Dr. Abdullah Kudrath Transcription

JEREMY : [narration]

 

Hi everyone and welcome to the 'In the shoes of' podcast where I make it my goal to see life as much as possible from someone else's point of view. Just like we all have a unique heartbeat, every single one of us sees life only from our own perspectives. Think about it. Can you see and process life exactly as Elon Musk sees and processes life? The answer is you can't. And it applies to every living conscious being here on this pale blue dot.

 

[Music plays]

 

JEREMY : [narration]

 

Salutations everyone and thank you so much for joining me today for another episode of 'In the shoes of'. Today I have Dr. Abdul Kudrath. He is an E.R. doc, an emergency room doctor for you lay people! Just kidding. So he hails from Guyana, that's where he was born and then — Well I won't give it all away right now, but anyway — Dr. Kudrath, we talk about a lot of different things, about how he lives his life about how he sees the world, obviously, and we also talk about the current political polarization, and just polarization in general. Not just in the states but across the world. And, seriously, the way he puts it, the way he discusses, is probably the most diplomatic and best way possible that I've heard so far. Anyway we talk about that and much more. And without further ado, Oh wait! Yes further ado — If you have friends or family who are deaf or hard of hearing please direct them over to 'intheshoesof.org' where I either have or will have transcription notes or some form, or some way, for them to be able to see the podcast, as it were. OK, now without further ado let's hear from Dr. Kudrath.

 

JEREMY :

 

Dr. Kudrath, thank you so much for joining me today. It's really a pleasure to have you on the show here.

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

Yeah, thanks for having me here today.

 

JEREMY : [narration]

 

So every podcast session I start off with asking the person I'm interviewing, probably the most important question of the whole interview which is; what shoes are you wearing right now?

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

[laughs] You know what, I think these are Cole Hann's.

 

JEREMY :

 

Cole Hann's! Well there we go then! [laughs]. That's awesome! How would you define yourself, if you had to in the third person?

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

I would define myself as a person, an individual, who is trying to figure out what his purpose is and what he should do with his time, things he should do better. And essentially a person who's trying to navigate through life.

 

JEREMY :

 

How is it navigating through life right now? Is it going well?

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

It is. It is. You know? Because every day is a new opportunity to learn.

 

JEREMY :

 

Yeah.

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

And that's not just the good times, but also the bad times. So as we navigate through life and, I think if we remember that, that even the darkest times, the most troubling times you have the opportunity to emerge stronger than the entire journey, the entire time you're navigating through life. It's a very enjoyable one.

 

JEREMY :

 

Yeah, I agree with that. Definitely. So can you tell me what do you do for a living? I mean I probably gave it away a little bit with the title but I want to hear from you what you do.

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

Yeah, I'm a physician, I'm a doctor. Board certified in emergency medicine, so I worked in the E.R. So as you know in the E.R. anything can walk in at any time. So I will take care of anything from trauma, gunshots, stabbings, heart attacks, stroke, medical type things, fever, and pain anywhere. Pretty much any age, any problem, any time. Whatever walks in, I have to be ready to handle these type of situations.

 

JEREMY :

 

And how long have you been doing this?

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

Well I've been completely outside of my training and finished on my own for almost three years now.

 

JEREMY :

 

Oh wow! OK cool. So the E.R. How did that affect you and how has it kind of shaped you even to the person you are today?

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

You know I think our professions and what we surround ourselves with, whether it's our friends or our profession. Wherever we spend our time has a very big effect on who we are, and I think the E.R. has changed or developed me a lot, in many different ways. In some ways I wonder if it's negatively affecting me. Right? Because you have to remember that I'm there for people during their darkest hour. Right?

 

JEREMY :

 

Yeah.

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

Sometimes I see some of the worst aspects of humanity. You know, victims of senseless crimes, trauma they could have been avoided, abuse, these types of things. In moment I have to be a machine, I have to do what's necessary just for the health aspect. Whether I'm dealing with the criminal themselves or the victim. I have to not think about those things and just practice medicine, get people better.

 

JEREMY :

 

Of course. 

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

But anything that we expose ourselves to, I think has an effect on us. Whether we understand it or not, and it may affect you today or tomorrow, or several years down the line. So I am always curious as to what this exposure, this onslaught of emotions and situations, what effect it has on me. But I think in a positive way it keeps me in touch with life and death. Right? Imagine when I walk into a room and I have my CAT scan results and I find out that someone's pain is actually a terrible cancer. Right? And I have to talk about this to somebody, and I have to break this news to them. Right? It puts a lot of things in perspective for me. All of a sudden all of my worries, all of my problems become very, very miniscule. So when I leave the E.R. I have nothing to complain about. In a way I think that's a positive thing because it's a reminder to me how special every moment we have is. Which charges me up. It vitalizes me to do as much as I can with the time that I have. The E.R. is very busy, very fast paced. It's not like I see one patient at a time, and then the next, and then the next. It's that I'm seeing all the patients as fast as I can, as efficiently as I can, and as safe as I can, because I can't let the waiting room back up. And on top of that I'll have a helicopter dropping off a critical patient. Now I have to stop whatever I'm doing for this patient for an ambulance coming in with a critical patient or someone's decompensating. So it's very chaotic and I have to be very pragmatic and efficient in my approach. And I think I've modelled my life after that, because I have to stay busy all the time. Sure any time to relax...

