Winter's Grip

This has been a long two weeks here at NUHS. Old Man Winter has taken hold and doesn't seem to want to let any warm air at all in Chicagoland. This is not the normal state of things here -- the 'Minnesota Chill' invading from the North. Even the lifelong Illinois residents are shocked at the low temps plus the extended time that they have been a visitor to the shores of Northern Illinois.

After a few trips to jumpstart friends' vehicles, make a couple of runs to the auto parts store to help them purchase and install new batteries for their cars, then a quick stop at the grocery store (just to be sure I have the necessities, as any good Southerner in the face of winter would do), I settled down by my window to write this week's blog.

I intended to write on a different subject this week; that topic will be saved for later. This week is all about beauty. I write about this because the cold weather, dark clouds, winds and sequestration required in the house due to subzero temperatures can make one a bit stir crazy. Sure, I have my studies, books, exercises, and some cooking to keep me busy, but that doesn't compare to the feeling a drawing in a long deep breath, even if it freezes and solidifies my epiglottis!


So, as I started writing this entry, I glanced out of my window and saw the sun...and crystal clear blue skies that reminded me of the community swimming pool and the first day it opens!  So crisp, no jet contrails, the sun with an aura of warmth that doesn't quite reach yet feels wonderful through a protective pane of glass.

That sun was beautiful, the sky was gorgeous and with those two prompts these past few days have seen an explosion of beauty all around me. From a realization that only a few more weeks of winter are left to counting down the days to graduation and seeing beauty grow in my colleagues around me, with me and beyond all of us.

If you want my advice, (and I understand if you don't) take in the beauty around you. Even if that beauty is the tiniest thing, it can jumpstart a progression, a cascade, or avalanche might be more appropriate at this time of year, of beauty extending from you, to you and within you.

Back to clinic, Lyme disease and musculoskeletal rehabilitation today. All beautiful in their healing design and effectiveness!

Busy Week

This week is quite the busy week! Between finishing the move from my old apartment to the new place on campus for my final trimester, work, and seeing patients in clinic, I have been a busy guy!

This week I'm introducing two of our new clinicians in the Naturopathic Clinic here at NUHS.

(L-R) Dr. Melissa Dybala, Intern Tim Ammons (myself), and Dr. Kathy Kamin

Dr. Kathy Kaminis a naturopathic medicine graduate of Bastyr University. She recently sold a successful practice in Arizona that she owned for over 20 years to return to Illinois. Dr. Kamin has had much success with weight loss therapies, chronic illness, and as a general practitioner while in Arizona. Dr. Kamin brings a wealth of clinical, business and practice experience to our clinic and program. Her clinical pearls and vignettes on how to set up, start, run, and build a successful practice are invaluable. She will help many of us who will be stepping out on our own in the coming months and years.

Dr. Melissa Dybalais both a naturopathic and chiropractic medicine graduate of NUHS. Dr. Dybala has been a member of a successful practice in Chicagoland for the past several years. She brings the physical medicine aspect of naturopathic care to her guidance of our interns. Combining physical medicine with the naturopathic philosophy to return our patients to a basis for health is one of Dr. Dybala's guiding principles. Combining this treatment modality with her vast knowledge of botanical treatment protocols is an advantage that our interns enjoy here at NUHS.

We are lucky to have both of these excellent clinicians join the faculty as our mentors, guides and leaders on the naturopathic side of the NUHS Whole Health Center. Each day is a joy to learn, grow and thrive under their tutelage.

Until next week, stay warm and keep plenty of vitamin D3 on hand until winter is over!

My Final Trimester

Hi, everyone! Welcome back for my final trimester! 

I hope each of you had a wonderful holiday season and you were able to be with the ones you love! This has been quite the four and a half year journey at NUHS. It began with my prerequisite classes in Fall 2009, through the basic science curriculum of the naturopathic program, the clinical course portion of my education, and now culminates with the Internship for the past year.

A sunrise view of downtown Chicago from the window of the Salvation Army Clinic (beautiful!)

My winter break consisted of time at the main clinic at the NUHS Whole Health Center in Lombard as well as time at the Salvation Army clinic in downtown Chicago, along with my part-time job. Great for getting patient visits, patient hours and income, yet not much break time.

I also had to finish my final Grand Rounds presentation as a naturopathic intern at NUHS over the break as I was the first to present this trimester (sometimes having a name starting with 'A' has its drawbacks). :) My topic was about a suitable treatment for Lyme disease when prescription antibiotics have failed to eradicate the disease. It is titled "Can Dipsacus sylvestris (Teasel Root) administration with concurrent biofilm reduction diminish the presence of chronic Borrelia burgdorferi?"

