Today I listened while two doctors discussed a patient who is
also a friend. This patient has alarming findings on MRI of the
spine, and spends his entire day in active, physical work I got an
excellent refresher on spinal pathology and also a glimpse into
what it's like to provide medical care to someone you've come to
know well, and really love as a member of your own community.
Kaila loving the big sky before snowshoeing.
The discussion centered on going back to the reports, reading
the radiologist's notes, and stepping away from the emotion of it
all. The collaboration between these two docs bounced back and
forth from supremely rational to emotionally weighted. They made a
concerted effort to remove their worry about their friend from the
case analysis. They discussed referral for a second opinion, and
reread the reports several times. In the end, they concluded that
perhaps things weren't as bad as they thought, and that first
things first, they must check in with the patient regarding actual
I spoke to my mother, a dermatologist in the Boston area, over
the weekend and she told me that four of Friday's patients thanked
her for being there. My mom's comment was, "You probably hear that
all the time." She's right, I do. It's probably every third patient
I see that tells me I should've seen them when they first came in
here. They tell me Dr. Beeson has completely turned their life
around. Dr. B always smiles, hugs, thanks them for their kindness,
and remembers to acknowledge that very little could actually come
of her doctoring if the patient wasn't ready and willing to
contribute their own effort.
Off the Beartooth Highway near Red Lodge.
Doctoring is absolutely an art. Yes, I'm learning about when to
order which type of ultrasound, but I'm also learning a heck of a
lot about the core of just being there so that the patient who
needs the ultrasound comes seeking your help in the first place.
Last week, my classmate Kaila came to stay with me here in Billings
for a residency interview at YNC. It was such a treat to have her
company while dancing to live music on Friday night, followed by a
trip over to Red Lodge for a spectacular snowshoe hike in the
mountains on Saturday. I loved sharing an appreciation for being
outside in the sun and snow with all that crisp fresh air all
around! And, we got to talk and talk about our respective
experiences of applying to residencies and the stress of not
knowing what happens next. It was a relief to realize she also has
had a lot to mull over concerning the future.
Where Kaila and I went for a drive after our hike.
I recently took stock of the past few years of my life. It's
silly, but I did this partially by looking through my Instagram
feed (@zoozzah). What I learned in looking back is
that I've really thrived by studying hard. I am enlivened by
intellectual conversation and by practicing medicine. I'm so
excited to start life as a doctor, and also to have my conversation
partner back in my life. Hanzi comes to Montana next week! He will
help me wrap things up here, and then we will make the drive back
to Chicago for graduation. The day is fast approaching! Just a few
more posts from me, and then you'll be hearing from a new blogger
-- speaking of which, anyone out there interested?
Time is speeding up again. For a while there, when I first
arrived in Montana, one week felt like a month, now I can't believe
February is almost over! Things are getting real for Hanzi and me;
he just moved all the furniture out of our apartment in Illinois
and is preparing to move up to Michigan at the end of the week. I
am doing all those annoying things you have to do when you move;
canceling the Internet service, submitting a change of address with
USPS, talking to Hanzi every day about what to keep and what can go
from our apartment. Hanzi has been my remaining connection to home
in Illinois and as soon as he is gone that will change. I am very
grateful to have a partner who defines home for me, and I wonder
how much more I'll connect with Montana once he leaves Oak
Lately, I've been receiving messages from friends from all parts
of my life about people they know who live in Billings, Montana.
One former sorority sister from undergrad told me, "I don't know
many people who move to Billings, so I thought I'd get in touch!"
She has a cousin who's a nurse here, and another college friend has
an aunt and uncle in Billings who would love to have me over for
dinner. An old summer camp friend reached out to me because he and
his family will be visiting his sister over in Bozeman this week,
so we have plans to meet up for dinner. It feels like the
powers-that-be are encouraging me to get connected in Montana, as
if it's a place I'm going to be for a while. This kind of thing
didn't happen for me when I moved to Illinois. Yes, I made many
wonderful friends through school, but the community connections
didn't come flowing in like this, without my trying. I am
cautiously optimistic about it.
Statue for auction at the Casting for Recovery Gala
Over this past weekend one of the resident naturopathic
oncologists at YNC invited me to be her guest at an event for
Casting for Recovery, an organization that takes women with breast
cancer, or who are in recovery from it, on fly-fishing trips. Dr.
