Tuesday, July 31, 2007
I'm gonna try to go to bed seeing as how I have to be up in about five hours for our first Group session ever. Then working out quickly with Emily and Virginia because then studying for the group test from then until 3 to 5pm...then maybe working out again with different people including a non-OT friend (haha I'm a MANIAC) + a lovely shared dinner of frozen Weight Watchers entrees with said non-OT friend, and then I have to like focus on making Powerpoint slides and stuff for other presentations, fun woo yay.
More tomorrow night I hope after the test is done with. Brooke and Allison just left my house a few minutes ago at 1am. We studied hard. And also laughed hard. It's hard to study with friends because there is so much to share!!! And it makes you hyper at 1am!!!
And I have Fudgesicles now! 35 calories of fake chocolatey goodness!
Monday, July 30, 2007
(Patti, I didn't get a chance to ask about IFRAH! It was really fast-paced and plus, I am pretty sure my classmates would have thrown things at me had I brought it up! I'm sorry!! You rock!!!)
Ok so back to the present. I was definitely grumpy this morning. I also had a bunch of stuff I needed to print out, two packages to ship, and needed to ask a teacher some questions. I walked out this morning with a gym bag, a lunch bag, a backpack bursting at the seams with binders/books, and a bag of packages. Not a good way to start the day. But it all got taken care of and the day improved. It turned out our morning Neuro class, which I assumed was a lecture, was actually a lab on Parkinsons. We got to do a videotape protocol with an actual Parkinsons patient (he and his wife were so sweet and great), and it was really interesting to see his tremors and dyskinesia in general. My part of it was to stand behind him and pull on his shoulders as one of the final steps in the protocol, but that scared the crap out of me. I was scared of him falling on me, both for his sake and mine, especially since it was all taped!
During the afternoon, my fellow group members Brooke & Allison and I had a meeting on our frames of reference presentation (cognitive-behavioral), and we came up with some great (funny) ideas and that, I think, cheered us all up to have a game plan. Plus, our professor who is normally teaching us on TV from across the state, was actually here today and taught us in person for the first time, and that was a lot of fun as well. It was on mood disorders - the different types as well as how OTs can treat them.
After class, Allison & I went to Yoga. I can definitely feel I'm improving, even though I'm still not very strong. She threw a rubber block at me halfway through (subtly, nobody else saw) and continued with her normal silly antics. I got her back by taking a picture of her in a weird yoga pose with my camera phone. It's now my wallpaper. It was a good experience and helped me destress. Now I'm home and am about to jump in the shower but wanted to write here first. I also have 7 birthday cards to write for the month of August and I'm going to try and send my grandma a funny postcard each week this August as well, since it is the first anniversary of my grandfather's death in a few weeks.
Tonight my goals are to study for a big Group exam on Wednesday, and well, uh, yeah, that's pretty much all I'm going to do tonight - I hear the professor's tests are REALLY hard, so I want to be prepared. Oh, and I need to measure some furniture and my closet dimensions for our home adaptation project. That's reasonable, considering it's only 720pm! Once I shower/eat, it will be 8ish, and that gives me several hours to get stuff done. Yay. Today may have started out crappy but it's ending pretty well. Now if only I had a Fudgesicle, life would be perfect.
Tomorrow I have an eye appt in the morning, which is good since my eyes have been hurting me lately. I'm gonna get funky new frames! Then we have class on schitzophrenia in the afternoon. THEN I'm meeting my Home Adaptation partners, Camiell and Anna, to get a bunch done on that. THEN I'm going swimming for an hour workout. THEN perhaps Allison & Brooke will come over to study for the Wednesday exam, and I work 9 to midnight. Hmm. Long day. Shouldn't be too hideous though. Will probably blog next on Wednesday.
HAVE A GREAT DAY EVERYONE, if you're still awake!!! HmmI can already tell what my group role will be when we start groups this week: Self-Deprecator.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Where you "smell like formaldehyde with glitter on your face..." - that's occupational therapy school for you.
So for today I'll just leave you with one of my favorite quotes summing up OT school. One of my professors said it last semester when we were doing a craft that involved glitter (for an activity analysis project), wearing our anatomy scrubs that by then smelled permanently of formaldehyde.
She said, "You know you're in OT school when you smell like formaldehyde and have glitter on your face..."
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Today was a pretty good day overall. Fun, a lot of laughter. We had THE CUTEST MOST HOTTEST ORTHOPEDIC SURGEON EVER come in and talk to us about osteoarthritis and total joint arthroplasty. Then we had a class on research design (aughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh) and then we had a long lunch. Brooke and I went to a local Mediterrean place and had yummy chicken shewarma plates. We were going to meet up with Allison to work on our cognitive-behavioral frames of reference project for most of the lunch time, but there was a conflict with another group assigned a similar FofR and so we uh, gratefully didn't work on it.
In the afternoon, we had a class on anthropometry and ergonomics. It was pretty cool. Talk about lighting, temperature, sound...even vibration. Things most people don't think about affecting the work space. It's definitely true that you can work harder and longer if you are comfortable, in a well-lit, well-ventilated environment with minimal noise and vibration. Duh, that's obvious of course, but this lecture really went into the nitty-gritty detail. That included things like understanding biomechanics so that you understand how different parts of the body work as levers, and how that can affect torque, etc. Physics stuff, ew.
After THAT, Allison, Emily, and I went to the gym to take a Spinning/Zen class. It was fun. Luckily my bike did not fall apart this time. It was Emily's first time joining us and it was great to have her, we're trying to get as many people motivated to work out as possible. The more, the merrier.
Then I hit the grocery store and now I'm home, showered and typing here. Ideally I'd do a bunch of studying and catching up tonight, but I'm feeling kinda bad now. My lower back is really hurting. My only goal for tonight is to read a little bit about NDT, since we are having a workshop on it tomorrow.
This weekend I'll aim to get a lot of stuff done for different classes, I don't have too much planned (besides ROLLER DERBY on Saturday night and seeing another friend sometime Sunday) so that I can get caught up.
PS: I need to start sprinkling the words "occupational therapy" in the blog more often so that I inch up in google search!
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Last August I had to have my beloved cat put down and it was one of the most traumatizing experiences of my life. As the anniversary approaches, I decided to write a SOAP note in her honor. Not that it's a very nice one, she was a mean cat to most people but she was all meow and no bite. Well, ok, a little bite. Maybe that makes this a DIRT note. Haha, I kill myself. Anyway, since we discussed SOAP notes in class today, I decided I should post this.
Initial evaluation with Nikki, a 17-year-old Tortoiseshell feline, home visit.
S: Nikki voiced her complaints of of arthritic pain in her joints
as well as stated she always has a generalized sense of anxiety.
Reports hobbies of watching ants, biting butts, sitting in windows,
O: Nikki was observed taking Amytriptline to calm herself. She
raced from room to room, meowing, as her owner cleaned. She jumped gingerly during window-ground transfers, and appeared agitated.
