I'm back from the mountains of North Carolina, where I spent
from last Thursday through Sunday. It was, as it always is, a
life-changing event. I learned so much from everything I
experienced there, and everyone that I met. My life is forever
changed. Coming back from such a life-altering experience is always
really hard. I find myself struggling with motivation, coping with
what we call the "default world," and dealing with daily
obligations. It's funny how being apart from civilization gives a
completely different perspective on what civilization actually
On the way up the mountain
I may have mentioned Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs before. Maslow
postulated that in order for humans to function, they must have
certain needs met. The fields of psychology, sociology and
anthropology have embraced Maslow's theory, on some level, and run
with it--proposing that everything from the basis of emotional
well-being, to the likelihood of success, stems from these needs
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When out, away from civilization and the comforts of "home,"
people tend to do one of two things: they think about how much they
miss the comforts of home; or they realize how little those
comforts actually comfort them. I tend to be the latter, rather
than the former. Don't get me wrong, I would have loved a warm, dry
place to sleep, but for the most part, I didn't miss the Internet,
television, my cell phone, or even electricity.
Being apart from society and civilization would imply that we're
apart from each other. But that's not the case. I've found that
when I'm out in the woods, with other people, that that is when
society actually begins. We form a tribe, a family. I often wonder
why we don't do that, when we're among each other in the default
As students, we've been through several years of schooling
together. We're nearing the end. Stress is running VERY high among
our group. We're finding ourselves more anxious, more
short-tempered, more ready to judge, bicker, harass, and goad each
other. For those of us that have become close, we're finding it
easier to support, empathize, listen, and care for each other.
Perhaps some of this is because we know we won't be together for
much longer. Perhaps the rest of it is that we're so unsure of what
comes next. Perhaps some of us view each other as the member of the
family that we really don't want to associate with (because we
didn't get to pick this family).
In just under 9 months, we'll all go our separate ways. Some of
us will be friends for the rest of our lives. Some of us will never
hear from or see each other again. Just like my past weekend, some
of us will be friends for the remainder of our lives, and others
I'll never see again.
We have the opportunity every day to contribute to someone's
hierarchy of needs. We can build each other up, nurture each other,
be family (the good kind), and contribute to each other's
well-being, not just our patients.
Last, I want to plug some of the upper trimester classmates
who've been doing some good
community outreach work. My hat's off to you guys. You're
making it happen.
Until next week, my friends, I challenge you to think about how
your needs are being met, what you really need and want in your
lives, and who and how you view "family."
There never seems to be enough time in the day. As I sit here
surrounded by boxes and bags and suitcases, and wondering what in
the world I'm going to forget, I'm preparing to leave on a trip.
Every time I'm going somewhere like this, I'm scrambling around
trying to remember what to take, wondering if it's going to fit in
the car/bag/whatever, and worrying that I might forget something.
It never fails that I say to myself -- "Never again." And here we
are at the next round.
The same goes for finals and midterms, which thankfully are
winding down for me. The day will soon come when I don't have any
more of those. But until that happens, it's always last minute
cramming, note reviewing, and wondering whether I'm going to forget
There's something beautiful about the concept of being prepared.
It's been a long time since I walked into a test most assuredly and
thought, "I've got this." More often than not, I don't think about
it. I either have it, or I don't (or somewhere in between). That's
not unlike other situations either. Sometimes we just know we're
ready, and sometimes we're terrified. I find that being terrified
is far more detrimental than just generally not being prepared.
In a few--not so short--hours, I'll be in the mountains of North
Carolina, surrounded by a lot of people that I know and love. We'll
be battling the elements and whatever we come across (including
ourselves), just to experience that time together. It never fails
that something happens. Situations arise, accidents happen, people
get hurt--both emotionally and physically. There are people there
to help take care of those instances, including myself.
This year in particular,
we're faced with an event fresh in our minds, of a friend taking
their own life. The details of that voyage aren't relevant to this
writing, but suffice it to say, he felt like that was the only
option. As I look at my mound of boxes and bags and suitcases, I am
thinking about what he is missing, what effect his decision is
having on all of those around him, and what might have happened to
him if he had sought out help.
As physicians, it's our job/privilege to be there for our
patients--in whatever capacity they need. As a volunteer, that's my
job this weekend. I take it very seriously.
I'm probably not prepared for what might happen this weekend. I
never am fully prepared for these things. But I also KNOW, that
whatever happens, we'll all make it through together.
