Archive for tag: friends

You Should've Seen Me When I First Came Here

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.

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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 symptoms.

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.

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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.

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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?

Connecting in Montana and Leaving Illinois

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 Park.

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.

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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!

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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. 

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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.

A Big 4-Day Week

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!

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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 presentation! 

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!

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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 adventure.

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!

Classes Countdown and a Chicago To-Do List

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 city.

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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!

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All the smart, beautiful women working in the ND clinic

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....

A Week of Heart Filling and Story Telling

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 exciting)!

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Dinner, drinks and laughing with my ND-to-be girlfriends

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? 

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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 mckenziemescon@student.nuhs.edu and I'll be sure to write back.