She bit the wrist of the owner's friend and did not express remorse.
A: Nikki appears to have difficulty initiating appropriate social
interactions with other felines and humans. Sensory integration
approaches, such as a brush protocol and heating pad may help her
both with her anxiety and arthritic pain. ABA therapy could be used
to teach her to stop biting. She would also benefit from consistent
monitoring of her medications.
P: Discuss plan of care with owner & veterinarian. Visit home
again within one week to determine other possible negative environmental
influences. Train owner in proper sensory integration techniques, including Wilbarger brush protocol.
STG: Reduce Nikki's biting by 50% using SI techniques, within two weeks.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
I feel weird sending this in as such a short paragraph, but maybe it means I'm finally learning the art of brevity!!!!
And yay, my air conditioning is fixed and my allergy-mystery-illness is dissipating....woohoo.
Can I just rant quickly though? The gym has a vending machine outside of it, and I was hungry today and looked at it, and almost everything was crap food like Fritos and M&Ms. They had nuts, but those are insanely high in calories. The only two remotely low-calorie options were pretzels and animal crackers. Why is it that in a health university, right next to a gym, they can't have a vending machine with more healthy or at least low-cal/fat snacks? They could add low-fat beef jerky strips, 100 calorie snack packs, granola bars, the list goes on and on. IT DRIVES ME NUTS!
Monday, July 23, 2007
Professors were understanding about my a/c dilemna. Luckily karma worked for me and the air conditioner people came between 11 and 1pm, which was my break from class anyway. I had a friend on stand-by in case things went late. I only missed about 15 minutes of Neuro so it was a pretty good situation.
In the afternoon, we had a lecture on repetitive stress injuries by our normal professor, and then a guest lecturer on burns. We saw some pretty nasty pictures of burns! The lecturer did a good job explaining the different types of burns and what you can expect. She was pretty no-nonsense, which I think is probably necessary when you deal with burn patients. I don't think I have the heart or stomach for burn patients - give me a kid with cancer any day!
I'm still sick (but improving) and I think it might just be bad allergies, quite possibly exacerbated by the mildew/wetness that has been in my A/C area. I'm a little overwhelmed right now with all the things coming up in a few weeks - the Home Modification project is taking up a lot of my background thought, plus another project is coming up quickly with another group, plus the normal readings/assignments, plus a test this Weds and next, plus coming up with adaptations for a special needs rehab mini carnival (cake walk, bowling..any ideas anyone?)...I know it's not unmanageable, but I'm just not "feeling" it right now.
Hope everyone has a great week! Hope you all enjoyed my a/c drama! Maybe I have histrionic personality disorder!!!
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Calmer Shout-out: My good friend (Hi Burt) came over to try and help me patch up the water leak but it turns out it is a lot more serious than we both originally thought, so the patching didn't help much. He came up with the bucket idea and agrees it needs to be fixed asap. He has offered to come be here if needed to deal with a/c guy since I have to be in class pretty much all day. We'll see what happens. Thanks Burt!
Also, it's starting again. The other day I was holding a soft grape and then felt hardness against my fingers. My first thought was "Myositis ossificans". Or last night, I was trying to figure out my "short term goals" for the night. OT lectures are taking over my brain!!!!!
Bad joke I found in an article on hunters with disabilities: if an alligator eats a person in a wheelchair, does that make it "meals on wheels"?
My friend pulled out a ratchet/socket the other night and explained more about it to me. Now the next time I handle a wheelchair adjustment I have a better chance of knowing what I'm doing!!
I'm now going to go ponder if prescription liquid sinus medication that expired over a year ago is still good. Hmmmm. Have a good day!!
Friday, July 20, 2007
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Luckily the class was like 3 minutes from being over so I just stood there and waited for my friend to finish. I'm going to bring in a certified bike mechanic from now on to test my bike before I take a spinning class so I don't ruin my OT career before I ever start it....just kidding.
This morning we had a lecturer come in to discuss cardiac issues like congestive heart failure, as well as coronary artery disease He was a good presenter and people asked a lot of questions. We then had a quick research project design class. It really is hard to come up with focused research questions. I feel like I'll never grasp how to do research - I've had a thousand classes about it in undergrad and still don't get it. After that it was a looong lunch. At the last minute, four of us (Brooke, Allison, Virginia, me) ended up deciding to go to a local Mediterranean cafe, which was quite the enthralling hummus-filled experience. Then we went back to the school to work on various projects. We had an SPSS lab in the afternoon, which again is something I struggle with truly understanding - statistics was a class I frequently cried about in undergrad. Give me anything involving numbers (applied calculus, chemistry, stats) and I assure you I'll end up crying. I can handle anything without numbers, though. Advanced neuroscience and immunology tests, no biggie. Hard, but not cry-worthy most of the time. Just for fun I went back and looked at some of my old tests and found answers I had written where I totally don't even know what it means anymore...stuff like " To determine if TRAIL is absolutely required for anti-CD3 antibody-induced thymocyte apoptosis you could use a soluble form of the DR5 protein. "
Okay...Yet while taking insanely hard classes like immunology, I was also in Chemistry 101 with a bunch of freshman and I cannot tell you how many tears I shed over that class because I JUST DIDN'T GET IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm mostly an A kinda person, some B's, but in my undergrad career I got three C's - Chemistry 101, Chemistry 102, and Cell Biology. I was lucky to get the C's in Chemistry, even. I had a tutor and everything.
I'm a people person, not a cell person. That's why I'm in OT! I am so grateful I will never have another chemistry class. Pretty much the only reason I have a B.A. versus B.S. is because I couldn't handle the thought of taking the extra required year of organic chemistry so I settled for the B.A. (This is one of my pet peeves btw, people who have B.S. degrees who didn't have to take organic chemistry for a year!!!) My undergrad had a VERY rigorous science program and I cannot tell you how many hours I spent in a lab at 2am. I am so glad those days are over. I'd much rather be up at 2am analyzing psychosocial issues in various clinical populations than analyzing functional genomic tests on unicellular eukaryotes.
I guess I got off on a tangent there, just trying to explain I have SERIOUS math/stat weaknesses! But I'm proud of my science background, even if I don't remember anything I learned...it makes all the OT learning seem easy in comparison because it rarely requires as much brainpower to grasp. In fact, one of my issues lately is that in some classes it seems we are learning common sense things. I don't like to tell people about things I learned when their response can be "But isn't that common sense?" (Hi Mom). Although I guess a lot of OT is common sense & energy conservation/efficiency.
Since class let out, I've been to the mall to help a friend pick out a top, worked out at the gym with Allison, forced her to go to the store with me, fed cats, turtles, and chickens at a friend's house, watered my landlord's plants, showered, and am now writing here for leisure time...I'm fighting some allergies, a few days of sleep deprivation, and my body is rebelling a little bit against the high-impact jogging and stuff I've been doing, so I'm not feeling so hot right now.
