Posted in My Life Now, Texas- Living with Parents

Week of January 6th 2020- First Official Week of Triathlon Training and Some Non-Official Translation Gigs

It is Thursday night as I begin writing this. I hadn’t planned on returning to this blog. I mean, I’m glad that I have, but it happened naturally, not as part of a New Year’s resolution or personal goal or anything of the sort. It’s probably better that way. I’m back because I want to be, not because I’m forcing myself to be.

I was going to start weekly blogging two nights ago, on Tuesday, but as I started writing I realized there were countless battles I waged with myself over the last six months in my mind, that I had to at least attempt to explain those occurrences on the surface. Here’s that attempt at a sort of update. The following night (Wednesday) I figured I may as well start fresh with the start of the New Year and make a weekly blog post of my first week of the year.

Yep… so now it’s Thursday… Let’s see what I can remember…

 

Monday, Jan. 6th- Probably Made a 10 Week Triathlon Training Plan

I technically stayed up Sunday night until early Monday morning (3am-ish) to make a training schedule, so that counts, right? Well, I already had a plan, but upon a bit more research I found it probably would not have been ideal. It was much more intense than a beginning training schedule should be. I haven’t exercised in about a month (minus the day before and the day of that indoor triathlon I’d done on Sunday). Starting from 0 to 12 hours of exercise a week probably would not have been a good way to start the season.

So, much to my dismay, this week’s plan is about 4 hours. I mean, from 0 to 4 hours that’s still a big jump, but I am antsy. I like to progress fast and am prone to getting impatient if I don’t see results in whatever it is I do. I like positive change and more than that, I like the validation or proof of it happening. But, fine… Slow and steady, that’s what they say wins the race, right? *sigh… Lessons in patience, I guess. Today was my first day I didn’t have other engagements since getting back from my trip to West Texas with my college buddies, so apart from making a family meal plan for the week and going on an hour indoor bike ride, I just relaxed and watched T.V. with my mom.

Below will be this week’s training plan, but basically it consists of 2 one hour stationary bike rides, 2 thirty minute treadmill runs/walks, and 2 thirty to forty minute indoor pool swims.

 

Tuesday, Jan. 7th- Probably Finally Paid for Dietetic State Licensure and Translated for Brother’s Doctors Appointments

Yes, I finally took a moment to read through some important emails about my new dietetic license and the accompanying fees and continuing education requirements I need to complete. I should be getting an official card with my state license to practice dietetics in Texas in the next two or three weeks. Yay!

Other than that, I got up at 6:13am. Know how I remember that? Because my dad and brother usually leave the house by 6:10am and I was so tired I’d fallen asleep after waking up for the first time at 5:45-ish am. I kid you not, we were in the car and on our way by 6:15am. I don’t even know how I got out of bed and dressed that fast…

But, it was important to me to go. Yes, it’s my brother’s appointment, but my dad does a lot to help my brother with his health and this was his 1 year check up appointment with several different doctors and disciplines after his kidney transplant. So… yes, important. And important for me to go to ease the language barrier. I know hospitals have translators, but if I’m available, why not help out?

Case in point: while doing a sonogram we found out my brother had his gallbladder removed. Neither my dad nor my brother knew (my brother was too young to remember at the time we suspect it was removed). I’m sure my dad signed the papers necessary to allow the surgery, but there was a lot going on at the time and I highly suspect when situations get critical there’s less time to get a translator and talk through every little (or not so little) procedure. I’m glad to be back so things like this aren’t as likely to happen.

 

Wednesday, Jan. 8th- Translating for Mom’s Doctor’s Appointment and Why I Care About Language so Much

Continue reading “Week of January 6th 2020- First Official Week of Triathlon Training and Some Non-Official Translation Gigs”

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Health Doesn’t Just Come From Your Doctor: The Importance of a Team Approach to Health.