If you or someone you know is thinking about or talking about
suicide, please seek help. Talk to someone. People are willing to
National Suicide Prevention
I've been embroiled in a debate on different eating habits for a
few weeks. It's been a heated debate. Information has been passed
back and forth, but the science is a hard sell for those that don't
know or understand it. I say, science, because it's not just the
facts about Paleo, gluten-free, Mediterranean, or whatever eating
patterns/diets, but about nutrition in general. It's about how our
bodies handle food and what they need to be healthy.
There are a million and one (and probably more) "diets" out
there. Right now, Paleo and gluten-free seem to be trending the
most. Celebrities are using them to "get healthy." People are using
them for weight loss or to control the symptoms of one disease or
another. Some are using them to lower their inflammatory levels.
But few seem to know the actual science behind any of it.
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I'm admittedly biased. I've been a diagnosed Celiac, and gluten
free for 16 years. The more information that I learn about grains,
etc. -- the more I'm glad that I don't eat gluten. But the general
public doesn't have the information that I have. In fact, it seems
that most professionals don't either. But that's not the purpose of
When I started out writing this, I thought about my friend and
how vehemently she adheres to her beliefs about "nutrition" and
eating. She's a registered dietician. We've argued back and forth
about grains, about how she thinks that Paleo/Mediterranean is bad
for athletes, about how impossible it is to follow, and about how
there's a lot of "false" science/claims about that particular
eating pattern. The whole experience has been a major illustration
on the adherence to beliefs that people have -- not just for her,
but for me. It's also been an exercise in frustration.
I can only "recommend" what science (and anecdotal evidence --
but that's another story) shows to be true. For example, I can
explain that zonulin destroys tight junctions in the gut, brain,
and reproductive organs, and that the main sources of tight
junction destroying proteins are grains and legumes. I can quote
studies all day long (and all night long) -- and I have. I can
distill the science down to very simple words that anyone could
understand by using pictures, analogies, and more broad terms. I
can do all of these things, but that doesn't mean it's going to
change anyone's mind, and it also doesn't mean that they're going
to be willing to put it into practice.
We're very steeped in our beliefs. Usually, those beliefs have
absolutely nothing to do with evidence. My friend, for example,
focuses on athletes and sports nutrition. The concept of
carb-loading with pasta or the use of sports drinks is very much a
part of her reality. She's concerned about having energy available
for use. She's not concerned about inflammation, overall health and
well-being, the prevention of disease, or whether or not someone
might develop cancer or an autoimmune disorder. She wants to run
marathons, or play 4-hour-long matches. Her reality and mine are
very, very different. Chances are, that no matter what I say or
provide her with, she will always adhere to her thoughts about
nutrition. It will always be about the quick fix. My hope is that
she'll come across a difficult case and be forced to broaden her
concept of what healthy eating is.
Patients aren't any different. Some may have more or less
information than my friend. They may be coming in with a copy of
some new fad diet book, or a cookbook of recipes that their Aunt
Sally said worked really great to help her lose weight. People may
walk into the office carrying a well-worn copy of the all-carrot
diet, asking what to do about their increasingly orange skin.
They'll be emphatic about drinking their diet coke, eating their
bowl of pasta, or consuming 3 Tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
before every meal.
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It will be our job to walk them through their questions,
hopefully bring some experience and education to the table, and
talk them through ideas and possibilities that will help them find
some form of healthy, sustainable ground. They may resist with
everything that they have in them. As I write this, I'm thinking
about how much I struggle with sugar or eating rice, and how hard
it has been for me to give them up; I'm not there yet. It's our job
to work with them, using their limitations (even if those are
beliefs), and our education to help them get to someplace
My friend and I will probably continue to argue about what we
should or shouldn't be eating. The only thing we've been able to
agree on so far, I think, is that there's no one single "right"
way. There's no perfect way that everyone should be eating. We're
all human, and each body is different. The science may figure out
that everything we "know" is wrong, and everything must be changed.
I may never be able to fully give up sugar or rice. But whatever
happens, we'll all hopefully be happier and healthier because of
what we learn -- about food, about our relationship with it, and
our relationships with each other.
Have a great week, everybody.
