Whirlwind

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The past month has been a whirlwind of 30 page assignments, exams, and a high stakes exam also known as the “Practical Outcomes Assessment.” In addition to the first round of OA exams this past fall, there is a practical component where students must demonstrate competency of all clinical skills. These skills include point location, needling, warming needle, needle manipulations, pole moxa, and cupping. The exam is conducted as a full treatment where the student practitioner has 40 minutes to complete these skills and be accessed on their efforts by a faculty member.

Going into this exam, I was shaking in my boots. Having to demonstrate a culmination of all the skills in my toolbox seemed like a tall order. I am very proud because not only did I make it successfully through this exam, but also I did quite well and was complimented on my professionalism. During the exam, I stopped and had an out of body experience where I thought to myself, “Am I really able to do all these skills?! How did I learn all of this stuff? How bizarre is it that I am sticking sharp objects into people, burning herbs, bleeding fingertips, and throwing fire into cups to create suction.” It is quite strange when I stop to think about it. After wrapping my head around the uniqueness of my profession, I’ve come to the realization that I can’t imagine ever doing anything else. As tough and as trying as this journey has been – I don’t think it could ever be any other way.

The day I started Acupuncture School, I put a sticky note up on my computer screen that says, “There are no shortcuts anywhere worth going!” This statement is so relevant to my life at this very moment. After passing the final OA (until the next round in the fall) and all the stress I’ve endured in the past year and a half, I am finally becoming an intern. That means I will get a new pin, update my silver “assistant” sticker to a gold “intern” sticker on my name tag, and finally be able to start treating patients by myself (with an overseeing faculty member, of course!). It’s all happening so fast, but I think I am ready!

The excitement continues as I prepare for my trip to China in less than 2 weeks! I absolutely cannot wait!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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The Lotion Goodness Project – Take 1

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I’ll admit it. I am definitely the type of person to slather myself with lotion in the winter months. My skin gets unbearably dry, itchy, and uncomfortable. After making the switch from antiperspirant to deodorant, I’ve started to think about the ingredients of my other daily use body products. For example, my shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and yes – lotion! I decided to be a Suzie homemaker and take a stab at making a batch of homemade lotion. After quickly searching Google and Pinterest, I found an easy, halfway decent looking recipe. Here it is:

 

Lavender Body Lotion

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup extra virgin oil – can use olive oil, sweet almond oil, coconut oil, etc. (I used organic extra virgin coconut oil)
  • ¾ cup distilled water
  • 2 tbsp. shaved beeswax
  • 30 drops of lavender essential oil
  • A couple drops of tea tree oil
  • Glass mason jars to store the finished product

Tools Needed

  • Blender
  • Knife, vegetable peeler, or cheese grater
  • Glass measuring cup OR double boiler
  • Rubber spatula

Instructions

  1. Sterilize all tools with boiling water
  2. Pour distilled water into the blender and set aside
  3. Pour the oil or combo of oils into the glass measuring cup (or top of double boiler)
  4. Shave beeswax with a knife, vegetable peeler, or cheese grater – it usually comes in a block, measure and put into the measuring cup with the oil
  5. Heat water in a pot and place the glass measuring cup inside to create a double boiler to melt the beeswax into the oil (or just use double boiler)
  6. When all the oils are melted together, remove from heat and let stand for 2 minutes.
  7. Turn on the blender with the water already in it and pour the oil in slowly to create an emulsion.
  8. Once oil and water are blended together, add essential oil (can use any, I just used lavender because that’s what I had)
  9. Add a few drops of tea tree oil

10. Pour into mason jars to store

 

The Ingredient Goodness

Coconut Oil – Most moisturizers are either made mostly of water or petroleum based products. Water will cause the illusion of hydration until that water dries out, and petroleum products are heavy and cause the skin to become easily suffocated. Coconut oil is a super rich and hydrating product, which provides deep moisture without being too greasy. Additionally, it yields antibacterial and antioxidant properties, which reduce bacteria on the skin’s surface and nourish the skin in a brilliant way. For this reason it has the ability to soothe bug bites, clear rashes, tame breakouts, reduce wrinkles, protect against sun damage, and remove makeup. 