Jennifer Krieger got to connect with the local chapter organizer
and discuss providing a survivorship talk at their weekend retreat
in Big Sky this summer. You may remember that Hanzi is a
fly-fisherman and has taken me fishing in some spectacular places
including the Truckee River in California, the Wind River Range in
Wyoming, and the Driftless Region in Wisconsin. My waders are
currently in the mail from Illinois so that Dr. Krieger and I can
do some fishing here in Montana sometime soon!
Grooving at a Railroad Earth show.
Dr. Krieger also accompanied me to a Railroad Earth show on
Wednesday night and we danced to some jammy bluegrass until
midnight. Later in the week I contributed to a Bon Appetit-inspired
dinner club with two other residents, Drs, Schenewerk and
Phillips-Dorsett. Dr. P-D made delicious short rib enchiladas,
which we all helped to assemble and then voraciously ate a little
while later. I've had a surprisingly busy social life here lately.
I am also starting to take on some more work for Dr. Beeson,
including small research projects for patient cases. Recently, I
recruited Russ, our reference librarian at NUHS, to help me hunt
down research on prophylactic treatment of malaria with Artemesia
and its synthetic derivatives for a patient who is traveling to
Uganda at the end of the month.
Drove as far as I could into the mountains.
I have to tell you that I managed to get out for another little
adventure, this time to Red Lodge, about 60 miles southwest of
Billings. I drove as far as I could on the road through the
Beartooth Mountains toward Yellowstone National Park (the
spectacular part of the road is closed for the season), and then
went for a gorgeous, sunny, and snowy hike. And now, I have to wrap
up this post and head to the post office to mail my apartment key
to my landlord in Illinois. It feels good to know I'm sending off
some of the last of my belonging to that place because I'm ready
for these new experiences, though I do think I'll miss our curious
little apartment in the dilapidated pink house.
Looking back at it now, this past week was hugely busy, despite
being only 4 days long due to the MLK Day holiday. On the holiday,
I met up with a few friends in the city for lunch as a little
send-off for Guy who graduated in December. Afterwards, I got to
introduce my good friend Alex to Hanzi, and we sat around chatting
over tea for a while. It was lovely!
MLK Day lunch date with NUHS friends
On Tuesday, I worked a double shift at the Salvation Army and
Lombard clinics, then headed straight home to work for several
hours on my grand rounds presentation. Wednesday was the day I gave
my said presentation titled, "ADHD and The Italian Grandmother."
This was my last big assignment of medical school! My presentation
was centered on a case I saw in clinic, and examined research on
naturopathic treatment options as well as obstacles to cure in
treatment of a pediatric case of ADHD.
I was nervous about presenting until I realized several of my
friends came to watch me speak, AND that they were each wearing a
piece of clothing I had given them! It made my heart sing! Because
I am moving, I gave away some scarves and tops and a handful of my
girlfriends all happened to wear these things on the day of my
Another friend stopped by before my talk to give me a little
gift. All the support from my buddies calmed my nerves and by 10
minutes into my presentation, the jitters were gone and I hit my
groove. Thank you all for tempering my stress!
Hanzi hanging out in the new truck
On Thursday, I worked another double shift at both clinics and
then did one of the most grown-up things I've ever done; Hanzi and
I bought a car! We've been scouring the Internet for a car in
preparation for my leaving for Montana and taking our one vehicle
away on the trip. Now, we are the proud owners of a little red
Tacoma truck. It's so funny; it has Bluetooth and a touchscreen but
crank windows and manual door locks. Anyway, it's exactly what
we've been searching for and I feel much better knowing I'm not
leaving my partner immobilized in Illinois while I head off on an
Speaking of this adventure, I leave at the end of the week and
should arrive for my first day at Yellowstone Naturopathic Clinic
on February 1. Hanzi will come along for the ride and then fly back
to Chicago to keep working and job searching. I cannot express how
much gratitude I have for my clinicians and peers who have helped
me get things done so that I can go learn in another environment. I
am especially grateful for friends who prioritized a surprise baby
shower for our girl JheriAnne so that I could participate in
celebrating the twins she and her husband Shane are expecting in
April! I wish I'd had more time to hang and say bye, but such is
the nature of medical school; stuff happens all at once and then
bam! -- It's on to the next thing!
