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?

 

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Reinforcing Lessons About Exercise

There is currently a fly buzzing around the kitchen, which makes me equal parts mad and sad. Mad because it wants to get at my banana bread mug cake. Sad because flies are gross.

Alright, I have some foodie talk this morning before we get into the meat of the post.

First of all, I ate classic overnight oats in a sunflower seed butter jar (with 2+ tbsp left in the jar) for breakfast yesterday! It might be one of my all-time favorite breakfasts. I enjoyed it in my backyard since it was such a gorgeous and mild morning. Very few things could have made it more perfect.

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Secondly, I think pita bread needs to be on people’s grocery lists more often. That’s right, I’m asserting my opinion over your grocery list. *smiling purple devil emoji* For good reason though! Pita bread takes sandwiches to a new level. The fluffy, doughy factor is superb, AND you can fit more oddly shaped foods inside.

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inside the pita: avocado, pork souvlaki, mint yogurt sauce, tomatoes, and sriracha added later

Let me know if you buy some pita bread now. If you do, I’ll look into marketing and advertising as a side job.

Speaking of jobs, I want to talk about some lessons that my physical therapy internship has taught me/reinforced. There is very little doubt in my mind that physical therapy is what I want to continue pursuing as a career, and it’s thanks to my summer internship experience and what it has taught me!

Besides everything I’ve learned about anatomy, diseases, and therapy techniques, I’ve sort of re-learned a lot of lessons about taking care of our bodies through movement.

Health Lessons Reinforced Through My Physical Therapy Internship

  • Do not dismiss seemingly easy exercises. Go back to the basics and re-check your form/range of motion. Try an exercise that you’ve never done before, even if it looks easy. You’d be very surprised how well certain exercises can work those smaller (yet still very important!) muscles.

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like these…they kill those smaller glute muscles you never knew you had

  • Flexibility is essential. This doesn’t mean you have to be able to bend backwards until your head is through your legs, but flexibility is certainly important for your overall health and fitness. A full range of motion will help you in your fitness endeavors as well as in injury prevention.
    • P.S. Hold a stretch for at least 30 seconds. That is the minimum for lengthening to actually occur. You can hold it longer, but it won’t make any difference. 30 seconds is the magic number!
  • Almost every injury or anatomical issue can be aided by core strengthening. Planks, y’all. Your core protects your back, promotes good posture (which also protects your back), supports your legs, and helps with balance.

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speaking of form…

  • Form is everything. I’m sure you all knew this already, but this is just to reiterate. Don’t go for another rep or for the advanced variation of an exercise if your form is off. Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Oh, unless…DON’T DO IT. I’m guilty of bad form, and I have indeed injured myself as a result.
    • Also, make sure to learn proper form before performing an exercise. I’m guilty of this as well, and guess what. I hurt myself because I didn’t know what I was doing.
  • Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. This is especially for people recovering from injury or getting back into an exercise routine after some time off. You might feel great when exercising, so it is easy to over-do it and agitate your body. You have to think about how your body might respond later. 
  • It’s all about progressThe looks on patients’ faces when they can walk without a limp or raise their arms completely overhead for the first time in months— it is the best part of the job. Exercise and movement is about YOUR progress. You will be filled with so much more joy if you just concern yourself with that rather than everyone else’s abilities.

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even if it’s literally one step at a time up a mountain

  • Be thankful for the ability to move. Exercise is nourishing for our bodies (in healthy amounts, of course). Whatever you do to move, keep safety first and rest when you need to. Exercise doesn’t have to be about getting big, getting skinny, or hitting PRs. It can just be about joy. It can just be about necessity for health. In any case, be thankful for movement and don’t disregard the “easy” stuff. Every form of exercise has its place.

With all that said, my PT internship has helped encourage me realize that there are so many ways I can move my body and improve its fitness without pushing it too hard. I can work on flexibility/mobility, balance, and strengthening those smaller muscles.

Kayyyy I’m done talking…typing…whatever. Hope you all have a grand ol’ day!

So tell me:

Do you like pita bread? What would you put inside?

What is one way you’ve progressed with your exercise/fitness recently? Resting more counts 🙂 

{Disclaimer: All information I learned is from two physical therapists with their doctorate in physical therapy. One is also a certified personal trainer.}