 

JEREMY :

 

OK. Can you elaborate on that a little bit, about how you model your life after that? That's very interesting, it's kind of a new concept to me, because you're obviously in a state of extreme flow during, you know, when you're there and however it affects you or not in the future, we don't we don't know for sure, but it sounds like it's been a positive experience for you. But yeah, can you elaborate on that?

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

I wonder if I was like this coming in, or if it's shaped me through the process, but I have to do multiple things all the time, and I have to carefully juggle a lot of things in my life in order for me to feel satisfied. Maybe it's because of the pace I maintain in the E.R. So for example, yes I work as your physician, but I want to learn new things whether it's language — I've got a little bit of acting, a little bit of this, whenever someone else has a project I want to get involved because I want my schedule to be as busy as possible. [laughs]

 

JEREMY :

 

Yeah, yeah.

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

And it's just like how it is in the E.R. Multiple different things going on simultaneously.

 

JEREMY :

 

That's really cool. I think I'm going to start taking cues from you. Maybe you can be my life coach or something? [laughs]

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

Hopefully I've learned a few things along the way. I've been fortunate to have good mentors along the way and I think that's the key right? And now we're getting into a whole other topic but...

 

JEREMY :

 

That's fine.

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

What makes us who we are? Right, what drives us? Does it really come from us? Any of our success, if I have any success in my life, how much can I really take credit for? I didn't choose my parents but I was fortunate to have good ones. Right? And I was fortunate to have good mentors along the way. And I didn't have any huge catastrophe that knocked me off my path. So how much credit can I take when a lot of it was good fortune? So knowing that, knowing that the external influences us so much I think we have to be very careful in how we spend our time and how we choose our mentors because that's going to create us along the way.

 

JEREMY :

 

Who are some of your mentors?

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

Well you know, of course the big one is my father. A very wise person, and one of the things I appreciate about my father is he still, to this day, I'm a grown man now, will give me advice and look after pitfalls for me right? In a way I'll always be his child. I'll always be his baby, and he always wants to do the best for me. So of course he has been a lifelong mentor. It's great going back to the house and spending time with him because I still feel like I have so much more to learn. And of course there's my brother, my mother, other people, my family, close friends along the way have a big effect on you. My father used to say, "show me your friends and I'll tell you who you are".

 

JEREMY :

 

Yeah.

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

So the company you keep is very important. Through my medical training some very wise doctors who have decades of insight, when I would maybe think things in the wrong way, or be too rash or emotional they would remind me of a case, or a story, or a lesson they've learned which would allow me to put things back into perspective. Then of course mentors can come in any shape or form. I've learned lessons from sitting on a bench in a park for the person next to me. Everyone has their story. That's why I love this program and I'm really looking forward to hearing from some of the other people because you can learn so much by putting yourself in their shoes and trying to learn from their story.

 

JEREMY :

 

Yeah, that's cool. I really like that part about your father saying, "Show me who your friends are and then I'll know who you are". Right? I really like that. Well that kind of leads to a good segue into what I wanted to address next which be, how you grew up, where you grew up, how your childhood was? It sounds like you were pretty blessed then with your childhood? And what religion you grew up with and what religion you have or don't have? If you could address — I know that's kind of like, "wow, I'm asking for a lot right in that one question". But we can break it down!

 

DR KUDRATH : 

 

Yeah we can go through the timeline because there's a lot to learn from the timeline and I think, because I think that shaped me as well. Yes, I was very fortunate in that our family was very close, and again catastrophe didn't strike us so we stayed together. We were blessed in that sense, but also we had our struggles as well. When my parents came to this country from Guyana in South America we had next to nothing. But I'm glad I had that upbringing because that taught me that content and happiness doesn't come from material items or money. We had a big family, there were seven of us total. At the time we didn't have my little brother so there were six of us. They came from Guyana to New Jersey. We lived very modestly. I mean if my mom came home with a Snicker bar and we split it five ways, that was a party. 

 

JEREMY :

 

Yeah [laughs]

 

DR KUDRATH : 

 

Right? But looking back, we didn't — I say it's a struggle now but it didn't feel like a struggle back then, because we were happy, we had each other. The important things in life I think are friendship, communication, learning. These are the best gifts we can have, and none of that costs a dime really. It's good to have nice things. I mean don't get me wrong. Now I'm in a part of my career where I'm making decent money. These nice things are the icing on the cake. Enjoy it if you like it, but don't let these things define your self-esteem or your self-worth. I think that's when we cross into a dangerous territory. You should always feel, no matter what you have, if it's a nice car, nice house, nice apartment, nice clothes. You should always feel that if it was all taken away from you today, you'd still be happy tomorrow. And it's a struggle, it's a process because I feel that money and success can change you. And it's a very slow change, and you don't realize it's happening. So I struggle with it I have to find ways to protect myself against that change. And again, it's a slow one.

 

JEREMY :

 

Yeah. Do you think — does maybe being in E.R. help with that?

