Life Is Chaotic, Complex, Fragile

This last week has been a swirling vortex of chaos. Problems arise. Complications erupt. Solutions are concocted. Time passes. Sometimes things are solved and sometimes they aren't. Life is complex. And it's fragile.

Image from momonthegoinholytoledo.wordpress.comWhen I was pregnant with Grey, I was a member of a moms' group. All of our kids were due in April of 1997. Now, we had some extremely premature kids born in December of 1996, and others born in May of 1997 (like Grey), totally unwilling to come out into the world. Through the years, our group has seen health problems, additional children being born, family member's deaths, pregnancy losses, divorces, etc. But this week, we're seeing our first "April kid" die.

One of the boys, it seems, as teenagers are apt to do, decided to try a combination of substances, and it induced a heart attack, respiratory failure, and subsequently brain death. He's been in a hypothermia-induced coma for the last few days, waiting to see if he would recover. Things have gotten worse. This boy was a swimmer, a lifeguard, and a senior in high school. From everything I know about him, he was gregarious and good in school, much loved by friends and family -- and now his parents are having to decide whether to donate his organs or not.

As a parent, this is your worst nightmare. We spend the early years trying to compensate between lack of sleep, juggling obligations, and trying to keep the kids alive. There's a mentality that happens after a while, especially once they've passed toddlerhood, that gives perhaps a false sense of security. Especially if the kids are prone to being sick or have some type of chronic condition, if they've made it to the teenage years, it's easy to feel like you've made it. This situation is just another example of how that's really not true.

As a healthcare practitioner, it's still a tough situation. Granted, most of us aren't going to be in the position of making life or death decisions or counseling people on organ harvesting, but it's not unheard of that chiropractic physicians become trusted advisors and friends. It's easy to refer someone to a counselor or therapist. It's harder to sit and hold their hand as they deal with some of the worst grief of their lives. At some point we realize that there's nothing that we can say or do to make the pain go away. We simply must be present and with our patients, our family, or our friends for support.

Grey and Forest and I have talked about what's happened. It's probably affected me more, as a parent, than it ever will the boys -- since they weren't close to the boy. It reminds me how fragile life is, how it can all fall away because of one decision, and how lucky we all are to have each other.

Hold each other close, Everyone.

For more information on Grief Counseling, please see:

Getting the Word Out

In case you're not familiar with the NUHS Florida site, we share space with St. Petersburg College as part of the University Partnership Program. This means that NUHS, along with Barry University, FSU, USF, Case -- Bolton School of Nursing, Cleveland State University, and a whole bunch of other schools share some space with us. We don't often use the same classrooms, but we do have shared hallways and things like that. As part of the University Partnership Program, NUHS offers free exams and chiropractic care to all of the University Partnership participants (including SPC) and their immediate families. Check out UPC.

2014-10-15_bpAs part of SPC's health initiative, they've started adding automated blood pressure cuffs to some of their campuses. There are 10 different campuses in the area for SPC. In order to help us "get the word out," SPC has invited us to give information to students at these campuses, regarding blood pressure and cardiovascular health.

Last week, I had the great pleasure of spending a couple of hours with Dr. Michelle Jourdan and Intern Roshaun Hardy. We must have talked to a half dozen faculty members, including the provost at that campus, and also at least a dozen students -- who didn't know we were there.

There's something magical about seeing someone's face when you say the words "free healthcare." Many of these students are local, without health insurance, and have no idea that such a service exists. I'm hoping we see more of them in the clinic. I think we'd all be really happy if we were super busy -- but also that we're providing such a needed service. It was a great session. Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures to share with you all.

There will be more events to share, and more outreach. In fact, we're participating in SPC's "All College Day" and their "Career Day" coming up later this month. Should be great! We may even be doing some presentations to let people know what we're all about. Who knows? We may end up with some more students because of it!

Grey and I have been looking at colleges. For those that haven't been following that story -- Grey graduates right after I do, and has been looking at colleges. I think he has his list narrowed down to about 6. We'll be writing applications here pretty soon. Some of the deadlines are in November for next fall! I can't even wrap my head around that. His front-runner is still the University of Washington, but we've found a few others that seem to have good programs he's interested in. We shall see what all pans out. *Crossing fingers.*

I'm reconnecting with people I've lost contact with and getting anxious to start looking for jobs. Boards are in about a month -- which is also hard for me to believe. We're checking off boxes and crossing things off the list. This might actually happen.

Have a Great Week, Everybody. Stay warm and dry, wherever you are.

Laughter Is the Best Medicine

You've got to have a sense of humor in the clinic, because if you don't, things eventually start to get to you. Demanding staff, clinicians, and other interns, not to mention patients, have us running, pretty much the whole time we're there. Some days are easier than others. We have 4 official treatment rooms, and sometimes a 5th. When all of the interns are in the office, we have 9 interns (between 8th, 9th, and 10th Tri students). This place gets packed! Add to that, patients booked every 45 minutes, 90 minutes, or 2 hours! In and out, back and forth, coat on, coat off. Stethoscope and hands ready.

So lately, we've all been a little bit crazy...just a little. Tension runs high, especially with the onslaught of paperwork (praying for EMRs to be implemented soon) and also with frequent meetings, new patients, and just general life.

I can honestly say, that a few of us have lost it -- and rightfully so. When things get crazy, it has to come out somehow. The last couple of days, some of us have been trying really hard, just to keep it together. Today especially, we've been trying to find some humor. And so, the idea of practical jokes has been flying back and forth.

