The Great and Small Things I Learned in Physical Therapy School

I just made the title of this post and now I’m intimidated by it.

It’s a tall order to list all the great and small things I learned in all three years of physical therapy school, but I’ll try. It’ll be good.

(BTW, I’m a doctor now! I still need to take and pass my boards exam in July to be licensed, but I got the degree.)

This is my last “great and small things I’ve learned” post from my time at Boston University, and thinking about that just made my heart sink. Here are the ones I’ve written during my time in DPT school:

Let’s take a stab at reflecting on some of the great and small things I’ve learned throughout all of PT school, now that it’s over. I’m not going to look at any of my previous posts, so as to make this as candid and #raw as possible.

1) I am totally an external processor. Whether studying or figuring out the inner convoluted workings of my soul, talk talk talking is MAJOR KEY.

2) Starting a relationship while starting doctoral studies is challenging.

3) I truly had very little idea what was happening during my first semester of PT school. So much of what I thought I knew about physical therapy flew out the window, and I struggled greatly with the lack of context as I learned about so many different pathologies and interventions in a classroom setting. But it got better.

4) I learned how to embrace failure and let go of perfectionism.

5) It will always be worth it to reserve time and energy to pour into my faith and the community surrounding that faith.

6) That being said, I learned how to set boundaries between study time and my faith and social life. Not without a lot of struggle, strife, and sometimes hurt feelings, though.

7) I learned a lot about walking, and I can say with conviction that it is my favorite form of physical activity. It is one that I never want to take for granted.

8) Physical therapists help others to help themselves, and I love that about the profession. We want YOU to do the moving as much as possible, and we will help you get there.

9) My thoracic spine mobility is crap.

10) The answer to any of my personal problems is probably that I need to sleep and pray.

11) Having a diverse and loving group of friends in PT school is a blessing both in and out of the classroom.

12) In one instance, I cannot see myself doing anything but physical therapy. But in another instance, I can see myself doing something totally different.

13) Weaknesses really can become strengths, and often do.

14) I can spend a whole year with my friend, Janice, by my side and not get sick of her.

idk if it’s reciprocal though

15) The brain (and the whole central nervous system) is an absolute enigma and something that I wish to learn more about, regarding its relationship to and necessity for movement. Maybe one day I will pursue a neurological clinical specialty.

16) America runs on Dunkin’ and I still run on peanut butter and banana every day.

17) I have come to appreciate my family and my life situation more and more as time goes on.

18) Finding deep and abiding freedom, peace, and joy is of utmost importance to me, even if it hurts at first.

19) Many walls of pride have been burned down in different areas of my life, and that is exactly what I prayed would happen in January of 2017, well before PT school started. It has been a painful but very good process, and it never stops.

20) I think I’ve finally learned to try new things that are either neutral or good for me. Trying new things is not naturally my jam (see #16).

21) I can get close to running a half marathon if I don’t almost break my leg in the process.

22) I have learned how to have healthy confrontation and disagreement. I hate confrontation, but it can be extremely fruitful when done with respect, clarity, and charity.

23) It’s really nice to be in a class of people who want to help each other up the mountain.

24) Expect the unexpected.

25) Everyone always knows more than I do. I don’t mean that in a self-deprecating way, but in an honest way. There will always be something someone else knows that I do not know. There will always be something that I can learn from any given person, whether that’s intellectually, academically, spiritually, emotionally, experientially, or physically.

our first Christmas / holiday season together as a PT cohort 🙂

25 is enough. It’s late now and, like I said, the answer is sleep and prayer. The true list of great and small things I’ve learned is inexhaustible, because the fruits of my experience in DPT school will continue to appear throughout my life.

There is nothing but gratitude and joy looking back at these last three years. Good grief is an appropriate phrase to describe it.

Thank you to all who made this possible, and thank YOU for reading along throughout this journey. I appreciate you.

Hi, Happy Easter and Passover!

For Passover: I’m sorry I am late in wishing this to all my Jewish friends! I hope you all had a wonderful celebration.

For Easter: I would say, “Sorry I’m a few days late,” but NAY Easter is an OCTAVE, so we are still going as if it’s Easter Sunday. He is risen! He is risen indeed!

Feasting. This past week has involved celebration in the form of FaceTime/Zoom “gatherings” with loved ones, delicious food (desserts, particularly), and solo dance parties to happy music. I kicked it off with homemade carrot cake, of which I have eaten a slice every day since I made it. Yesterday I also made these banana bread blondies with brown butter frosting, which rocked my world. I’ve been sharing, but let’s be honest, a majority of the carrot cake has entered my gullet.