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

Oh absolutely! I've learned so much from my patients. I've learned so much. I remember a gentleman many years ago who found some oil on his land. Right? So all of a sudden he went from low to middle class to being very wealthy. I mean he was getting checks of tens of thousands of dollars every week, and it was only going up, and he was recently diagnosed with a type of cancer. OK? And I was still a student at the time and I was chatting with him and he said, "Abdul I've got a check sitting there in there in that book for $60,000 and there's more coming", he said, "but that means nothing to me because I can't buy a new stomach". So that kind of stuff reminds me what are we chasing? The money doesn't matter, when we have the health right now, enjoy it!

 

JEREMY :

 

Yeah.

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

Right? Again, the money has to be the icing on the cake. If something makes you happy, whether you have a hobby or this or that, you like to travel — great, get the money, accomplish your goal, but understand that it shouldn't define you, and it should bring happiness.

 

JEREMY :

 

Yeah, and we don't take that to the grave whatsoever.

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

[laughs] That's right.

 

JEREMY :

 

I remember, some of the happiest moments in my life definitely were not, you know, having this or that. It was like, maybe even riding a bike in college in the snow and up in Nebraska with my pants freezing from the dish water that I got on there because of washing dishes at a restaurant or something like that. But I was happy, you know? To that point to, health is just paramount, it really is. I mean you probably know that more than anybody in this room for sure.

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

Yeah. I'm inspired by people. We were talking earlier about your trip when you did some travelling.

 

JEREMY :

 

Yeah.

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

In the past a lot of people would have — their model was to wait until they're older and retired to travel, but imagine the lessons you learn while you travel. You took time out of what you were doing, and I'm sure it was a struggle and you had to make sacrifices, and you took this time to travel and learn from your experiences and from people out there and now you take those lessons for the rest of your life, instead of waiting until your retirement age to get that lesson. So I think with the health that you have with youthfulness, at any stage, whether I'm 32 now or 60, whatever health I have, we want to make the most of it and learn as much as we can. And sometimes we can be distracted by chasing certain things like money or status and things like that. But going back to the timeline, we grew up in New Jersey, very modest and then came to Texas when I was in elementary school. So I think that's given me a unique perspective. If you're born into a certain situation and you grow up into the same environment it's easy to fall into the same habits and pitfalls of your culture or your community. But because I was spread out a little bit in early childhood and I was exposed to different things — You asked about religion.

 

JEREMY :

 

Yeah.

 

DR KUDRATH : 

 

So I was born in a Muslim household. So I got to learn the teachings of Islam.

 

JEREMY :

 

Sure.

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

But the interesting thing, and we're getting into religion now, but I think it's interesting. The religion should be the same wherever you practice it. Correct? So should a Christian from Australia be different from a Christian in America, or Africa, or Saudi Arabia.

 

JEREMY :

 

Right.

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

You think not because the religion is same. Same thing with Islam. Why is it that a Muslim from Pakistan versus Ethiopia, or Saudi Arabia, Australia, America. Why is it so different? Really it should be the same. We talked about this earlier before we got on camera but you know I think sometimes we fuse cultures and old habits into our religion and then we sell that as part of a religion. So then what have we done? We've put bad habits into a religion. Culture is great because it gives us a lot of richness to our history, but some parts of it can be left out, the bad parts the parts that can be improved. So I think because I had that in-between type upbringing, raised in a Muslim home, grew up in New Jersey with all my friends being Christian. We've come into Texas and gone from the north to the south. You get to be exposed to different lifestyles, different people. And I think that helped me not fall into the pitfall of doing what's always been done. Whether it's from a religious point of view, from a family point of view, or cultural point of view, or a geographical location point of view.

 

JEREMY :

 

Sure. And do you consider yourself a Muslim right now. 

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

I do. I do. But like anything. Faith and religion goes in cycles. You have periods of highs and lows.

 

JEREMY :

 

Sure. 

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

But I think that's good because I think religion should be an arrival process right? You have to get there. But I think if you follow the foundations like we talked about, doing right by people, trying to do your best and not do any harm, then you will arrive at your religion, your way of life with the right foundation.

 

JEREMY :

 

Yeah. There's a lot of just interesting, interesting probably not even the word, but there's a lot of rhetoric in the political world over just 'Nation of Islam' itself. You know? And a complete, to me, there's a lot of misunderstanding. How has that affected you and what are your thoughts on that? I really want, for anybody listening in the world, because a lot of people are curious around the world about what's going on in America. For one thing politically and what's going on with the religious stuff too. All of a sudden we have some weird stuff going on. And also for people in America who maybe there's something — is there something that we're all missing that we should probably know about. Can you speak to that a little bit?

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

Well you know situations are so complicated, and there are so many layers and levels to it.

 

JEREMY :

 

Of course.

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

And I can't speak for the entirety of a religion or Americans but I can give my insight on what I've gathered along the way, and there's a lot of issues that have arose recently. There's a lot of misconceptions as well. And whenever you have divisions in groups, people will find a way to fight. Even if there's no reason to. It's like that experiment when they had the high school and they arbitrarily divided them into two groups the red team and the blue team or whatever it was. Big fights broke out! People were very fervent about their team. Even though it wasn't based on anything, it was arbitrary.

