A 13,000-Mile Experiment in Extreme Parenting

Bruce Kirkby:

The familiar roads of my neighborhood spooled out like black yarn behind the ambulance window; the lights of our family home faded in the distance. Arched atop a stretcher, I coughed up blood between shallow breaths.

Hours earlier I’d been in perfect health, or so I believed. That morning I’d skied 20 miles on nordic trails and lifted weights ­after that. But around midnight I woke up with searing pain radiating down my left arm. I prodded my wife, who called 911.

At the hospital, doctors and nurses ­orbited my bed, running a flurry of tests: blood samples, heart ultrasound, CAT scan. By the next day, a diagnosis began to take shape.

“You have pneumonia,” a burly South Afri­can doctor said. “And a small pulmonary embolism. That’s a clot in your lung. But there is something else going on. Portions of your lung tissue look like ground glass. Have you traveled abroad recently?”