Thursday, July 30, 2009

Not-so-secret Hermione

I admit it, I relish big exams. I relish a studying challenge. Well, I hate it while doing it, but I enjoy the challenge, the planning, the feeling of undertaking a giant mission. And finally, and most importantly, the relief and sense of accomplishment when it is all done.  But I'm talking the really big exams here. The bar exams. The boards. Finals at college that are really finals - i.e. year or course-end cumulative finals.

When I did my equivalent of bar exams in the UK, back in the day, I'd go to a quiet corner of the law library and settle myself in, plotting out 12 hour days. Yes, 12 hours. That was only at the very end, of course, when I took some time off work to study. Prior to that it had been mere 8 hour days at weekends. I'd plan out what I'd study, when I'd take breaks. Where I'd eat. All of that. And then I'd hole myself up, dig in, and not permit myself any distractions. 

For acupuncture, the big deal is the boards. There are 4 boards as far as I can tell, although it may be 5 - I get confused because they changed the rules, and then people complained and they changed them back. So sometimes I think something is right, but then I find that that was what it was going to be, but isn't now. Confusing, huh. You have to pass varying numbers for licensing in various states.  For my state, I could get away with 3, although my plan is to do all 4 (or 5) so that I could possibly move to another state if I wanted to. Besides, it's just better to do them all.  Some of them I can do pre-graduation, after a certain number of credit hours, some I may wait until after graduation.  In preparation for the boards, my school has cumulative year-end exams. So at the end of the first year, you review anything you've ever studied that might come up on the boards. At the end of the second year, ditto. At the end of the third year, you're basically taking exams that are the equivalent of the boards, so it's good practice.

We got our class schedules for next semester this week (although I should say trimester as there are three terms in the school year, not two, but trimester is uncomfortably pregnancy-related), and there looming on it is the year-end exam.  It scared me at first, and I felt like I couldn't possibly fit in enough studying for it. But then my inner Hermione kicked in, and I dug out a notebook and started mapping out a study plan. It is uber-ambitious. My classmates would probably kill me if they found out how much I'm planning on doing.  But several of them have said they're just going to study all semester long, and that's what I'm planning, so maybe they are being equally ambitious.  Although I tend to like to go back and read the textbooks and then study from study aids or tables, rather than stick with the Cliff notes all along.  I am probably therefore planning on more hours than most.

Doing the study plan made me feel good in the moment, but now I have to admit, looking at it gives me a sinking feeling in my stomach again. Erk.  OK, I just have to keep my eyes on the prize. Relish the challenge, and all that. I can DO this. 

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Where was I?

Oh yes, when last you heard from me I was bone tired. It was just a phase, and now I am back to my usual vim and vigor.  Well, OK, not vim or vigor exactly, but not deadbeat tired either.

I feel oddly disconnected from the world, and it's almost entirely of my own choosing. That and, you know, busy-ness.  Work has "upgraded" our internet experience, which means that I can no longer access any blogspot or typepad or any number of bloggy-type sites from the office. I suppose it's fair, given that I am supposed to be there working and not goofing off and surfing, but it does cut into my access to the world somewhat. You'd think that I'd fire up the old internet when I get home, but I am mostly reluctant to these days. I feel worn out by sitting in front of a computer screen all day at work, so that I don't want to turn the damn thing on at home. So, even though previously I was hopelessly behind in blog reading, now I'm woefully behind.  I don't even want to fire up the TV either. In fact, I can't remember the last time it was actually turned on. I think I watched a rerun of House about 3 weeks ago.  Now I get my news and entertainment from NPR, the New York Times online, and a music station (the best of the 80's, 90's and today, don't ya know).  And that's pretty much it.  I am turning into a hermit, rereading old familiar books when I should be studying. And studying when I should be sleeping. Although I did go and see the Harry Potter movie last weekend with my tenant/roommate. And was sorely disappointed at its slow pace and lack of magicky action. Sigh.

And then I got a private message from an IVF board. Asking me questions based on a post of mine from 18 months ago. I'm too tired and heart sore to respond to it. I have nothing to add to anyone's fertility journey at the moment. I have no expertise that I wish to pour forth. I am tired of being barren and childless. Tired of being single. Tired of knowing all about IVF cycles. Tired of trying to be healthy so that I might have a chance of a fertile egg before my ovaries completely shrivel up, although given that I am making no headway in finding a boyfriend, what's the damn point?  No, actually, it's not true that I am trying to be healthy just for the sake of my eggs. I am trying to be healthy because I am aging, and I don't want to be a miserable old lady with aches and pains. The egg thing is just wistful nonsense.

