Looking to the Future

What is the thing in life that you want the absolute most? How many times do we ask ourselves this? I figured it was time for another philosophical exploration here on the blog.

Whether you're still in the planning stages, full on into your training experience or career, or a supporter of someone who is training for a career in medicine, motivation and goals will always be a big part of the training experience. It's so easy to get disillusioned by what it is that we're doing. It feels so endless. I can't say how many times I've had friends, family, or significant others comment to me that I work too hard and have no time for rest, relaxation, or even them. Sometimes it's a lonely and miserable existence to be in medical school. And now that we're all depressed... Motivation is so important--especially now as my countdown is in full swing and I'm starting to think about what comes AFTER school.

I have to give a shout-out to my classmate Julia, who honestly keeps me sane (or less borderline insane) a lot of the time. This weekend we're planning a "vision board" exercise to plan for what comes after we're finished with school. If you're not familiar with the concept of vision boarding, it's pretty simple, and a lot like arts and crafts in kindergarten--but with purpose.

Get a cheap piece of poster board, some old magazines, some glue sticks or tape, and some scissors. If it inspires you, grab a bottle of your favorite beverage and a clear spot on the floor and spend some time thinking and planning about what you want--either short term, long term, or just what you want out of Life. There are no absolutes. I've seen people with vision boards of houses, careers, decorating ideas, healthy living, etc.

I'm looking forward to this exercise. It's been about five years since I've done one of these. Maybe some of my goals were a little bit different; maybe some were the same. Nothing has to be set in stone. As we grow, our goals and desires change. I know one thing that will definitely be right in the middle of that vision board. I want to be happy.

Happiness means something different to everyone. Maybe for you it means a house and a family, a thriving practice, a fancy car, a big garden. For me, it means fulfillment--and laughter. I guess I see a lot of the other things as extraneous. They might be nice, but it's not something that I need to live. But being happy--that's like breathing. When it feels like the world is crashing in, when there are too many tests and I'm being pulled a million important directions, when all I want to do (but can't) is not what I'm supposed to be doing, or when there's some kind of crisis (for me or someone I care about), I have to have a sense of humor. I have to be able to laugh, because I'd much rather laugh, than cry.

This week, like many other weeks, we have exams and projects to work on. I'm coming to the end of the quarter for the master's program at UWS and through midterms here at NUHS. Distractions abound. Fatigue sets in. And thankfully, I have some pretty awesome people (thank you Julia, Grey and Forest, and many others) to remind me to find my motivation, keep my sense of humor, and keep going.

For those of you needing a "feel good" moment, for those starting to feel that fatigue set in, for those that are maybe feeling a little bit lonely in their journey--this video is for you. I hope it lifts you up and gives you a great big smile this week, like it did me.

Have a great week everybody!!!! Laugh. Be Happy.


Boy, do I have a BIG case of Senioritis! We've talked about motivation before, about how to stay motivated, studying for midterms, etc. But this is a whole new level of short-timer's syndrome. Surely you all know what I mean. It's -- day before vacation, Friday afternoon, last week of school -- syndrome. The unfortunate thing is, I don't think I'm classified as a senior yet. 

Last week, Forest (age 14) and I were talking about school. It seems that we're both lacking in motivation (except I seem to hide it a little bit better). During this conversation he said to me, "Mom, I've had senioritis since the 5th grade" -- to which I laughed. He's in 9th grade now. But I know exactly what he means. Being in 7th Tri provides just a bit of a tease regarding being done (writing business plans, talking about practices, etc.). The fact that we keep talking about clinic is a pretty big deal. We've already started talking about schedules. It's coming quick. I can't wait. As far as Forest and his senioritis, he's got a good bit longer to go than I do. It'll probably be a bit more of a struggle for him than for me. Until then, we'll have to keep tabs on our goofing off and not doing schoolwork.

(Image source: http://lawrencecentral.highschoolmedia.org)

One thing that people don't really talk about outside of school (at least it seems that way) is variation. When you get to cadaver lab, you'll see how vastly different things are from body to body. Sometimes an artery is on the medial side of the muscle -- sometimes the lateral. Maybe there's a split in the vein and maybe there isn't. I happen to know that none of my nerves in my head and face are in the "right" spot. I have a condition known as a Chiari malformation. I tell everyone that my brain is too big for my skull -- which is actually true (but still funny). But the fact that the junction where most of the cranial nerves exit is lower in the head has made for interesting positioning as far as the rest of them. My dentists are always (not) amused if I need work done. And we figured out that regarding acupuncture of the head (on Saturday), it's not necessarily a good idea for me.

