First Aid and CPR for Hypochondriacs

When I heard the announcement, I knew that it was the right thing to do. How could it not be? What could be of more value, functionally and educationally, than doing a first aid + CPR course with my 10 year old son?


My CPR partner and Manny, recently.

But when I raised my hand–and voice–at the end of my son’s Tae Kwon Do lesson and signed us up for the one-day course, I wasn’t sure if I could do it.

Of course I spent an entire two weeks doing first aid and what passed back a quarter century ago as CPR in the military. Grim scenarios, but it was a breeze. Indoors, not out in the rain and cold, with sand blowing in my face. It was a “treat” to do first aid in the winter. But of course, back then I wasn’t a certified hypochondriac.

Diseases terrify me. Accidents and horrific incidents occupy too much of my wakeful thoughts as is. I love being a cell biologist and biochemist, dealing at the level of cellular, molecular and atomic intricacies, and avoiding all things pathological.

Being a parent forced me to compartmentalize and detach from my fears–and complete my training with my young partner. Together with our “CPR victim,” Manny (short for mannequin), we practiced our chest compression, mouth-to-mouth respirations, and the use of the Automatic External Defibrillator (AED)–a technology which did not exist when I last learned CPR.

In the end I survived–and we both received our certification by passing an exam by the two trained medics/firefighters who provided the training and shared their tremendous experience with us.


Were my fears realized? No! But I came out of the course with an injury. It turns out that CPR and compression on Manny’s chest (100 compressions per minute!) make for strenuous work, and my blister marks my badge of a ‘wannabe-good-Samaritan.’

CPR blister
CPR blister, recently.


About Steve Caplan

I am a Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska where I mentor a group of students, postdoctoral fellows and researchers working on endocytic protein trafficking. My first lablit novel, "Matter Over Mind," is about a biomedical researcher seeking tenure and struggling to overcome the consequences of growing up with a parent suffering from bipolar disorder. Lablit novel #2, "Welcome Home, Sir," published by Anaphora Literary Press, deals with a hypochondriac principal investigator whose service in the army and post-traumatic stress disorder actually prepare him well for academic, but not personal success. Novel #3, "A Degree of Betrayal," is an academic murder mystery. "Saving One" is my most recent novel set at the National Institutes of Health. Now IN PRESS: Today's Curiosity is Tomorrow's Cure: The Case for Basic Biomedical Research (CRC PRESS, 2021). All views expressed are my own, of course--after all, I hate advertising.
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One Response to First Aid and CPR for Hypochondriacs

  1. Debbie says:

    Way to go. I think everyone should take a CPR class every couple of years so they can be reminded of these necessary skills. Get everyone involved. What if you are the only person in your family CPR trained and you are the one hurt?

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