Archive for tag: florida

Holidays

I've waxed sentimental about this time of year before. There's something about the holidays. I've talked about my dad and our ventures hunting for that perfect tree. I've passed on random thoughts of sappiness here and there.

This season seems to be hitting me pretty hard. It's dawning on me that this is the last of so many things. It's the last blog of 2014, of my 9th Tri. This is the last Christmas where both of my boys will still be "boys," and maybe all of us will be together. It's probably the last Christmas that I'll be in Florida, and probably the last holiday season where I'll be around all of those that I've grown to love and be close with over the last 3 years. This is a pretty big deal.

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Image source: www.elledecor.com

I always have the grandest ambitions around the holidays. I keep wanting to decorate the house from top to bottom, get the biggest tree, pull out all the stops - complete with candy and paper snowflakes. Truth be told, I started watching "Elf" a couple of weeks ago - in part to cheer me up, and otherwise to get me into the spirit of things. This morning I softly threatened to decorate the clinic office Elf-style. I'm almost always the last one to leave and it would be so easy for me to do. I think it'd be a blast. I'm not sure how others would take it though. It never hurts to have a little whimsy in our lives.

I have been a long-time fan of Christmas for just that reason. I'm not sure whether it was my dad that did it for me, or the idea of everything -- how we could all be just a little bit kinder, a little bit sweeter around the holidays, and it was totally OK. Even as a kid, I don't think it was about the presents for me, but rather about making things special. The presents had to be "just right" - something unique that we never had throughout the year, or a trinket or "need" dropped as a hint at a time that no one else could have possibly remembered. But I always kept track. That made things all that much more magical.

I used to go so far out of my way to decorate -- even when I was little. People close to me know I'm a bit goofy, but when I tell them about recreating my bedroom as a winter wonderland by covering huge portions of the floor with Styrofoam beanbag pellets, they often scratch their heads and walk away. Incidentally, my mom still finds those pellets on the floor, even though that carpet was traded out years ago, and she's probably vacuumed it over a thousand times.

Many other years, I've felt cheated by living here. I miss the cold and the snow. Yes, I just actually said that. I miss what it feels like to really be in the spirit. I've found the holidays kind of depressing. It's hard to be festive when Santa is on the beach in his speedo (yes, I know you didn't want that mental picture -- imagine how I felt). But as it's beginning to set in that this is the last year here, I keep wanting to make it special. It should be, after all.

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Image source: www.mrwallpaper.com

It's December. Time has passed; seasons are changing. And even though it doesn't necessarily feel that way, the changes just keep coming. I'm thinking we need to embrace them for what they are -- not what they could have been or what they will be -- but exactly as they are. We need to make the magic happen one more time while we still can - to tell those around us that we love them and show them just how special they really are.

So, with that in mind, dear blog readers -- thanks for joining me on my journey. May the joy and whimsy of this season -- however you choose to enjoy it -- fill your lives with hope and wonder.

Welcome Back Everyone

Photo of colored pencils"Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address. On the other hand, this not knowing has its charms." -- You've Got Mail

I always loved this quote. It reminds me of growing up and going to get school supplies in the fall. Things were a WHOLE lot different then. The seasons changed; things got a little crisper, a little clearer, and somehow a bit calmer.

Welcome Back, Everyone!!!!

I must admit, the last 5+ weeks have absolutely flown by. I honestly don't know where the time went. Between break and the first two weeks of clinic, it just kind of vanished. *poof!* I learned something new over break: singular tasking. I know; you must be asking yourselves. "What is she talking about?" I am a notorious multi-tasker. It annoys people to no end how I'm always doing multiple things at once. But, I made a concerted effort, to simply sit and do one thing at a time over break. It was weird; I will admit. But it was also interesting. I tried to relax, focus on what I was doing (or not focus on what I was doing), and it almost became meditative for me -- no matter what task I was involved in. I'm hoping to do more of that in the future.

We're back in clinic and we've got a new classmate that's joined us from Lombard. (Your loss, Lombard -- Leslie is great!) And we've also been joined by a new crop of now 8th trimester students -- some of which started out in our original class, but have been 5-track students. It's good to be back together again. I'd forgotten what a good crew we were. Next week will be the first week that we're all seeing patients together, but during the preliminary workshops and orientation, I can tell that they're all going to be amazing!

