Thursday, July 22, 2010

Gallstones from REAL people

This is a gallbladder and gallstones picture I found on Google. Our cadaver's gallstones were similar to this in color, shpae and size, only brighter and more 'jewel-like.'

My instructor's gallstones from her collection. Notice how these look like grimy rocks...

...and notice how these look like pretty stones.
(And notice how I differentiated 'rock' from 'stone.' Hmm, are they the same or are they different??)

I ran across this picture in my iPhoto and I realized i forgot to share it with you last semester!

These are REAL gallstones that came from REAL people. We saw some in anatomy lab, and of course I could not take a photo as that action would get me in a ton of trouble, but one of my instructors COLLECTS gallstones (don't ask why, she just like them). She said I could take a photo and post it on my blog. It's interesting to me how gallstones look different depending on the person from which they came.

I wanted to share this because gallstones are very painful (a few people in my family have had them removed). But it's amazing because when you look at them they are often very pretty! Like stones you may find on some rocky beach somewhere. The stones found in one of our cadavers were a very pretty bright green, I'm talking VERY PRETTY. And they were sparkly and hit the light just right. It was weird. Like opening up a pouch and finding some hidden gems.

It reminded me of the movie 'The Goonies." If you're younger than 30 then that name probably sounds like something I just made up. But if you remember that movie then you'll remember the very end when all the kids were reunited with their parents outside on the beach and the father was about to sign the paperwork to foreclose his house or something and at that moment the spanish speaking housekeeper opens this green pouch and out fell all this beautiful jewels!

THAT'S what seeing those gallstones was like. We cut her gallbladder and BAM! Out fell all these beautiful 'jewels.' Odd analogy but I'll bet you have a great visual right about now and you get what I'm saying!

"I'm making a bomb! I can't take the pressure!!!"

My tools: the clicker with old batteries, the screwdriver, the insanely tiny screw that you can hardly see because it's insanely tiny, the new battery packaging, a new battery.

Insanely tiny screw.

Unscrewing the insanely tiny screw using shoulder and elbow flexion (I held it to my face to protect my neck) and forearm pronation and supination.

Me, whistling while I'm working. lol.

Batteries, clickers, and garbage, aka--A MESS!

Battery between my fingers and on the right, if you look closely, is another insanely tiny screw! The little boogers are sneaky. Another grad assist student dropped one and we were both on the floor looking for it. Those things are harder to find than dropped contact lenses!

I am the graduate assistant for the OT program here at my school and someone asked me to replace all the batteries in our 'clickers.' As I was doing this I noticed that I am turning into a true OT!

This requires using a screwdriver, you know, the kind you use to unscrew those insanely tiny screws for your glasses. Well, as I was unscrewing, removing the backing, removing the old batteries, replacing them with new batteries, replacing the backing and screwing the insanely tiny screw back in I noticed that I kept thinking about what motion I was performing and which muscles I was using!

How wonderful is that!

I was also thinking if this would be a good 'task' to give a client, with some variations of course. I'm not so sure about this because the screw is so insanely tiny that if you can pick it up, place it in the screw hole and use the screwdriver then you probably don't need occupational therapy services; you're probably functioning very well.

Anyway, I noticed that I used a lot of humeral and wrist flexion, along with forearm pronation and supination and a ton of complicated, combination, prehension (aka-pinching) movements. It only confirms what I said earlier about your hands and fingers being soooooo important! Don't take them for granted!

Last thing, I also felt like I was building a bomb! Ha ha. There I was, hunched over, with old batteries, a screw driver, clickers, insanely tiny screws, and garbage from the new battery packages. It looked a little crazy. I told myself if someone walked in and asked me what I was doing I would scream, "I'm making a bomb! I JUST CAN'T TAKE THE PRESSURE!!!"

I'm so silly.

My blog in the top 5-6!

I performed a search for blogs on OT using phrases like:

Master of Occupational Therapy Student blog
OT student blog
Occupational Therapy student blog

My blog came up in the top 5-6 every time!!! I'm so HAPPY about this! It inspires me to keep blogging.

It also reminds me of the time Karen (remember, my OT blogger idol) was trying to get her blog to be in the top 3 or something like that. She had read somewhere that repeatedly using your key word(s)-- in this case occupational, therapy and student--would get your blog more hits and increase its rating on Google. So she just typed those key words over and over and over again in a blog post, performed another search and it worked!

Of course the way she tells it is funnier. I always crack up at that story.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Update on my Mallet finger

(Remember this picture? This is when I first lacerated my extensor tendon. It's amazing to me that I just could not extend my finger, no matter how much I tried. Thankfully, as bad as this looks, it didn't hurt a bit.)

(Here's my beautiful finger with the splint. As a side note, the entire time my finger was in a splint I made sure my nails were always ON POINT. My finger may have been in a splint but I was C-U-T-E!)

