Then and Now part 1…

I take feedback very seriously and have had many people who read my blog ask me what my disability is.  “Chris I’ve been reading your blog, and am still trying to figure out what your disability is.  Your web address is but I don’t understand what your handicap is.”  I have given a lot of thought to this critique and how I could best portray my disabilities now.  I keep coming back to the conclusion that the best way to accurately describe my current condition is to tell you of how I was before this happened and then try to explain what it is like now.


—————- Before ——————

————– Birth ———————-

Much of this will overlap with information on the ‘About Me’ page on this website.  I was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on the evening of July 3, 1982.  Both of my parents are physicians. My father is a Urologist and my mother is an Emergency Department doctor. I am the 2nd of 3 children with my older sister five years older than me, and my other sister being almost 2 years younger than me.  I grew up in Minnesota until I was 7, at which point we moved to Potomac, Maryland.  This was significant for two reasons: 1. This is where I began playing tennis[1] (a passion of mine that I would play competitively until after college) and 2. I had not been exposed to such diversity before in my life. 

———— Maryland & College ——————–

After living in Maryland for two years, we uprooted and moved to Omaha, Nebraska, where I would spend my adolescence.  Our frequent moves were due to job opportunities for my parents.[2]  I continued to excel in tennis until I was able to achieve and attain a top regional ranking[3] as well as a national ranking.[4]  My older sister created her own niche in music, performing as a solo violinist for Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis when she was 11 years old.  Her musical talents allowed her to gain acceptance in to Juilliard.  She had made up her mind, however, that she wanted to pursue a career in medicine and not in violin, and chose to attend Yale University instead.  My mother, whom I described in an earlier post, felt that Yale was ‘not good enough’ and began pushing for me to apply to Harvard University.  She thought that my talents on the tennis court combined with my academic marks could help me to get accepted there.  Upon hearing of the Harvard coach’s presence at one of these national tournaments, she sought him out and set up a meeting between us.  I would go on to attend and play tennis at Harvard for 4 years.  Besides having the opportunity to receive a top-notch education, it was there that I met the love of my life and future wife, Fleur.  My first day there, down the hall from my dorm room, I also met a future dear friend, Jesse.[5]  My younger sister, Alice, dabbled in many different activities in high school[6] before attending Tufts University.

Fleur and I
Fleur and I

————- After College —————-

Me playing tennis at Harvard
Me playing tennis at Harvard

Unlike my older sister, I was unsure if I wanted to pursue a career in medicine. So I kept my options open by completing all the course work necessary to apply for medical school while majoring in economics.  By the time graduation rolled around in 2004, I was still unsure of what I wanted to do with my future, but knew that I wanted at least to try my hand in the professional tennis circuit.  So for 6 months in 2004 (from June to December) I travelled to internationally[7] to play other aspiring tennis professionals.[8]  Near the end of the 6 months, I decided that I wanted to pursue a career in medicine.[9]  I then took several months to study for the medical school entrance exam (aka MCATS) and moved in with my wife in Brookline, Massachusetts.[10]   After taking the MCATS we moved back to Omaha where I began to work in the Creighton Diabetes Center.

This brings me to medical school and residency, which I’ll discuss in the next post.

My doubles ranking
My doubles ranking

[1] When I was 7, my older sister left for tennis camp, I had not played tennis before but was curious what took her away from me.

[2] My dad completed his training in urology at the University of Minnesota and subsequently took a job in Maryland, then at Creighton University, in Omaha, Nebraska.  My mother’s medical training provided her with more job flexibility, as she found work in every city we lived.

[3] The region, called the Missouri Valley, was composed of Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma. 

[4] One of the perks of being among the top players in your region is that it gives you the chance to play national tournaments against other nationally ranked opponents.  In one of these tournaments when we were both 16 I played a top ranked boy named Andy Roddick.

[5] I mentioned Jesse, Jesse Oberst, in an earlier post.

[6] Including swimming, tennis, violin, and modeling.  She did not go beyond the high school level in any of these activities.  My take on that is this: she is far and away the most athletically gifted of all the Chiou members but perhaps dabbled in too many different activities to excel in one.  As Malcolm Gladwell would state, she could not attain 10,000 hours of practice due to her wide array of activities.

[7] People often ask me, what I took away from this experience:  my response is that I learned that I was not good enough to play on the tour, and that it allowed me to travel to places like Ecuador and Spain.

[8] I was able to achieve a professional doubles ranking.

[9] There is no ‘aha’ moment here, I simply decided that I craved human connection and helping others and felt that medicine was an optimal medium to achieve this.  Sure, my fledgling tennis career nudged me toward this decision.

[10] Fleur and I were wed in City Hall in Boston during my junior year.  We were already engaged before this, but due to visa issues married sooner in City Hall.  I was 20 years old when we married—I often tell people that I could not legally have a glass of champagne after the wedding.

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