I’m easily triggered. Just because someone isn’t diagnosed doesn’t mean they aren’t struggling. Do you know how many people have medical diagnoses that either aren’t discovered until years after the onset or at all? It’s not uncommon. And often times medical diagnoses have physical symptoms. Can you imagine how difficult it is to go about life with constant or extreme pain, inflammation, fever, cough, whatever it may be, and all the doctors, specialists, and medical professionals tell you nothing is wrong, when you clearly know it is? How can everyone- professionals especially- doubt what you feel so strongly every day?!

Now imagine that same negation, doubt, and being brushed off but no physical symptoms. Or the ones you do have aren’t even considered. I’m talking about undiagnosed mental disorders. I’ve gone to the doctor. Other than being overweight and having a twinge of high LDL cholesterol, I’m fine. You know, the last time I went to the doctor, the nurse asked about any signs of depression or anxiety. It’s a complicated, but simple question. I mean, the whole concept of mental illnesses are things most lay people (in my experience at least) don’t seem to understand. It was nice to be asked. I replied, “yeah, some anxiety”. I was too anxious to mention my depressive tendencies.

 My Experiences at the Doctor’s

I’ve been going to therapists/ support groups on and off for the last four years now and I can say that it’s really helped me. However, all of that was when I was in university. It was either free or really cheap, super close to where I lived, and on my own account. I remember the doctor I went to a couple years ago didn’t say a word to me about mental illness. But she sure did waive the mood screening she supposedly did. Just because I wasn’t bawling my eyes out or trembling as I spoke, I’m ruled out for anxiety and depression, not to mention all the other known disorders? I didn’t know the DSM had changed their criteria!

Mental health isn’t that easy. You can’t just look at someone and know they are mentally okay. Sometimes you can. I would argue that when I went to the doctor this winter, I was a stereotypical depressed person. I looked tired even through most of what I did during the day was sleep, I hadn’t showered in several days. I know the doctor and everyone else could tell by my greasy hair that fell slick over one side of my face. Maybe I looked better than I remember feeling, but the not having showered thing was evident.

Despite that and the fact that the nurse seemed to have written down something about my anxiety comment, the doctor didn’t mention a word about mental health. I understand doctors are much more physiologically inclined, but health is multifaceted! You couldn’t run a hospital with just cardiologists. What would people with diabetes do? Or burn patients? How about a hospital filled with dentists? No! Each medical professional has a role.

Collaborating with other Medical Professionals as a Dietetic Intern

As you guys may know if you read my weekly blogs, I am doing a nutrition internship at the moment with the end goal to become a licensed dietitian. My first rotations were mostly clinical which meant I was evaluating patients at hospitals. One thing that I got harped at for? Not referring patients to other medical professionals. At first, I assumed, well they called a nutrition specialist so I should focus on the nutrition aspect. Makes sense, right?

Yeah, well it isn’t that simple. Some patients were sedated, others had a tube down their throat, and yet others just didn’t understand their disease. I couldn’t just waltz into their hospital rooms and focus solely on nutrition. Everything was entwined. From the patient’s medical diagnosis (doctor), their ability to move (physical and/or occupational therapists), ability to swallow (speech pathologist), will to live and eat (psychologists), any damage/ deformity that could alter nutrition intake or absorption (surgeons), to when blood sugar was checked (nurses) and how much family support/ financial stability they had (social workers), it is all intertwined. If I had a patient who was hungry but was in too much pain to eat, I couldn’t do my job. Or, more like, it wouldn’t matter if I did my job because the patient still wouldn’t eat. That was doctor territory. I wasn’t about to tell a doctor what to do.

The Intertwined World of Medicine

Health is a complicated thing. It even goes beyond medical professions to each individual. It includes, yeah, any diseases, dental caries, and so on, but also diet, physical activity, sleep, stress management, and emotional balance. I knew that when I was doing nutrition evaluations at hospitals, but I didn’t want to overstep my boundaries. I didn’t want to boss around professionals with more studies than me. But that wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing. This is what I mean when I say health is simple and complex.