(This is my hand about 4 weeks ago. My finger just gets better and better each day! And my nails are still C-U-T-E!) :-)

So, my finger is all healed now! I wore the splint for about 11 weeks, which is almost twice the suggested length of time. After researching the Internet I decided that the suggested 6 weeks was not enough for me and I wanted the splint to stay on longer, though not so long as to inhibit movement.

I didn't have to go the doctor for a checkup! This was a financial blessing. We just so happened to have an OT who is a hand therapist speak to our Anatomy class in April. I asked her to look at my finger and she said it looked healed and now it was time to start OT services on myself, lol. She suggested that everyday, for about 1-2 weeks, I take the splint off and slowly make a fist. This was tough at first because my finger was so stiff! It took me about a week or so of constant finger flexing to make a full, but light, fist.

She then suggested that after the second week of this I take the splint off for a couple of hours everyday, increasing the time the splint is off until I am no longer wearing it. I did this but was very careful. I made sure to wear the splint if I was going to do heavy lifting or some activity where I wasn't paying attention to my fingers. I also suffered a loss of about 5 degrees of both flexion and hyperextension. I believe this is the reason why I can't make a really tight fist.

I performed more research online and found out that I should wear the splint at night for at least another 6 to 12 weeks. This prevents injury while I'm sleeping. So, I'm still in this stage but some nights I forget.

My finger was a terrible color when I first took the splint off. As you can see from my pictures I am Black, and to see an abnormally pale, white finger surrounded by brown skin was a little...scary. It was just lack of air circulation, of course. And over time my finger returned to its normal, beautiful caramel brown color.

I cannot make a tight fist...yet...and this of course has decreased my grip strength in my left hand. Also, I sometimes cannot grip my hair properly while plaiting it. I don't push my finger too much right now but over time I will push it a bit more.

Everyone says you can't even tell it was ever injured, which is awesome to hear.

Hands are just so important! So, take care of yourself!

Don't Judge a Book by Its Major

I learned something valuable yesterday evening about judging people before getting all necessary information:

I am a Peer Mentor for the Latino Center here on campus. Yesterday evening we had a meeting where the Counselors of the LC had to regroup mentors and mentees. In doing so, they paired me with my original two mentees plus another new mentee. The new mentee did not look happy that I was her mentor. She didn't even look at me at first.

She immediately said, "What's your major?" When I told her Occupational Therapy she looked agitated and raised her hand to comment. She suggested that the Counseling center provide the mentees with a website that allows them to review a mentor's biography so that they can choose their own mentor based on their goals. She commented that although she is sure I am a good mentor she is a Criminal Justice major and needs a Criminal Justice mentor who can help her achieve her goals and guide her through coursework.

The Counselors told her that they take all of these things into consideration before matching mentors and mentees, along with personality traits and the ability of the mentor to find valuable resources. I saw this young lady approach a Counselor to talk and so I approached as well.

I told the Counselor and the young lady that she did not give me a chance to help her. She doesn't know who I know or what connections I have. Truth be told, I know a TON of people in law enforcement, along with lawyers and other people in the criminal justice system. I could have EASILY connected her with someone who would be a resource once she graduates. Additionally, I am the Queen of free money for education. My schooling is free thus far because I try harder than anyone else and ask more questions than anyone else to get money to pay for my education.

The Counselor tried to explain to her that they have a police officer for her to speak but she can't call him and discuss school matters. That's why she needs me as a mentor. I then immediately told the Counselor and the young lady that this mentor/mentee relationship would not work for me, based on the fact that she didn't give me a chance to assist her, I'm not willing to help at this point and we would both need to be reassigned.

Although I understood the young lady's fears about not getting the resources that she needs what bothered me was that she did not look at me, she did not introduce herself and, most importantly, SHE DIDN'T ASK ANY QUESTIONS. It seems to me that the most logical thing to do first is ask WHY the Counselors paired you with a mentor when you specifically asked for something else. Once you have that information the second thing you do is talk to the mentor, tell them your goals and find out if they can help you or provide you with resources. If they cannot help you THEN you raise your hand and say this is not going to work for me. It's unfortunate that she missed out on an opportunity to have access to the criminal justice system through my contacts.

So, I learned that the cliche is true. You really shouldn't judge people, especially without first asking questions to GET MORE INFORMATION. This makes me wonder how many times I have done this to others. I can't think of any specific instances at this moment. However, I will definitely make the effort in the future to refrain from judging people without getting all the information first.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Research 101

One of the classes that ended last week was my Research class. This was a 2 semester class that required that we find a research topic that relates to OT and go through the entire research process process, just short of actually completing the research. The only reason we did not carry out the procedures is because receiving approval from the school's IRB takes too long and we wouldn't finish the projects in a timely manner.