I think I'm probably not going to do anything productive for school tonight. Tomorrow I am meeting a friend to work out in the morning, and then have wood-working at 2pm. That's it! Of course I also have a ton of errands to run and work at 9pm, but it is wonderful to have a little time outside of class to get stuff done. This weekend I'll be reading the new Harry Potter (I hate you NY Times for your spoilage), cleaning my house, meeting some non-OT friends, and organizing my school binders/catching up on reading for next week.
I continue to have a wonderful time with my classmates. While every day may bring a little new drama, it's mostly SOOOOOOOOO MUCHHHHHHH FUNNNNNNNNNN. Like today, trying not to laugh hysterically at Brooke's disgusted face as a highlighter exploded on her hand during a guest lecture.
HA! Wow, rereading this post, I probably need to be on Ritalin or something. Sorry, I promise to be more coherent tomorrow after some sleep. Going to bed now...
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
I'm back. Two posts in one day, I'm sure you all are fainting with excitement. I need to go to bed, but decided to quickly upload some pictures I took today. I snapped a picture of my visual calendar right before I uploaded.
I lost 40 pounds on Weight Watchers about 5+ few years ago, and until OT school started, I pretty much kept it all off. Then the stress began and I drank a lot of milkshakes to try and calm that stress and we all know how THAT works out. So I've been working really hard on re-losing the 15 pounds I've regained. I know all the normal tricks - drink lots of water, eat slowly, eat on a small plate, put your fork down between bites, eat lots of fiber, check ingredient labels, blah blah blah. And obviously, exercise. But probably the biggest help to me lately in regards to my exercise has been my visual calendar. I got this tip off some random website a few months ago, and I cannot tell you how great it is. I've decided to use the color green on days I don't exercise, orange on days I partially exercise, and pink on days I fully exercise at least a hour. I live for pink days and hate green days, so every day I color in on my calendar what kind of day it was. I'm so desperate to avoid green days (except twice a week as rests) that it really motivates me to keep working out. Plus, at a glance you can see how you are doing, visually. Seeing all that pink makes me happy.
I think this visual calendar technique (which may be a common OT technique, I don't know) could be used for a lot of clients in different ways. You could use it with depressed patients to monitor bad days, average days, and good days. You could use it as an exercise or food calendar with people who need to develop better food or exercise habits. The possibilities are endless. The key is to keep it simple, no more than 3 colors. This way the client and/or therapist can just easily see how things are progressing with just a glance across the room at a wall.
All I know is, I love me some pink days!
I didn't sleep very well last night, and since I had to work until midnight and then be up around 6ish, well, yeah, I was tired. As fascinating as the orthopedic surgeon was, I had a hard time staying awake. I then met a friend to go work out (on the track and then twenty minutes of really, really bad tennis), then stopped at another friend's house to learn how to take care of their cats, turtles, & chickens this weekend while they are gone, then came back to my house to water the landlord's plants while they are out of town as well, then showered and am now eating dinner (gotta love frozen dinners) while writing this!
We haven't been in class even 2 weeks and I already have a 3-inch ring binder (we're talking like 700 pages here) stuffed to the brim that barely even fits in my backpack. I have about 30 different e-mails of presentations/notes I need to print out and I am scared that it is going to overflow the binder. While most of the notes are supposed to last us all semester, it's still scary! I say that because I am staring at my binder right now in a mixture of repulsion and awe. Mostly repulsion.
So, I need to go see what I need to read for tomorrow and prep my stuff. It's already 9pm and I'm just now sitting down, where does the time go????????
Tomorrow and Friday should be easier days, so I am hoping (I'm full of empty promises) that I'll eventually write a post of prosperity and merit! Ok not really. Maybe at least I'll add the two new OT blogs I found to my sidebar (Hi Cathy and Set a Man on Fire).
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
This morning we had a speaker come talk on home health. Fascinating as always. This afternoon we had a lesson on eating disorders and finished up our substance abuse chat. I'd like to write a post on how OTs can help with abuse/eating disorders/mental health in general, but it won't be today. After classes ended Camiell and Anna came over so we could work on making up a family history for a man with dementia and uses a walker. This will be given to another group. We have to fake modify two rooms in my house to handle a power wheelchair and bilateral upper extremity muscle weakness. Today we just measured all the walls in the affected rooms and will meet again Thursday to draw up the original floor plan. Then I started laundry, then my landlord called to show me what all to water for the next two weeks while they are out of town. This requires a LOT of time as they have a ton of plants, but I don't mind at all since they are so good to me. But I have to work in 3 hours and I still need to have dinner, shower, do a bunch of reading for class tomorrow, work on my Ruffini receptors presentation for tomorrow, organize the ton of stuff I printed out today, and just in general prep for tomorrow. So tons of things are swirling through my brain and it's hard to focus. It's also hard to get started. I feel like I've been on the go nonstop and I desperately want to rest my brain. Too bad there is no time for that!
I also want to spend more time on www.otility.com. It seems like a great resource and they have some message boards. I'm hoping I can get back to it in the next day or two. Not to mention the newest disability blog carnival is going on (where a bunch of people write blog posts about disabilities and submit them to one area) and I want to read them too! Ryn Tales (see link on sidebar) has a link to it on her blog, in case anyone is interested.
So....yeah. Tomorrow we have class 8 to 5 but if I can just clear that hurdle, Thursday and Friday won't be that bad at all.
I am pretty sure I will only get about 4 hours sleep tonight at best. Gotta keep truckin'.
Maybe I'll write more clearly tomorrow.
Monday, July 16, 2007
While we were discussing substance abuse disorders, I got a little overwhelmed. Not by the material presented, but by the idea that us OTs could help someone with SO MANY PROBLEMS get their life back on track. We had a fake case study of an alcoholic and when we made his "problem" list, it was really long. It's hard to imagine tackling so many issues successfully.
I think this is the shortest blog entry I've written in a long time, I know there are people dropping dead in amazement all over the world.
Tomorrow is luckily a shorter day. The big thing is that Camiell & Anna will be coming over to my apt to work on the home adaptation project. I don't think any of us have ever made a floor plan before...should be a hoot. And by "hoot" I mean "architectural travesty".
Friday, July 13, 2007
Today was really fun but sweaty and tiring!
Half the class met up upstairs at 9am in our lab to get acquainted with wheelchairs. Immediately, I made 3 mistakes. 1) I propped the outer door open 2) I got in a wheelchair and others followed suit before the professor got there and 3) I totally didn't realize we had reading on the wheelchairs so uh, I didn't do it. After a tense start based on people not having done the readings and not supposed to have been in wheelchairs, it got fun! Our professor named wheelchair parts, helped teach us how to adjust the foot/leg pads and gave us different cushions to try out. We had to use a ratchet and socket thing to adjust them and I have never touched one in my life. I was so lost. I am going to go ask one of my handyman friends (hi Burt) to let me experiment with ratchet/sockets sometime soon. Then we went downstairs, 5 of us in wheelchairs and 5 of us pushing, and started navigating. We went outside and practiced going up and down curbs, which was really surprisingly hard in some positions! I wasn't able to bring someone up off the curb backwards.We also went on ramps and practiced tilting. It was hot/humid so it was sweaty work but good practice and fun. I took a ton of pictures because I think it is really important to document our journey pictorially, both for my own sake as well as all the girls in the class.
