Archive for tag: friends

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.

Med School Firsts and More Traveling

Another good week come and gone and we're already a month into the Fall Tri! This past week was marked in particular by more travel and some med school firsts: suturing and a Grand Rounds presentation.

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Wendy, Mallory and Lisa prepare to learn suturing

For years I've watched my dermatologist mother suture her patients after removal of suspicious moles or biopsy of suspicious skin conditions. She works so methodically, looping the long end around the forceps and securing a tight knot in one smooth motion. After my first attempt at suturing I can tell ya, it's harder than it looks! However, after another hour of practice following that first attempt, I'm already feeling better about it, though I still need more practice. The tricky part is focusing on all the components; holding the tools properly, spacing your stitches just right, and pulling them just tight enough, but not too tight....

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Lisa performs her first sutures on a plastic arm!

I also gave my first Grand Rounds presentation to a room full of interns, clinicians and students from lower tris. In 9th Tri we present for about 30 minutes on a clinical question, whereas in 10th Tri we spend an hour discussing a case and research. As I mentioned last week, I presented on The Case of the Missing Organ. My talk focused on the concept of considering a new basis for health in patients who present for care after having an organ removed, and on the importance of identifying the cause of dis-ease if removal of the organ has not solved the problem. This presentation was inspired by two of my patients, one who has had the colon removed, and another who has had the gallbladder removed. I was nervous, but it seems to have been well received and now I can check that off my to-do-list for the tri!

After an interesting week I took to the skies again for a trip to Vermont to celebrate the marriage of one of my very oldest friends. In addition to getting all dolled up with a delightful group of young women (I also wrote about them in a post from March: Crunch-Pop and Lovely Intelligent Women), I got to go for a beautiful, brisk morning stroll with my mom and discuss patient cases, and danced with my dad to music played by a live band. Everything about the weekend was beautiful!

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A view from the top of The Flume, a little hike in northern NH.

Hanzi and I made a point to stop for a walk in the woods of the White Mountains on our drive back to Boston, where we caught an early flight back to Chicago the next day. We also got to watch the lunar eclipse/blood moon with my parents on their back porch. I hope you all got to see that celestial masterpiece; what a perfect symbol of the impressiveness of this world that has conspired to bring about all the things from the marriage of two wonderful people this past weekend, to my reaching this stage of naturopathic medical school. 

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Hanzi checks out the White Mountains scenery from a covered bridge.

Speaking of a world conspiring to bring about things for us, please do not hesitate to email me with any of your questions, thoughts, concerns, or celebrations from your process of applying to, or considering this Naturopathic journey. I am never too busy to reply; I love your emails! You can reach me at mckenziemescon@student.nuhs.edu.

Clinic Collaboration, Gorgeous Weather, and Work To Do!

In preparation for some days I'll be missing for wedding travels, I did a double shift in the clinic last Friday. After working 7 to noon for my regular ND shift, I tagged along on the DC side from 1-6. It was definitely a long but rewarding day.

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Gone apple picking on a beautiful Sunday!

While on the DC shift, I consulted with a DC intern friend of mine on his patient who recently experienced symptoms of a GI bleed. I helped put together the puzzle pieces to recognize that the likely culprit of this patient's gastrointestinal misery was the prescription NSAID he has been taking for his knee pain, and not the GI support supplement recommended by another ND intern. It is well known that GI bleeding is a side effect seen with use of NSAIDs due to their capacity to degrade the mucosal barrier of the GI tract.

I was also able to help my friend understand the source of his patient's pain based on the fact that cortisone shots work to control the pain. Cortisone blocks phospholipaseA2, an enzyme that mobilizes arachiadonic acid. This step is at the very tippy top of the biochemical inflammatory cascade. Picture a large family tree where arachiadonic acid is the great grandparent. There are good cousins and bad cousins, and by blocking the cascade of the family tree way up at the top we block both the good cousins and the bad cousins from ever being conceived. Eradication of the bad cousins makes pain decrease significantly, but blockage of the good cousins, or the healthy inflammation, ultimately causes degradation of tissue from loss of a healthy inflammatory response.

If corticosteroids work to decrease pain, we can extrapolate that the patient's pain is caused by inflammatory cytokines (bad cousins). While prescription drugs work to block this inflammation, many botanicals and nutrients (as well as proper nutrition and exercise) can also work to modulate the inflammatory response that causes pain.

My DC intern friend and I had a great conversation about the difference in response he sees with different rehabilitation patients. The patients that respond best to his exercise prescriptions are most often physically fit, they consume a relatively healthy diet, or their injury is relatively new or benign. The majority of patients who do not recover well are either non-compliant, or often have poor eating habits or poor body composition; they live their daily lives in an inflammatory state.

Our conversation was a testament to why we naturopathic doctors/interns always address the basic determinants with our patients. No matter how much physical medicine we try, it will undoubtedly work better if we attend to the first 3 levels of the therapeutic order as well. We must establish reasonable nutrition, support the vis, and attend to engaged or compromised organs and systems. More on our Therapeutic Order at another juncture!

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Night out with my ND faves

Besides all this excitement of collaboration in clinic, we had an absolutely beautiful weekend! I got to spend a night out enjoying live music and food with my ND student friends, and Hanzi and I went apple picking! Now, I have to buckle down and prepare my presentation for Grand Rounds. It's called "The Case of the Missing Organ." Stay tuned....