Summer is in full swing here (not that it hasn't been for
several months). The temperatures are consistently over 90; the
daily Florida rainstorms are happening; and we're expecting our
first Tropical Storm/Hurricane tomorrow. By the way, I'm not even
White Coat Ceremony
I had the great joy of being a part of the White Coat Ceremony
for the 1st Trimester students. It's such a different experience to
be on the opposite side of the stage. As an 8th trimester student,
I'm looking at this from the other side of Basic Sciences, Phase 2
Clinical Sciences, and the first round of boards. I know that I
didn't have any idea what was in store for me when I was on that
stage. I was nervous, excited, and scared. I didn't know how hard
of a road it was going to be, how much I would learn, and what
challenges I would face. If I could give one piece of advice to
incoming students and students in the early tris, it would be this:
be dedicated; be tenacious; but be kind to yourself. This is a
long, hard road--but all the stress, work, and pain is worth
Educating the Uneducated
I want to revisit a topic that I've touched on before:
education about the profession. Misconceptions
about chiropractic, our education, and what we do run rampant in
society. Just yesterday, I received a graphic on Facebook from a
very popular site that listed us as "Quacks." They've published
similar graphics/articles before. I'm not going to name them,
because I don't want to endorse; that's not the point here. There
is still the misconception out there, that we're all trying to
alter "the force," and that by believing the body has the ability
to heal itself, we're a bunch of lunatics. A large portion of the
public believes that we only associate well-being with the spine,
and that we only treat the spine. They're uneducated about how
extensive our training in physiology, microbiology, pathology,
pharmacology, biochemistry, and nutrition (to name a few) actually
is. They don't know that many of us are evidence-based,
research-oriented, internal medicine-focused students and
This is a call to arms, my friends and colleagues. We have to
change this; right now. Chances are that if your friends and family
have kept touch with you during your educational escapades, that
they're familiar with what you're doing, and probably support you.
For those reading the blog that aren't students (or prospective
students), chances are you're reading this blog because you support
the institution or someone involved in it. So I realize, by saying
all of this, that I'm preaching to the choir. But what about
everybody else? What about the people we meet on the street? What
about our Facebook friends that live far and wide? What about all
of the misconceptions floating around about who we are and what we
Chiropractic Association lobbies in Washington for chiropractic
legislation, but we don't have a cohesive organization that handles
education of the public. We are it. We are the educators.
I'm going to challenge each and every one of you, to go out
there and share what you do, what your training is, how our
education is different, and how we are making a difference in
health and well-being. For those that are supporters of the field,
I thank you for that. I'm going to challenge you as well, to share
your knowledge and experience of the field of chiropractic with
those around you. Let them know how we're making a difference.
Have a great week everybody, and a safe and happy 4th of
How are everyone's midterms going? I'm on break from the
master's program. I had finals last week. I'm glad to have a couple
of weeks off to catch up on a few things, including all the reading
that I didn't get done during the quarter. My pile is still
astronomically large. We'll see how much I can get done. I figure
if I don't get it done before classes start there again, it's
probably a lost cause.
Last weekend, my friend and classmate Julia, went to homecoming
at the main campus in Lombard. I want to say, to everyone there in
Lombard, thanks for taking such great care of her! She had glowing
remarks for everyone that she met. There were meetings and events,
information sessions, etc. She was able to meet Dr. James Cox (of
Cox flexion-distraction fame), and many of our illustrious
Dr. Strauss and Florida students with Dr. Cox at
Julia was able to reassure us students about one of the issues
that we find frustrating. We are always hearing that we'll not be
able to find jobs or make a decent salary. Even though I've yet to
meet anyone at school that's "in it for the money," we're all
hoping that we'll be able to make enough to at least pay back our
student loans, and maybe have enough for food. Even speakers that
have come to the school (non-alumni) have commented that it would
be tough for us to make a living.
The problem is, with all of my research, and all of the alums
that I've spoken to and heard from indirectly, this is FAR from the
case. Julia confirmed this when she spoke with alumni at
homecoming. She said that everyone that was doing VERY well for
themselves. People were not only successful and able to pay back
their loans, but also contribute back to the school. It was
inspirational for her that not only would we be out and in the
community, but thriving. I'm glad she shared that with me, because
I needed the inspiration as well.
We're finally starting to see the light at the end of the
tunnel. It's halfway through 8th Tri. In a few months, we'll only
be in the clinic. No more classes. No more random exams. No more
quizzes, papers, or random presentations. It's been REALLY easy to
lose track of time this tri. Alarmingly easy. I've been caught up
with patients, in my own stuff, with the master's, and classes. I
honestly can't wait for classes to be over.
I was asked today how I liked clinic. I've said this before, and
I'll say it again -- I love it. I love the idea of being able to do
this every day. Even with the challenging cases (my favorites), the
idea of being challenged to learn all the time is exciting. I never
know what I'm walking into, and I find that absolutely enthralling.
I can't imagine any kind of job, ever, that would be anything like
this. When I'm in clinic working, I am more than pleased with my
Have a great week everybody!
• After the DC Degree
• Botanical Medicine
• 1 Year at National
• Marketing Project
• First Week in Student Clinic
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