Monday, March 22, 2010

My notes, my choice.

I am, it would seem, a bitch. And I don't care.

We have this class on Saturday mornings which is hard. The prof. gives us an overload of information, and gives us two tests every week. Every week! Two! And I feel like I struggle. I write reams of notes, I study, I read the text book. And each week those tests are damn hard. I have a suspicion that two people in the class have got hold of old tests from other classes and are cheating. But I am not saying anything about them to anyone in charge, because eventually they'll get theirs. If they're not properly learning the stuff, they'll suffer in the end on one exam or another. And frankly, if that's their attitude to learning medical stuff, they'll suffer in their careers because they won't know what's going on when a patient comes in and says "I have X disease, can you help?" At least with acu they won't kill people if they treat wrongly, but it won't necessarily heighten the reputation of acu for the rest of us. But, whatever.

Anyway, there's this subset of people in class who have chosen not to take notes. Including the cheaters. But also including the party girl subset. I mean, I do have some sympathy for them - it's hard to get up early on Saturday after you've been out the night before. They sit there and listen (most of the time) or stare blankly at the wall thinking about their headaches. While I, and most others, didn't go out on Friday because we were effing studying. We worker bees are all getting pretty pissed about the whole thing.

So this week one of the "I have no need to take notes" people asked me if she could borrow my notes and copy them. And I said no. It would be a different matter if she'd missed the class because she was sick. Or if she struggled with taking notes, or with English, or with anything else. I have no problem in helping people out, because I know it is often easier for me than it is for others. But sitting there in class, choosing not to take notes? While I, every week, end up with a sore arm because I am writing so much? Ah no, you do not get to have me as your secretary taking dictation for you.

Heh. She's pissed at me. I wonder how long she'll keep it up for, but I am unrepentant. You're an adult, dearie, it's time to take responsibility for your own actions.

Monday, March 08, 2010

It's the herbs, man

I am feeling so much better in the last couple of weeks. This semester (trimester actually, as there's 3 of them in the year, but as an infertile, I hate that damn word) has been so damn HARD. I have been battling crushing exhaustion for 8 full weeks, which is even worse than when I first started at school. I was getting miserable, crying in my yoga classes out of the suckiness of it all, and generally living in a disgusting pig sty because I didn't have the energy to clean. And now I'm finally crawling out of the pit. The house is slowly becoming respectable again, and I have energy left over to do more than simply exist.

Of course, a lot of it is just getting accustomed to the new schedule, which is a lot tougher this year and involves a lot more standing while working in the clinic, which is hard when you're used to sitting on your butt all day. Some of the improvement is diet-related - eating more fruit, not letting myself get quite so dehydrated while working in the school clinic (yay for coconut water), and stepping up the protein intake. [Sadly, I have not cut back on the chocolate intake, but you can't do everything at once.] But some of it I think is herb-related. I have got back on a regimen of tonifying herbs, and also herbs to help my immune system. And that's got me really excited about herbal medicines again, because I definitely feel like they are working and giving me a boost. Prior to deciding on studying acupuncture, I had briefly considered studying herbs, but there didn't seem to be any formal recognized training programs for "western" herbs. So I figured I'd study the Chinese herbs, and then try to supplement my knowledge after graduation. But then school intervened, I got a bit disheartened about the sheer amount of memorization that studying herbs would require, and I got a bit annoyed about the teaching methods. The herb classes are, to be honest, boring and uninspiring.

But now I have some more energy going through me, I like to dip into the herbal textbooks at random and read about the herbs. And it amazes me that people found out so much. Not just that they tried to eat every plant known to man (because if you're starving, you would). But that they tried all the different parts of the plants - some of them have different actions in the body depending on whether you are taking the root, the leaves, the fruit, the bark, etc. And then tried cooking them different ways, and realized some have different actions depending on how they are prepared. Man, those people must have been in tune with their bodies. I mean, nowadays would we even recognize the action that a herb is having on us? There's no way that we'd be able to sift out the different responses from all the daily "noise" of living. And the other thing I find amazing is that we still haven't figured out all the compounds that are present in some of these plants.

Then I go off into little reveries about how stunning it is that here we are, on this planet, and soemone provided us with all these different plants that can help cure our ailments. That there are all these substances out there that can help us if we only would try them. Makes you start thinking about the existence of God all over again.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Life, death, and reflection

I'm still here! BUT I will say that this semester is harder and more crushingly exhausting than the last. Which was harder and more crushingly exhausting than the previous semester. And so on, and so forth. So I am only just emerging from the pit of despair and exhaustion that I created for myself with this change in schedule.

Anyway, so much for fate. I haven't had any infertility patients since I last posted. Weird. But that's OK. I'm building up my confidence, reviewing my acu point locations and needling skills, and generally mostly enjoying it all. When it all comes together, I will know my way forward and what I am supposed to work on. Or maybe I'm not supposed to specialize. There is, after all, something profound about helping someone who is in pain. Whether that is physical pain or emotional pain. It's all very amazing to see someone get off that treatment table looking relaxed and saying that they feel better.

We are doing a lot of "western" medical stuff this term at school. And we've done some recent work in different classes on cancer and also on respiratory diseases (among many others). Now, for me this has been hard, and yet eye-opening. My mother died from lung cancer at a very young age, and yet she was not a smoker. One of the pieces of anger that I'd carried around for many years is that she was initially misdiagnosed. I mean, when a 37 year-old female non-smoker walks in with a chronic cough, I don't suppose your thoughts would immediately go to a not-terribly-common-but-aggressive form of lung cancer, would they? No, indeed. And her doctor's thoughts didn't go there either. She was sent away twice with a diagnosis of bronchitis before they realized what was going on, as she was going downhill so rapidly. I knew this, and while for many years I have known that I shouldn't have expected anything else, and that this really wasn't malpractice or anything but just the expected course of events, there was still this anger that perhaps she'd have got better if it had been picked up earlier.

Now I know differently. Now, learning this stuff on cancer, and her cancer in particular, I know for certain that she would be dead by now whatever happened. At most, she'd have got a few more months. Maybe a year or two if a miracle had occurred. The 5-year survival rate is abysmally low for that cancer, even with the best treatments. Even now, 30 years after this all happened, it is very hard to treat. This was a nasty, nasty cancer. They could not have prevented her dying.


That's that. It's kind of horrible to learn, and yet that little bit of anger is evaporating. She was destined to go. We couldn't have done more, and perhaps it was better to go so quickly and not draw things out.

'S funny. I never thought that going to acu school would do these things for me. And yet, it is changing me. Day in, day out, there are changes going on inside of me. And that is something to be grateful for.