This way they have pictures to show their friends & family, and also we have pictures that can be used for promotion/publicity reasons. Unfortunately I can't share the pictures of others here since I don't have permission, although I may ask the class if there is anyone who is NOT okay with normal pictures being used here since I bet most would be fine with it. Okay moving on, sorry got sidetracked. Anyways, then Allison and I went to go work out, and then we meet Brooke for lunch and went to a yummy nearby cafe. I had a roasted chicken salad sandwich and felt so virtuous since I am trying hard to lose some weight. I did get one oh so sinfully delicious hush-puppy though, I was in heaven. Then it was back class to go to WOODWORKING (we were divided into three sessions so there was only 6 of us in each session).
I'll admit I was nervous about woodworking. I'm kind of a slow learner when it comes to hands-on things, and I had no experience in this arena. Luckily the woodworking instructor (who is also a professor/dentist) was pretty much the most amazing person ever, so he made it a lot of fun and easy. We are constructing toolboxes. We had to take 8-foot pieces of wood and cut them down for the toolbox, using a handsaw. Then we got to use a table saw (?) for the beveled edges for the sides of it, and then use a drill thingie to make a one-inch hole for the toolbox dowels. Even though I tried really hard and was using a level and everything, I never once got a line straight. Or even if the line was straight, I would only saw a tiny bit correctly and then my saw would magically deviate elsewhere so I never cut it straight. I wasn't surprised though, I have NEVER in my life cut or drawn a straight line. So my toolbox probably won't fit together so well, hmmm. Oh well, as long as I can guide others as an OT and not have to do the straight lines myself, I guess it won't matter. It was really enjoyable and again we took lots of fun pictures. I was glad Brooke had previous set experience in woodworking and was a huge help to me. I have confidence issues!
Anyway, I just got home, showered, and posted a bunch of pictures to Facebook. Now I'm typing this up quickly and gonna hang out/work a few hours before I work at 9pm. Tomorrow I'm hanging out with Brooke and we're going to have a "What Not to Wear" tv-show marathon since I clearly need help in that arena. I'm bringing my schoolwork too though since we both need to work on it. That night we're going to another OT girl's house who recently got married and moved, so that should be fun. She's invited the class over.
I doubt I'll post this weekend, but we'll see. It depends on how exciting my schoolwork gets and if it subsequently inspires me...hmm, unlikely this weekend.
I've noticed I use the words "fun", "interesting", "fascinating" and "exciting" a lot in my most recent posts Maybe I need a thesaurus, but it's hard to describe it any other way. It's JUST SO FUN INTERESTING FASCINATING AND EXCITING!
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Basically we learned more about visitable & accessible environments in our "Perspectives of Adult Development" class, then had an introduction to our new class of Research Project design, then I went to a faculty/student meeting, and then we had class on wheelchair mobility/acessibility/design. All the classes (well ok, research is kind of dry to me but whatever) were really and truly fascinating. You wouldn't think it would be interesting to learn about pressure points in different types of wheelchair seatings, but it really was. Sorry to keep beating dead horses, but in the recent book "Miracles Happen" about the vent-dependent quad who graduated from Harvard, one of the main things that almost kept her from graduating was a bad pressure sore that wouldn't heal.
Then Allison & I headed to a local pediatric hospital to learn more about a big affair they are throwing for their Rehab kids, since some of our class members will be helping adapt some typical carnival games for those kids, who vary in ability. Then we headed to the gym and thought we would be taking a spinning class, but we got the time wrong. So we ended up doing 20 minutes of yoga with (I'm sorry) a really inexperienced, therefore not so great, instructor. At one point somebody farted (I mean tooted) and I thought Allison and I were going to die trying not to laugh hysterically. I had to stop looking at her and I cried laughing. For like the second time this week. I think Allison is bad for me since she keeps making me laugh at inappropriate times! Anyway, it was fun. We finished our workout, I headed home to shower/eat, and now somehow it's like already 930pm! It's craziness!
Tomorrow we get to actually take wheelchairs outside to experiment with navigating on curbs/ramps etc and get a feel for them, and we also have our first woodworking class. I'm nervous, I totally don't know what to expect and I'd kinda like to not saw off my hands. I have really, really, pathologically-poor visuospatial abilities, and I've never cut or drawn a straight line in my life, so I am concerned I'll be BAD at this. It makes me sad because I want to be more like Ora Ruggles and be like, amazing at everything.
Oh, and the coolest news yet - I might get to do my specialty 3-month level II fieldwork in vestibular rehab! That sounds so exciting! If anyone has any good resources or has done vestibular rehab before, please share your thoughts.
Ok, sorry no pictures and just a boring post today, what can I say...I'll try to come up with something amazing for this weekend, and by amazing I mean "slightly more interesting than my typical boring post".
PS: My current favorite quote by another OT student during one of our dramas, in true George Orwell fashion: "It's not that we don't like each other, it's just that we like some people more than others!"...
PS2: I just realized this post is insanely long just like the rest of my posts even though I promised I'd be quick. What can I say...
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
By the way, I have recently skimmed a bunch of articles on how to increase blog readership. One of the issues mentioned was to be concise. I pondered over this because let's face it, I don't have a brevity bone. I decided that while I worked hard in June to build up this blog, my current function while back in school is just to spill out my thoughts. I type very quickly and just pour out what's in my brain, both for my own memory-keeping and for others to maybe get a glimpse into the occupational therapy student world. I don't have the time to sit here and edit my thoughts to be concise, so uh, yeah. Sorry. And see, I just took a paragraph to explain I would not be concise...
Today was a 8 to 5 day with an hour for lunch. We started with the class involving neurological impairment and it was so fascinating to learn about how spinal cord injury patients function when it comes to activities of daily life. Things like bladder and bowel care are SO much harder, it's amazing what we all take for granted. We learned how C6 and above patients, who don't have use of their hand muscles but do have wrist extensors, can use the anatomical phenomenon of tenodesis (sp) to pick items up (basically how extending your wrist opens your hand and dropping your wrist closes it...try it!). Anyway, it reminded me of the book I read recently called Miracles Happen, about the first ventilator-dependent quadriplegic to graduate from Harvard, and her story about a car accident changing her life at age 11. Very interesting stuff and our professor is so knowledgeable and had tons of great very uh, vivid pictures. He's been an OT over 50 years now so he has a lot of experience to share with us.