Tea Tree Oil – Derived from the leaves of the tea tree, this oil is antifungal, antiseptic, and antibacterial. It’s beneficial for mild to moderate acne and fungal infections such as athlete’s foot, ringworm, and scabies. The benefits of tea tree oil go beyond skin care, as it can be used for lice, toothache, infections of the nose and mouth, boils, vaginal infections, sore throat, and ear infections. Tea tree oil is also great for sensitive skin because it has the ability to reduce allergic skin reactions. It is important to mention that tea tree oil does not work as fast as benzoyl peroxide on acne; however, it is more gentle and may be best for long-term use. 

Beeswax – Although primarily used as a non-toxic, all natural thickening agent, beeswax also has great skin benefits. On the skin, it provides a “protective” barrier from the elements without clogging pores – this is primarily the reason why it’s used extensively in all natural lip balms. Just like honey, beeswax has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, which help reduce acne and promote wound healing. Additionally, beeswax contains humectant, an ingredient that attracts water, helping to keep the skin hydrated for a longer period of time. Moreover, it is a natural source of vitamin A and fragrance, supporting the healthy turnover of skin cells and it has a fresh and lovely honey smell to boot!

Lavender Essential Oil – Lavender has antispasmodic, antiseptic, antiviral, and antibacterial properties. It is not only great for skin, but has many other uses, which offer both physical and emotional relief.

  

The Results

I made this recipe a few months ago, which yielded two medium-sized jars of lotion. Now that I am down to about a quarter jar, I have used it long enough to speak about my experience. Keeping in mind that this winter has been absolutely horrific – ridiculously cold, dry, and windy – I think this lotion did an average job. I’d reckon it’s been hard on everyone’s skin, even those traditional lotion users.

There was a definite adjustment period as this lotion is oil based. At first, it feels greasier than traditional lotions. The good news is that it soaks in quickly – maybe 15-20 minutes and it feels very lightweight after it’s been absorbed. On one hand it has a nice, subtle lavender smell due to the lavender essential oil; however, on the other it also has a light “woodsy sort of hippy smell” due to the tea tree oil. For me – this is a very fitting and comfortable aroma!

Functionally, an important difference I noticed was that all the residual acne I’ve had for years started to disappear. This was an amazing and welcomed change! It’s been gone ever since (minus the occasional blemish around my womanly cycle!). I’d imagine the disappearance of the acne is due to all the antibacterial constituents doing their job of clearing away bacteria from my skin.

One important drawback was that this lotion needed reapplication more than traditional lotions. For this reason, I plan to improve my next batch by adding a small amount of 100% shea butter. Shea butter is a rich and creamy substance, extracted from the nut of the African shea tree. It is widely used in all types of creams for it’s moisturizing properties. Not only that, but shea butter is chock full of antioxidants such as vitamin E, polyphenols, and phytonutrients. This makes shea butter great for blemishes, stretch marks, wrinkles, burns, dermatitis, eczema, and other skin conditions.

Stay turned for “The Lotion Goodness Project – Take 2,” for updated results on my second batch! 

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Antiperspirant vs. Deodorant: Don’t Pity Your Pits!

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As a student of Chinese Medicine, I’ve come to know a few things about how to treat my body. I’ve learned that it’s never a good idea to suppress my natural body processes. For example, whenever I get a headache, it is never my knee jerk reaction to pop some ibuprofen. I’ve learned that there are simple acupressure points I can press in order to help alleviate the symptoms. Additionally, using hormonal birth controls to suppress my body’s natural menstrual cycle is a no-no. ANY action taken in order to suppress the functioning of the body’s natural state of being has serious consequences. These consequences may not be immediate, however, it’s important to start linking these small behaviors to how they affect the body – not how convenient our lives are now that we can get rid of sickness immediately and plan for our periods. This is especially the case with armpit care!

Why is antiperspirant bad?

Next time you’re in the grocery store, take a look in the deodorant isle. Make sure you bring a tiny magnifying glass. The majority of the products are called “antiperspirant deodorants,” which means just that – they stop you from underarm sweating. What could be more undesirable than sweating profusely from your armpits…I can think of a few things – cancer being one of them. Also, check out the warning label. Did you know you’re recommended to speak with a doctor before using an antiperspirant?