Our students have separated into the two different clinics. For those that aren't familiar, we have two clinics in Florida -- a more student-based clinic at the Caruth Health Education Center, and a more public-based clinic in Pinellas Park. Our student-based clinic treats students, faculty, and staff for NUHS and St. Pete College. Our public-based clinic treats people from the public, but also some faculty from NUHS and students and faculty from St. Pete College. We're BUSY!!!!! It's been really odd having lost half of our classmates. It's a lot quieter when the 8th trimester students aren't in the office, but also, everyone that we've been around, every day for the last 2+ years (depending on when they joined us), isn't around any longer. It's been very different.

That having been said, I LOVE the crew that's I'm at the clinic with now. Everyone is fantastic. They work VERY hard, and we all seem to work very well together. Even though we've already been here for 4 months, it's still a period of adjustment, especially as we get more and more responsibility. I'm looking forward to seeing how things go.

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(Image source: www.indiamadisetti.com)

While we've been working in clinic, we've also been trying to study for boards. Most of us are taking Parts II, III, and Physiotherapy this coming weekend. It's a LOT to study. This is the first time that I've felt extremely unprepared for boards. I think it's because too much of a good thing is just too much. I've got more board study materials than I had for Part I -- probably triple the amount of materials. We were told that there is such a thing as over-studying for boards. I don't feel like I'm there yet; I have quite a ways to go. Here's hoping I make more headway before Friday. I'm pretty nervous.

But, we will go, and we will fill in bubbles and say prayers and hopefully things will work out.

As things get closer and more boxes are checked and things crossed out, I get more excited, and a little bit more scared. But it's all a great adventure.

Have a great week, everyone!

We Made It - Week 14

We made it! Well, almost. It's week 14 -- which means there's only one week left. This week and next week are finals. This week is mostly practical finals, but I have a few written as well. Acupuncture, the practical, was over the weekend. We also had the clinical entrance exam for physical therapeutics. We have to pass that exam, in order to progress to the clinic and treat (using those modalities). We were all pretty nervous -- because we're all anxious to get to clinic.

After next week, I'll be in Tri 8. Tri 8. (did you hear that sang angelically and see the beams of sunlight streaming down onto those two words?). They did. We've been talking about schedules and who will take what shift -- and how nervous some of us are. I'm not nervous -- at least that's what I'm telling everyone. I'm anxious to see what all we'll end up doing. What most people don't know is that any of the St Pete College and NUHS students can come to our clinic for free (and their immediate family too). We're really hoping that we see a lot of people -- that need all kinds of help. We do more than MSK -- just to let you know. I'm really hoping to get some functional medicine and nutrition patients as well.

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So, after the "festivities" of the next 2 weeks, we have break. Break (did you hear the angels again?). This will be the first break that I've actually had since Fall of 2012 -- not because we didn't have a break, but because I was so busy. I worked, moved, studied for boards, worked -- and now, I finally get a break. I'm so excited! What will I do? I am going to a festival, the first weekend of break -- and I'm really looking forward to it. I haven't been to one here in about 4 years. I'll be volunteering as a Medic (only requires CPR certification), and I always have an amazing time. I also still have Master's work to do (which starts back this week), and random stuff around the house -- projects, prospects, and purpose. I'm trying to stay focused on finals and studying, but the allure of "free time" is haunting the back of my mind.

So, I figured you all needed to see something new around the area, so I went to Gulfport. I don't know why I haven't taken you all to Gulfport before -- it's only a hop, skip, and a jump from my house. While most people spend their nightlife in Ybor in Tampa or in Downtown St Pete, I tend to go to Gulfport. My favorite karaoke bar (O'Maddy's) is there -- where on random weekend nights I might be found singing Pink, Bonnie Raitt, or Evanescence. Really, Downtown Gulfport feels like a really small town right on the beach. There are some little shops, open air bars/restaurants, and a beach. It reminds me of the little beach towns in movies from the 50's and 60's.

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Gulfport Casino

So, featured in the pictures today is the Gulfport Casino -- right at the center of Downtown Gulfport. Here's some history about it: Then And Now: The Gulfport Casino Ballroom. The Casino, as it stands now, was built in 1934 -- and architecturally it fits into the time -- beach-Craftsman era. They host all kinds of events there now -- including ballroom dancing. If you're in town -- before or after you come by the school, I recommend stopping by. And if you see me at karaoke, I might even sing you a song. I know that I'll be spending some time there over break. I'm really looking forward to it.

So, I'll see you guys after break. Good luck on finals. Enjoy the time. Next Tri means big, big things.

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.