Archive for tag: classes

Week 12 - Breathe

We're nearing the end of the trimester. It's the calm before the storm. Since my classmate Lexxi just reminded me, I'll remind you. Did you: do your FAFSA? Taxes? Register for classes?

This week starts the last minute projects and presentations before practicals and finals. Actually we have part of a practical on Friday for PT. I'm going to rehab a knee with Rheumatoid Arthritis -- which I'm finding as a bit of a struggle. How do you give someone exercises for a degenerating joint, when they have to move the joint? I've been pondering it quite a while. Here's hoping I come up with something good.

This week and next week, our program hosts a cadaver lab demonstration for the nursing, PA, and other health professions programs that we share space with. For those who aren't familiar, we share some campus space with the St. Petersburg College health profession programs and Barry University PA programs. Since some of our classroom space is at the St. Pete Caruth Health Education Center, we see a lot of students from other programs running around -- including RN, PA, EMT, etc. Unlike our program, they don't have cadaver exposure, which always surprised me.

So, since we do, we host workshops toward the end of each trimester to expose those students to what the body really looks like. Several of our students will spend an hour or more in the lab going through some general parts of the anatomy, and explaining function, etc. I've always been surprised that the other programs don't have cadaver exposure. I honestly feel that dissecting has given me invaluable information that there's no way I would have known otherwise. Even still, when someone asks me a part of the anatomy, my mind automatically goes to the cadavers to visualize it. I do this during classes; I've done this during boards. It helps to actually SEE where the origins and insertions are, how the vasculature and nerves surround and penetrate the muscles, and how the muscles layer and invest in each other.

I haven't been in the cadaver lab since I finished that portion of basic sciences several tris ago. I'm REALLY looking forward to it. I think most of the other student-instructors will be from basic science tris. It'll be fun to get to interact with them. That's a privilege I don't often get.

On Saturday, I went to the Gluten Free for Life Expo. Last year Grey and I went, walked through, and received a ton of samples, coupons, and business cards from local gluten free businesses. This year, I was by myself, as Grey was at an FBLA conference. I ran into Julia, my classmate, and her daughter-in-law, Stephanie.

Beyond running into them and seeing my friend who runs a local acupuncture clinic, the expo was a total waste. And it wasn't just because of the samples and coupons -- which I guess were there -- it was because of the quality of products. If you've ever been to a health food store (and I'm guessing all of us have), you've seen that there's just as much junk food there, as there is at any other store. It's labeled as "organic" or "all-natural" or "healthy", but the difference is only that they use sugar instead of corn syrup, organic versus conventional, and substitute refined with less refined. That doesn't make any of it healthy.

So, I talked with the reps for a company (that I won't name), because they recently reformulated their products. They are dedicated to having gluten free, GMO free products. I respect this tremendously, however, they still have some pretty big problems. Previously, they were using sorghum flour -- which has been a staple in gluten free cooking for a while. Even I have used it on a regular basis (although not for several years). The rep mentioned that they were having problems with their sorghum flour becoming contaminated with GMO soy. So they changed formularies and started using buckwheat and millet instead. The problem is, that these other grains contain lectins, in very high quantity. Lectins, in brains, beans, and potatoes, cause disruption of the tight junctions in the gut -- leading to leaky gut. Leaky gut leads to food intolerance, inflammation, and lipopolysaccharide invasion (toxins from gram negative bacteria that naturally live in the gut). Big problem. Check this out: The Lowdown on Lectins. And if you're a real glutton for punishment Dietary Lectins as Disease Causing Toxicants for far more in depth information.

So, I talked to the rep about how the choices they've made in substitutions are likely to affect their customers. The lady didn't have a clue what I was talking about. But she seemed pretty scared in response and said she'd pass it on to their recipe people. I'm sure it won't go any further. I looked through the ingredient list on EVERY product they had there. The few that didn't have millet or buckwheat had TONS of sugar. *sigh* Gluten free isn't always healthy.

