This is it -- my last chance to say things in the National
University of Health Sciences Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine
blog. I've said a lot of stuff each week over the past couple of
years... some mildly interesting, maybe helpful, and probably a lot
of things that only I cared about. Sorry, not sorry.
So, here's everything else I thought about saying and never put
into an actual blog. Let's call these the bloglets.
1. Everything is the same as it used to be.
Nothing's really new--from
medicine to pop culture. People freak out about texting while
driving. Really? Sure, it's dangerous and awful, but is it really
that different than 15 years ago when we used to drive around with
a binder of CDs on the passenger seat and flip through looking for
the next one to pop in and listen to? Remember that time in
7th grade when you and your friends thought you made up
"LYLAS" to write it yearbooks, only to hear your mom say that they
used to write, it, too? Now it's vibration--everyone's talking
about raising your vibration or changing your vibration for optimal
health and wellness. Think it's a new concept? Think again. Last
night I was reading about 19th-century psychic Edgar Cayce and the
idea that each thought, feeling, or experience you have changes
your vibration. Everything is energy, science says, so who can
argue with that?
2. What are people doing with laptops in the
When I started this
program, I wondered why some students would pop open a laptop and
stare at it through an entire class. What were they doing? My
guesses were: 50% on Facebook, 20% Netflix, 20% frantically
finishing up homework for another class, and likely just 10% doing
anything related to the class we were in (this was Dave--you take
great notes on your tablet and you've bought shoes online as far as
I know). I started sitting behind people just to see how accurate I
was. What did I find? Lots of online shopping. Are our classes that
stressful that an online shoe purchase is in order? I vowed I
wouldn't bring my laptop and tune out during a class… then my final
trimester happened. Somehow I was transformed into that person--I
hit the seat and I flipped open my laptop within seconds. In my
defense I'm generally doing productive things--googling the
ingredients of the liniment Dr. Stretch just mentioned, writing
this blog, grading student papers, scheduling my kids' dentist
appointments, etc.--but still, I'm staring at that screen.
3. Favorite professor moments.
I didn't do this one, because I thought it would be rude to
simply copy my commencement speech and paste it into a blog post.
Looks like you'll have to attend graduation to hear these.
4. I always wanted to interview a student who was
dual-enrolled in the Naturopathic doctorate program and the AOM
program, and also the Doctor of Chiropractic program and the AOM
I had Nolan right at my fingertips for so long--we
could have had the perspective of a yogi doctor learning
acupuncture. Wow. I know people are always wondering what the
differences are between the various medical programs, and I thought
I'd be the person to try to hash some of that out publicly. Nope.
Never got around to that.
Nolan Lee, DC, and current MSAc student:
"Acupuncture is a fantastic complement to what I do as a
chiropractic physician. It makes my practice valuable to a whole
different population of patients who do not necessarily seek
chiropractic care, but are open to acupuncture. An MSAc degree
helps to better understand this age-old art that is so rich and
complex in its applications and theories."
5. ...And I'd like to introduce Maile Horita, who will
be taking over the AOM blog next trimester!
Maile has experience with
writing an oriental medicine blog already, and I've already given a
great idea for content to get started with (see #4). Just
kidding--write about your passions! I'm looking forward to reading
her blogs in the future.
Thanks for all of the support over the past three years,
community. I'll probably accidentally drive here a few times by
mistake out of habit, but other than that, I'm OUT!
You've made the first move. You've called to schedule an
appointment in the AOM clinic. Just as you think you're almost done
with this first critical step, the receptionist throws a massively
important, yet completely unexpected, wrench in your plan. "Which
intern are you looking to schedule with?"
Oh. My. God. What do you do? Which name do you say off the top
of your head? As you feel the pressure mount in those two seconds
of silence on the phone, your brain quickly scans the names,
personalities, general skill levels, and specific competencies of
every student you know at NUHS.
It might not seem like a big decision to some, but for many
patients, your intern will make or break the entire appointment.
I've heard it all in the halls of the clinic, "He got a D on that
Point Location Exam, so I don't want to schedule with him!" "She's
the only one who follows up needling with tui na every
week--I want her!" "I only (or, I don't) want my best
friends seeing me with my pants down." If you're bringing sensitive
people--the elderly or young children--then even appearance might
matter. If I scheduled my kids with a super-tall bearded man, they
might run outside and hide by the swans!