Fruitful. I felt that I was really falling in love with Christ in the days leading up to Easter. His perfect Love for us is unlike anything else; it is truly everything good. I am grateful that the extra time to pray, due to current circumstances, made Holy Week especially fruitful this year. Goodness gracious, He loves you so much! YOU.

Sardines. I have been eating tinned sardines in olive oil on sourdough toast with some tomato sauce, and it is just delightful. I don’t buy fish for myself besides canned tuna, because I look at the price and think, “eh, omega-3’s can wait” (for real though, don’t neglect omega-3 fatty acids in your diet). But my mother was very kind and sent me a Costco shipment that included a large pack of tinned sardines, and I feel like I’m eating a luxurious Mediterranean meal with those little fish. Tinned fish = luxury, who would have thought?

But seriously, have you ever tried smoked trout?! 😮 Luxury.

Day in the life. Really not that exciting. Praying, walking, cooking, eating, studying, FaceTiming / Houseparty-ing people (to chat or just do work in solidarity), moving and grooving, applying for jobs. I am looking into some volunteer opportunities to start moving outwards.

Moves. I posted this on my instagram story, but today I did 100 burpees, spread throughout the day in sets of 10-20. I now have a goal of becoming more efficient with my burpees (as I once was when I was a wee lil blogger) and to build up more stamina. In order to do this, I am going to do 100 burpees every other day until May, aiming to increase speed and the number I do within each set, but always prioritizing form and listening to my body.

I have one friend who is going to take on the challenge with me (s/o to you, Victor!), some friends who will do some iteration of the challenge, and several friends who shared with me their own ways of staying active at home. I love solidarity!

Otherwise, I’ve been doing whatever I feel like doing that day. My 35-pound KB has been a great addition to my “home gym” (i.e., 5lb dumbbells and a resistance band). Running outside has also been a weekly thing. One of my professors proposed a “Marathon Monday Run” wherever we are this coming Monday in honor of the Boston Marathon that has now been postposed to September. We will just walk/run however long we want and share our pics and maps with each other. More solidarity!

Loss. I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the continued suffering and pain that so many people are facing in this world. It hit a little more closely today when I learned of the passing of my mom’s cousin in France from COVID-19. He was a doctor, about the same age as my parents, and he leaves behind his wife and children, who are about my age. One of my friends’ grandmother is also suffering now from COVID-19.

May we rest in the peace of Christ and never cease hoping in Him. Thank you always to those who continue to sacrifice themselves on the frontlines and for those who continue to work in any field at this time. Praying for those who are hungry, lonely, heartbroken, ill, lost, or in danger in any way at this time.

So tell me:

Did you celebrate Passover or Easter? What did you do?

How are you keeping sane and/or staying active during quarantine?

Are you interested in joining the burpee challenge!?

The Great and Small Things I Learned This Semester {Last One Ever!}

Here we areeeeeeeee!

The learning never, ever stops, but dang it feels cool to be done with being a full-time student…. okay, technically I’m still a full-time student, but no more lectures and exams! All I have left is 22 weeks of clinical experience.

Here’s what I learned during my last semester of classes EVER (I don’t think I’m going back to school again, but who knows?).

1) Training up mileage too quickly may result in a stress fracture. And apparently my right femur is a weak boi.

2) Don’t give into peer pressure to run a race for which you didn’t really have a desire to train throughout a muggy St. Louis summer.

3) How to teach an inclusion hip hop dance class.

4) How to search the literature up the wazooooooo.

5) People LOVE podcasts. And I have also taken a liking to podcasts in order to stay a little more up to date with current events.

6) Living with three international students (one from China, one from Japan, one from Ukraine) has been an enjoyable experience. We all cook and live very differently but can still keep the kitchen a (mostly) clean and organized space.

7) I become my worst, most complain-y self past 11pm.

8) I should avoid bringing up serious topics with anyone past 11pm.

9) I should probably just sleep at 11pm, but I still have a poor sleep schedule.

10) Eye masks are a GAME CHANGER for being able to sleep longer in the morning.

11) I truly should never take my family for granted; they are the bees knees, cream of the crop, top of the line. I love them and cannot thank them enough for what they have done for me and continue to do for me day in and day out.

12) Make the phone call home or to a friend. Don’t let phone calls die.

13) Focusing on form and using my b r a i n during each rep of an exercise (i.e., thinking about the energy, power, control, speed, external/internal cues necessary to perform the exercise properly) makes all the difference in how fatigued I get and also in how quickly I gain strength (not a research project; this is just how I perceive it).

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14) Everyone experiences some privilege, but everyone experiences some sort of marginalization as well. “Treat others the way you want to be treated” is never too cliché.

15) The fight to remain steadfast in the good practices and truths (e.g., always pray, working out will probably make you feel better if you’re stressed, it is good to look up and sit in silence on public transportation sometimes) that you know is a never-ending fight, especially if you’re like me and you have very little self-control and you tend to form poor habits more quickly than good habits. Fight that goooood fight.