 

JEREMY :

 

Right, right.

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

So whenever we have divisions across our country, across our planet, fights are going to break, misunderstanding is going to happen. We'll attribute horrible things to the other side. I think remembering that the more we learn about each other the better things will get. We'll drop the misconceptions and then we can unify again. Whenever we have, whether it starts from foreign policy or a bad group or sect of people within a big religion or within a big political arena that's all you hear about in the news. You start stigmatizing and antagonizing people. Then there is responsibility. We all have to take responsibility. For example as Muslims we have to understand where we're making mistakes. There's a lot of people in Muslim countries that are making mistakes. 

 

JEREMY :

 

OK. Can you speak to that a little bit?

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

Well for example hate and violence should always be avoided. 

 

JEREMY :

 

Right. Of course.

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

Now, it's hard for me to speak in their shoes because I'm not living their life, right? It's not me that has to worry about bombs falling on my head or my children dying in the street, or being kidnapped, or something like that. I'm not in their shoes right now, so I'm trying to think about it, and I'm sure they're scared, desperate, and angry. And people react out of emotional states, and they may react in the right way or the wrong way. They may do something that fans the flames.  And then if some person does something over there and we see it, what are we going to do? We're going to attribute it to the entire religion, the entire country? Without really understanding deeper aspects of the problem?

 

JEREMY :

 

Right. Like it's — meeting someone, let's say you've never been out of the country and you take your first flight and let's say you meet a woman or a man or whomever from, I don't know, Bangladesh, let's just say. I'm sure all Bangladeshis are great people, but let's say that there is this one person on the airplane who was completely rude and just wasn't a great person at all. And then that person, possibly, would go home and say, "you know what, everybody from Bangladesh, horrible people!" Right? Which is — sounds like what you're saying is that's kind what we're seeing here.

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

Absolutely.

 

JEREMY :

 

What we were talking about earlier to, is like — now we have this tribalism that's going on with technology and we're all becoming even more divided.

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

Absolutely. It keeps adding onto itself. So we see that one person in this group or religion that's bad. "Oh they're all terrible". And that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy because as soon as somebody else does it, it becomes, "Ah, I told you there's two people, there's three, there's five, there's ten". We may not look at the millions of people who are not doing that. The millions of people who are being hurt by that.

 

JEREMY :

 

Exactly.

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

Who would support us against that, but are part of that group. So we have to avoid, like you said, tribalism. Because what that does is it shuts off the pathway to a resolution. If we understood a situation a lot more deeper than, kind of, oversimplifications, then we can actually find solutions. So then what's my responsibility as a Muslim in this country, and as a physician in this country? Right? And really it's just to show people that we don't have to be mutually exclusive. Right? Because there are some people who may have never met a Muslim physician or even a Muslim friend. 

 

JEREMY :

 

Totally, yeah.

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

So it gives me a responsibility to be an example, and if people have questions, to answer these questions.

 

JEREMY :

 

That's cool, I appreciate that.

 

DR KUDRATH : 

Right, and that means that I need to also be knowledgeable about certain things because now I become a representative for my religion. Right? [laughs]

 

JEREMY :

 

Yeah [laughs] Right. Whether you wanted to be or not! [laughs]

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

But I think that's a good thing.

 

JEREMY :

 

Yeah

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

And not to get too political but things are getting polarized right now.

 

JEREMY :

 

Of course.

 

DR KUDRATH : 

 

But I always try to look at the silver lining.

 

JEREMY :

 

And you can get as political as you want [laughs]. I'm just trying to stay on the side-lines a little bit, but feel free. This is all about you and your perspective so feel free to dive in as you need to.

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

OK. Absolutely. And again I don't want to fall into the same trap of polarizing issues because then I'm going to block any resolution or the search for resolution. But as things have gotten a little polarized maybe certain problems that were festering before or misconceptions, or misunderstandings are just now being brought up to a head. Now we could see it, now we can address it, now we can come to a common ground. Whether it's fear of other people, or immigration, or financial issues that the country has. These emotions can cause turmoil. So even though things are polarized I'm seeing the silver lining. I'm seeing people come together to talk about important issues. Right? I mean for example we talked about Islam and being a Muslim right? We have this big travel ban, people being detained in airports...

 

JEREMY : [narration]

 

Just letting all of you listeners know that this was recorded back in March of 2017. And since that time, well it's been for lack of a better word a bit of a cluster *beep*! In fact just recently President Trump has released a revised travel ban appeal. The date of this recording is May 20th 2017 just to let you know. Depending on when you're listening to this, I mean this may all be completely in the past or it may still be going on. You just never know these days right?

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

Now already people were a little apprehensive about Muslims if they were wearing the traditional gear in the airport. Even if they didn't mean to be racist or scared after what they see in the news in the movies they see they might be a little apprehensive. If a Muslim guy started praying in the middle of the airport they might feel uncomfortable. I was watching some videos on 'Snap Chat' and some other things of people first hand. And somehow through this travel ban you see protests and people sticking up for one another.

 

JEREMY :

 

Yeah.

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

Someone holding a sign saying, "We are all Muslims". Figuratively saying that we're all together. In one video there were three Muslim people praying, and people were cheering them.