Since my "conversion" to mostly Paleo, I just can't look at food the same way. I'm always thinking about the grain or carbohydrate content, how much I'm allowing my gut to be exposed to the lectins and sugar, and what it's doing to me. I'd say I'm about 80% Paleo now. I go back and forth -- trying to only have rice a couple times a week, and sugar maybe once. It IS a struggle sometimes, especially when I'm stressed out. But I feel SO much better.

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And before I go, I've wanted to share this guy with you all for quite some time. He stands outside a defunct mini-golf turned car dealership parking lot. I often wonder why he's still here -- maybe it's because he's so awesome. I haven't come up with a name for him yet. I'm willing to entertain suggestions. There are lots of oddities around St. Pete.

Have a great week everybody.

Update for the Week

It's raining again. It looks like the Florida winter might be over. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know that for every other place in the country the weather has been a LOT worse than it has here. It's been, I think, the coldest winter that I've experienced since I've been here (since 2005). The crazy thing about living in Florida is that for about 5 months out of the year, it doesn't rain hardly at all. It's very, very dry (as far as rainfall goes). Of course, the humidity is still 5000%, but it doesn't rain. Come May/June it rains EVERY-SINGLE-DAY. Sometimes it only rains for 15 minutes in a day, sometimes all day, and sometimes for hours/the whole day. But it's fairly predictable.

So today, it's rained all day. And after all of the months of sun (even when it was cold), I find myself a little bit depressed. So, I went home and took my vitamin D. Vitamin D has been a buzz-study subject for a few years now. Running a quick search on Pubmed on "benefits of vitamin D," returns about 840 articles. But searching for just vitamin D yields over 58,000! Shortage of vitamin D has been linked to Multiple Sclerosis, Depression, Obesity, and Cancer. Whoa! So, what we're finding out is that the vast majority of people are deficient in vitamin D, ESPECIALLY here in Florida. For those of you coming out of a cold, cold winter up north -- I feel for you. I really do. You probably need some vitamin D too. Here's an article on Vitamin D and Depression from the Vitamin D Council. 

In other news, I have finals for the Master's in Nutrition and Functional Medicine this week: Nutritional Biochemistry -- which has been completely different than what I had at National; and also Clinical Nutrition, which has been completely different as well. I've been pleased that there's been some overlap with the information. And I have found that the background that I've received here at National has helped me with the master's at UWS. I've already registered for classes next quarter, there. I'm taking Immune Imbalances and Inflammation and the Botanical Medicine elective. I can't wait to see what shows up.

This next week brings last minute quizzes, papers, and presentations. I'm doing a presentation for PT on therapies for Raynaud's phenomenon (which I've had since I was a kid). I have yet to decide what I'm going to do my Botanical paper on. I'm leaning toward Oregon Grape Root -- but I may choose an adaptogen instead. I need to prep for a practical on knee rehab. No rest for the weary/wicked.

Some of my good friends and classmates are taking boards this weekend. Good Luck to them (and to you, if that's your weekend adventure). We have the weekend off from acupuncture, and I'll be visiting the Gluten Free for Life expo. If you're in the area, it's usually quite worth it.

Last year, Grey and I went and filled up bags and bags of gluten free goodies from vendors. I think we had GF snacks for months. I may have to find a partner in crime to go with me this time. Note to self: it's always better to go towards the END of the expo. Vendors are less worried about running out of supplies and visitors feel less guilty about taking a couple extra.

And lastly, I hope everybody had a GREAT St Patrick's Day. My granny, whose birthday was 3/17 (although I can't remember what year), would've been somewhere around 100 years old right about now. She's been gone quite some time. Little Irish woman, red hair and freckles -- was born on St Patrick's Day. Happy Birthday Granny -- whatever plane you're on.

Looking to the Future

What is the thing in life that you want the absolute most? How many times do we ask ourselves this? I figured it was time for another philosophical exploration here on the blog.