After that we had FOUR HOURS of discussion/lecture of our newest class, which is all about Group Practice! We will get to facilitate groups on certain topics, and just in general learn how to use group therapy effectively as an OT. But more importantly, we learn about our own strengths and weaknesses and are forced to confront them. Our professor pointed out that if we are going to fall on our face, it is better it happens in school instead of in a real clinic. True. I already know some major things I need to work on. Like 1, I cry immediately when frustrated, 2, I take any criticism VERY personally and it hurts my feelings, 3, I am afraid of conflict and have no assertiveness when it comes to confronting people. Etc. I am a little scared because I think dealing with my issues will be hard, but I am also thrilled that perhaps I'll come out of this class with new tools to face problems that may affect me as an OT...as well as in my personal life.
Then it was time for a class on visitable/accessible environments, where we learned about ratios, like 1:50 for ramps, how wide doorways should be, lamp glare, carpets, adaptive living, all sorts of things. Also FASCINATING and we didn't get far into the lecture because everyone kept on chiming in with stuff since it was so interesting and we all had so many thoughts. I was thinking a lot about my mom's roommate who is Deaf-Blind and some of his accommodations, and also trying to figure out how my own apartment would work for someone with a handicap. In fact, one of the projects we get to do involves doing some home adaptation on a budget!
Today, everything we learned was so cool. I really was thinking oh, I could write an entire post on this, or an entire post on this, or this, or this, or this...but obviously there is not enough time in the day. Classes ended at 5pm, I got home and called a friend, then another friend called I was supposed to meet, then an OT girl called to rant and then my other friend called, etc, then I got an email from the cashier's office about a registration error (terror, it is hopefully a computer glitch...) anyway...then I met a friend to quickly eat a healthy meal before we went walking on the track for 2 miles. Came home, talked to another OT girl, then another OT girl...I talked to at least five different OT girls tonight. By then it was already 9pm and I did a few quick weights and jumped in the shower before another OT girl called. I just quickly looked in my binder to make sure I didn't have much to do for tomorrow since um, I'm tired. Now it's 1015pm and I am going to blow-dry my hair then go to bed. Although I'm kind of keyed up since I've been on the go ALL day long. I've had energy to spare today. I was doing lunges and wall slides during our breaks!
Last night I worked my shift until midnight and then my left wrist stayed numb and tingling for several hours so I didn't actually get to sleep until close to 2. Had to be up at 640 so I guess I was delirious from sleep deprivation and it appeared as an overload of energy, I dunno. I am pretty sure I have carpal tunnel syndrome in my left hand (my dominant hand) and I'm concerned. Luckily we had splinting last semester and my partner made me a resting hand splint, so I guess I'll be using that!
Ok, this is getting really long but this is how I relax, spilling my thoughts, so bear with me. I know I've talked about this before ad nauseum, but there are truly no words to describe how fun it is to be in classes with friends! Getting to glance at friends or occasionally write notes (ooh bad me) and hang out during lunch is so much fun. I think most people have experienced that kind of fun their entire life, but since it is new to me at age 24 it is like DISNEYLAND. Last semester and in general I used to always just read during breaks because I rarely had someone to talk to, but now I'm like hmm, I can study later, now is for hanging out! One girl in the class,(dontworryIwontuseyournameAllison) made me laugh so hard I cried today. That's what OT school is all about. Being stressed, being tired, but LOVING the material and LOVING your classmates.
Tomorrow we only have class from 930 to 4, so yay! I can catch up tomorrow on any readings and other things I should be working on instead of writing on this blog. But hey, we are all supposed to have a balance of occupations....this is my leisure time!
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
I'm glad yesterday was a good day, but I found today to be very stressful. Only the second day too, bad sign! There were a few fun classes but also a lot of drama and some anger.
Class was only from 10-4 today, and started with a Neuro class on spinal cord injuries. We saw some really gruesome pictures of bedsores and learned some interesting information. I have had a lot of neuro education in both undergrad and now OT school, but it just doesn't stick with me - I just don't "get" it very well. I get it well enough to get an A on a test, but then I forget it because it was only due to memorization of things I didn't understand. Had lunch, then it was time for a psychiatrist to speak about mental health issues. He was so amazing. I wanted to adopt him as my grandfather. He spoke in the kind of voice you hear on audio-books, gentle and kind. He seemed like the stereotypical pipe-smoking older man rocking in front of the fire, although only in the sense that he was comforting. But the things he spoke of were also really depressing at times! It kinda made me want to cry! At one point he said suicide and homicide are preceded by the same symptoms - only the direction the gun was pointing was the difference. A lot of suicides are also immediately preceded by a homicide. He spoke for two hours and was great. He had a little trouble getting used to the fact that some of our class was across the state and live via TV monitors - he'd stare into the TV screen and mutter "Great Scott!". It was hilarious. He was such a good speaker.
THEN it was time for a class meeting, and some drama (manageable due to our fantastic class president) ensued. Group projects are a big deal because nobody wants to be with people that won't do their share or don't have the same "vision" when it comes to grades. Anyway, most of us were in groups we were happy with, but it turned out the professor wanted us to be in groups different than last semester. That's understandable, although there was a mini class argument on how to go about changing up the groups. We decided on picking names out of a hat. My new group is fine, but it was still a stressful experience!
Then we had another speaker come in, a neurosurgeon. She spoke about traumatic brain injuries and gave us background on them, and also a little bit about OT's role in working with such patients. Again, pretty interesting. Makes me want to wrap myself in bubble wrap though and never move again, after hearing about some of the horrible things that happen to people! I really like having visiting speakers because it gives us different insights!
I really enjoyed the lectures today and found them interesting. The group project drama was a little stressful, but the most stressful thing involves our class schedule and last-minute changes that have really affected our own personal plans. I originally wrote out a long detailed rant on this, but sat on it a few minutes and realized I shouldn't post the rant. I'm trying to keep some modicum of professionalism for the sake of any of my professors who may be reading this. It's hard though, y'all have no idea how much self-control it is taking me to not share! Augh!
So I just got home a few minutes ago (a rainy day doesn't help things) and decided to type up this rant, which I then sent to myself for prosperity before deleting 99.9% of it for this post. Now I'm going to go play some calming music and do some breathing/yoga exercises, because as my OT friend Brooke would say, "I'm on fire!"
After that, I have some reading to do before I work tonight from 9pm to midnight. Augh again. Back tomorrow with hopefully better news and a calmer attitude...
Monday, July 9, 2007
Today we had a lecturer come in and discuss Work Hardening. This is a fascinating subject to me because of the psychology involved in figuring out who is faking and who is not, who has motivation and why, etc. It seems like you have to be a pretty tough personality to deal with some of the more challenging cases. We have about ten thousand presentations to make in this upcoming semester, and several of them are really long. Of course, every project/presentation we have involves a group project. There was a flurry of drama as everybody tried to get in groups with people they were comfortable with, either due to friendship or knowledge of good work ethics. Some days it seems like it is better if we are just assigned groups, but then there are always people angry they got stuck with others they didn't like. Yet when we have to pick our own groups, drama ensues, so I guess either way has its pros and cons.