2014-01-16_timIn this presentation, I examined Lyme disease distribution globally, its associated stages and symptoms, treatment with antibiotics, and antibiotic efficacy based upon in vivo studies. Next, I compared researched methods of biofilm reduction along with a look at Teasel's effectiveness versus Borrelia burgdorferi (the bacteria that causes Lyme). Finally, I outlined a treatment plan for a chronic Lyme patient along with body systems support. This protocol is quite promising for reducing the presence of Lyme, yet the topic was very hard to keep focused, as Lyme is such a complicated and fascinating disease to understand, formulate a plan of attack, and treat.

Well, enough about Lyme and the clinics. I promised to talk about naturopathic philosophy this trimester and I will follow through on that promise. Beginning next week, I will talk of the basic tenets that we follow in our philosophy at NUHS, a solid foundation that sets NUHS apart from the other ND schools. I may just look back a bit at my time here throughout the trimester as well.

Until next week, stay warm and talk to you soon!

One Trimester to Go

This week marks the end of my classes at NUHS and only one more trimester of clinical internship to go. 

I have shared time for the last two weeks between at the Salvation Army rotation in downtown Chicago and the NUHS Whole Health Center in Lombard, Illinois. Working at both clinics makes for long days (typically 5am-7pm). At the same time, some of the most rewarding patient interaction I have experienced has been over these two weeks with our patients at the Salvation Army clinic!

There is the combination of compelling patient histories combined with the opportunity to quickly examine, diagnose (under the guidance of our clinician at Salvation Army) and treat our patients in a high-speed clinical setting, solely because the patient volume is so great.

Michael and Candice, two of the incredible interns at Salvation Army who share their time,
patients and expertise with the ND Interns who rotate through their clinic.

This trimester has helped me to grow as a future doctor through improving my examination, diagnostic and charting skillsets. What used to take more than an hour to chart can now be accomplished in a matter of minutes through efficient use of charting during the visit, as well as charting the necessary and relevant information as a means of documenting the patient visit.

Now, as I enter what may well be my final Christmas season here in Illinois, say goodbye to many friends who are graduating this week, and prepare for the final trimester here at Illinois, I also look forward to the opportunity that the next five months are going to bring.

The opportunities for externships (the chance to work in a practice outside the NUHS system) are available for those who finish their competencies (or specific numeric and knowledge based goals) with time left in their final trimester. I am on track to be able to compete for the externships and hope to have the opportunity to put my education to use outside these hallowed grounds prior to graduation. After all, what better way to see how we "size up" to practice in the real world, than seeing patients in a true private practice setting!

I wish each of you a joyous and fulfilling holiday season! I'll start up the blog upon returning in January.

Thanksgiving Thanks

Rather than continue the Naturopathic Principles this week, since this is most likely my final Thanksgiving here, I want to share what I am thankful for both here at NUHS and in my life. Thank you all for indulging me this week.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Naturopathic Interns of the NUHS Whole Health Center - Lombard!

Just a few things that I am thankful for...

  • The privilege of attending naturopathic medical school at NUHS.
  • The basic sciences curriculum, which is rigorous and prepares us well.
  • Dr. Sue Darby and Dr. Robert Humphreys for being relentless in neuroanatomy.
  • Janse Pond, where I sat and studied many days.
  • Dr. Fraser Smith and Dr. James Winterstein for their dedication to rebuilding and accrediting our school in record time!
  • Again, Dr. Fraser Smith, for being willing to listen to student concerns regarding the program and its future.
  • Our clinicians at the NUHS Whole Health Center, who listen to our treatment plans and ideas and give us the leeway (with a safety net) to help our patients to the best of our ability!
  • Tony, Mark, Tom, Tom, Tony, Tony, Frank, Shelby and Marilyn! You make EVERY day a joy on this campus!
  • Bob, Mary Ann, Mark and Sharon of Financial Aid! Your help with planning and budgeting is priceless...what a pun!
  • The entire faculty and staff at NUHS, especially Marie Olbrysh and the Communications staff for allowing this forum for students to openly share their experiences at NUHS.

In my life...

  • That both of my parents are still with us and 'on the mend'!
  • My three sisters back home who are sharing care duties for my folks!
  • My family and friends of many years.
  • Lauren, whom I wouldn't have met without being at NUHS. You make me happy, dear!
  • Those who have helped with life lessons that have put me exactly where I am today!
  • Self-sustainable skills and traits learned from my parents while growing up.

That just about does it this week!  Hope each of you has a wonderful Thanksgiving and are with the ones you love!  I'll continue next week with the Naturopathic Principles.