Monday, February 22, 2010

Sexual innuendos & my lacerated DIP

Earlier today in Research class:

Classmate: Wow! What happened to your finger????

Me: I lacerated the DIP tendon playing Dodgeball yesterday. Wanna see a picture of what it looked like before the splint?

Classmate: Sure!
(I show her the picture)

Me: See here, my DIP still droops even though I was trying to extend it.

Classmate: were trying and you just couldn't get it up.

(a moment of silence as her words sink in...)

She and I in unison: HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

What is a splint?

By the way, in case you don't know what a splint is, here's an explanation:

Here's a picture of a lacerated DIP tendon (tendon that causes the latter part of the finger to extend and stay extended).
Here's my finger.

When the extensor tendon (or sometimes even the bone) tears the flexor tendons (the ones on the bottom) are still flexing the finger but there is no force on top to counteract this so the finger droops.

My finger doesn't function well. I can hardly pick things up, type, or properly hold a glass. Plus, it hurts a little to try to extend it and I don't like looking at it. And, unfortunately, I can't extend it at all!

This is called a mallet finger injury.

So the doctor gave me a splint--or a small, rigid object secured with tape, to keep the finger hyperextended and straight so it can heal properly. Here's my splint!

No, I'm not giving YOU the finger. lol

I have to go to a hand surgeon to confirm it's not a serious tear that requires surgery.

Well, at least my nails look good!

The enjoyment of occupation

I lacerated the DIP tendon of my left middle finger.

I'm in a Dodgeball league (don't laugh) and we play every Sunday. Today one of the guys threw the ball, I caught it and got the point for my team (yippee!).

But, this is not the dodgeball of your youth. The men are big and strong and throw HARD. They threw the ball so hard it lacerated the DIP tendon of my left third digit (the doc & I both agreed on this, haha!). As a result, I couldn't extend it.

I went to the emergency room, took some X-rays, had a friendly chat with the doctor (excited that we could talk medical terms), and got a pretty cool splint along with an appointment with a hand surgeon.

As I turned to leave I said to the doctor, "Well, I hope I don't see you next week because I'm going back out there to play again next Sunday!"

This, my friends, is occupation at its finest. I hurt my finger in such a way that will cause me discomfort for the next 6 weeks and yet I'm still committed to playing a game that is fun, competitive, challenging, social, and has meaning to me.

This is why occupation is so important. It makes life fun and interesting. As an occupational therapist, this is what I want to give back to my clients--the enjoyment of occupation.

Monday, February 15, 2010

How shoveling snow is occupational therapy

As an example of occupational therapy and how it truly is applicable to all walks of life, I have a personal example. Last Tuesday and Wednesday here in Chicago (there's no point in keeping my city a secret anymore) we had quite a bit of snow. So much snow, in fact, that my school called an official 'snow day.' Now normally, I HATE the snow and the cold, and as soon as I graduate from this program I'm high-tailing it right out of Chicago to a warmer climate, but this particular day, for whatever reason, I was okay with it.

So, anyway, I had been in the house most of the day studying and lightly cleaning. I knew that I should go to the gym but I just didn't feel like it and I had promised myself that I would do better about pushing myself to do things that are not quite obligations or when I'm really, really tired. This was one of those times.

So, I decided that I wasn't going to go the gym. The next best thing would have been to do my Pilates DVD but then I came up with a great idea: I could SHOVEL THE SNOW.

My condo building did not hire someone to shovel snow this winter and there was freshly fallen snow blocking us from safely leaving the building and walking to our cars so I thought, 'What the heck? Why not?' I could get a decent workout, enjoy some (minor) sun and lots of fresh air AND clean the walkways all at the same time. Plus, I hadn't shoveled or played in snow in ages. I am 30 years old, after all. :-)

So, I suited up and got my shovel from my car (when you live in a temperamental climate like this you keep a shovel in your car just in case the snow trucks bury you) and got to work. On top of being practical, it was so much fun! (which was surprising)

Ok, so how does this relate to occupational therapy? You should know by now, if you've been a faithful student/reader of my blog, that occupational therapy is about participating in occupation, otherwise known as activities and actions, that are meaningful to the client. In this case, movements that mimic a workout and getting out to enjoy the fresh air are very important to me. Because I was tired and because there was soooooo much snow I didn't feel like going to the gym. So, I found another activity in which I could participate that was meaningful and enjoyable (and in this case, also purposeful) to me.

I always try to include these small tidbits and stories so that the meaning, purpose and importance of occupational therapy is clear to you. It really bothers me that people don't know what occupational therapy is and I really want to work on adding to the online knowledge pool.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Message to Brad on posting the beach wheelchair

Ok, this post is specifically for Brad who sent me an email (thanks Brad!) via this blog about the beach wheelchair and asked if he could highlight it in one of his posts. The answer is YES, ABSOLUTELY!!! Any additional online content helps ALL OTs so I'm all for it.