If you haven't thought about which intern you will choose for
your first or next acupuncture appointment, here is a handy guide
to help weigh your options. No, I'm not going to provide a rating
list of each intern in clinic this trimester, complete with names,
pictures, and assorted blasphemies or accolades. Instead, I'm going
to walk you through the options that may or may not be important to
you in your decision-making process.
Image source: www.visualphotos.com
Now for the great part--there isn't one intern who fits every
criteria! This is wonderful news, because it means that a variety
of options exist for each patient who walks through the door. Each
patient is different, and each intern is different. If you've tried
acupuncture once, but just didn't get that great feeling, then try
again with someone else! If you were lucky and hit it out of the
park with your first intern, then stick with that person, or ask
him or her for a referral for another intern who treats in a
Good luck, and happy hunting!
Nights in Nicaragua were dark. It wasn't just because
electricity was on short supply, although that was true. Nights
were serious, reflective, and quiet...because days were bright,
hot, and characterized by exhausting work in the clinic. During our
10-day program at NDI's integrative medical clinic in Nicaragua, we
volunteers maxed and relaxed as we bounced along at the whim of the
country, its people, and its water shortage.
"Are you coming back next year?" is a question that I heard my
own voice and those of others asking from Day 1. Because of the
earthquakes, the water shortage, the power loss, and the
run-of-the-mill "getting to know you" period with the new doctor,
many of the responding voices said, "No." By day 10, there was a
noticeable shift towards "YES." How did Nicaragua dig into our
hearts and pull us towards the Yes end of the spectrum in just a
Fellow NUHS AOM students Irene Walters,
Yvonne Gonzales, and Melissa Espinoza, and our invaluable ND
student, Kaley Burns, committed to helping a very poor and very
remote community on the island of Ometepe during our trimester
break. What we discovered there was how deserving and appreciative
the people of Los Angeles, Moyo, Altagracia, and many other nearby
towns are of the natural medicine clinic that serves their
Some days went by quickly, as dozens of people were called up
from their backyard waiting room chairs, where they had sat
patiently for several hours, only to be rewarded with a tincture, a
needling session, and a massage as applicable for each condition.
Other days seemed to drag on forever as we sat waiting between
patients in the stifling 99 degree heat in a 3-room clinic. Either
way, we made it back to our homestay families each evening for a
hot meal and a cold shower.
Nicaragua leaves me with so many take-aways that each year I've
been hard pressed to name the most important thing I learn on this
trip. The value of integrative medicine? The versatility of
botanicals? The severe need and appreciation of the people on
Ometepe? The feeling of being so sure that I am on the right path?
Um, all of the above!
The nightly discussions at the Rancho after long workdays, hot
dinners, and cold showers provided the missing information that
I've been seeking for years. Why are these people unable to receive
adequate care in their own country on their own accord? Why do
Americans feel a need to travel to Central America and assist?
Learning about the history of Nicaragua and its relations with the
U.S. is not just enlightening for the volunteers, but it also helps
us understand the role that America and other first-world nations
have played in pushing Nicaragua to its current state of affairs
today. Why do we go there to help? Well, because we were part of
the problem in the first place.
Nights in Nicaragua were dark for a reason. Yes, as everyone
pointed out on Facebook, we had access to the Internet...for about
20 minutes per day, at one location, if it even worked at all. The
nightly Internet access was a small part of our experience, dwarfed
by the gravity of our work during the day. Nightly classes and
discussions in the Rancho--our open-air meeting place in
town--allowed each weary volunteer to start processing what we did
that day in a meaningful way. With each huge, scary gust of
end-of-the-dry-season wind, we grabbed at our flying papers and
felt the country penetrate further and further into our hearts and
Will I go back to the NDI clinic on Ometepe island? Yep. I want
to see how many of those malnourished children used the
toothbrushes that I handed them. I want to see how many of the
little kids with a parasite felt better and started eating again. I
want to see the woman whose blood sugar was over 400 report that
the Berberine was helping manage her diabetes better than the
Metformin was(n't). I was relieved that we didn't see any
brink-of-death premature babies this year, but there were still
many, many people who needed our help. I'll be back. And I hope
that next year YOU come with me!
• So What Is Chinese Medicine?
• Jabbing Nerves with Needles
• Mission in Nicaragua
To read older blog posts, scroll to the bottom and click the "Older Posts" button.