I don’t have to know all the inner workings of the body or mind or even that patient’s life. All I have to know is that if I see something not quite right, it’s okay to consult someone. It’s okay to take a couple minutes of someone’s time if I believe it would help. I am not a dentist, but if I have a patient who can’t eat because their dentures don’t fit right, it is my responsibility to call one. Otherwise, I’m being negligent. It’s wrong to recognize a problem (worse if you also recognize a solution and even worse if it’s a relatively simple solution) and then do nothing about it.

A medical professional shouldn’t leave a patient to figure things out if they have already figured it out. The least they can do is mention the observed problem to a patient and suggest they seek help from a specialist. Better yet would be to call in a referral. That being said, it is all health care worker’s responsibilities to be observant and help where they can. I know every profession is busy with their own work, but if you see something that’s not quite right, no matter your line of work, say something!

If Only my Doctors Read my Blog…

I’m getting better at it. I wish my doctors were better at it. I know I need some sort of mental health specialist to get out of this rut I’m falling into again. I’ve never experienced such extreme symptoms as I am right now. Yet, my doctor didn’t mention a word about mental health. She asked if I’d gone to the dentist though, so I guess that’s some positive points there.

I don’t know if I am certifiably insane. I don’t blame my doctors for the fact that I haven’t gotten up the courage to set up an appointment with a psychologist. I’m not saying people’s health is solely a doctor’s responsibility. In the end, you are in responsible for your health. What I’m saying is doctors are the gatekeepers that connect most other health professionals and a quick referral can change someone’s life for the better in a matter of weeks versus the months or years it may take that person to figure it out on their own or, as is my case, build up the courage to do something for themselves.

Oh, well, I guess that’s what natural selection is about, right? Hooray for not knowing what, if anything, is wrong with my mind!! Maybe I’ll feel like making an appointment with a psychologist next year…

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Best and Worst Experiences during Clinical Rotations in High School: Why I’m Not a Doctor Part 1

I wanted to be a doctor when I was younger, but I gave it up because I didn’t want to lose my humanity. In high school I, essentially, took a year long, intensive, crash course in anatomy and (more so) physiology. I was a sponge. I absorbed everything. (Except vitamins and minerals. Those were not interesting to me at all.) It’s amazing how knowledgeable I became from that one year. I remember sketching anatomically correct hearts and coloring them for fun.

I also remember going into clinical rotations the following year (11th grade) and feeling incredibly awkward about it. I was wicked book smart, but catastrophically inept when it came to people skills. (Still not great at it…) Which means 90% of my clinical rotations went like this:

 

Dr.:

“…and that’s what we do in [insert area of hospital here].”

Catastrophically Inept at Social Skills 17 Year Old Me:

*nods*

Both of us:

*AWKWARD SILENCE*

 

It was almost worst if the medical professional I was shadowing tried to converse with me. Most of my answers were short and direct. Example:

Dr.: 

“…and that’s what we do in [insert area of hospital here]. What area do you want to go into or what are you interested in besides medicine?”

Me:

I’m not sure yet. Um, I like to read.

Dr.:

Oh, that’s okay. It takes time to figure that out. What kind of books do you like to read?

Me:

Uh, really anything as long as it’s fiction.

Dr.*Sees I am most definitely not the conversational type*:

…that’s nice. Yeah, when I was younger [insert personal story here to fill up my silence]

 

The worst example is when I made a conscious attempt to be more conversational because I had read somewhere that it’s good to take interest and ask questions. That gets people talking according to some self help text I read. So, I mustered up some anxiety ridden courage and asked the cardiologist I was with that day a question (who, to make things worse, happened to be the father of one of the girls in my clinicals class). It went like this:

 

Dr.:

So, we evaluate patients using a stress test.

Me.: *Thinking: Don’t let the silence hang. Say something! Ask a question! Show him you are interested in the topic and want to know more!*

So… what does a stress test consist of? (…yes… I actually spoke this very formal way back then. Even around friends. It was sometime this year that I began simplifying [read: dumbing down] my speech.)