 

JEREMY :

 

That's cool!

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

Before this travel ban you would never see people cheering Muslims praying in an airport. 

 

JEREMY :

 

So true. Good point.

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

So is there a silver lining? Yes. Because should we be enemies? No. But as we start talking, as we start learning each other, the walls come down, the barriers come down, and we start working together as Americans first as humans next. And all these arbitrary divisions that we keep trying to fight for, they're gone. Now we fight shoulder to shoulder with each other for the same core principles. So there is a silver lining, I think, in the discussion being brought up through what seems like polarization. 

 

JEREMY :

 

Very well put. 

 

DR KUDRATH : 

 

And then on the other side, people on the more conservative side, they have some legitimate thoughts that they want to bring out and talk about. So we can't just ignore those ideas and only talk about ours. We have to listen to those. What are their reservations? What are their concerns? And then come to an agreement together.

 

JEREMY :

 

Very cool. 

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

I mean to take immigration for example. There are legitimate concerns about immigration. The question is, what's the appropriate solution to make everything work well as a country, to be loving to our neighbors. But certainly we can't be blind to the fact that financially and structurally countries have to limit immigration. Every country does it. 

 

JEREMY :

 

Of course. 

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

So as we stop fighting each other and start talking to each other solutions will be born.

 

JEREMY :

 

Yeah, I agree. So how do you think that given your background being a Muslim growing up in a Muslim family having excellent parents and having — but being from Guyana and going up to New Jersey and being a physician. All of these things all of your background. How has that played a part in, I guess, how has that played a part in your life with regard to what you struggle with, what you've had to come up against? And how has it been a pro for you?

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

I look like an outsider. When I went to school I was the only one, what would we say? Brown guy? The Desi guy? The Indian guy? It was mainly white, Hispanic, a few black. So yes there were some issues I had to deal with because I was different. There's always bullies. So people would pick on me because I was different. But of course my parents instilled to me the principal, so I was still hopefully a good kid. So I had friends, therefore I had alliances. So they would stick — I didn't have to fight my own fights. They would say, "Hey, you leave Abdul alone, that's my friend"

 

JEREMY :

 

Yeah.

 

DR KUDRATH : 

 

And then sometime down the line maybe that person was picking on me. I have tons of examples like that! We became friends and we're still friends.

 

JEREMY :

 

Wow

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

It's usually because of fear of the unknown and maybe they were brought up a certain way and didn't experience a different way of behaving. So instead of fighting them why not come up with a better solution? Right?

 

JEREMY :

 

Cool

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

There's so many ways to come about an answer, and our first rush to the emotional response is not always the correct one. Most often it's the incorrect response. So being a little different, being Muslim, being, you know, of brown color, coming from a different country, all that kind of stuff. It also helped me in a way because it intrigued people, especially as I got older, to want to learn about me and what my story is. And like you said it helped me not create barriers on my thinking. To where I can help relate to people a little better. And I think that's helped me in my career. I really try to see people through their paradigms so I could better understand the problems that they're going through. You know, my patients have — I have to talk to them a different way depending on where they're from.

 

JEREMY :

 

Yeah.

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

I might not strike a chord with them if I speak a certain way versus another way, and because I've had so many friends in so many different ethnic origins I'm able to converse and build rapport in a matter of minutes. Because remember they have to trust me with their lives on decisions and they've met me for the first time. And the only way I can instil that trust is 1; making sure I understand them and verbally talking to them so they can see that I understand them and their nuances, the differences and cultures. Maybe religiously they don't believe in a certain way of treating a problem or if there's alternatives we can talk about them might give them. I give them options. So I think having that varied upbringing has helped me, even through the struggles, even getting picked on, I think that's helped me. Remember we talked about dark and troubling times? Difficult times, is what shapes you. I would not trade for an easier, because how would I have learned the lessons I needed to learn? So I say that to anyone listening: If you're going through anything troubling during your 'now', or in your near future, embrace the fact that that's going to make you stronger and you'll emerge on the other side as an entirely new person altogether. Someone stronger, more wise. And that way whenever you are in that deep, dark moment in your life you're not going to turn to cheap fixes like drugs, alcohol, rebounds, self-destructive behavior. You embrace it, you'll look for solutions, and you'll look forward to coming out the other side stronger and wiser.

 

JEREMY :

 

Yeah. Very well put. Is there a period in your life that you would say was a little bit darker than another period?

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

I'd say so, I'd say we have different categories of trouble. We have our professional lives, we have our relationships, and there was a time two years into college where I had no idea what I was doing. I didn't know that I wanted to be a doctor at the time. I just kind of going through the motions of college that my parents expected me to right?

 

JEREMY :

 

Right.

