Where Did January Go?

Wow, has January flown by! According to the Chinese calendar, it's not yet the New Year (the lunar new year falls on February 8th, or the second new moon following the winter solstice), which means that we are still in the year of the goat/sheep--an animal that moves slowly and connects with the earth. With January moving at lightning speed, it seems that the energy of the monkey--our quick-moving animal for 2016, has already started to transition into the picture.

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As this week flew by, there were a few highlights in my classes and clinic. It was exciting to finally get to find out our low back pain patient's diagnosis in medical mystery class, aka, Western Physical Diagnosis. Our anticipation for that information was replaced with somberness and reflection upon learning that our patient's pain was in fact due to advanced metastatic disease. 

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My Tuesday morning clinic shift was very slow, with only several patients scheduled, so during the lull another student and I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to ask Dr. Kim to show us how he needles a few points. While Clean Needle Technique class is where we learn how to needle, most students actually learn from other students in the clinic. This can lead to some confusion on how to needle certain points, such as GB 21, which is located near the highest point of the trapezius muscle.

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Since this point carries a high risk of pneumothorax if needled too deeply, it seems that many students pinch up the skin above the muscle before needling obliquely, anteriorly to posteriorly. Texts will indicate this needling direction, as opposed to perpendicular, in order avoid causing a pneumothorax. Dr. Kim showed us his needling skills using a more perpendicular angle that didn't involve pinching up the skin, which for me made more sense and was easier to do on patients who don't have prominent trapezius muscles. He also showed us a needle technique lesson on how to spin the needle between the fingers to allow it to insert more smoothly. Just last week, clinician Eric Baker shared that same technique with me while demonstrating how to needle another point. Since then, needling has become easier and more enjoyable for me (probably for my patients, too!).

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I finished off the quick week with a weekend at a friend's lakefront house in a town near Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, to celebrate another friend who's getting married in April. It was supposed to be a weekend of wintery fun, but with temps in the mid to upper 40s and rain starting late Saturday, we instead hiked at the nearby Kettle Moraine State Forest, practiced making bouquets (she's making her own for the wedding), played board games, chatted around a bonfire, cooked yummy meals, and went out for a night on the town. Even without the outdoor winter activities, it was great to spend a weekend with lots of good people and enjoy the peacefulness and beauty of rural Wisconsin.