16) Avocado egg toast and overnight oats still haven’t failed me as staple foods in a pinch (or every day, honestly).

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17) Swimming was a big fear of mine (not because I can’t hold myself up and move in water, but because I had no idea what I was doing…literally how do I put on a swim cap), but I have found it to be a fun challenge and a killer workout that I enjoy even post-stress fracture healing. (Thanks, Abby!)

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18) I can make time for the things that matter. I like to make excuses to not see a friend, for example, but there usually aren’t any good ones when it comes down to it.

19) In some moments of my life, I am the person who I never thought I would be (for better or for worse), which has taught me to be more understanding and compassionate towards others in their points of weakness. We should all call each other higher but without judgement, because I could be you and you could be me by the flip of a circumstance switch.

20) Nights never used to be a huge issue for me but these days I need to CHECK MYSELF when I get home exhausted after a long day, because all ya girl wants to do is eat and go on her phone, which is fine, but sometimes I turn my brain off and do too much of either.

21) I can tolerate finely diced red onions in my tacos. I used to despise raw onions, but I can appreciate the little sum’n sum’n they add.

22) This crew is loyal and I love them.

23) How to guest lecture (thanks, Evan!).

24) People say that I am a good teacher and a good public speaker. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ just some info for the ~future~ I guess.

25) God’s delight is to be with you.

I’m distracting myself with youtube videos and can no longer think of other things to type, so this is the end of this post. Thank you, as always, for reading along and for your support of this blog, even as it ebbs and flows.

So tell me:

What are some things you learned this fall?

Do you have plans for the holiday season?

 

 

 

 

Life Back in Boston + 6 Years of Blogging

One of my very favorite places to do life!

Since we last chatted (about the great and small things I learned in STL), I have visited family at home, gone camping, gone back home, moved apartments, and started my third and LAST year of PT school!

I feel like I’ve been in school forever, but here I am in my last semester of school forever (please, Lord).

In all honesty, I have felt very few emotions about a lot of things. Maybe it’s because I’ve run this gamut a few times already.

School? Grateful and happy to be back. Excited or nervous? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Eh. It’s a light semester of classes with a crap ton of self-directed research/work time in between, which is nice but also dangerously deceiving and deceptively difficult. “Oh, so you mean I need to motivate MYSELF for the WHOLE 12 hours that I’m not in class today?…….God help me.”

The future/my career? I have not a darn clue in the world what will be happening in these next 12 months of my life. I know that I will be in Boston for my next two clinicals (woohoo!), but otherwise, that’s about it. The rest, we throw to the wind of the Holy Spirit. I am neither worried nor sad nor stoked about anything. I’m at peace with the unknown though. Just trying to trust the process and go through the motions with an open heart.

The changes in my friends’ lives? Well, two of my best friends got married, and for that I was overwhelmingly excited and joyful The sacrament, the celebration, the reunion with so many beautiful people — such a blessing. I must say, there is no party like a party with people who know Love and Joy Himself. Congratulations, Ben and Casey!

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Friends are also having babies now, and that’s when I’m like, “I need a second.” *breathes heavily*

But I love Boston, and I am incredibly grateful to be back for at least another year. The Lord is kind and merciful.


I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge my 6 year blogging anniversary! The exact date of which I am not entirely sure… early August. Maybe it was the 3rd.

In honor of 6 years of blogging, for my entertainment and potentially yours, here is a blast from the past — a random blog post from each year that I’ve blogged.

2013: “I Like Burpees (You know it.)

2014: “Boston University is Making Things Complicated” (This was when I visited BU for open house and fell in love with it. UGH what a little human I was.)

2015: “I Should Be Embarrassed About These Things…” (OMG UNDERGRAD LIFE *CRIES*)

2016: “48 Hours Unplugged” (An incredible two days in the middle-of-nowhere-NY with Fiona and Rachel that we will never ever forget.)

2017: “Greater Love” (BU Catholic Center retreats are a highlight of my life.)

2018: “October” (Despite, or perhaps lending to, the simple name, this was a time of deep emotion for me.)

2019: “Never A Dull Moment” (And I think this blog testifies to that.)

As I look through all of these blog posts, I notice:

  • Alison went from squirrelly young lass to emotionless city girl (lol jk…kinda).
  • I went from blogging ~almost~ every day to blogging ~almost~ monthly.
  • I have grown physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually in ways that I could not have tried to do myself.
  • Selfies never seem to go out of style for me.
  • The list of things that truly matter never changes.
  • God’s hand has been in all of it, without a doubt.