Clogging and/or shrinking the pores in your pits creates a build up of toxins, which would generally be excreted in your sweat, however, are now trapped. Many of these products are made with aluminum, which (although effective in helping to stop underarm sweating) has also been shown to cause DNA mutation – a requisite for uncontrolled cell growth [i.e.: cancer!]. Now a days, there have been many studies linking antiperspirant to breast cancer in woman. Another startling fact – 60% of breast cancer tumors are found in the axilla, aka: the ARMPIT! It is mainstream now – for women who have breast cancer or are getting a mastectomies to refrain from using antiperspirant (DOCTOR’S ORDERS!), however, I pose an important question. Why stop using a product that causes cancer after being diagnosed with cancer? What ever happened to preventative medicine?

What is the difference between antiperspirant and deodorant?

Deodorants don’t actually stop underarm sweating; they combat the stench when you do sweat. In order to understand this further – a quick anatomy lesson on armpits is necessary. After puberty, there are two types of glands found abundantly in the armpit – eccrine and apocrine. Eccrine glands are responsible for “cooling” the body down via perspiration. This sweat is not responsible for foul underarm odor; it is mainly water and salt. Apocrine glands produce foul odors because they carry fat, protein, and sweat to the surface of the skin, which interacts with bacteria on the armpit surface and viola: body odor. Deodorants are not made of compounds to stop underarm sweating, conversely they contain products that combat the bacteria found in the armpit – cutting down its ability to mingle with the fat, protein, and sweat excreted by apocrine glands and therefore, no stench is produced.

Do I have to stink?

Making the switch from antiperspirant to deodorant is no easy task. The first thing to take into consideration while making the switch is – YOU WILL STINK HORRIFICALLY for at least the first 3-5 days. Why? When your glands and pores finally begin to unclog and function properly, there is a transition period where the build up of toxins are released – causing a spike in body odor. The good news – this too shall pass.

I decided to make the switch from antiperspirant to deodorant about a month ago and am happy with the overall decision. The first challenge was finding a reliable deodorant – one that was neither gel based nor filled with other chemicals such as synthetic colors. I asked around and found on the Crunchy Betty website a recipe for one that is an all-natural, organic product. Ingredients include: cold pressed organic coconut oil, arrowroot powder, naturally procured (mined instead of chemically created) baking soda, neem oil, mango butter, lime essential oil, tea tree essential oil, sweet orange essential oil, and a small amount of beeswax to help the cream retain its consistency. Many of these ingredients are naturally antibacterial, healing, refreshing and smell absolutely delicious!

Ingredients to avoid!

If you do not want to go the “crunchy way” and are looking for a product available in grocery stores (they are very limited!), here is a list of ingredients to avoid:

  • Propylene Glycol – penetration enhancer that breaks down your skin’s protective barrier to enter your blood stream. This has the potential to bring other harmful chemicals along with it.
  • Fragrance containing phalates – known disruptors in hormone balance – affecting the way estrogen works in the body (for men, women, and children!)
  • Tetrasodium EDTA – made from a toxic salt and known carcinogen: sodium cyanide and formaldehyde.
  • FD&C Yellow and D&C Green – made from coal tar and can be hormone disruptors, skin irritants, and formaldehyde donors.
  • Diazolidinyl Urea – immune system and skin toxin that (in some studies) has been shown to cause cancer (common source: an extract in animal urine – GROSS!)
  • Triethanolamine (TEA) – made from a known carcinogen: ethylene oxide
  • Parabens – hormone disruptors that can cause skin irritation and allergies.
  • Quaternium-15 – formaldehyde containing preservative and known carcinogen.
  • Octoxynol and Nonoxynol – hormone disruptors and should be avoided by children and pregnant women.
  • Triclosan – shown to cause liver damage and hormone disruption.
  • Ceteareth-20 (or 12) used as a thickener: can be contaminated with other carcinogens. Also, a skin irritant, neurotoxin and has been deemed unsafe to use on injured or damaged skin.