I don't know how to reply to Brad directly, or if that's even possible..I'm still new to Google's blog. So, sorry Brad that I didn't respond directly, but now you have an entire post dedicated to you!

(Also, a message to Keith! Thanks for saying my blog is great. 10 brownie points to you!)


Monday, February 8, 2010

More Costa Rica pics!

me and some students going on a coffee tour, which was VERY interesting, by the way. Did you know the coffee bean is actually a fruit?? I tasted's very good!

my third teacher and I

my second teacher, another student and I

the view from the school during class! Beautiful!

New Year's Eve...hanging out...

the common area in the school

my bedroom, it's messy I know!

my second teacher, another student and I

the common area in the school

As you can see, I'm posting pics a few at a time due to time constraints. It seems that my program has bumped it up a notch this semester and there is more to do than last semester. Or maybe I'm doing more to prepare for my classes so it seems like they bumped it up a notch. Either way, I'm often pressed for time! So enjoy these pics!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Occupational therapy on the beach in the Bahamas!

I went on a cruise 2 weeks ago with my classmates and while at the beach we saw this beach wheelchair:

I've never seen such a chair and neither have my clasmates. However, we saw the cruise line staff transporting guests with disabilities from the beach to the boat in these chairs. I thought it was interesting to take a picture of these chairs for two reasons:

1. I've never seen such a chair and I just had to put a picture of it on my blog.

2. How innovative!!! Transporting someone around the beach in a manual or power wheelchair would use a lot of energy. I touched the wheels and they are made of rubber, just like a balloon but thicker and more durable. I pushed the chair and it rolls over the beach sand quite easily, almost as if it were rolling on air. So a chair such as this would decrease the friction from the sand, thus making transport easier.

See! You can find OT everywhere! Even at the beach in the Bahamas!

How to vote for a County official

I voted today. However, this was my first time voting in an election during a non-presidential election year. I'm trying to do better about performing my civic duty. Anyway, because this is my first time I called a friend of mine and asked if there was anything 'extra' I had to do, like find my voter registration card and bring it with me to the polls. My friend works for the incumbent of our County, is naturally interested in keeping his job, and is facebook-ing everyone urging them to vote for the incumbent, however, no one really likes the incumbent.

Friend: Are you going to vote tomorrow?

Me: Yes, I'm definitely voting tomorrow.

Friend: Did you get my FB note about Incumbent X?

Me: Yes, I received it.

Friend: Are you going to vote for him?

Me: I'm not really sure yet. I'm not really pleased with what he has done so far and sometimes it seems like he doesn't know what he's doing. But then again, I've heard some not so good things about Challenger Y, but I'm reluctant to believe the source.

Friend: Well, you should vote for Incumbent X. He's the only one that can balance our County budget.

Me: Ok, I'll think about it. By the way, this is my first time voting in an election like this. Is this different from a presidential election year? Do I need my voter registration card or can I just show up?

Friend: If you're voting for Incumbent X you can just show up, otherwise, you need your voter registration card.

One T-B-S-P

(my niece. I have no idea why she's smiling like this, she looks very funny. Maybe she was mad at me for asking her to take this know kids are finicky.)

Some recent conversations:

My niece went to stay with her dad one weekend and, having the common cold, my Sister called to confirm she was taking her medication. My niece, at this time, was 7 years old.

Sister: Are you being a good girl at your father's house?

Niece: Yes, Mom.

Sister: Are you still feeling sick?

Niece: Yes, a little.

Sister: Ok, did your dad help you take your medicine?

Niece: Yes, but really I did it by myself.

Sister: You did? Well, how much medicine did you take?

Niece: One T-B-S-P.


My classmates and I talking before a Movement exam that happened to be the same week as other exams. This particular exam was memorizing functional events/processes with the correct OT terminology. We had all the answers as these processes were things you do every day, such as pouring a cup of water or scratching your back, but we had to name the movements as they relate to OT, such as supination, pronation or external rotation.

Me: Wow, there are so many exams this week. I thought I was prepared but now I realize I have to study a bit more than I originally thought.

Student 1: Yeah, me too. This is a lot of information to study for this much to do...

Student 2: Yeah I know! I gotta get home and start memorizing these terms.

Me: Well, the bright side to all this is that at least we have all the answers to the exam. We just have to memorize them.

Student 2: Yeah, but if you think about it, isn't that the way it is for EVERY exam.

Me and student 1: Hmm, I never thought about it like that...