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

My heart wasn't into it. I was more interested in riding around on my motorcycle and hanging out with friends rather than studying and going to class. But then at some point you know we talk about an arrival process. No one can tell you what to do. My parents couldn’t tell me what to do. In fact maybe I rebelled a little bit, but during this time of being lost and not knowing what the future holds for me. I think that really motivated me to start searching for some purpose. To find out what I'm interested in. I did a little bit of traveling. I broke out of my shell and at one point it came to me that the knowledge that inspires me and excites me is the knowledge about ourselves as humans. What are we? How is it that millions of cells could come together and form a thought, an emotion, and share it with each other. That's fascinating! I wanted to learn about us! How is that even possible? How do we work? How do we break? How can we fix it? We all have to find out what excites us, whether it's art, law, engineering, creativity, medicine, whatever it is, and use that drive to push you into greatness. Because now that I said, "OK, well maybe I want to be a doctor. Maybe I want to learn about us". Well of course no medical school will take me with these type of grades and this type of work! Right! Well now I had a purpose. I transferred from my community college to the university and I applied myself and I made nothing but A's. Not because I was so smart, but because I finally had a conviction and direction. And if your heart is truly into something you can't fail because you will find the steps necessary to get there. And if you truly believe in that goal the journey will never deter you. No matter how hard it is, you'll get to the other side. But your heart has to be there. And I wouldn't have got to that if it wasn't for the darker time in my life where I had to do some soul searching. And of course there's emotional troubles with relationships. We've all had that. We've all had heartbreak. You know, my biggest heartbreak came later in life. But that heartbreak, I would never take away that experience. Because although maybe was physically tough, I worked out, I was never emotionally tested. So I needed to go through that. I needed to make sure I avoided the pitfalls. Drugs, alcohol, rebounds, whatever it is and cope with it and came out stronger and learned from it. So now I can say that I have been emotionally tested. So those, again it was a reminder to me that, those dark times, those troubling times, whether it's a relationship, work, family, friend, financial, whatever it is, those dark times are what make us who we are.

 

JEREMY :

 

I agree. Yeah, I think they're essential for any type of growth you know? For us to evolve emotionally in all kinds of ways. I agree. Switching gears from, you know how you grew up and all that, but I want to take you all the way to your grave. And when you die is there something that you would like to be remembered for or remembered as being some of your attributes? A legacy you want to leave behind.

 

DR KUDRATH : 

 

I mean if you think about that it's a very deep question right? To think about our grave. Most of us avoid that thought.

 

JEREMY :

 

Right.

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

But I think it's a great question and I think it's a great thing to think about. One time I was at the park just kind of hanging out. I used to take my motorcycle out there and just kind of sit around. And I saw this group of elderly senior citizens walking in the park and they were so excited, so fascinated by something, I thought, "what could it be that they're so happy about"? So I looked to see what they were looking at, and you know what they were looking at?

 

JEREMY :

 

What's that?

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

A few ducks by the pond. A few ducks, that's it! And I'm like, "what the ducks?" And then I looked a little closer at the ducks and realized how fascinating that is! That we're not the only lifeform on this planet, that we come in all shapes and sizes. And there's so much beauty in our earth right in front of us that once they got closer to the grave they finally started looking at it. And I don't want to wait until I was a senior citizen to start appreciating what's so beautiful right in front of me, and it was a very important lesson. This was before medical school, and now, being with people when they have terminal diagnosis or catastrophic injuries, being closer to death I'm forced to think about it a little bit more than the average person. But I think we can all think about that because when we talk about any goal we have to find the steps. So we should have our 5, 10, 15, 20, and lifetime goals. Because if we don't think about it we won't find the steps. So if my if my answer to your question is that I want to leave behind knowledge, or people who have been inspired by me. They can carry on good deeds. I want to leave behind charitable organizations, whatever that is, whatever that answer is, I'm not going to think about it unless I put myself in the position 30 to 50 years down the line. However many years God gives us, we don't know. But if we're so fortunate to get another 50 years, another, any year! We have to have that plan in place. And it is a great question. So I mean specifically for me, I just want to learn as much as I possibly can. Because there's so much to see. There's so much to experience, to learn from one another. So that's my quest. With every year my only hope is that this year is different than the last year. Because if I'm doing the same thing I did last year maybe I'm wasting a little bit of time. If I haven't learned something new, and it could be any new skill, or trade. I mean we live in the Information Age. 

 

JEREMY :

 

Sure.

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

I mean, you can learn anything from 'YouTube', anything from a book you can order on Amazon. But yet we don't do it. We don't do it, because there's a lot of distractions I think. So we have to avoid that. It’s fun it's entertaining, but we have to set goals for ourselves. And if your goal is to always get better and that comes in all different shapes and forms. Whether it's working out, you want to get more in shape, you want to learn a new language, you learn a new instrument. Set the goal, believe in the goal, and then the information is at your fingertips. So hopefully by the time I meet my grave, whether it's today, tomorrow, 50 years from now.

 

JEREMY :

 

Sure

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

I hope I can say to myself you did your best. You didn't waste time when you were relaxing you relaxed with quality people. When you were working hard towards meaningful goals. You have no regrets. And a part of that, another thought along those lines. To have no regrets is to also do right by people. And we can't always do that. So if I feel like I've done something wrong by somebody I have to make it right. And part of that is making sure that you point the finger at yourself constantly to see what you can do better and what you've done wrong and make it right. Whether it's an apology or some kind of correction. That way you cannot have any regrets going forward. We were getting really philosophical and deep into this conversation which I like!

 

JEREMY :

 

No, that's fine, this is good!

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

You know, we don't always have an opportunity in our lives to talk like this. So I love it. I love to embrace it. 