Even though it was no fun getting up early and being overwhelmed by all our projects, it WAS fun to get to see everyone. It felt like we had never left. Plus our classroom got some great technology enhancements while we were gone, to help make it easier to work with the distance learning component (some of our class is across the state and interacts with us live on TV monitors). After class I printed out a bunch of stuff, went home and checked my email and called my friend, then went back to school to go to yoga with another OT girl. We had a good time and now I'm home, showered, and relaxing here for a few minutes. Decompressing by writing out my thoughts. Then I'll start reading parts of the DSM-IV-TR in preparation for a psychiatry lecture tomorrow. I'm surprisingly unstressed. I'm honestly normally easily stressed out and anxiety-ridden, but I feel good today. Not too tired, ready to tackle the work. Of course in a day or two I'll be moaning about how stressed I am, so I'll enjoy the feeling while it lasts!
If anyone wants to post their thoughts on their own OT/OTS experiences, I'd be happy to put it up. Just e-mail me!
Sunday, July 8, 2007
Saturday, July 7, 2007
My paternal grandmother and I have always been very close. My grandfather died last year in August, and she has had a rough time adjusting to living alone and being without him, after over 50 years of marriage. She ended up going to Norway with me a few months after he died, and we spent several wonderful weeks there visiting my old host family/friends. During our trip I had a critical-OT-eye, watching how she appeared physically and mentally. She had pretty typical geriatric issues, such as trouble fumbling with pill caps due to her knobby arthritic fingers. She's had knee-replacements so stairs are hard for her. She forgets thing a lot. I brainstormed furiously during my trip for ways to help her deal with these things. Some things I could help her with, other things I couldn't - I hadn't even started OT school then so I was only operating from a concerned granddaughter/OT-observation-only kind of standpoint. While I doubt I would work in geriatrics long-term, I look forward to our third, geriatrics-heavy semester because it means things I can help her with. (My maternal grandfather is still alive and so I don't mean to ignore him in this post but he doesn't have any visible issues!)
Grandma is lucky to have 7 children, several of whom live nearby, and 25 grandchildren, so she definitely gets help. She still drives and takes some senior exercises at the YMCA, including a "drum" class where they beat on balls. She really likes that class. She has two issues we've discussed lately that bother her - one unresolved, one getting resolved.
The first is that she gets a HUGE amount of snail-mail daily. The three weeks of mail I had waiting for me when I got back last week were the equivalent of one day for her. It covers her dining room table in a huge mountain and takes her a good part of the day to go through it, if she even manages to get it done. Most of it is from charities. She tends to send $10 checks to every charity that asks, so that adds up to a LOT of junk-mail (not to mention her CPA wants to tear his hair out, but that's another story.) Anyway, dealing with this mail is a huge burden for her. She knows, realistically, that if she stopped sending checks to all the different charities, it would help, but she just can't help herself. She opens those mails with those poor starving orphans and just feels driven. We've all told her not to but she still struggles. It's been an ongoing issue for a long time.
Today, she called me and we talked for a while. She was having a rough week, loneliness-wise. She mentioned her mail again and we discussed the charity issue again. She talked about how she just wanted to help them all, and how one of her friends told her to just do a Hail Mary as she put the charity requests in the trash (she's very religious) . I suggested that she make a charity corner each day (since she might literally get about 20+ requests a day for money), not open any of the envelopes at all so she can't be broken, and then do her rosary that day for all the different charities...and then throw the requests away or shred them, unopened. She actually seemed to like the idea that A) she could just not open them, and B) her guilt could be somewhat assuaged with a rosary. I also told her I'd check online to see different ways I could get her off mailing lists.
One of her other issues involves balance. She's sometimes unsteady and could definitely use some balance work. She's been going to her senior exercise classes which help a lot. She also has been putting one hand on a chair and then standing on one foot (hence the title of this post) for a little while. I had suggested it to her months ago (I did warn her to start out with someone nearby in case it was harder than she expected). She was telling me she thinks it's really been helping her balance. I was happy to hear that although I think it's probably mostly from her exercise classes. Regardless, she has become more steady, and that has been confirmed by several of her children.
I guess this ended up becoming a mini-geriatric occupational profile. I really just wanted to talk about how I want to try and use my budding OT knowledge to help my grandma out, and I guess I got out of control!
The picture above is of us in Norway this past October. The picture below I took at one of their famous parks in Oslo.
Friday, July 6, 2007
So just a quick blurb on what all I did today as I get ready to start back up in school, I'll try to post something with more depth (ie not so boring) tomorrow. This morning, went up to the university again to print more and buy a few books - one on group dynamics, one on research, one on physical dysfunction. Saw Virginia (OT). Worked out. Went to lunch with an OT friend a year ahead of me who just started her clinical rotations. She reassured me in some ways and gave me nightmares in others with her tales. Then Brooke (OT) walked up to our lunch date because she was in the same area to go wedding-dress shopping with a friend. Small world. Went to the mall to buy some clothes on sale. Went to Super Target for needed stuff. Went to a Skate Shop to see if they could fix my snake board (couldn't, too obscure). Hurried back west as storm was brewing. Went to eye doc to see about an appt. Called my university's insurance and got bad news about their prescription coverage (ridiculous). Did 2 loads of laundry at landlord's. Now working a shift until midnight. Oh, and organized probably 500 pages of notes for the semester into binders. That was immensely enjoyable, hole-punching it all...I'm slightly overwhelmed by our schedule and all the different syllabi, but I guess it always seems worse than it is. Even though I love OT school I'm already stressed out thinking about all the work!
Merrolee, oh so famed OT educator in New Zealand leading the OT Web2.0 revolution, recently sent me an article called "Culture, Theory, and the Practice of Occupational Therapy in New Zealand/Aotearoa" by Kaja Jungersen. It was published in a 1992 AJOT. I've only skimmed it so far but my initial reaction is A) it reminded me of my anthropology class from undergrad, and B) its discussion of the Maori culture sounds a lot like the American equivalent of Native Americans in that their indigenous culture was marginalized. The article discusses models and ways for OTs to deal with marginalized cultures (well specifically Maori but the results can be generalized). I need to read it more closely before I write anymore about it though.
So that's it. My boring but busy day and a quick glimpse into NZ culture. Back to work...
Thursday, July 5, 2007
Today I went to the university to print out the notes for the various classes coming up. I think I used up about six trees doing so and it took me almost an hour and I still didn't finish. I also went clothes shopping since I was badly in need of some new stuff. I had to call Brooke (OT girl) from the mall and ask if Bermuda shorts were still cool. I'm so out of the know in the fashion world. Took a friend swimming and got rained on near the end, it was quite the adventure. Then went to another friends and had REALLY YUMMY beef brisket sandwiches for dinner. Plus they have new chickens and a tame cat, so the chickens & cat were chilling out together. It was fun to watch. After dinner, they told me they had this special homemade ice cream they wanted me to try. They just stuck a spoon in it and said here, try. Well, I was expecting GOOD ice cream and the second it hit my mouth I realized it was not. I had to spit it out and rinse my tongue under the faucet. It was their roasted garlic ice cream, which they thought would taste good but didn't. Instead of throwing it out after they realized how gross it was, they froze it just so I would have to try it the next time I saw them, their unsuspecting victim. Ew. To make up for it they gave me a caramel brownie. Now I'm home and about to start reading my newly printed OT documents. Okay, on to OT stuff. I wrote the following a few days ago, which is based on an experience I had months ago.
