Monthly Letters to Pulmonary Patients by Thomas L. Petty

Thomas L. Petty, M.D.

Professor of Medicine, 
University of Colorado

Chairman, National Lung Health Education Program (NLHEP)


National Lung Health Education Program
A collaborative project with



HealthOne Center
1850 High Street
Denver, CO 80218
Phone: 303 839 6755
Fax: 303 832 8137

Pushing the Envelope or Peace
and Tranquility?

October 1999
Second Wind
Lomita, California

     Dear Friends:

     This newsletter is inspired by a recent trip to Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories of Canada, which has become an annual event. Great Slave is one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world. It is nearly 300 miles long. It harbors huge lake trout, arctic greyling, northern pike, and white fish. We go there every year for the peace and tranquility of the remote arctic tundra region and the fellowship that ensues from friends with common interests in medicine, fishing, and philosophizing in this unique environment. There we enjoy the sights and sounds of nature, and the thrill of attracting, hooking, and landing fish, marvelous shore lunches, and the evening fireside chats after an excellent meal.

     On good days, we often go by motor boat ten to twenty miles to reach the ideal fishing locations. We try to rendezvous with others in our group and enjoy lunch together on the shore. There is competition between eagles and seagulls to eat the fish carcasses left behind. Occasionally, a moose or bear may be seen, and once in a while a cariboo, or even a wolf. There is something special about being free of telephones, pagers, television, radio, and indeed, virtually all forms of communication which always gives me a sense of peace and tranquility.

     This year was a little different. One day, when far from camp, the wind and rain fiercely began. Following a shore lunch eaten hastily under a quickly erected tent by the natives to keep off the rain and to allow a fire, we headed in our boats back to the lodge. We were engulfed by waves that were six feet tall with whitecaps. It was exciting, to say the least, to keep the boat headed properly, and to avoid large waves coming over the bow which could swamp the craft. This water is only 50 Fahrenheit and we did not want to capsize or stall the boat, for hyperthermia would set in in less than an hour.

     Why do we sacrifice the safety and comfort of the lodge on a windy, rainy day, bumping around in a little aluminum boat that can readily be tossed about by the forces of nature? We asked ourselves that very question as we found our way slowly, back to the safe warmth and comfort of the lodge, after a two and a half hour perilous journey.

     The answer has to be in the thrill of adventure, being unafraid of the elements in pursuit of our sport: the sport of living. It's hard to dampen the enthusiasm of the fisherman. It's in our DNA.

     I will be in touch next month.

Your friend,

Thomas Petty, MD

Last update:
23 Feb 2002