The purpose of this class was to encourage us to contribute to the evidence based body of OT knowledge by choosing, researching and creating a research study. This class was VERY detailed and we had to go through all the steps of deciding on a research question, to writing procedures to finding a grant that would possibly fund our study (if we were to actually continue to the study). It was a very long, tedious process. I learned quite a bit about the research process and research terminology. I also now have a greater appreciation for the research that currently exists, both within and outside of OT. Research is hard, but rewarding, work!

My topic was 'Factors that Influence Participation in a Sport or Exercise, Despite Chronic Pain." I wanted to find out why athletes continue to play sports and/or exercise even though they are in serious pain. I also wanted to find out if the environment in which they play sports influences their participation.

I learned a LOT about research and it certainly gave me something to look forward to if I continue with a PhD. However, I would not continue with this particular topic. In the beginning I was so excited with this topic. But, by the end of the second semester, with all the revisions and changes, I found my topic boring and uninteresting. I have a new topic in mind but if I tell you then I'll have to kill you. :-)

Nevertheless, if you're going into OT school here are just a few tips for research. This list is in no way comprehensive. It's just a few things off the top of my head:

1. Choose a topic that interests you greatly. However, be careful that it's not too personal. Some people had topics about disabilities of their kids and loved ones. When you're this close to the topic sometimes you're unwilling or unable to listen to suggestions or corrections to your paper. And sometimes, the topic is just too overwhelming to continue.

2. Try to choose topics that are non-existent or have very few research articles. This will give you a strong reason for the purpose of your study.

3. Decide how your topic is relevant to occupational therapy. This is so important because other OTs will read your work and use your information in their practice.

4. Look for articles that support and negate your premise. It will give you a balanced view of the topic.

5. Look at literature outside of OT literature. Other professions have awesome things to say and perform great research studies that OTs can use. Also, it's just downright interesting.

6. Once you have all your literature read the research articles several times and highlight things that stand out to you. Then, find three or four themes that the articles all have in common. Finally, decide the 'hole' that you are going to plug with your research. What is the one thing that's missing in those articles that your research will cover? How is your research different from what is already available?

7. ASK
9. OF
10. QUESTIONS!!! Research is a VERY involved, demanding, yet interesting process. If there is something you do not understand or need clarification on, please ask your instructor. I would suggest you choose one instructor, if one was not assigned to you for your project, and stick with the instructor for the length of your project. I say this because I noticed that every instructor has a different idea on how the research should be carried out. If you ask multiple instructors you'll get inconsistent guidance. And trust me, that's NO fun.


Fieldwork Level I

Part of your OT schoolwork is clinical experience. As students we must go to the 'field,' observe clinicians, and plan and implement interventions and evaluate outcomes, among other things. This is known in occupational therapy as fieldwork. This is a requirement to become an OT. There are two Level I's and two Level II fieldwork experiences. Thankfully, my school has expanded our Level I experience so that we have a total of 3 Level I's.

My first Level I fieldwork is a Mental/Behavioral health experience at a girls home. I am going to this location with another student. This home serves the needs of female minors who are in need of temporary placement. Other students have had an interesting experience here and I intend to have an awesome experience.

When I first found out I was being placed here I was NOT happy. Actually, I was downright disappointed. I wanted to be in a hospital or in another location that had an OT on staff. This girls home does not have an OT on staff. This scared me because I have a B.S. degree in Finance and I have a business background. Many of my peers have experience in Biology, Medicine, OT, PT and other fields. Sometimes I feel like I'm starting from scratch or behind so it was so important to me to be with an OT.

I spoke with my instructor who placed me here and asked her what about my character led her to place me in this location. She told me that many of my peers will be in a location without an OT. But more importantly, she said that I am very confident, I establish boundaries very well and have no problem saying "no." She said that I will be with girls with many emotional and social problems and many of them will want a relationship outside of this fieldwork experience and will cross various social boundaries; many of my peers are not equipped to handle situations of this type. She explained that this fieldwork location is in need of people who can be kind and stern at the same time. She also said that I am young and attractive and encouraging and many of these girls will look up to me and see their own possibilities.

So, I'll keep you all posted as much as I can. For obvious reasons I can't say too much but I'll do what I can!

So busy...all the time

Well, things have finally slowed down a bit. This summer session has been worse than the last 2 semesters. I've been so busy the last 8 weeks it feels like I have no time to breathe. Going to school full time, going to the gym, working and trying to have a social life take their toll and at some point you realize you can't do everything.

I think about writing on this blog all the time but at night when I come home I'm exhausted. I basically wash my face, brush my teeth, prepare my lunch for the next day and go to bed. I feel terribly that I'm unable to write in this blog a few days a week because so many interesting things happen and I have so much to say.

So, I've come to terms with the fact that I can't do everything and I need to be content with the things I AM doing. So many people have started OT blogs and never continue them! I'm determined to see this blog through until I graduate. And hopefully, as my OT idol has done I can continue writing in it as a practitioner.

Ok, enough sadness. I'm content with the contributions I can make.