Empathy or Compassion?

The other day we were discussing in our Doctor and Patient Relationship class how to deal with all kinds of patients. How do you handle the chatty ones? How do you establish boundaries for the needy ones? How do you keep yourself in balance and don't feel drained at the end of a work day? How much compassion or empathy do we need in order to help our patients? How do you not get involved, attached, or start judging?

I learned the hard way that working with people can be exhausting. Ten years ago, after my Reiki attunement, I worked for the first time on a cancer client and I ended up very sick. When I realized how much "junk" you can pick up, I gave up on Reiki, and I stopped using it with clients. I didn't give up on energy healing but I researched other methods and chose the ones that kept me in balance and also much faster than Reiki.

Time has passed and I learned that as long as I stay neutral, I can actually help clients much more. Empathy or compassion might seem a must but from my own experience, it is more important to be there and help the patient, and this might not happen when you get too emotional. Your emotions combined with all your clients issues are a combination that you don't want to work on. If I'd get emotional whenever a patient starts crying during a session, my life would be miserable and I would think I'm not in the right profession.

I'm not saying be cold and don't listen to the patient. You can still be warm and "fuzzy" (if that's your style), but keep yourself centered and don't get caught in all the things you hear from the patient. The target here is to help them and not just offer them a shoulder to cry on. There are moments where they might need your shoulder, too, but keep it short and simple. Acupuncture will offer them relief anyway, so there is no need to waste time or dwell in complaints.

It takes some time to get used to dealing with people on a daily basis, but after some practice I can honestly say I actually enjoy seeing clients and helping them. I know I'm not perfect and I also realize that not every patient likes me but that doesn't matter. What matters is that I do my best for patients regardless of their problems or my own emotions, beliefs, issues, etc. As long as I keep reminding myself what's important, I can stay neutral, be there for my patient, and help them feel better.

My Favorite Breakfast For Lazy Mornings – Shakshuka

Title sounds a bit like an oxymoron since I never seem to have time for lazy mornings anymore, but that doesn't mean that I shouldn't dream about them!

Even if free time is not on my list, my ND intern says breakfast really has to happen so here I am trying my best and giving up my sweet darling sleep (oh, how I adore you!!!) so I can make breakfast every morning. I confess, sometimes I end up eating it for lunch, but hey, at least I'm eating!

Going back to food and my favorite breakfast, if you never heard or tried Shakshuka, you have no idea what you're losing!

Wikipedia is telling me that Shakshuka's origin lies in Tunisia, but I have no idea if it's true or not. I only know that nowadays you can find it everywhere in Israel, and first time I tried it I was visiting a Jewish friend and he told us he's going to cook something traditional for us.

Recipe is not so difficult and if you chop all veggies beforehand, it's actually an easy and fast breakfast.

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Shakshuka

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 chopped onions
  • 2 chopped red bell peppers
  • 1 Tbsp. avocado oil/ghee/butter
  • 2 jars or cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. cardamom
  • Salt and pepper
  • Feta crumbles (optional)
  • Fresh parsley for garnish
  • 6 eggs

Heat a large skillet. Add the fat, chopped onions, red bell peppers, and sauté until everything begins to soften. Add diced tomatoes, spices, stir well, and let everything simmer over medium heat for about 5-10 minutes (depends on how much liquid your tomatoes had). When the liquid is reduced, crack the eggs one by one on top of the mixture.

Cover the skillet and allow eggs to cook for about 5 minutes. When ready, you can sprinkle some feta and fresh parsley and serve with toast.

If you wonder how's school going and what's new on that front, let me tell you this trimester decided to get me buried in papers and projects! Can't seem to find my organized mind and memory in all these quizzes, midterms, papers, seminars, and God knows what else! I keep taking deep breaths, counting the days, and telling myself that I'll have to keep up with this craziness next tri, too, but then, everything will be so much easier in spring with less classes and just a bunch of clinic shifts.

If you have more time than me, go out, enjoy that sunshine and eat your breakfast! :)

My Balcony Garden

These days there are not a lot of things aside school and work that I manage to do, but one of the things that still brings me joy is growing some herbs on my balcony. Even without time to repot some of them, and praying that it rains as much as possible so I don't have to do anything, having fresh herbs when I cook is one of the best things ever. I used to enjoy flowers as much as herbs but I'm beginning to be more practical, and if it's not something edible you're not going to find it in my collection.