So, regardless of the condition or the modality, it's important to remember that not all people are wired the same, have the same sensitivities, or respond to therapies the same way. There is no "one size fits all" approach. The idea of "protocols" is a trap that we can fall into -- but we have to keep in mind, that our patients are individuals with unique bodies and unique needs.

Dave and Ricky

In Modalities this morning, we were experimenting with TENS units. Since it didn't happen last week, I wasn't going to include it in this week's post, but the reactions were priceless. Ricky and Dave decided to "exercise" (or maybe it was exorcise, LOL) the digitorum profundus.

Have a great week, everybody!!!!

A LOOOOO–NG Weekend!

Did everybody enjoy the long weekend? Wow! What a weekend?!?

First, I need to say thank all the powers of the Universe for days off. I've been sneezing my fool head off ever since, but I spent most of the day cleaning. Having a clean house is Zen. I can now sit in the middle of my living room in the lotus position holding my fingers together. I won't (because I don't have time), but the important thing is -- I CAN.

(Image source: http://blogs.studentlife.utoronto.ca/lifeatuoft/)

I spent some time out in the world this weekend, when I wasn't cleaning or studying. We get so sheltered, living in academia, that we forget how different it is. I came across a lot of stigma about chiropractic. Education helps fix that. Sometimes people just have to be exposed to what we're doing, what we're learning and practicing, and the basis for our practices in order to step beyond the conditioning they've received. Some won't. And that's OK. We'll love them anyway.

I received a big reminder about how difficult it is to practice "lifestyle medicine." We spend a lot of our time talking about changes that have to be made to the diet or lifestyle. I honestly don't know how many times a week that I tell someone something like, "Well, that could be fixed with removing XYZ from the diet." Here's the thing though: People don't want to remove XYZ from their diet. We're all familiar with people who continue to eat fast food or candy or soda and their effects on the body. We're also familiar with how many of those people end up injecting insulin or taking metformin. People do not respond well to change. The prevailing opinion is that it's easier to either accept the condition they have (and the symptom management) rather than to prevent or cure the issue by making change.

I'm honestly not sure where this mentality comes from. Perhaps it's the American adage that a pill fixes everything. I have a hard time believing that people are that *bad word alert* lazy (sorry). For some that I've talked to, they can't believe that making a change to their diet or activity levels will make them feel better, or that they've tried everything and nothing has worked. After all, they're dealing with complex health issues like autoimmune disorders, diabetes, and heart disease. Some will listen to reason and participate in education and others won't. Age doesn't seem to have a bearing on this -- people of all ages fall into this grouping. Perhaps I'd be the best physician ever, if I could figure out what would get through to people that have this block. But for right now, I'm struggling with the acceptance (which really sounds like defeat) that people have of their dysfunctions, and the lack of willingness to do anything about it. On compliance with lifestyle recommendations -- what do you think?

Since stress management is a big part of lifestyle, here is a sunset picture I took on Monday. Remember. Zen.

As a self-reported "lifestyle change queen", I'm all too ready to make changes in my own life with the goal of feeling better. Dr S. tells us, as students, that we need to try things in order to be able to recommend them to our patients (speaking of dietary changes). Given that one of my own issues is Celiac disease, a change in lifestyle was the ONLY option for becoming healthy. I can't even begin to express how drastically my life changed in response to that.

Some changes are harder to make. Cutting down my rice consumption has been one of them. I'm down to only 2-3 servings per week at this point. But others are so much easier. For me, it comes down to the information, and hope. How will I feel once this change has been made? What are the possibilities? What information can I find that supports this decision?

Is there a change that you need to make? What's stopping you? What if you felt a million times better, increased the quality and quantity of your life, and it only took a short period of adjustment?

Maybe these are the questions we should be asking our (future) patients.

Have an amazing week, everyone.