Bah. This post is coming off all bitter and twisted, which is not what I wanted. Mostly I am doing fine these days. I am enjoying school, and am slowly climbing the mountain of information I have to cram into my brain before I graduate. I am enjoying most of my fellow students (except for the asshole, who annoys me daily - I am starting to think that he is the cross I have to bear, the one that has been sent to test my patience so that I can finally dispense with my ego and let the annoyances wash over me. Or something. Well, let's face it, if I don't tell myself that he was sent to try me, all that is left is believing that he's just an asshole. And I'm trying to think better of him than that.)  I have melancholy moments when I think about being childless and a failure in that department.  But they do not make up the majority of my days.  Most of my days are spent trying to remember exactly what a purplish-blue tongue means as opposed to a purplish-red tongue, or exactly what acupuncture point SJ 19 is for, or doing endless hours of practice at twisting needles or massage techniques. Or some such.  I don't have any miraculous cures for anyone out there at the moment, though I will say: take Floradix liquid iron + herbs, and get thee some B12 shots (or, failing that, the dissolvable sublingual B12 tablets). Not very Chinese-y, I know.  But you'll thank me in the end.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Energy shmenergy

I am tired. Bone tired. Weary. Just...tired.

I have not been sleeping well lately, combined with going to bed later than I used to, combined with stress at work and school, turns me into a tired, irritable lady. I have booked a vacation for the summer break, but that's a month away. And I have a bunch of exams between now and then. Grumble, grumble, grumble. It all makes me wonder what on earth I am doing, signing up for this school thing and having the audacity to think that I can just change my career like that. Some days I think I'll never be a good acupuncturist, because I just don't have time to practice or do enough other things to hone the physical side of this job. And then there are SO many things to memorize and learn.


In other news, a few of us were discussing chakras and acu in one of our breaks. They don't teach us about the chakras at school (being as it's not strictly part of Chinese theory) but there are some books out there on it, and some practitioners work with the chakras. I find it pretty interesting - after all, if this stuff is real, it should all work and all the different energy medicine theories should line up and have plenty of correspondences. If it's all voodoo, it won't.

But of course, the annoying student in my class was all "it's Chh-ak-ras, not shak-ras." So I responded "Chh-ak-ras, shakras, energy centers, what-evah, who cares what we call them?" But the dude would not shut up, about how he knew more about the chakras than us because he's a yogi and blah blah blah. And it's CHh-ak-ra. Yeah mate, I thought, you've got a really looong way to go before you really understand what being a yogi is. A little bit of humility mixed in is definitely necessary. Anyhoo, how come the world and their uncle says shakras then?

Grrr. You can see how the irritability is not helping me right about now.

Friday, July 10, 2009

On the chair situation

Just an update: employer was very happy to arrange an ergonomic assessment for my secretary, which is set for July 22nd. She's actually looking forward to it now, go figure. And they said they would have no problem buying a new chair or whatever is necessary. Which fits in with my own experience - I got a new chair a couple of years ago when the other one was giving me lower back pain. So even though they'll generally say "no spending," if there's something that is causing an actual problem, they will replace it.

And yes, they would have to pay for the surgery, not the insurance company. We have "self-funded coverage" where my employer picks up the entire tab, using the insurance company for administration only. Apparently it's cheaper to do it that way than buy the full insurance. Again, go figure.

So, a combination of knowing what would be cheaper combined with a huge fear of workers' comp claims and there you go. I figured all along that it wasn't our employer dragging their feet but my secretary.

But thanks for the info on the surgery being easy for most people. I guess it's always the problem cases that stick in my mind...

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The problem with acupuncture acceptance...

Two posts in one day, it's a miracle!

I share a secretary, and she's recently developed carpal tunnel syndrome, although she says it's been coming on for years. I said she should get her workstation looked at, because I'm convinced her chair is wrong, her keyboard set up is wrong and her monitor is at the wrong height. She's very petite, and the standard-sized stuff just doesn't fit her. She didn't want to bother anyone, and anyway, our employer has been cost-cutting, so she was sure there was nothing that could be done. She didn't want the surgery. I pointed out that acu is supposed to be very good for carpal tunnel. She didn't want to do acu because she was scared of the pain of needles, although by this point, she was unable to sleep because of the terrible pain in her wrists.

Finally she said she'd give acu a try. She's now been 3 times. The acu thinks it might take 8 sessions to really help. In the meantime, I kept nagging her to ask about having someone come in to do an ergonomic assessment for her desk, because why fix the problem once and then go on aggravating it. She kept hemming and hawing. She told the office manager that it wasn't such a big issue.