In the last semester, I got to watch a physical therapist do burn care one time. I know that there are not many OTs who do participate in taking care of burns, but it is still a specialty, so I wanted to share my own experience so that maybe it will help future OT students know some of the things they should be prepared for. I've decided HIPAA-vague stories are no fun to read, so I'm going a different route and making ****COMPLETELY fictional characters*** with absolutely no resemblance to who I saw in anyway. Their story is different too. The ONLY thing I'm not changing in this and future stories are my own reactions and feelings, which were pretty intense on this day. The procedure described is routine for burn care.
My understanding is that many pediatric hospitals have special burn-care rooms. This one was beautiful, with a ceiling full of stars. They do conscious sedation in there when dealing with debridement of burn-wounds and re-bandaging. The day I walked in, I had no clue what to expect since it had actually been a last-minute decision by the therapists to allow me to see it if I wanted to. I said sure and didn't think twice. I was ushered into a room that was small and filled with people involved in burn-care. A beautiful little girl named Kayla was waiting with her mother. The little girl had been scalded on her leg by hot tap water when sitting on the side of the kitchen sink with her mother, who had not realized how hot the water could get. Kayla's wound was bandaged and it needed to be examined and debrided. Apparently the little girl had already been given one drug (Versed), but as is routine procedure, Kayla was also given an IV that helped finish off the job of conscious sedation. She of course shrieked when the needle went in, which scared me since I hadn't realized that was going on at the time. It reminded me of the scene in the Poisonwood Bible when the baby of the family, Ruth, gets bitten by a poisonous snake.
After Kayla had gone limp, she was put on the burn-care table. Her eyes were glassy and she was just completely...gone. It reminded me very much of how my beloved cat, Nikki, had looked when I had to have her put down last summer. After the vets had given her the amnesiac/sedative but before they finished the job, they had let me hold her. I had held her limp body, her eyes glassy and open, and sobbed hysterically. It was one of the worst experiences of my life. (Ok, full disclosure, I'm actually again crying right now thinking of it.) Tears came to my eyes in the burn room because I was reminded of how Nikki had looked (still fresh in my mind from a few months earlier), and also scared me for Kayla. I had not realized conscious sedation would mean they wouldn't just look like they were "sleeping".
As the PT and others began to work over Kayla, I watched intently. I had been warned that if I felt dizzy I should sit down but not try to leave. This was partially because they did not want somebody passing out where they couldn't see them, but I'm going to assume that someone rushing out the door in a small area could potentially blow particles or items onto the open wound by accident, too. As they began cutting away dead flesh and just in general working on debridement, I began to feel sick to my stomach. Not in a throw-up way, just horrified at what I was seeing. They were performing a perfectly routine procedure, going by the book and doing nothing wrong, it just disturbed me to think about the pain associated with burns. I should have known I would feel this way since earlier, when I had seen a newborn being probed with a needle for a blood draw, I had also felt temporarily sick. And it just got worse. I knew I couldn't leave, so I started to feel trapped. And then I started to sweat. I was getting really, really, really hot. Oh no, that meant I must be having a panic attack. I hadn''t had one in many years. I was desperate to get out of that room into some cool air, to not be trapped watching wound debridement. I knew I couldn't do anything. I was determined not to make a scene. It would ruin it for future OT students, not to mention make me look bad in that particular instance. Plus, the mother was there. The focus needed to rightfully be on Kayla, not on a freaked out student.
1. The child will probably suddenly cry or scream when they get the IV put in. Be aware that's going to happen (so many people are in the room you can't see everything) so you aren't too startled.
2. Be prepared for how the child will look during conscious sedation, since it's not like sleeping. For me personally, it was worse than looking at a cadaver, but it might not bother most people.
3. They have to keep the room really, really hot because burn victims don't have skin on the burns. Skin is needed to keep in body heat. So realize you are just hot because it IS hot, not necessarily because you think your body is telling you something.
So..overall, even though it was a horrible experience for me, it was still a good learning experience and fascinating. Nobody did anything wrong, I just didn't know what to expect and it turned out different factors colluded to make it an unpleasant one. I think if I had known more, I could have handled it differently. Although I don't think burn care will ever be my passion!
Wednesday, July 4, 2007
Happy 4th of July! Or even more importantly, Happy Independence Day!
I shared in an earlier post the T-shirt slogan I found on cafepress.com that said "OTs make every day Independence day".
I like that shirt because it emphasizes what most non-OTs forget. If you asked an average person (assuming they have even heard of OT) what OTs did, they might say OTs work with upper-body, or maybe that they deal with daily life activities. Yet our ability to facilitate independence is one of our most prized and important skills and we need to emphasize that!
So remember...in the OT world, every day is Independence Day!
Update at 1030pm before bed: Today I headed out with friends Paul & Angela to her parents' house. We had beef brisket, ribs, homemade barbecue sauce, grilled corn on the cob, green beans, watermelon, bread, cucumbers and tomato, coleslaw, and grilled sweet potatoes. Pretty decadent. Red velvet cake and lemon pie for dessert. Yum! Then I went to the track where I got my undergraduate degree, and walked for a few miles. I was alone on the track and it was kind of melancholy, looking at the beautiful buildings on the tranquil campus. I miss my time there - I like my MOT program just fine, but there is a big difference between the campus of a private liberal arts college and the bustling, industrial campus of a large university in a downtown area!
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
I so badly just want to share exactly what I experienced today in Feeding Group. Too bad I can't. I'm shaking my fist at a HIPAA-colored sky.
Basically, I got to document how a child reacts when a food is first presented to them, and how they react after a few minutes. It's fascinating to see what different children tolerate, and how parents interact with their children in trying to get them to eat. The therapists were great! It was really cool to watch. I asked a therapist if the children were orally hypo or hypersensitive if they preferred hard crunchies to soft things. My understanding was some children needed the hard crunchies to give them boundaries due to their HYPOsensitivity. She said they often prefer the crunchies due to being HYPERsensitive and it just depends on the child. Hmm, a "sticky" question...?
Then I went to Virginia's birthday lunch. Brooke and another OT girl were present. It was at a delicious Italian restaurant. It was fun!
Then I headed to another hospital to do database entry. The computers I use are in the PT office, so I got to chat with one of their PTs who was procrastinating on her note dictation. I asked her if she felt like her job ever got easier. She said mostly not, she just has more confidence now than she did 5 years ago when she graduated.
Now I'm waiting to go work out/eat and just relaxing, so I'm just going to ramble.
Three odd things have happened in the last few days.
1. I was driving behind a girl on a motorcycle. She was wearing backpack that had an undone zipper. Suddenly a bright red pepper tumbled onto the road, an explosion of red. I felt like I was in a scene from a foreign movie.