 

JEREMY :

 

Good.

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

And I was just having a talk with a friend earlier today actually. We were talking about honesty and white lies. Sometimes we all find ourselves in a position where we tell a white lie. But I really try my best to avoid that 100 percent. I don't want to get good at lying.

 

JEREMY :

 

Right.

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

We shouldn't have to. This world is yours. Do what you feel is right and own up to your choices. There's no reason to lie about anything right? Face the music if you've done something wrong. Apologize, try to make things better. The truth can be uncomfortable and hurt. I think dishonesty causes long lasting devastation. So another goal of mine is to make sure that I try to be as honest as possible. That when, if I say something I mean it. Now of course that's a sticky situation because there are times in my career where how honest can I be with somebody? For example someone has a terminal cancer. Do I just walk into the room and say painfully, honestly say, "This looks like, you know, pancreatic cancer, you're going to die in a few months. Well I better get to the next patient". I'm not doing anybody a favor there. Right? Will they be able to sleep that night, the next couple of nights, will their family be able to sleep until they get follow up to find more information with the oncologist further tests. So yes, sometimes you have to be careful with the truth and be careful with your knowledge. Give people it in doses. I'm not saying let's be rash and inconsiderate, but whenever possible, remember that the foundation is honesty and integrity. So in these cases for example, I might say, "you know there some really concerning findings I found on the CAT scan". Maybe I won't use the word 'cancer', I'd say there's a mass, there's a tumour. People freak out when they hear cancer.

 

JEREMY :

 

Of course.

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

And, "we want to make sure that it's not the dangerous type, so it needs further tests. It needs a biopsy. I've already called the oncologist, I've told them everything. We got the appointment set up for two weeks no issues if you have any symptoms come back and see me I'll be here in the E.R. or one of my colleagues. Don't stress or this, it's too early to stress over it because the truth is, we need more time". And then have them follow up on an outpatient basis. So was I lying to them? No. But with I rash in disclosing all the truth. No. So I'm saying be considerate to all factors, but in your heart you should always try to do what's right and what's honest. 

 

JEREMY :

 

Yep, yep.

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

Sorry man we're getting so deep on this. I didn't mean to get all philosophical on you! [laughs]

 

JEREMY :

 

No, no! I love this stuff, seriously, this is the -- These are the kind of conversations that I live for to be honest with you, so yeah. Feel free. I love that too. I think that's good. Just to encapsulate what you were saying, it sounds like — I mean part of your legacy then is, you want to be remembered then, as someone who utilized your day wisely, your time wisely, learn what you can, and treat others with respect, with dignity, right? And be honest in your dealings and in all facets of life. Does that, is that a good summary kind of? Or?

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

Yeah, I think so. And honestly it sounds like very, I don't know, story book, or very idealized, but that's what we should do. We should have that idea.

 

JEREMY :

 

Yeah. Hey, if it's the truth then it's the truth right?

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

Yeah. Why not strive for this.

 

JEREMY :

 

Yeah.

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

Sometimes my friends joke and say I'm always trying to be Batman or something like that. [laughs] I mean that's a great goal to have right?

 

JEREMY :

 

I thought I saw a suit in your backpack now I think of it. [laughs]

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

But you know, we should aspire for these things. And for whatever reason at some points in our life we lose sight of these goals. And I'm sure in a year maybe I'll lose track of one of them and I'll need a friend to pull me in, or I'll need a podcast of someone talking about something that strikes a chord with me to reel me in to have me think in a new direction. So these things fluctuate but we our goal we should be very clear. Our goals should always be improvement. Right? Not hurting anybody else and making the most out of our time.

 

JEREMY :

 

What are some horrible things about the world right now and what are some things that are really great?

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

Ever since mankind has walked this planet there's going to be bad.  There's going to be people focusing on other principles than what we talked about, whether it's greed, money, power. And sometimes to get those things they avoid or they're inconsiderate to the basic foundations of honesty, of doing no harm. Things like that. So even today we see this bad. We see people motivated by greed, money, power. And unfortunately so many people have to feel the consequence of those actions. Whether it's war, financial issues. So it's there and it's always going to be there so I'm not surprised by it and I'm not disheartened by it because there's also, like you said, the good in the world.

 

JEREMY :

 

Of course.

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

And that good is the people who do want to see better, not just for themselves but for the people around them. Sometimes it takes a few bad apples, or a few bad leaders, to overshadow a lot of good people. 

 

JEREMY :

 

Yeah. 

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

But in the world today I still see people wanting the best, avoiding the pitfalls of hate and division. And I think from that good, it's going to help mitigate. We'll never get rid of badness and evil altogether but we can try our best to want better for the world and to try to minimize it with the goal of someday eliminating it but maybe that's a pipe dream. [laughs]

 

JEREMY :

 

It's one of my pipe dreams too, yeah, but it's a good goal to have I think.

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

And I mean, it sounds very Kumbaya, but the point is there. We would all live better if we followed that principle.

 

JEREMY :

 

Yeah.

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

People always ask, "Well why did you do that? Why did you care?" Because I hope they would do it for me if I was in trouble. 

 

JEREMY :

 

Yeah.

