Gaining ground

so I'm not such a newbie anymore. I even turn in the right direction now when getting off the elevator...

In fact, we're getting near to floor rotation time, so soon I should move on from medicine for awhile and into a new frontier. The medicine floor is sometimes a drag... I hate seeing people with multiple admissions or trying to tell people that they aren't safe to go home. However, I have seen some cool things in the past months, including one lady who had a neuro disorder so rare that they were collecting her CSF for research and a guy recently with an unknown tick-borne illness (learned a new word, Rickettsia). I have definitely had some times where I wondered whether I was smart enough to work at this hospital, but everyone makes mistakes and I am learning. Definitely taking a closer look at lab values, figuring out more about those.

I have gotten to take 2 visits into the NICU in the past couple of weeks. I work with a girl who is really experienced with feeding and so I got to see the different units and today I got to see a baby intervention in the feeder/grower area. It's interesting stuff, but unfortunately I don't get to devote a lot of time to learning this (since they're kinda paying me to do other things too) and it's such a specialized area that it seems that it would 1. take a lot of time to learn and 2. be best to learn in person from an expert as opposed to on your own.

The whole peds/NICU interest causes me internal unrest, as I really don't know what areas of OT that I want to go into. Yes, I know that I am young, but I have such broad scattered interests that I have no idea where I'm going. Early this year, I had made out different possible career tracks and things connected to each... there were at least 4 and I had programs and interests on each card that I'm not willing to give up, so the range remains broad. In similar news, I just volunteered to do my first home mod evals as an OTR/L... don't know what will come of this, if anything. don't even know if it is volunteering or consulting for money, which I will definitely have to figure out :-P

I have been stressing out the past couple of weeks, it's been busy at home and work and I have been dancing on the edge of tweak out. I have a wonderful (albeit unpaid) vacation that I am leaving for this Thursday after being at work everyday for 11 days (1 was a conference). I truly need a vacation at this point. I had planned to schedule blog posts ahead of time, but I don't know how many I will get done. The other thing that I have thought of doing on vacation is reviewing info for my next rotation (neuro or ortho & ICU) but I think I am coming up on a point where I just desperately need a break. I have been pretty devoted to reading OT stuff for about 90 minutes each day (metro ride) and I just want to move to something less taxing on my brain. I have lots of ideas right now but I think that my mental health needs me to not overwork for a week. Should be a good time with family, actually try to relax for an extended period instead of running around like a vagabond. Have to learn how to balance life.


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A few notes on Alzheimer's Disease

Been reading some more on Alzheimer's lately. I have HBO's "Alzheimer's Project" on my DVR but haven't gotten around to watching it yet... but here are some other notes of late.

I have been reading about the Home Environmental Skill Building Program during my metro trips, which has been interesting. I can't use it very well in the hospital environment, but it would be good in home health as long as you could justify the billing. It has had some good insights for me anyway, namely, the understanding of different priorities between OT and caregiver.

If this article about early-onset Alzheimer's doesn't scare the crap out of you, you don't worry like I do... yikes. I have a lot of word finding difficulties, so my paranoia is bumping up now.

Stumbled onto The Alzheimer's Reading Room while looking up something else, it will probably become one of my top blogs in the scrollbar. I found it because I had read about the Test Your Memory exam on a Medline press release and wanted to see what was included in the test. However, after looking at it, I think we need an adaptation for the US... don't tell my history teacher father, but I'm not sure that I remember when WWI started. I would pick the JFK assassination as a seminal date in many of the current elderly individuals' minds, however, I don't know if there is a reasoning behind the date that it shouldn't be something the person actually lived through.

Saw 2 clients w/ dementia today, one early-stage and one end-stage. Depressing. Early stage lady was faking it pretty well but had severely decreased short and long term memory. Independent w/ BADLs though, so I am recommending adult day care, hopefully that will work out well. My end stage lady was a social admission... 92 y.o. husband came in w/ a cardiac emergency and she can't care for herself. Sweet lady, but gets confused in the middle of her sentences. She was good at ADLs too though.
Long term care for her. No one likes to see their mother's mind crumble.


Quickie Acute Care Stories

It's hard to remember the stories from my job now since I pass in and out of peoples' lives much quicker and can zombie zone-out trying to make it through a ridiculously scheduled day. Like yesterday morning, when I found myself staring at 11 potential evals with no one to share. In the zone. Anyhow, here are some memorable moments...

3 Primary Runners for "Patient of the Day!!"

- Mr. X is 1 month s/p CVA that was not treated well at his hospital and received no rehab, now presents w/ visual deficits. He talks about his eyes dilating in and out, changes in light and dark, and not being able to see well. Finally he says, "I can only see half your face." Trying to figure out if this is a hemianopsia or other field cut, I ask which side. And his reply is, "the one with the big pimple."

- Mrs. Y is s/p fall and starting to have some memory problems, but is well tended to by her family. She says, "my daughter diagnoses me very accurately. She knew I had kidney failure while my doctor was still running blood tests." The PT asks, "is your daughter a doctor?" and she replies, "no, she uses the internet."

- Mr. Z is admitted for COPD, but apparently has no functional deficits and the shortness of breath isn't kicking in very quickly during activity. Unable to evaluate him during the morning as he had eloped out of the hospital, off the campus, and down to the gas station for a coffee and a newspaper. (independent community mobility- check!)