2. As I was about to get into my car in a parking garage today, a woman was trying to get into the passenger seat of the van next to me. But her shoelace was stuck in the side of her door somehow, and so I untangled this stranger's shoelace.
3. When I tried to leave my house this morning I was blocked by a big spiderweb blocking the entire walkway. I'm as terrified of spiderwebs as spiders so I had to go back inside, get a broom, and rip it down while shuddering in disgust. Ew.
Update: I have to add a #4. I was out walking with my friend tonight when we walked past a couple with their dog. The dog seemed nice until right after they passed us because then he turned and bit my friend on the butt. Luckily not that hard. But that's pretty weird.
Ok I'm headed out. I work tonight and if it gets slow I may end up dreaming up another post, I have lots of ideas which came to me around 3am last night. That might be a sign of insanity, I'm not sure. I promise my next post will be all professional and OT-like.
SIX MORE DAYS UNTIL CLASSES START!
For now I'll leave you with a concept I've thought about a lot over the past semester. It was in a book about leadership, in one of our OT books. The gist of it was "Good leaders make other leaders, not followers."
Quick update: I tried skimming through one of my books but couldn't find the exact quote. I think about this quote a lot because I realized that when I am in a group project, I often tend to manage it in such a way that I make the others dependent on me. That is actually true in a lot of aspects of my life. It's kind of like the give a man fish and he eats for a day, teach him how to fish and he eats forever, kind of thing. I tend to just "give out the fish" because it's often easier and quicker to do so. Gotta work on that!
Monday, July 2, 2007
It would be more fun if this post was about hippotherapy.
It's 1:20am and I went to bed hours ago. But I tossed and turned and then suddenly a thought occurred to me: what if I have violated HIPAA in some way, even though I have been careful since Day 1? I would be in so much trouble. I mean, I had changed names and details and everything, but maybe I hadn't been vague enough! My mind raced.
I got up and turned on my computer and went back to the few posts I had made that involved patient stories. Even though I'm pretty confident they were edited enough to be more than safe, I made them even vaguer and literally changed the entire story-lines so that only the moral lesson remained intact. And therefore the stories became a lot more boring. I think most people like to read specifics, and it is incredibly frustrating to change my painstakingly detailed journal entries of student-experience into soul-less tidbits devoid of personality.
The reasons behind HIPAA are obviously very important. I totally respect that. It's just hard to figure out how to share experiences with others without crossing any lines.
I guess I need to figure out how to use fake specifics without people thinking I am violating HIPAA. I read a lot of blogs written by medical-field people and it seems like they all go through waves of paranoia where they worry about somehow violating HIPAA or thinking their employers are going to punish them if they find them. Several of them have been sued or fired. They live in fear. I don't want that. It seems like some of them get around the issue by using specifics in their stories, but then using a site disclaimer saying everything they write is fiction, based on composite characters they've encountered in their career. Of course, as a new student, I can't really draw on a huge pool of patient stories.
But hypothetically, it seems like the bloggers could say, Oh this is fiction, don't mind me HIPAA...and then blithely write just the exact details of what went on, gambling that there is no chance of their patient ever stumbling across that blog and therefore never being reported. I wonder how many bloggers do that.
I guess it would be safest if I just continue what I am doing. Which is making things really overtly vague, or occasionally telling a story using made-up details that still allows me to reach the same conclusion in my learning. But that isn't much fun.
I guess I need some HIPAA therapy.
All names used with permission!
Today I met Brooke (OTS) at school so we could drop off some paperwork in preparation for beginning classes next week. Then I picked up Virginia (OTS) and we headed to Brooke's house to go to lunch and go swimming at her apartment's pool. Afterwards, we played online and hung out. It was really fun. Tomorrow Brooke & I are going to help document feeding behaviors for a feeding group at a local children's hospital, then print out a bunch of syllabi for our upcoming classes in the computer lab. THEN we are headed to Virginia's birthday lunch which will be composed entirely of OT girls! We aren't even in school and we can't stay away from each other! After that I'm probably going to go do my monthly volunteer shift at another hospital (primarily database entry for Rehab). And then I'm meeting a friend for dinner and to play a really bad game of tennis before I start my late-night work shift. Should be a busy but fun day.
I really like the idea of getting to spend quality time with some of my in-town classmates this week, and I can't even remember what I used to do before they were in my life! I really like that we can all be like-minded in our pursuit of a healing profession like OT, yet have diverse interests within the field. Brooke is really fascinated at the idea of working with people who have eating disorders, and she also wants to do a fieldwork in England! (Hey all you UK bloggers, any ideas on good placements?!) Virginia is really interested in community OT, with particular interest and compassion for the homeless. And I'm primarily interested in pediatrics (but not school-based), but mental health & hands appeal to me on some level as well. I know some girls in my class already swear they want to work with geriatrics. Others swear they want to go into hands. Or physical dysfunction. We are all trying to keep an open mind, but I think we all definitely have some personality traits that endear us to certain populations. One of my favorite things about OT as a profession is that there is this "confined diversity".
So...how to explain my concept of confined diversity. Ok. A lot of people go to school a long time and get a degree at a graduate level, but then STILL have no idea what they are going to do with their degree (like almost any liberal arts-related degree). Getting a Master's in OT is a little different though - we know we're almost certainly going to be occupational therapists. There isn't so much fear in graduation because our outcome is a little bit more specific. Yet it's not stifling to know we have one profession in mind, because we have a trillion different populations to choose from within that profession, covering the entire spectrum of human life. Too much freedom can be intimidating, yet too little freedom induces claustrophobia. OT gives us the best of both worlds!
There's my rather shallow philosophical thought for the night. What can I say, I'm not Karen Kierkegaard...
Ahem. Good night.
Sunday, July 1, 2007
I've been wracking my brain trying to decide on an OT-related thing to write about today. It's hard to think of things after being out of school a month. I thought briefly about writing about my experience watching pediatric burn care, or sharing a really bad poem I wrote about grief, or maybe digging up another story from fieldwork. But I'm not feeling inspired. So I'll tell you something that does inspire me.
My mom was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer a few years ago. She decided to undergo chemotherapy and radiation, which is obviously not fun. But she did it with humor. When her hair started to fall out from the chemotherapy, she went and got a rainbow mohawk. She kept it in a day or two and then shaved it off. And then once she was completely bald, she got a henna artist to come to her house. The henna artist tatooed her scalp using Mom's original designs, and then added glitter and gems. It was beautiful.
Luckily her treatment was successful. It's now been several years and there is no sign of the cancer. I am so grateful to have her and I am so proud of how she handled her treatments! I think it would be great if more cancer patients could embrace the idea of having a little fun with their cancer journey.
When my mom is handed lemons in life, she doesn't make lemonade, she makes lemonart! (I spent like ten minutes trying to think of a clever lemon pun, but totally never managed it. I'm giving up.) Hope you like the the pictures!!