Whether you're still in the planning stages, full on into your training experience or career, or a supporter of someone who is training for a career in medicine, motivation and goals will always be a big part of the training experience. It's so easy to get disillusioned by what it is that we're doing. It feels so endless. I can't say how many times I've had friends, family, or significant others comment to me that I work too hard and have no time for rest, relaxation, or even them. Sometimes it's a lonely and miserable existence to be in medical school. And now that we're all depressed... Motivation is so important--especially now as my countdown is in full swing and I'm starting to think about what comes AFTER school.

I have to give a shout-out to my classmate Julia, who honestly keeps me sane (or less borderline insane) a lot of the time. This weekend we're planning a "vision board" exercise to plan for what comes after we're finished with school. If you're not familiar with the concept of vision boarding, it's pretty simple, and a lot like arts and crafts in kindergarten--but with purpose.

Get a cheap piece of poster board, some old magazines, some glue sticks or tape, and some scissors. If it inspires you, grab a bottle of your favorite beverage and a clear spot on the floor and spend some time thinking and planning about what you want--either short term, long term, or just what you want out of Life. There are no absolutes. I've seen people with vision boards of houses, careers, decorating ideas, healthy living, etc.

I'm looking forward to this exercise. It's been about five years since I've done one of these. Maybe some of my goals were a little bit different; maybe some were the same. Nothing has to be set in stone. As we grow, our goals and desires change. I know one thing that will definitely be right in the middle of that vision board. I want to be happy.

Happiness means something different to everyone. Maybe for you it means a house and a family, a thriving practice, a fancy car, a big garden. For me, it means fulfillment--and laughter. I guess I see a lot of the other things as extraneous. They might be nice, but it's not something that I need to live. But being happy--that's like breathing. When it feels like the world is crashing in, when there are too many tests and I'm being pulled a million important directions, when all I want to do (but can't) is not what I'm supposed to be doing, or when there's some kind of crisis (for me or someone I care about), I have to have a sense of humor. I have to be able to laugh, because I'd much rather laugh, than cry.

This week, like many other weeks, we have exams and projects to work on. I'm coming to the end of the quarter for the master's program at UWS and through midterms here at NUHS. Distractions abound. Fatigue sets in. And thankfully, I have some pretty awesome people (thank you Julia, Grey and Forest, and many others) to remind me to find my motivation, keep my sense of humor, and keep going.

For those of you needing a "feel good" moment, for those starting to feel that fatigue set in, for those that are maybe feeling a little bit lonely in their journey--this video is for you. I hope it lifts you up and gives you a great big smile this week, like it did me.

Have a great week everybody!!!! Laugh. Be Happy.

Senioritis

Boy, do I have a BIG case of Senioritis! We've talked about motivation before, about how to stay motivated, studying for midterms, etc. But this is a whole new level of short-timer's syndrome. Surely you all know what I mean. It's -- day before vacation, Friday afternoon, last week of school -- syndrome. The unfortunate thing is, I don't think I'm classified as a senior yet. 

Last week, Forest (age 14) and I were talking about school. It seems that we're both lacking in motivation (except I seem to hide it a little bit better). During this conversation he said to me, "Mom, I've had senioritis since the 5th grade" -- to which I laughed. He's in 9th grade now. But I know exactly what he means. Being in 7th Tri provides just a bit of a tease regarding being done (writing business plans, talking about practices, etc.). The fact that we keep talking about clinic is a pretty big deal. We've already started talking about schedules. It's coming quick. I can't wait. As far as Forest and his senioritis, he's got a good bit longer to go than I do. It'll probably be a bit more of a struggle for him than for me. Until then, we'll have to keep tabs on our goofing off and not doing schoolwork.