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Been raised in a country where everybody has a garden in the summer, and whenever there's cooking you just go and pick up all the veggies you need for the dish, I crave the taste and flavor of a ripe tomato or any other fruit.... For us, living in a big city, all our fruits and veggies reach grocery shelves a long time before ripening and that really takes away all the taste and flavor.

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What you'll find on my balcony?

Every spring I try to visit a couple of stores and buy the herbs that they have on stock and sometimes I get lucky and find even nettles, sorrel, rue, meaning herbs that you don't usually see in a Home Depot, but you might find them in smaller, local stores.

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The rest of my herbs and plants are just the usual: all kinds of mint, lemon balm, oregano, thyme, different kinds of basil, parsley, cilantro, sage, and some edible flowers - calendula, nasturtium, violets, etc.

How do I use them?

Besides cooking, I always get too many herbs after a lot of rain so I just cut and dry them, and here I am drinking tea from my own balcony and you have no idea how flavorful it is! I also make different infusions: vinegars, oils, honey. I make tinctures and salves, and I use them in my facial scrubs and masks.

And if I really have too much time on hand, you might even see me using edible flowers in ice cubes but that's for when there's really nothing to do and that's not really the case these days. :)

Acupuncture and Pregnancy

Last weekend I attended a 2-day training in Acupuncture and Acupressure for Labor and Delivery. The seminar was packed with information and totally worth the drive to Minneapolis.

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The first day focused on Labor Stages, Differential Diagnosis, and Treatment Options, and then we went through each stage in detail and even practiced some Tui Na and Acupressure.

The second day was more about labor preparation, how to apply everything in our own practice, insurance, and building a successful business.

Best part, at least for me, was when we went through how to recognize a problem during labor: position, bone, etc.

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Claudia Citkovitz, our instructor, is an amazing woman with such passion and her hospital experience is priceless, not to speak about her willingness to teach and share knowledge!

I still have some time until graduation and I don't think Labor and Pregnancy will be the main focus in my own practice but, even so, the knowledge I gained in 2 days was worth the money and effort.

If you ever think about working with pregnant women and want to learn more I strongly recommend her seminars or one of her internships: https://www.studyingpractice.com/post-graduate-programs/

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I'll leave you with some pictures from Minneapolis and wish you all a Happy 4th of July!

Floral Acupuncture

2017-06-22_bookCouple of weeks ago while browsing Amazon for acupuncture books (the time has come to study for boards!), I stumbled onto a book called Floral Acupuncture, got intrigued, and bought it.

I already knew some acupuncturists use essential oils on points and meridians to reach a certain effect but I had no idea about any other remedies or techniques.

Floral Acupuncture combines Bach Flower remedies with acupuncture points and is the work of Deborah Craydon and Warren Bellows.

The question that most of us will ask: "Does it work combining two modalities into one process?"

While there is not enough research and evidence that these two modalities work better together, both acupuncture and Bach Flower remedies are working with energy or "Qi" and they would be perfect for children or people with needles phobia.

This combination is not an invasive or a very expensive one and we could definitely give it a try. I would personally think that as an acupuncturist you'd want to pursue a certified training in Bach Flower remedies, but even without it you can always use what we already learned in classes: match an emotion with an acupuncture point and then choose the Bach Flower remedy for it (any health food store will have a booklet with the list of emotions and Bach Flower remedies).

I'm sure some of us will say it's too much work and there's no need for it, but I'm all for trying new things and doing my best for each and every patient. I'm also a firm believer that if you do more for your patients you get to keep them.

Any acupuncturist will needle patients but not all of them will offer something else besides needles. No person comes to an acupuncturist excited about being needled, but any patient will appreciate you trying to make it easier for them. I don't remember if Dr. Hodges mentioned it in his Business class, but this is what I learned in other classes and my plan for the future.

In case you decide to give it a try and have some feedback from your patients, I'd be happy to hear about it at iulianalixandru@student.nuhs.edu.