I just don't think you can write fiction to accurately display the craziness of the real world.

I was happy about Mr. X though because I happened to be sitting in on rounds and the PA was saying what a good vision workup OT had done with him, which made me feel good as vision is not my specialty. (Thank you Gutman and Schonfeld, I never would have remembered it without you). Later in the week, I was attending a different set of rounds and they were discussing a pt. w/ eyesight that had deteriorated due to cancer and suggested a low vision consult, and it was a good opportunity to educate the case manager, social worker, and doctor, as none of them had any idea that OT could do so much in the field. So, a few vision victories there.

Touching on the original point again, it is hard to blog after work now. The acute care life can be quite stressful and there's such pt turnover that I do mind-dump a lot. That and the use of the laptop all day makes it difficult to work on it in the evening as well. Really trying to avoid repetitive strain injuries, and it is becoming quite difficult. I do have a lot of good jotted down ideas that will get typed up eventually, but I've been restricting my blog access until I get a (for now) secret project accomplished. I am also in the midst of 7 straight weeks of full weekends- either I travel or someone traveling to me- and that leaves less time for other stuff too. Like my exercise goal, which is now back somewhere in the precontemplation phase... GIANT sigh.

Until next time- enjoy the crazy things life brings you today!


Slow on the Updates

Some busy times lately...
So for the first time in 2 or 3 weeks, I finally was able to discharge a patient on the evaluation. I have been so busy lately and working over a lot because every person I have seen has needed subacute rehab or nursing home placement, which means that they all needed goals written and follow ups done... very time and thought consuming.
Wednesday we only had 7 new evals (only!) for 3 OTs, so we actually got to the follow up cards... one of the other girls said, "did you pick up? You still have cards in here" and the answer was yes, I have a full load today, but I just have too many people to actually see them all in a day. Been exhausted all week really. Sleeping on the metro instead of reading.

Trying to answer a Call for Papers for my state conference... haven't decided whether to submit for AOTA as well or not. Having a hard time following through on the requirements to write it up, very pathetic as I have no trouble writing on here, but once there's a deadline my brain is locked and procrastination sets in. I am obviously not going back to school any time soon.

I am going to Orlando in 2010 for the AOTA conference, and hopefully will get reimbursed for it from our continuing ed funds. I'm actually in a strange CE situation... I was a little panicky earlier in the year, but picked up 2 hours just applying for my new license. If I present at my state conference, that's 6 hours (have to pay to register anyway) plus a few as credit for the presentation, and my hospital is offering a stroke course for 6 hours that is super cheap for employees, so I could finish the rest of my hours right there no problem. But I am interested in the AOTA course Integrating Mental Health Into OT Practice with Older Adults... it is another 6 hours and still priced very fairly for members. I think it would be very helpful for me, but from a financial or efficiency standpoint, it doesn't make sense. I can't carryover extra CE hours in my new state, and I will have more than enough from the AOTA conference for 2010. In theory I guess I could order it and then just hold off on submitting the exam until I need it (2011?) if it is active that long. I am also holding onto 2 completed CE articles from OT practice on contemporary motor control that I hadn't submitted since I can't find my coupon.

A world with many options is simply a world filled with too many decisions...

I do have 2-3 interesting case studies I will post soon. Busy set of weekends coming up- worked last 2, had a visitor last weekend, at my parents' house for a wedding this weekend... Even though we always try to cut back to have relaxing time we always get large stretches of weeks in the summer and fall that are heavy on travel. Hope everyone is enjoying summertime before we hit triple digit heat on the East coast. :)


Update on Reading Without Getting Sick

After ~2 months of efforts, I have reached my conclusions on reading on the metro train without getting carsick.

I have found that a combination of strategies allows me to read almost nonstop while on the metro.
- Choosing a front facing seat: I will take back facing seats over sideways facing... if forced into sideways seats, I turn so that I am taking up more space and oriented toward the front.
- Front Car: I try to get a seat near the front of the overall train. There isn't a big difference between car 1-2 or 2-3 but there is a major difference between front most and rear most in amount of sway.
- Don't touch anything: I avoid contact w/ the walls of the train, since they vibrate.
- Eliminate degrees of freedom: I hold the book close to me, pinning down one page w/ both hands if necessary.
- Periodic rest breaks: If I feel the train going into a turn, shaking extra, or going faster than normal, I close my eyes. I had been looking up away from the book, but closing my eyes forces me to feel when the situation has calmed down.
- Accupressure: I couldn't find my sea-bands, but when I went to the store, I remembered what i didn't like about them. The elastic does have give, and the little pressure balls can cut too tightly. However, I found psi bands, which are doubly adjustable both at the wristband and at the dial. Pretty cool, hopefully the plastic won't break.

And there you have it! I've been knocking out important articles and texts with ease.

1. I am not a doctor and cannot advise you on best remedies for your individual situation... go get a checkup.
2. I am not going to try these remedies while in the car. I think that cars are too bouncy, and given to too many directional shifts in both left-right and up-down (at least where I am from). It's enough for me to just not get carsick in the car, I won't be pushing it there.
3. There is one known remedy for motion sickness that I have not tried, which is eating ginger. It's not feasible for me to do that nonstop for 2 hours everyday and I hate gum of any kind more than any non-SPD person could possibly understand.