Utah ER doctor finds ways to manage traumatic stress after losing his own daughter

By Aley Davis, KSL TV | Posted - Jan 17th, 2019 @ 6:29pm

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CEDAR CITY — Stress is often unavoidable, but in extreme cases, traumatic stress can be devastating for your health.

One emergency room doctor shares his personal story of loss and how he’s learned to deal with trauma on a daily basis.

The ER staff at Cedar City Hospital has seen it all.

"We've seen things that people don't want to admit happen," ER charge nurse Kimberly Wilde said.

Intermountain Healthcare’s Dr. Mike Wilson, an ER physician at Cedar City Hospital, agrees. “Some of the wildest things are the hardest to talk about," he said. "You can't share it in polite conversation.”

Wilson said every day brings a new challenge.

"I've told multiple people that their loved one has passed away. And that's a hard thing to do," Wilson expressed.

He admits it weighs on him heavily. "Recognizing that everyone you see, you know, has a mother or father, children," he said.

Wilson was on the receiving end of such news about four years ago.

"My daughter was diagnosed with a brain tumor. As soon as I saw the MRI and was talking to the radiologist, that's what I suspected. I knew it was going to be something really, really serious,” he explained.

Wilson’s 16-year-old daughter, Raquel Wilson, was diagnosed with Glioblastoma and died about a year later after fighting a long battle.

Although Wilson said he tries not to be distracted at the thought of his daughter too much at work, he inevitably sees his daughter's courage in many of his patients.

"I see that, and I appreciate that determination. And that ability to step beyond those challenges … and still stay determined to be happy and to be kind," he said.

Dr. Mike Wilson stands with his 16-year-old daughter who later passed away after being diagnosed with a serious brain tumor. (Photo: Mike Wilson)

After his own experience, Wilson said he is committed to delivering heartbreaking news in the most understanding way he can.

"We've all felt loss and we've all felt trauma and challenges, and so we understand," he said.

Over time, Wilson has found ways to carry on after the loss of his daughter and to manage daily stress brought on by the demands of his job.

"Sleep is fantastic. I think naps are very underrated. Take advantage of them whenever you can,” he said.

Wilson also suggests exercising regularly, eating healthy and meditating, whether that be in the form of prayer, mindfulness or spending time in nature.

"I think those quiet times in our mind help us to connect with who we are, and that will lower stress," Wilson said.

Reading good books is Wilson’s personal favorite escape. “That's another fantastic way that works for me,” he said. “I don’t take my work home much."

Wilson said spending time with his family helps him stay grounded and recognize what’s important.

Wilson's staff says talking through traumatic or stressful events can also be healing, in addition to spending time outdoors, volunteering or being with family and friends.


Aley Davis

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