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

And that's the simple answer. I got things good right now, but five years from now, a year from now, maybe I hit calamity, maybe I'm struggling and I need help.

 

JEREMY : 

 

Yep.

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

I hope the people around me would do the same for me.

 

JEREMY :

 

Totally.

 

DR KUDRATH : 

 

Whether it's tough love, you know sometimes we need tough love, or compassion. If we stick to that principle we'll help each other out, regardless of our differences whether it's political, religious, race.  You know, talking about race even right now we see so much polarization in this country white-versus-black. Things like that. But I'm seeing more and more people bridge the gap to try to understand each other. And when that happens we find solutions to the problems, like we talked about earlier. So when you ask about the good in the world, I see it. And sometimes things have to be shaken up, and sometimes the waters get rough before they get calm again. And I think in this country we're having some of those rough waters. But this is when we come together so that we can all sail smoothly afterwards.

 

JEREMY :

 

Yeah, I like that. What are you most thankful for right now in life?

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

Most thankful right now? Opportunity. And opportunity, it comes in a lot of different forms. I had this opportunity because of my health. I had this opportunity because of my friends and the people around me. And that's what makes me very appreciative of every day that I have. Because every day I wake up I have opportunity to do something else, to do something new, to learn something new, to help somebody out.

 

JEREMY :

 

That's really cool.

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

Opportunity.

 

JEREMY :

 

Yeah, that's a new one. That's a new one, I mean, yeah. I like that. It's always good to have opportunities. I believe I just have one more question for you. This is like the main one, aside from of course the, "what shoes are you wearing?" Question. But first I'm going to take you on a little imaginative ride. It's not very long, but I want you to imagine that one day you're walking through a lush green park. It's a beautiful spring day. Let's say you're in Hyde Park in London. It's a beautiful park. Just walking around. Suddenly a spacecraft appears out of nowhere. It appears to be an alien spacecraft. It's unlike anything you've ever seen before. And out steps an alien who introduces himself by the name Ford Prefect and he looks very similar to the British actor Benedict Cumberbatch but doesn't blink much, if at all. And after you guys exchange pleasantries about cricket, about the weather, about life on earth, (he's a very cordial fellow), and you find out that he is an intergalactic journalist. And he's here to find out about life on Earth, about how people see life on Earth. And he only gets to interview one person and you happen to be that person. So you have to represent just your view of what life is. So he asks this question. He asks you if you can give him the most accurate description of how you specifically see and understand life on this planet. What would you tell that that alien? And there's no way he can — He has these like special lie detector things that he can tell if you're, you know  — so you have to tell the truth and it's just essentially, how you see and understand life on the planet.

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

I'd welcome him to a very beautiful place, a beautiful place full of diversity and full of people working together. I mean, he would see not only the physical beauty of our world that we live in and all the varied life forms. But as he interacts with me as a human to try to understand our species, I would show him how different we are but how well we can work together. And he's going to probably point out, "Well what about all this? What about this war going on here? What about these people fighting over here?” And I'll remind him that we have to go through struggles, we have to go through those dark times because through that we will learn, we will get stronger, and we will emerge as better, as more unified. So I think he would understand that. I'm sure they have their own struggles too, wherever they're from.  He might tell me a story or two about his world. And we will both look forward to coming out on the other end wiser strong with more understanding of one another.

 

JEREMY :

 

That's awesome.

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

Cool.

 

JEREMY :

 

Dude, this has been ridiculously cool, and I seriously thank you for agreeing to do this. I know obviously you have a busy schedule, you're learning how to be an actor, you're probably reading I don't know how many books, you're probably writing books, but you're starting your own practice right? 

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

Yeah, I just opened an E.R. south of Houston which was a big experience for me. You know they don't teach you business in medical school but this was my crash course in an MBA. I had to make it work because I already started forward. I had millions of dollars on the line on loans so you have to make it work. But like we said, every year we should be learning something new. This was my year to learn architecture and business contracting, management operations, and I'm still learning. But it would have been easy for me to be afraid of the change. But again if we embrace learning something new, you'll find success. That's just my other side point. Don't focus on money that focus on cars focus on bettering yourself. And I promise success will come, in the form of money and cars and all kinds of other ways.

 

JEREMY :

 

Is there a website that anybody can go to if they want to learn more about your practice or about, I guess, anything you're involved in right now?

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

Yeah. You know, our website we're in Angleton Texas, so it's a small town south of Houston. So our website is angletoner.com

 

JEREMY :

 

angletoner.com. OK. How do you spell that?

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

a n g l e t o n e r dot com. So, yeah, if anybody has a question for a doctor they can reach out to you or reach out to me directly through the website. I'm always fascinated teaching other people or learning from other people sharing ideas.

 

JEREMY :

 

Cool. Awesome. All right, well thank you once again. It's been a pleasure.

 

DR KUDRATH :

 

Thank you very much. It's been a pleasure to be here.

 

JEREMY : [narration]

 

Hey, thank you so much for checking out this episode of 'in the shoes of'. If you like or don't like the podcast feel free to leave a review or reach out to me. My email is jnickel@intheshoesof.org. I'm Jeremy Nickel, the host and producer of the show, until the next time, see you later.

 

[Music plays]