Thankful

This is my last blog. I will be graduating next week. I have so many emotions I really can't describe them all, but I wanted to express my gratitude to the university, professors and my fellow peers.

2013-12-05_frozenMy journey does not end here. It is just the beginning. I am very thankful that I was able to further my education, especially with the obstacles. It is difficult to raise a family in this day and age, especially a family of seven. I am thankful to each of my children and my husband for the many sacrifices the family made to see me through the past two and one-half years in the Master of Science in Acupuncture Program.

I have been truly blessed with a great support system of friends, family and a wonderful father-in-law, Father Michael Pfleger. My success is true testimony to anyone that you can go back to school AND raise a family.

I did have difficult times. I had a few trimesters where I just wanted to throw in the towel and go back to Human Resource Management because we desperately needed the money. There was a point in time where we lived in hotels and the entire family was dislocated. I had to reach out in the community to food pantries and government supplemental assistance. I never gave up my hope or faith.

2013-12-05_turkeyOf course, remember that saying, "What does not kill you makes you stronger." My experience here at National made me a stronger person, a better mom, and a caring, compassionate practitioner. I look forward to passing the boards and working with a fellow graduate in Lisle, Illinois, and also continuing my education.

I am thankful for all the opportunities I have been given. This would not be the case if I did not further my education. I encourage those who are thinking about going back to school for their master's or doctorate to pursue it now!

Remember: Juli Yelnick will be the new AOM blogger staring next trimester. I look forward to reading her blogs and learning from her experiences.

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Happy Holidays! Happy Studying! Congratulations to the graduates of the NUHS December Class of 2013. Happy New Year!

Introducing Juli Yelnick

2013-11-27_juliI thought this week would be best time to introduce my fellow colleague and classmate Juli Yelnick. Juli will be the new AOM blogger next trimester. I am graduating this trimester on December 12 with my Master of Science in Acupuncture with honors. I will still be around NUHS because I am also in the doctor of naturopathic medicine program. I also will be working with a former colleague as a licensed acupuncturist in her practice in March after I pass the boards, of course, in January. I am currently in process of publishing two journal articles and writing my own book.

Juli Yelnick is a wife, mother, teacher, and student of oriental medicine. She began the AOM master's program in Fall 2012, and she continues to enjoy that journey today. Julie has always been interested in natural living, and the need to reduce exposure to unnecessary and potentially harmful chemicals becomes even more apparent when you become a parent. Through this program at NUHS, she is learning how to be well the natural way, and wants to share this with others.

In addition to attending the evening AOM classes, Juli teaches World Culture and American History classes at the college level. Anthropology has always been my passionate research interest, so adding ancient Chinese traditions to the mix is nothing but fun for her! Juli loves integrating what she learns at NUHS into the courses that she designs, and she recently had the opportunity to co-author an Anthropology text book that explored the interconnectedness of seemingly disparate world cultures and values. Currently, she is gearing up to coordinate a return medical brigade to Nicaragua through the integrative medicine non-profit organization Natural Doctors International.

I want to personally thank everyone who has supported the AOM blog. I have enjoyed sharing my many cases and experiences with you all.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving to all. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Good Luck on Finals! Congratulation to our graduates of Fall 2013!

Acupuncture and Tourette's Syndrome

This week's blog is about Tourette's Syndrome and acupuncture. I currently have a new patient with Tourette's. I have only seen her twice in the Lombard clinic but I find her case very interesting.

2013-11-12_brainTourette's is an inherited neuropsychiatric disorder, believed to be organic damage to the central nervous system, which is also associated with attention deficit, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Currently, there is no cure for Tourette's, and no medication that works universally for all patients. The medications prescribed have significant adverse effects.

My patient was diagnosed with Tourette's as a young child. She is now 22 years old. She has a dual diagnosis of OCD and anxiety. The patient has very positive outlook. We are working on anxiety, stress and sleep. We are also focusing on muscle jerks and spasm.