It is the Size of One's Will which Determines Success

Last week was an exercise in determination. Over the past 10 days, I would say, I've had to give myself some pretty intense pep talks, and I've been given a few as well. So, I'm writing to you all here today, a little bit bruised, a little bit frustrated, and hopefully a little bit wiser. There are times, whether it's in your education, in your personal life, or in your business when you ask yourself why you're doing what you're doing. I've been asking just that question.

The reminders of "why?" have been few and far between. The occasional bone gets thrown my way -- some great tidbit or some nuance of fact that changes how I look at things. I need more of those -- a lot more. I find that all I want to do is pour myself into the science and the learning, outside of the classroom. I love the learning; I just question sometimes being a student.

(Image source: www.barewalls.com)

Tonight, after the regular day, are our male and female sensitive exams. The nervousness is palpable in the building. Some have asked why we have to do this. After all, most people decided to come here to become chiropractors -- and not necessarily primary care physicians. And at the same time, maybe some came to become primary care physicians, but not urologists or gynecologists. I have an (un)fair advantage. In my former education, I learned and performed these exams. So I'm going into this with a lot cooler head. That doesn't mean that I haven't given it any thought.

I've been giving a lot of things, a lot of thought.

In business class, we've been talking about a few different things. We've talked about malpractice insurance and business plans and several other things. One of the most common questions people in class ask, or professors talk about is, "How do we get paid?"

I'll be honest, and most of my classmates get so tired of hearing me talk about this, but for me, it has nothing to do with money. It may be poor planning on my part, but I know that if the service is there, if I'm able to do what I need and want to do and take care of my patients, then the money will come. Of course, that doesn't mean that I'm not fully on-board with hiring a businessperson to take care of that for me.

I've come across something that I find really, really amazing. Huffington Post published this article: "This Guy Stopped Charging Clients and He Has Zero Regrets." Adrian Hoppel, who is a web designer and not a chiropractor, has converted his business into a gift economy. The short version of his business model is that he does work, and presents it to his clients as a gift. There's no price set, although his clients are well educated on how much work is involved. He's finding that not only is he making more money, but also he's happier. What do you guys think? Could this work? I'm doing a fair amount of investigation on how we might be able to translate this to medical care.

Charles Eisenstein who was part of Adrian's inspiration, has written a book called Sacred Economics that talks about gift economy. It's available to read free online. It's on my list. I'll report back after I'm done with it. If you read it or have read it, PLEASE send me your thoughts.

Have a great week everybody! Keep the faith, or if you can't find it -- find some.

Oh, and Happy Valentine's Day. I love you guys! <3

Week 5

Happy Week 5 Everybody! This week is the first exam week. I'm a little scared (not really -- but maybe I should be). I have 4 this week (3 here at NUHS and 1 at UWS). From Botanical Medicine II to Evidence Based Nutrition, there's a lot of material to cover -- and I have a lot of work to do. 

Last Friday was our Tri Mixer. We had Trivia -- Chiro style, food, and all kinds of crazy fun. I was told that the "Five Sphincters" Trivia team was the winner. I'm not sure how the other teams fared. But I know we were all having fun. It was good to get to meet/see some of the younger Tris. I'd met some of the new students at Club Day or previous mixers, but since we're all so separated, it's rare that we get to see each other. There's a good crew of people coming up. I'm excited.


So, last night was the Super Bowl. I didn't watch it and I don't know who won. This morning on my Facebook news feed are random people posting random statements about the game, ads, different players, etc. Lots of people are talking about the commercials (I didn't watch) and how much they cost. It's my understanding that a 30-second ad costs approximately $4 million.

Here are some things that we could do with $4 million, instead of buying a Super Bowl ad:

  • Fund NIH Alzheimer's research for 1 month (NIH spends $480 million/year on Alzheimer's research)
  • Run a free clinic for 4+ months
  • Fully fund 12 medical students' educational careers ($325,000/student)
  • Buy 66 modest homes ($60,000/house)
  • Fund all Medicare breast cancer screening for 1 month ($410 million/year)
  • Clothe, feed, house, and educate 16 children (cost to raise a child $241,000)

Rather than getting a pizza, or watching something cute for a few seconds, we could buy people well-being, cancer prevention, health, and basic security. I realize that this is a bit of commentary, and may not be popular, but I feel like we needed a little bit of perspective. We support businesses with our money and our attention.

Let's go make a difference this week.

Have a great one, everybody!!!