As she dangled high above the treetops, Dr. Daniela McConnell, obstetrician/gynecologist at Kelsey-Seybold's Cypress and The Vintage clinics, swore she would never zipline again. However, the view from her vantage point was amazing – eagles soared above her head, and she could see grizzly bears in the terrain below her.
But she couldn’t truly enjoy the Alaskan scenery because she was stuck.
Her sleeve was caught in the zipline’s apparatus. So, rather than sliding along the cords in her harness between platforms, she was stalled out between two of the platforms and spinning in circles. The ziplines she was on were about 100 feet in elevation and up to 850 feet in length.
“I got stuck on the tallest and longest zipline in Alaska back in 2012,” said Dr. McConnell. “Their advertisement was right – this was an incredible view of the landscape and those eagles and bears!”
Hooked on adventure
Dr. McConnell says that she loves an adrenaline rush and has a healthy sense of adventure. That is, in part, why she chose her medical area of specialty: Obstetrics and Gynecology.
“I became interested in medicine in high school and college,” she said. “I worked for a dermatologist at that time, so I started out thinking I wanted to specialize in Dermatology. But as I began my clinical rotations, my first one was OB/GYN and I fell in love with it. As I did my other rotations, I enjoyed them but quickly got bored. After completing some additional OB/GYN electives, I knew that this was the perfect area for me.”
She earned her undergraduate degree in 2010 at Texas A&M University in College Station where she received a Bachelor of Science in nutritional sciences. She then completed her medical degree in 2015 at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) McGovern Medical School. She went on to complete her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2019 at McGovern Medical School.
OB/GYN practice keeps her on her toes
The balance of clinical work, surgery, and emergency situations keeps Dr. McConnell on her toes and is perfect for her personality – she thrives on the unpredictability and a fast pace.
“The first baby I got to deliver was named after me!” said Dr. McConnell. “During my residency experience, I got to see high-risk OB patients, I learned how to perform surgical procedures, and I also got to work at MD Anderson. I enjoy the variety in the work I do.”
After graduating in June 2019, Dr. McConnell joined the Kelsey-Seybold team at The Vintage and Cypress Clinics.
“At first I wasn’t sure the clinic environment would be exciting enough for me, but I’m loving it,” she said. “There is a need in this community for high-level care, and I’m glad to be able to bring it to them.”
The sense of excitement that comes with being an OB/GYN feeds exactly into her personality. In addition, she appreciates the level of trust that her patients place in her during such critical times in their lives.
It also took trust for her to get down off that Alaskan zipline.
“The guide was behind me, and she told me to try to jiggle my sleeve free while holding onto the rope with my free hand. It felt like an eternity, but it was probably only five or 10 minutes,” she said.
Another guide positioned himself below her – apparently to catch her if she fell – while the guide behind her made her way down the zipline towards Dr. McConnell. After the guide attached Dr. McConnell to her own harness, Dr. McConnell had to trust the guide as she instructed Dr. McConnell to get out of her harness, and climb, hand-over-hand to the platform.
After getting off the zipline in Alaska, Dr. McConnell had no plans to ever do that type of activity again. But that didn’t last.
Not only did she zipline again on subsequent vacations, but during a recent trip to Colorado, she also took it a step further and added a bungee-jump component to her ziplining adventure. She’s also entertaining the idea of skydiving.
“I get bored easily – I miss the adrenaline rush when I am not doing something!” she said.
Dr. Daniela McConnell
Written by Cindy Shanley.