2013-11-12_ribbonThere was a very inspiring article I read last week in Acupuncture Today, November 2013 issue, titled "Beating Tourette's Gaining Life." This article talked about Miss Arizona 2013 (also Miss America pageant hopeful) Jennifer Smesthad beating Tourette's. Miss Arizona, like my patient, was diagnosed around age 10 with Tourette's and with the help of herbs and acupuncture controlled the syndrome and brought awareness to Tourette's syndrome.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Tourette's syndrome can be understood as Yang excess due to deficient Yin leading to wind. Those show a deficiency in Kidney yin deficiency or Liver yin deficiency leading to Liver yang rising. Acupuncture has a long and successful history in the treatment of the tics, uncontrolled movements, and vocal disturbances of Tourette's syndrome. I hope in the case of my patient, acupuncture can effectively treat her chronic disorder. In other cases, like Miss Arizona and my patient, patients are seeking a better clinical outcome to control and eliminate Tourette's syndrome rather than take western medications.

I used these acupuncture points this week: Buddha triangular on dominant hand, PC6, four gates LI4, LV3, Cv17, Cv14, Yintang, SP6, and St36, KD3, KD6. I cannot wait to see if these points helped my patient this week.

Thank you for your continued support of the AOM blog. Have a great week!

Holiday Stress

This week I wanted to talk about holiday stress. It is now November and holiday season is here. I feel like the holiday season gets earlier and earlier each year. The holidays should be a stress-free time for us, but usually it is the most stressful time of the year. I feel holiday time can potentially be very taxing between the physical demands of traveling and socializing, and the emotional aspects of meeting with family.

Environmental factors, even on a subtle scale, can also influence the general mood. I know that every holiday I am stressed out completely. If it's not the stress of school and graduating this trimester, it's the endless Christmas list my five children have given me, or the search for the perfect toy that is usually sold out or on back order. Did I mention also having to plan and cook the perfect meals and not overindulge in eating? I become pretty stressed. I know I am not alone. Right?

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Ways to Cope with Holiday Stress: 5 healthy tips

1. Keep it simple! Don't over commit yourself to friends and family.

2. Live in the moment. Start off your day with an intention of being aware and in the present all through the day. Create and declare an affirmation that will set the tone of your whole day. Not only will you be better equipped to cope with stress, you might even find some new perspectives that you didn't see before. When you start with awareness, you have the opportunity to enjoy a healthy outlook and a good mood and health balance all through the day.

3. Take time out. If you are feeling tired or stressed, take time out for yourself. I am a firm believer in naps and taking time out for me.

4. Be thankful. Add up everything you are thankful for in your head and see if your mood doesn't improve as well as your perspective.

5. Acupuncture once a week to help with stress, along with mediation, massage, and exercise. This will definitely help your stress levels not just during the holiday season but anytime.

Thank you for you continued support of the AOM Blog. Happy Week 10!

The Michael DeStefano Foundation

This week, I want to tell you about an amazing foundation. It is called the Michael DeStefano Foundation. Michael DeStefano and his family have been such a wonderful inspiration to our AOM clinic every Tuesday morning that I feel compelled to share their story.

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Mike (yellow shirt) with his mother Debbie (scarf)

Michael was born and raised in Addison, Illinois, a suburb just west of Chicago. Mike and his older brother, Nick, have developed a strong friendship. Mike is an enthusiastic sports fan and top-notch athlete. His parents, Pete and Debbie, are loving and devoted parents who taught Michael the values of being loyal, caring, family-oriented, and dedicated.

During his summer break from Illinois State University in 2009, Michael's life tragically changed. While riding home from work with a friend, an unexplainable auto accident occurred, which left Mike clinging to life and suffering from traumatic brain injury. Throughout a long and arduous process, Mike has continued to improve and his recovery has surprised even his doctors, although he still has a long road ahead of him.

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Photos from michaeladestefanofoundation.org

After the accident, the Michael A. DeStefano Foundation was created. The goal of the foundation is to provide advocacy for families who have suffered many hardships as a result of a family member who has traumatic brain injuries.

Michael's mom Debbie has spoken at many events. She spoke to our senior acupuncture seminar class at National University of Health Sciences last trimester.

The foundation is planning a fundraiser in 2014. If you would like more information about the Michael DeStefano Foundation, you can like them on Facebook or go directly to their website: michaeladestefanofoundation.org.

Thank you for your continued support of the AOM blog! Stay warm and have a great week!