Another big week down and only 4 more to go until the end of my
9th trimester and the end of medical school classes! The way our
schedule works, you should always finish your tenure with NUHS with
a class-free 10th trimester. I gotta tell you, it's become a mantra
among my fellow 9th tris to remind each other several times a day
the number of weeks left of class before we get to focus solely on
patient care and our plans for life after school. You could
definitely say all 10 of us have "senioritis," and it takes those
daily reminders to one another to keep a smile on when we sit
through 2.5 hours of Wednesday morning lecture and move on to
complete another 7 hours in the clinic.
Big days happening around here! In the midst of all the school I
am getting done these days, I'm also taking the time to explore
Chicago because I'm closing in on the end of my time in this
Finally made it out dancing at the Empty Bottle
This past weekend I finally made it to The Empty Bottle on
Western Ave in Chicago for some dancing! Hanzi and our friend Reed
and I also trekked down to Chinatown on Sunday for Dim Sum, which
was all kinds of flavors. On Saturday night, Hanzi and I brought
stuffing and a vegetable dish (so naturopathic, I know) to a
Friendsgiving dinner with library friends. Hanzi works at the Oak
Park Library and we've met some really lovely, intelligent folks
with a great sense of humor and a shared love of books. Our festive
meal was definitely a holiday season highlight.
Hanzi and I have been working on a Chicago to-do list. It
includes riding the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier, seeing a show at the
House of Blues, skating the ribbon rink, and visiting the Lincoln
Park Zoo and the Museum of Science and Industry. I know, I know, I
can't believe I haven't done some of these things yet! I've been
here for 3 years and some days it absolutely feels like it's been
that long, and other days, I wonder where the time has gone and
realize that April will be here in no time....
So, can you see the picture here? I'm trying to focus on this
last month of 9th tri with studying and assignments, while also
realizing I have a substantial checklist of Chicagoland activities
to attend to. I'm also enjoying every busy clinic day seeing
patients and, oh yeah -- we had our first snow! It went from fall
to February-like winter overnight!
All the smart, beautiful women working in the ND
Also, it was the 100th anniversary of the American Medical
Women's Association this past week so we took a picture of all the
ND lady interns and docs. I think we look fabulous! So yeah, no
huge news here, just that winter and crunch-time have arrived, and
we're still all working hard to become doctors someday soon....
Ahhhhh, a day off in the middle of the week! To start, thank you
to our veterans for serving and for giving us a reason to take a
break. We had Wednesday off this past week and I savored that free
time. I had all those good intentions of writing up a case due at
the end of the week, and getting started on a paper for pediatrics
class, but in the end I took my day off to relax and do laundry (so
Dinner, drinks and laughing with my ND-to-be
As a med student, you really have to take advantage of any free
moment. On Tuesday evening, knowing we wouldn't have class early
the next morning, a few of my best ND student friends and I went
out for food and wine. We cozied up to the restaurant's fireplace
and the conversation never stopped. I rarely see all of these
lovely friends because of taking the full-track option of classes.
These days I spend most of my time on campus in the clinic, rather
than in classrooms and hallways where I can cross paths with my
buddies. Because of this, we had so much to talk about! We
reminisced about our cadaver in first tri anatomy and discussed our
visions for our future practices and families (JheriAnne is
pregnant with twins!) I drove home that evening all filled up with
loving support from my people; I am truly a lucky gal.
Speaking of good experiences, I volunteered to sit on the ND
panel at Campus Visit Day this past weekend. I think I've
volunteered for this position 3 or 4 times before. I keep coming
back to sit and talk with prospective students because I love
talking and articulating my excitement for naturopathic medicine! I
always leave these panel sessions feeling even better about my
choice of profession. One of the things that came up in discussion
for all of us on the panel was that the ND students at NUHS form a
very supportive community. We share study guides, organize study
groups, encourage each other to take a break and get out, and
generally do not compete with each other for grades. We are all
here to build our profession, so what's the point of creating
excess competition within our little community?
At the ND student panel for Campus Visit Day
We are certainly a group of healers who come to this medicine
because we aim to doctor with caring support, rather than through
sheer force, dominance or authority. It's a beautiful struggle to
display authority with my patients so that they understand the
importance of attending to their health and trust my knowledge,
while at the same time allowing my innate compassion and tenderness
to come through. Just writing this post has me all extra excited
about our medicine again! It's that easy to love what I do.
If you're a prospective student with questions about being in an
ND program, whether you're bound for NUHS or not, please do not
hesitate to reach out to me! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
and I'll be sure to write back.
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