Dr.: *Stares at me for a second* *Responds in a this is completely obvious, I don’t know why you asked that question tone*

It’s a stress test. We put the patient on a treadmill and stress the patient.

Me:

*feels stupid* *silent for the rest of the day*

 

…But I digress.

Before the flood of vile flashbacks, I planned to recount my best rotation. For that, let’s backtrack a bit. In high school, I didn’t study. I just learned in class. And retained all of the information. When it came time for a test I simply reviewed (read: quickly read through) my notes from class and presto! high A’s. Here’s the best rotation I had:

 

Nuclear Medicine Dr.:

See here?

*points to a patient scan with some mass or other abnormality*

This patient had [insert some diagnosis that I’ve long since forgotten]. Do you know what [insert some medical term related to the patient’s case] is?

Me: *Enthused this isn’t a personal question and is something I can answer with much more ease*

Yeah, that’s [insert correct answer].

Dr.: *Intrigued I got it right*

Right!

*Continues discussing case* *Brings up new scan*

Now this patient had [insert some other diagnosis that I’ve long since forgotten]. Do you know what [insert some medical term related to the patient’s case] is?

Me: *Glad for another question I can answer*

Yeah, that’s [insert correct answer].

Dr.: *Very intrigued now*

What’s [some medical thing]?

Me: 

[insert correct answer]

Dr.: 

What’s [some medical thing]?

Me: 

[insert correct answer]

He was rapid fire quizzing me now and I was gaining confidence with every correct answer. A couple questions later:

Dr.:

Where are the thyroid glands?

Me: *Nervous because thyroid glands were only briefly mentioned in class. Once.*

*Hesitates then uses both index fingers to point to my throat on a fuzzy educated guess*

Dr.: *Satisfied at last, asks with genuine interest*

What area do you want to go into?

Me: *Still buzzing because I got the last question right* *Confidently answers*

I want to be a nurse.

Dr.:

A NURSE?! You have to aim higher! It’s better to struggle at something difficult than to excel at something easy. Don’t you think?

Me: *Thinking about doing very well in my regular level classes and just well in my AP and IB classes, but learning things on a much deeper level*

*Thinking about the fact that I took those higher level courses because I truly believe it’s better to challenge yourself and do okay than not to and breeze by.*

*Tentatively* Yeah, I think you’re right.

Dr.: *Gives me an encouraging look and a hint of a smile*

Don’t conform with being a nurse. Be a doctor.

 

Then he gave me his business card and urged me to contact him if I ever had any questions. I assure you no other doctor gave me their business card. Nor did I ever impress another doctor. Not surprising, since I probably said as many words to the Nuclear Medicine doctor as to all the other doctors the rest of the year combined. And no, I am not omitting his name for privacy reasons. (I’d give him a pseudo name, if that was the case.)

I actually lost his card sometime after that school year. I was not able to remember his name, let alone call him when I began doubting the whole doctor thing when I began university. Not that I would have called him anyway, because… you know… severe anxiety. I did go over to the nuclear medicine department at that hospital sometime before going off to university though. I had hoped to run into him, but I didn’t see him and I didn’t even know his name to leave a message. :/

 

If you’ve read the My Life Now section of my blog, you know that I’m here in Puerto Rico as part of a dietetic internship instead of in med school.

I’m sorry, Nuclear Medicine Doctor, high school clinicals teacher Ms. Dee, all of my clinicals classmates who expected medical greatness of me, all of my teachers that swore up and down I’d go on to excel as a doctor, my AVID teacher Ms. Dar, my parents, and myself. I’m sorry.

~*~*~

My next deterrent from medical school wasn’t the crushing fear of losing my humanity. (Though that was always present.) It was a wrong click when I enrolled to university. Come back for part two next week to read about fateful click!

Note:

Picture is of my physiology class material sophomore year in university.