OT in spanish! (& more Costa Rica pics)

This is a REAL rainbow. Of course, this picture does not do it any justice. When I saw it I was mesmerized. It was the clearest, largest rainbow I have ever seen in my life! This particular day was BEAUTIFUL, the weather was perfect and it was only a slight drizzle, as if the rain were teasing us. But when I saw this rainbow I was awe-stricken. God's rainbow creation is jaw-dropping, incredible and gorgeous.

My first Costa Rican family. That's Marcela, Mama Rosa, and Daniela. They were awesome! Marcela has the clearest spanish ever! Whenever I didn't understand she would slow down or use different words so I would get it. She's in college now to be a teacher. I think she will be very successful. Rosacita (my term of endearment for Rosa) is an awesome mother! She cooked me two wonderful meals a day, cleaned my room, made my bed and washed my clothes. About an hour after dinner every night she, and the girls, would sit and talk with me in spanish. This conversation greatly improved my fluency, vocabulary and listening comprehension. I am very grateful for their hospitality.

Me, ziplining! In zipling you literally 'zip' through the forest on strong cable cords on treetops. Here, I'm completing an obstacle course but most other times I was flying through the trees. It was soooo fun!
The best part of Costa Rica!! Ha ha!! These were my ziplining guides. They were great instructors...and easy on the eyes. :-)

Me and April (a soon to be doctor from North Dakota) at the hot springs. These hot springs were HOT!!! One of them we could only stand for about 10 minutes, it was too hot.

A real gekko! And YES! He really CAN save you 15% or more in 15 minutes on your car insurance! It's amazing!

I went to the beach...nearly every day after class. It is quite possibly one of the most beautiful beaches I've ever seen. It's so serene and beautiful, it's surreal.

I forgot to mention that all of my teachers and classmates in Costa Rica asked me what 'I do' back in the States. Not surprisingly, none of them knew anything about Occupational Therapy. So, I took the opportunity to explain OT to them...IN SPANISH!!!

And I did it very well as everyone understood. In one particular class one of my teachers said (in spanish, of course): "Oh, so it's kind of like helping people do daily activities." Needless to say, I nearly cried when I heard her summary.

I'm an evangelist spreading the word of OT around the world!!!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Costa Rica!

(a butterfly up close and personal)

(on my way to ziplining!)

(my Costa Rican 'sisters')
I have some time now to write about Costa Rica and in a nutshell:


I come up with some pretty awesome ideas and this is perhaps one of the awesome-est. I was there for about a month and lived with a Costa Rican family in two cities--Santo Domingo de Heredia (small suburb of San Jose) and Manuel Antonio (wild beach town).

(my first class, teacher and classmates)

In Santo Domingo, the first city in which I lived, the weather was PERFECT everyday, about 80-88F every single day. The school was beautiful and the teachers were excellent. The classes were very small, about 2-3 people in each class (because of the holidays the classes were very small).

I learned SO much spanish and saw so many animals up close! I spoke spanish with my family nearly every night and that helped to improve my spanish quite a bit.

I would go to school every day between 8-1 or 8-4 then I would either hang out with my classmates or go home. We all went home before dark, which was normally around 6pm. Because of the proximity to the equator Costa Rica is on 12-hour days. So the sun would rise around 5.30 or 6am or so and set around 6pm.

On the weekends I would travel around Costa Rica to see the sights and participate in activities-- volcanoes, hot springs, national parks, ziplining, tours and so on.

The importance of research in OT

For some reason, this semester is a bit more challenging for me than last semester. The content is more synergistic but there is just so MUCH of it. Two classes that will really require a lot of my attention are Occupational Research and Theories in Occupation.

OT Theories reviews many of the models, frames of reference and framework(s) that OT's use when evaluating and working with clients. OT Research is finding a subject in which I am interested, such as geriatrics or nutrition, and asking a clinical qualitative or quantitative question that relates to OT. Some examples include:

  • How are women in the U.S. military dealing with post-traumatic stress and how can OT help?
  • What is OTs role in working with adults with ADHD?
  • In what ways does OT help people with disabilities (such as cerebral palsy) transition to independence as an adult?
  • How can OT be useful to people who have been disabled due to a natural disaster, such as those in the earthquakes of Haiti or the tsunami of of Thailand?
  • What is the future of OT in helping the elderly 'age in place'?
These are very simple questions but I write them just to give you an example. Many of my peers and I intend to ask and answer questions such as these and create the framework for a clinical study (without actually performing the study). This is a very interesting class and much needed in the OT field because they provide the evidence for the importance of OT. Without research, and the studies to back it up, insurance companies, clients, and perhaps even OTs, would question the importance, validity and viability of OT practice.