Then this weekend she spoke to a nurse at a nursing home where she was visiting, who spotted the wrist brace, and told her about her own carpal tunnel surgery, which was outpatient and such a relief and all that. Super easy! So now my secretary wants to quit acu because she has to pay for it, as it's not covered by insurance, and go and have the surgery instead as that will be covered by the insurance. Aargh! Is it just me that thinks it's ridiculous to put yourself through surgery when something natural and non-invasive is already helping and could help longer term? Just because you don't want to pay for it? And how much would she have to pay in co-pays for the surgery and the drugs she'd need to take? Is surgery really easier than acupuncture? And even if our employer is cost-cutting, surely it's cheaper for them to buy a new damn chair than pay for surgery?

After hearing this new plan of hers, I've stopped nagging her to ask for an ergonomic assessment, and just gone over her head and demanded one. It's already been agreed to, and is going to go ahead soon. Oy. I just hope that will help so she can avoid surgery, which I'm sure is not quick and super easy for everybody.

The problem with restricting certain foods... that nobody takes any damn notice. Case in point, lunch today:

Sarah, to waiter: I'd like the tofu masaman curry please, with brown rice. That doesn't have peanuts in it does it? Because I can't eat peanuts, so if it comes with peanuts, I don't want them.

Waiter, to Sarah: Oh no, no peanuts; that curry is potato-based. There's no peanuts at all.

Of course, the meal arrives with a GIANT handful of peanuts dumped on top of it. Uh huh. Thankyouverymuch a-hole. So I spent the first part of lunch and much of the rest of the picking the darn things out, accidentally ate two halves and now I feel sick. I've been shoveling the Tums in, which is my usual remedy for accidental peanut-induced nausea, which works if I can do it quick enough. Otherwise I may have to go and stick my fingers down my throat. Bleh.

I mean, thank god I'm not actually allergic to the damn things, like anaphalactic shock allergic. Although I suppose then a) I wouldn't have set foot in a Thai restaurant, no matter how my coworkers wheedled and tried to get me to, and b) I'd have sent the meal back. Next time it happens, though, I will NOT be such a lame ass and I WILL send the meal back.

No doubt it had flour in it too, as the tofu seemed coated in something. So much for gluten free, as well.

Monday, July 06, 2009


I went out to lunch with my boss today, who said that he has a daydream that I'm still going to want to work for him when I've got my acupuncture license. I said "uh, you do know that I'm not doing this for fun, right? I am planning to leave and do it full time." He said "I know, I know, but I was hoping that maybe while you're building up your acupuncture practice you could keep working with me, maybe even one day a week, hell, whatever percentage I can get. Just for you to keep the money coming in the door until you're overwhelmed with acu work and need to switch to it full time. And for me to still have you working for us, because you're awesome."

Awwww. It quite brought a lump to my throat . But it does make me think more about the future. See, I have been giving it lots of thought and I think I'd like to work with someone else for a few years, to get some experience. I've never believed that it is right to go and hang a shingle the moment you're qualified in anything that requires thinking. Ignoring art and such, where you can and probably should go off to do your own creative thing right from the get go. I think it's best to gain experience, to have someone to bounce questions off, and all that good stuff. So it'd be good to find a part-time job (or heck, even a full time one) that I could do for the pittance that a freshly-minted acu can command, and keep money coming in with a few hours a week at the current, more lucrative job.

It's nice to know I have options.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


I have this feeling that July is going to be a good month. I hope it is!

My horoscope is pretty darn stellar, I've got a lottery ticket sitting in my purse that I'm putting a lot of hope in, I have been feeling fit and healthy, and I just changed my hair style (I've gone straight). And I got that appraising "look" from a guy in the supermarket the other day. You know, the "you're kind of a foxy lady and I want you to know it" type look. I haven't had that look in, like forever, so it was a bit of an ego boost. I think it was the new hairdo, as I've been walking around with a frizzy bird's nest on my head, looking like I just didn't care any more, and suddenly I look like I DO care and I think that causes a second look from guys. That and the fact that I feel like I look better gives me more confidence to radiate out to the world. Anyway, that's my theory and I'm sticking to it!

AND it is Grandpa's birthday today, so I called him and we had a nice chat. 93! Woot!

So, I'm in a great mood. I hope it lasts all month and that THIS is the month when I finally meet the boyfriend of my dreams. Or you know, the month when I win the lottery. That'd do too.