Funny things happen. Our "staff" laptop (that we run forms and such on) has had migrating pictures on it. At first it was our esteemed president and one of our co-interns at the Turkey Bowl. Then it was our dean here at the Florida campus. Currently, it's a picture of some Chinese take-out (pad tai, I think), following a meeting about some especially smelly lunch food brought into the clinic (we still don't know who did it). This week, the debacle has been about towels. Are the towels in the right bag? Are they separated from the other laundry? Have they been put away? Are they folded properly? It got so out of hand that it's become a bit of a joke among us interns. Today I threatened to go into the rooms and fold them all into origami towel animals. This of course, may or may not be funny to some people, but it sure did lighten the load for today.

How'd you like to see one of these on your office visit? LOL

The way I figure it, life is way too short to stress about stuff like this. Maybe some people would find that a little glib, but too many things happen that are far bigger than takeout boxes and the proper handling of towels. I'm often heard saying, "There are days when I can choose to laugh or to cry. Most days I prefer to laugh." Today was one of those days.

So, with that in mind, dear Friends, have an amazing week! Do something fun. Make light of something that's being taken too seriously. Laughter is, most definitely, the best medicine.

Where Does Time Go?

Do you ever feel like there aren't enough hours in the day? Or how you got to the end of the day when it all flew by so fast? This is what it feels like, when I'm busy. The days when I have 3 patients in the clinic (which is the most I've had so far) seem to fly. There's barely enough time to get all of the paperwork done: chief complaint, history of present illness... I find that on those days, it feels like maybe 2-3 hours have passed, and then the shift is over. How did that happen?

There are a million things that I want to go over with patients. I take LONG histories; really long ones. I ask questions that nobody ever asks (and often have to spend time explaining why I'm asking them). This piece of information is important for that. I need to know that so I can tailor it for them so I can help them get better. It never fails. Of course, it's hard to go through all of that, feel like I haven't left something out, and still get everything covered.

Of course, one of the great downsides to asking all of those questions is having to write down all of those notes. I write books in my patient files. In a way, I feel sorry for my clinician having to read all of these notes, and then on the other hand, I like being thorough.

A chalkboard used by Nobel Peace Prize winner Linus Pauling

Clinic is cooking along. I have a few regular patients, and new patients coming in here and there. My favorites will always be those with complex problems, especially functional ones. These patients need so much more time. Their appointments seem to go by even faster than the more simple ones. What changes can we make? Are there things that can be changed? What are the parameters that we're working with? So many questions, so little time to ask and answer them.

Research is ongoing. I'm trying to squeeze in articles when I can, or when I have any free time. Right now I'm reading one about xenobiotics and autoimmune disorders. Sometimes I think my head will explode, or at least want to bang it into the wall when I can't remember what a specific interleukin does (even though I've looked it up 9,000 times already). Really I just love it, and can see why people go into research full time. Although, the application of it is exciting in and of itself. If only I could know "everything." Of course we'd find new things to learn and explore, and learn that things that we knew before were completely and totally wrong, and have to learn them all over again - differently. I guess that's why we're scientists.

The photo above is from one of Linus Pauling's chalkboards. If you're not familiar with Linus Pauling, he was the only person to be awarded two unshared Nobel Peace Prizes. He was a brilliant chemist/biochemist and activist, and completely changed the way we think about human biochemistry. He was a huge advocate of "orthomolecular medicine" (which we now know as functional medicine), vitamin therapies, and supplementation. I'm absolutely fascinated by his work, and have had one of his books sitting on my bookshelf for many months. If only I had the time to read it.


OK, Everybody, go learn something really cool (and then tell me about it so I can learn too). But in case you're burnt out and don't want to learn anything, enjoy some Moose yoga. I wish I could stretch some of my patients out like that!

Have a Great Week, Everybody!!!!

Settling In

It has rained, literally every day for over a week. It's Summer time in Florida. I guess that's to be expected. Personally, I find the rain a little bit depressing. BUT, the temperature has dropped and that has been absolutely lovely. Autumn in Florida is always a little touch and go. I say we have 2 seasons here: Summer, and not quite Summer. While the leaves don't change, sometimes the temperature does shift, and it eventually stops raining.

Sunrise in the middle of the showers - Coffee Pot Bayou

We're getting back into the swing of things after boards, and settling into the tri. It's so weird not having classes. Part of me feels like I must be skipping things, or somehow not showing up -- that I should be studying for a quiz or doing a project or presentation -- but I don't have any to do. It's just bizarre.

Of course I still have work to do for the Master's program, but that's a lot less involved than going to classes all day, every day. Speaking of the Master's...I just finished finals for another quarter there. I have only 2 left; 2 quarters left, and less than 2 trimesters left here. I honestly can't believe it. I'm not sure whether I believed it would never happen, or that it just seemed so far away that it was out of my realm of comprehension.

Our 10th trimester mentor, Jen, is making plans for graduation. Yesterday we were talking about hotels and plane tickets and how soon graduation is. It was a bit of a wake-up call.

A bunch of us have been doing some outreach with the clinic. SPC has had a blood pressure initiative going. They're installing automated blood pressure cuffs in many of their facilities. It's helpful for people to keep track of their blood pressure. We've been explaining normal ranges and what people can do to not only keep track, but also to improve.

Julia, Dave, Ricky, Leslie, and Jen have gone, some twice, and given a talk and been on hand to help. I'm excited. I get to go in 2 weeks. We'll see what happens. There's been some good feedback.

Everyone is talking about where we go from here. People are making plans for shadowing, extra seminars, special licensure requirements, etc. Events are taking place. It's really exciting.

Have a great week Everybody!