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(Image source: http://lawrencecentral.highschoolmedia.org)

One thing that people don't really talk about outside of school (at least it seems that way) is variation. When you get to cadaver lab, you'll see how vastly different things are from body to body. Sometimes an artery is on the medial side of the muscle -- sometimes the lateral. Maybe there's a split in the vein and maybe there isn't. I happen to know that none of my nerves in my head and face are in the "right" spot. I have a condition known as a Chiari malformation. I tell everyone that my brain is too big for my skull -- which is actually true (but still funny). But the fact that the junction where most of the cranial nerves exit is lower in the head has made for interesting positioning as far as the rest of them. My dentists are always (not) amused if I need work done. And we figured out that regarding acupuncture of the head (on Saturday), it's not necessarily a good idea for me.

So, regardless of the condition or the modality, it's important to remember that not all people are wired the same, have the same sensitivities, or respond to therapies the same way. There is no "one size fits all" approach. The idea of "protocols" is a trap that we can fall into -- but we have to keep in mind, that our patients are individuals with unique bodies and unique needs.

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Dave and Ricky

In Modalities this morning, we were experimenting with TENS units. Since it didn't happen last week, I wasn't going to include it in this week's post, but the reactions were priceless. Ricky and Dave decided to "exercise" (or maybe it was exorcise, LOL) the digitorum profundus.

Have a great week, everybody!!!!

Happy New Year

Well, 2014 didn't waste any time getting started. January 6th came and both of my programs started in full force. I'm actually taking Clinical Nutrition in BOTH programs right now. It's interesting to see how the different professors approach the same topic. I'm definitely getting hit from all directions.

Towards the end of week one I decided to add the acupuncture elective to my schedule. It's knowledge that I really want and feel that I need. I've actually taken an introduction to acupuncture through an undergraduate program, so I have a VERY basic knowledge, but furthering that interests me tremendously. I'd originally talked myself out of the elective, as I'm thinking about relocating to Oregon (which doesn't allow acupuncture in the DC scope of practice), but since I'm not absolutely sure where I'll end up, I thought I'd go for it. I may be partly insane for this, of course.

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(Image Source: www.servingsandiegocounty.com)

Break was both too long and too short. I worked an insane amount and took too little time to relax--but that's pretty typical for me. There has to be some way to keep me out of trouble, and that is to stay busy. That being said, I always seem to have a shortage of time. And like all insanely busy people (or people who make excuses that they have no time), I'm always looking for ways to increase the amount of time (the Universe will not respond to my requests for 86 hour days), and have less stress. I decided to take a break from social media for a week. It was AMAZING! Towards the middle of that break, my computer fried the motherboard and I had no choice but to avoid technology altogether. It's shown me that I have a lot more time than I ever thought. I had no idea I was spending so much time surfing the web, reading Facebook, or doing whatever. I've been using that time to read, sleep, and do research. It's been awesome. Even though I know I'll have to get a replacement computer soon to keep up with my workload, I'm going to keep with the lack of using it. It's not exactly a resolution, but it's not too far from it.

In the back of everyone's mind right now are those resolutions. I happened upon a few articles about why people don't keep New Year's resolutions. Interestingly enough, it's not always for the reasons that we'd think. Since most people choose a diet or exercise change (that's #1), most commonly it's because they bite off more than they can chew (pun intended)--giving themselves more work than they can handle, and too little of a support system to handle it. Well, that makes sense. But the number two reason why people don't keep New Year's resolutions--*drum roll*--was because they spend too much time talking about them! I was shocked. According to this article, the human brain perceives talking the same as doing. If I talk about exercising, my brain thinks that I've done it--even though I actually haven't. So, while some level of the brain has been pumping iron or eating only fish and veggies, the rest of the body hasn't been doing anything. Problem not solved. So, the moral of the story is, if you've made any resolutions or decided to make some changes in your life--keep them to yourself. If you do, they're more likely to stick.

I am willing to share one resolution with all of you. I resolve to have a great 2014! It's going to be a BIG year.

Happy New Year Everybody! Have a great Tri!