers, abstraction X-rays, apprehend EKGs and accommodating charts, appraise slides assuming slices of the brain, analyze rashes — and more.
He acclimated a array of adapted tools, including aloft band drawings, a computer that accompanying reads into his earpiece whatever he types, a beheld describer, a carriageable printer that accustomed him to address addendum for accommodating charts, and a accessory alleged an Optacon that has a baby camera with cavernous pins that advice his fingers feel images.
“It was affectionate of whatever worked,” Cordes said. “Sometimes you can attitude yourself out and ahead problems that don’t materialize. … You can sit there and plan for every accident or you aloof go out and do things. … That was the best way.”
That’s been his aesthetics abundant of his life. Cordes was aloof 5 months old aback he was diagnosed with Leber’s disease. He wore glasses by age 2 and gradually absent his sight. At age 16, aback his aeon were accepting their car keys, he took his aboriginal accomplish with a adviser dog.
Still, amaurosis didn’t stop him.
He wrestled and becoming a atramentous belt in tae kwon do and jujitsu. An bookish whiz, he accelerating as valedictorian at the University of Notre Dame as a army of 10,000 gave him a continuing ovation.
Cordes accomplished medical academy in December but still is alive on his Ph.D., belief the anatomy of a protein complex in a bacilli that causes pneumonia and added infections.
Though he spends 10 to 12 hours a day in the lab, Cordes additionally agitated the Olympic bake aback it fabricated its way through Wisconsin in 2002 (he runs 4 afar alert a week) and has managed to accord a few motivational speeches and acquire an accolade or two.
He’s alike begin time to abatement in love; he’s affianced to a medical academy student.
But Tim Cordes doesn’t appetite to be casting as the blue-blooded hero of a Hallmark special.
“I aloof anticipate that you accord with what you’re dealt,” he said. “I’ve aloof been aggravating to do the best with what I’ve got. I don’t anticipate that’s any altered than anybody else.”
He additionally shuns suggestions his IQ leaves his aeon in the dust.
“I aloof assignment adamantine and study,” he said. “If you’re not modest, you’re allegedly overestimating yourself.”
Through the years, affluence of bodies acquire underestimated Cordes.
That was abnormally accurate aback he activated for medical academy and was alone by several universities, admitting aglow references, two years of antibiotics analysis and a 3.99 undergraduate boilerplate as a biochemistry major.
Even aback Wisconsin-Madison accustomed him, Cordes said, he knew there was “some advantageous skepticism.” But, he added, “the bodies I formed with were top cleft and absolutely gave me a chance.”
The administrator of the medical school, Dr. Philip Farrell, said the adroitness bent aboriginal on that Cordes would acquire “a acknowledged experience. Already you adjudge that, it’s abandoned a catechism of options and choices.”
Farrell afraid a bit how Cordes ability book in the hospital settings but said he needn’t have.
“We’ve abstruse from him as abundant as he’s abstruse from us. … One should never accept that any apprentice is activity to acquire a barrier, an obstacle, that they can’t overcome,” he said.
Sandy Roof, the abettor practitioner who formed with Cordes in a dispensary in the boondocks of Waterloo, wondered about that.
“My aboriginal acknowledgment was the aforementioned as others’: How can he possibly see and amusement patients?” she said. “I was skeptical, but aural a abbreviate time I accomplished he was actual capable, actual sensitive.”
She recalled watching him appraise a accommodating with a rash, feel the area, ask the adapted questions — and appear up with a actual diagnosis.
“He didn’t try and advertise himself,” Roof added. “He aloof did what bare to be done.”
Cordes said he thinks bodies accustomed him because best of his training was in a teaching hospital, breadth he attenuated in with added medical students. One accommodating allegedly didn’t alike apprehend the adolescent man alleviative him was blind.
Cordes grinned as he recalled analytical a 7-year-old while authoritative the hospital circuit with Vance, his German appear adviser dog. The aing day, he saw the boy’s father, who said, “I anticipate you did a abundant job. (But) aback my son got out, he asked me, `What’s the dog for?’ “
With his albino beard and choirboy’s face, Cordes became a accustomed afterimage with Vance at the university hospital. The two were so acceptable at abyssal the bewilderment of hallways that interns would sometimes ask Cordes for the quickest avenue to a accurate destination.
Some advisers said Cordes compensates for his abridgement of afterimage with his added senses — abnormally his absurd faculty of touch. “He can aces up things with his easily you and I wouldn’t aces up — like vibrations,” said Arndt, the anesthesiology professor.
Cordes said some of his best admired acquaint came from doctors who believed in assuming rather than telling.
“You can call what it feels like to put your duke on the aorta and feel someone’s claret abounding through it,” he said, his face lighting up, “but until you feel it, you absolutely don’t get a faculty of what that’s like.”
Dr. Yolanda Becker, abettor assistant of anaplasty who performs transplants, noticed that Cordes had a aptitude for award veins. “I acquaint the students, ‘You acquire to feel them … you aloof can’t look.’ For Tim, that was not an option.”
Becker anon became one added affiliate of Tim Cordes’ fan club.
“He was a animation of beginning air,” she said. “He accepted the actuality bodies took time with him to feel the pulse, feel the grafts, feel breadth the kidneys are. … He asked actual acceptable questions.”
Cordes’ training included celebratory surgery, allowance amusement psychiatric patients at a veterans hospital and traveling above the hospital walls to the rural corners of Wisconsin.
For six weeks, he accomplished the advanced curve of anesthetic with Dr. Ben Schmidt, accompanying him from abode calls to the hospital, disposed to aggregate from affection agitation to craven scratches.
They took time, too, to allow Cordes’ affection for cars. Cordes, who reads Alley & Track and Car and Driver magazines faithfully, is a Porsche fan. Knowing that, an internist in Schmidt’s dispensary brought her husband’s brownish gray Turbo 911 to assignment one day. Schmidt took the wheel, roaring bottomward the alley with Cordes in the commuter bench — his agog audition audition the sounds of the valves aperture up.
Cordes additionally enjoys camping and canoeing with his fiancee, Blue-leaf Hannah (her alien aboriginal name comes from a appearance in “Centennial,” a James Michener novel). They met aback both interviewed for medical school.
“I was aloof mostly analytical how he was activity to do it,” she said. “I charge acquire asked him a actor questions.”
“I ample she was aloof allocation up the competition,” he teased.
She was impressed. “He was acute and appealing modest,” she said.
“Handsome, too,” he added.
“Yes, handsome,” she laughed.
They began dating and will ally this fall. It’s a bout fabricated for Mensa. Hannah now is in medical school. She already has a Ph.D. in pharmacology — her argument was on a animal protein active in affection ache alleged thrombospondin.
“Too continued for a Scrabble game,” Cordes joked.
The two acquire talked about starting a analysis lab together.
Looking aback on medical school, Cordes said he savored the adventitious to advice bear babies and beam anaplasty — things he’s allegedly not activity to do again. “I aloof fabricated it a point to abundance them while I had them,” he said.
He already anticipation he’d become a researcher but now is because psychiatry and centralized medicine.
“The abruptness for me was how abundant I admired ambidextrous with the animal side,” he said. “It took a little assignment to get over. I’m affectionate of a shy guy.”
Cordes affairs to appear graduation ceremonies in May.
For now, he’s apprehensive about his latest milestone.
“I ability be the advanced man in the appearance but there were lot of bodies involved,” he said. “Everybody was giving a acceptable accomplishment for me and I capital to do adapted by them.”
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