Keep in mind, people; healthcare is not really for the healthy – it should be called “sick care!” Think about it: most people don’t go to the doctors until they are sick! Prevention is key and it’s important to use our noggins and treat our bodies with care. Preventing disease is much easier than going through the rigmarole of being treated for a disease after diagnosis!

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Decisive Decisions… CHINA – Should I Go?

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According to family and friends, indecisiveness is by far my “most frustrating” quality. It’s true – I spend abnormal amounts of time trying to make decisions. From the small decisions: Should I have chicken or fish for dinner? Buy black or brown boots for the season? Go to Wegmans before or after the gym? To the big decisions: After school, should I live in the North or South? Have a cash based practice or accept insurance? Treat patients with chronic diseases who are extremely ill or pamper the affluent with acupuncture facelifts? While I could spend hours if not days debating which decisions are right for me, as of late, I have impressed myself with sheer decisiveness in one important aspect. The question is: To go to China, or not to go to China?

I’m getting ahead of myself – let me rewind. Every year, the Finger Lakes School of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine offers an Elective China Trip for those who are interested. The trip is three weeks long. The first week is spent in Beijing doing touristy stuff (ie: Great wall, Olympic Park, Tienamen Square, Forbidden City’s Palace Museum, Pearl Market, etc). Next we take an overnight train to Hangzhou where we spend the subsequent 2 weeks working in the Hangzhou Hospital. Since this is an elective class, it will obviously encompass schoolwork. Our days at the hospital will be split: half the day will be devoted to lectures by Chinese doctors and the other half will be spent shadowing those doctors. For clinic opportunities, we will get to choose based on interest. A few examples include: Internal Medicine (ie: Herbs), Oncology, Pediatrics, Gynecology, Mental Health, and Tui Na. Evenings off in China include group dinners and exploration of both Beijing and Hangzhou. Additionally, we leave April 12th – which is the Saturday before finals week and stay straight through our break, returning to Central New York a few days before class starts for the summer trimester.

Like any responsible decision maker, I decided to make a pros and cons list:

The Pros

  • Traveling abroad sounds AMAZING! Especially to China!
  • Seeing Chinese Medicine as a fully functioning health care system where it was created may bridge some gaps between mystical belief system that may have some benefit to legitimate health care system that is factually based on positive clinical results.
  • The trip will put Academia into prospective and allow me to think about my future practice.
  • Traveling with many of my friends from school will be so much fun!
  • Everything is all set up – all I have to do is pay the money and I don’t have to worry about the logistics (aka: booking hotels, flights, and getting a translator).
  • The trip is spearheaded by a faculty member who has many connections in China and is fluent in Chinese.
  • I can’t wait to see the “Pharmacies” aka: Herbal Dispensaries!
  • The cultural opportunity will be great – especially the cuisine.

The Cons

  • $$$$$ – MORE student loans
  • I will have no break to let my brain flat-line between trimesters, which is much needed in this program.
  • More schoolwork on top of schoolwork.
  • By leaving before finals week, we have to take ALL of our finals in the weeks prior to leaving– it will be a big push towards the end.
  • Traveling abroad can be scary and unknown.
  • The language barrier and being clueless in a foreign country is not ideal.
  • The flight is extremely long and jet lag many ensue and linger for a few days. This is more relevant for the trip home because we won’t be adjusted before having to start our very first internship in the clinics.

Overall, and rather quickly, I have concluded that the risk is worth the reward. I AM GOING TO CHINA! I think this will definitely be money well spent! Stay tuned for more exciting information regarding the China trip!

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Acupuncture Boot Camp Break

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Mom always said, “Every person should go through some sort of boot camp.”  Now, I’ve never been to boot camp, but after this past semester of class, and the craziness of OA’s, I’m thinking boot camp may have been easier!

I’m thankful the worst is over – or so I’ve heard from other students. The good news is there is roughly a year until the next round of OA’s, which (right now) feels like enough time to learn more and review old material.