Thank you, as always, to every single one of you who takes time out of your busy days to read my words, laugh/cry with me, and reflect on the goodness/hardness/”what!?”-ness of life with me. I very am grateful for you and for the ways this blog has brought me closer to people.

So tell me:

What’s on deck for you for the rest of 2019? School? New job? Same job? New life events?

Share your current emotions! If ya want…That’s kinda personal though, so up to you.

The Great and Small Things I Learned {Summer Clinical #2}

Sometimes I forget I have a blog.

But I lounged around yesterday for about an hour just scrolling through blogs that I follow on my Feedly like I used to during my high school leisure days… ahhhh. It was lovely, and I remembered that I like to blog too HAHA.

I’ve given a glimpse of how this summer has been in STL. Now that I am back home in New York / Boston, the reflective mindset has started to settle a bit. Ergo, it is time for another edition of “Great and Small Things I Learned.”

How to even begin summarizing the oodles of things I learned in the hospital!?

I worked with a physical therapist on the medicine floor of Barnes Jewish Hospital. This means we saw patients who have pretty much any and every comorbidity under the sun and who were admitted for a reason that is not primarily neurological, cardiopulmonary, or orthopedic. For example, I saw a lot of patients admitted for falls, sepsis, altered mental status, acute kidney injuries, hypoglycemia, hypertensive emergencies, acute onset of weakness from metabolic causes… etc… I guess.

Communication

50% of patients wanted nothing to do with physical therapy. De-escalating situations with  patients who had altered mental status or who were agitated at the time was a big skill to learn, but by the end of the clinical, almost no amount of sass or yelling could faze me.

Empathy and Listening

Requirements in the healthcare field. In the first few weeks of clinical, it was easy to be stressed and preoccupied over my performance as a student PT, so I had to remind myself that this job is about the patient in front of me, and the patient is hurting, often in more ways than one. Listening and motivational interviewing are always helpful.

Integrity, Honesty and Moving Forward

I made plenty of mistakes during clinical, but some were bigger than others. Thankfully, none of the mistakes resulted in anyone’s injury, but I learned some valuable lessons the hard way, that’s for sure. I had to practice integrity and timely honesty about my mistakes, and furthermore, I had to move forward and continue in confidence after all was said and done. My clinical instructor (who was amazing!) counseled me that letting my mistakes get to my head does not serve anyone well.

Neuromuscular Connection

The trendy/granola term for this is “mind-muscle connection,” I think. THINKING about what I want my muscles to do and how fast I want them to it during a workout has helped with increasing strength. There’s literature about it out there… I’m not going to go find it right now. But intentionality in life is important, and working out ain’t an exception! As Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson would say, “FOCUS!!!”

To “Just Be”

Moving onto matters outside of the hospital, I am grateful to say that I made several great friends through the young adult group at the St. Louis Cathedral Basilica. So many people took me (and Janice) under their wings and welcomed us into their community with love and generosity that were just astounding. People cooked for us, drove us around, invited us to watch the sunrise with them on a hill in the park, took us grocery/thrift store shopping, helped me babysit my cousins, toured us through the art museum, swing danced with us, prayed with and for us…

In so many of these great times, my friend Maria would call it “just being” — putting the phone down (even though I’d still snap a photo or two for posterity/the blog, ya know) and soaking in the moment, whatever it is, however mundane it may be. To “just be” with pals in fellowship and faith through the everyday and not-so-everyday things, and to do it all joyfully.

My heart misses all of our friends back there. They were so f r e e. Free and secure in their love for Christ which showed so evidently and made me want to love God more.

They made St. Louis home away from home. So did Janice, my roomie! She’d tuck me in almost every night (upon her offer) LOL. We shared a lot of ups and downs together this summer, and I am grateful for her being a dear friend through it all.

Don’t Give Up on Prayer

It can be hard to maintain a consistent prayer life with a 9-5 (or in my case, a 7-4:30) job, not so much because I don’t have time, but because brain energy is limitedddd at the end of the day. Prayer takes mental energy and attention that admittedly I don’t want to give when I get home from a long day of work + going to the gym. And I failed many days and did not prioritize prayer, but I learned to fight the good fight and never give up on it. Start anew the next day. Whether you meditate, pray, do some reading for personal development, do it, man. Probably in the morning before you’re wiped out from the day. Which means you (I) have to sleep early, which is difficult at times… But God is worthy of our love, the best we can give.

I could go on for ages and pages about my time in STL, but these are enough words for now. Thank you for reading along if you’ve made it this far.

At home now, I am doing at least 20x less work/activity and I am at least 20x MORE tired. I love being with the fam though ♥︎

Off to a camping trip with Boston friends this weekend!

P.S. Tori Kelly’s new album is FIRE.

So tell me:

What are some things you’ve learned this summer?

What are your plans this weekend?