Ok, I'll do one--one of those kinds of posts. I usually
think it's more interesting and relevant to share information about
some topic of concern or awe to those of us in alternative
medicine, but this time I'm just going to do what the original
intention of this AOM blog probably was. I'm going to share what
it's like to be an acupuncture student fighting her way towards the
end of the trimester.
Now, I'm not fighting because I'm bored, confused, or frustrated
with my classes. On the contrary, I enjoy the nights I get to drive
in a car by myself and sit quietly for 4-5 hours learning about
something I love. It's the most relaxing part of the day. Hey, I
have active young children, a messy husband, and a sometimes
too-demanding teaching schedule to juggle all day. Give me a
graduate night class any day of the week!
No, I'm not fighting in a bad way. I'm excited to reach the end
of this trimester because the day after it ends, I'm getting on the
airplane for Nicaragua. Two weeks in Central America is just what
the doctor ordered for this stressed out, over-committed student.
I'd love to say I'm a good flier, but that wouldn't be true. With
that missing Malaysian plane, I'm going to be grinding ear seeds
into my PC6 points until they're bleeding. Awesomely inopportune
time for that mysterious tragedy. Not to be insensitive, but I
barely make it through my flights as it is. Rescue remedy? Yep,
I'll be using that heavily.
The past several months have been leading up to this medical
mission trip, and soon I know it will be here, then
already--sadly--behind me. Since last year's trip, I haven't been
able to get that clinic off my mind--not that I want to! NDI's
integrative healthcare clinic serves so many appreciative and needy
people, and it's the only medical setting I've ever experienced
where providers of several medical fields all circle around and get
to take a crack at each patient who walks in the door. I know that
when I start my first shift, a middle-aged Nicaraguan farmer will
come into the clinic with the chief complaint of back pain. If I
used a machete all day, I'd develop back pain, too. Instead of that
patient being confined to the limits of one provider's medicine,
this patient will reap the benefits of the naturopath, the
chiropractor, the acupuncturist, the psychologist, and the massage
therapist on staff at the same time. He might get an adjustment,
soft tissue work, some needles, and even a tincture for the road. I
can't get that sweet deal anywhere in the United States, that's for
sure. Did I mention it's free? Sign...me...up.
This is the future of medicine, people.This is it. Integrative
medicine is the way. True, I have to get on an airplane to immerse
myself in it at this point, but I promise you one thing--I'll bring
Make time to take time...for yourself, that is. As we students
return to the NUHS classes this week, after a well-needed winter
break, many of us find that we aren't quite as well rested as we
thought we'd be. Personally, I envisioned a two and a half week
stint of total relaxation...or, at least, as relaxing as life can
be with two young children! Instead, what I got was the usual
hectic schedule of drop-offs and pick-ups, with my own work crammed
in between appointments and holiday travels.
The welcoming sight of a snow-covered Lombard campus as we
returned for the "spring" trimester.
Yes, that's right. I came back to campus in January just as
stressed out as when I walked off after my last final exam back in
December. How did this happen? After talking with some classmates
this week, I quickly realized that I was not alone. Sure, a few
people took it easy and maintained the "AOM" lifestyle of healthy
eating and weekly acupuncture treatments. Lucky them. The rest of
us overindulged with the holiday treats and put the exercise
routines on hold while we visited relatives and friends.
What's wrong with us? Don't we, students of acupuncture and
oriental medicine, know better? Don't we know that a relaxing and
rejuvenating acupuncture session is even more important when we are
stressed out by final exams and holiday travels? It turns out,
we're just like everyone else. We don't always practice what we
preach. And, the prognosis isn't great for our future actions,
either. An article in Newsweek revealed that 44% of
male doctors are overweight or obese (Kalb, 2008). Sure, this is
better than the average American statistic, which puts around 65%
of Americans as either overweight or obese, but it's not role-model
material! (Kalb, C. (2008). Drop That Corn Dog, Doctor.
Newsweek, 152(15), 17.)
If we don't take the time to make time for ourselves--for our
health and well-being--now, as students, then how can we become a
strong force for good in our future patients' lives? I want to
model the behavior and lifestyle that I am explaining to my
patients. If I can't prioritize and sacrifice to make time for my
own acupuncture sessions and yoga classes, then why should a
patient take my advice to do so? If they see me wolfing down my
fast food in between appointments, then why should they look to
more healthy options for their own lunch?
My personal path this year will be to slow down, to be more
aware of my choices and my priorities, and to model the lifestyle
and mindset that I want to introduce to others. Welcome, 2014.
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