Now I find myself on Christmas Break, in the house where I grew up. I look through the window at the snow falling and at the trees I used to climb.  The fridge is fully stocked and the aroma of coffee fills the air. My thoughts take me to a life before Acupuncture School – a life that was less stressful, however, not nearly as meaningful. I always knew that I was planted here on this earth to make a difference in someone’s life. Slowly, as I learn more about this magnificent medicine, I am beginning to see how easily an impact will be made. A teacher once told me that Acupuncturists may, at times, feel extremely important since they significantly change the world. However, it is our medicine – Chinese Medicine that changes the world. We are just the vehicles with which it occurs. We are the ones who are lucky enough to find ourselves in a position to learn this wonderful medicine. For me, her wisdom is a game changer – it changes my attitude about learning and making a difference.

I spot an e-mail from the electric company warning of an approaching storm and possible power outages. Snow may bury this house – and I hope it does, because I am with my family and the people I love most in this world. I am recharging my batteries in order to continue pushing on in (as I call it) “The Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Marathon!” When I stop to think about my journey thus far and the road left ahead, it’s scary, yet wonderful that I am nearly halfway through the marathon! It has gone by so fast – I can hardly believe it.

At least there are no pushups involved in Acupuncture boot camp!

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Ongoing Evaluation – Do They Hate Me? – and a Secret Plan

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Many of you are probably wondering why it’s been nearly a month since I’ve written a blog – and to be honest, I’m wondering that too.

The past month passed in a whirlwind of papers, midterms, quizzes and stress. I am happier than ever – just insanely busy. I was approached to be a tutor as well, which is so awesome and will help me review for my Outcomes Assessment Exam (OA’s). That also means I have not 1, not 2, but 3 jobs! I feel like I’m going to look back at all this one-day and just laugh – in the meantime, I might cry.

 

Speaking of Outcomes Assessment Exams

The reason this program is rigorous, insane, and amazing, is because we are constantly being forced to review all that we have learned. Every year we are given computerized tests (like boards) split up into separate subjects– as practice (and just for fun!!!!). This round, 2nd year students have 3 exams – Points, Theory, and Western Sciences – each consisting of 100 multiple-choice questions. Students taking Materia Medica in addition to Acupuncture have a separate Herbs OA comprising 100 multiple-choice questions and a practical component to identify 20 herbs from the Materia Medica. So, I don’t know if you’re counting, but that’s 420 QUESTIONS….. just for fun. The silver lining is that the Herbs OA is split up – THANK goodness! …. If it were combined, I’d probably just hit the detonate button now.

It’s so funny because whenever the staff talks about the OA’s they say, “you know, we don’t do this to you because we hate you.” Each time, I just burst out laughing. I know they don’t do this because they hate us, they just want us to be THE BEST! Add the studying of OA’s on top of all the other stuff that’s going on in regular ole’ classes and you’ve got a veritable stress recipe. Then I secretly think to myself – maybe they do really hate us! So as any organized, efficient, and good student, I need a plan!

 

The Plan of Attack

  • Listen to Eye of the Tiger every day!
  • STUDY
  • Write on my mirror in red lipstick, “I BELIEVE IN YOU DANIELLE!”
  • Exercise 3x per week – cardio!
  • Did I say STUDY?
  • Keep a positive attitude
  • Be a LIFE LEARNER – no more of this shoving info into my head for a week. I need to figure out how much I have actually retained.
  • Oh yeah… STUDY more.
  • Eat well – (warm foods for the transition into the cold weather!)
  • Laugh a lot! At myself, the situation, and the sheer insanity of it all.
  • Ponder my future practice – getting excited about the future actually makes me say, “Hm. Wow. I actually will be an acupuncturist soon – maybe I should study.”
  • STUDY past materials a little bit each day. A mental break down is most definitely coming if I wait until the week before OA’s to study everything from the past year (HAH!)
  • Keep contact with motivating people and CUT the rest. Like my best friend says, “sometimes you just need to ‘trim the fat.’”
  • Get weekly acupuncture and chiropractic appointments
  • Sleep as much as possible – for me this is at least 6-8 hours per night.
  • And of course lastly – STUDY!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Fingers crossed. This will be a great month – see look – positivity is just oozing out of me – I just can’t help myself! 😉

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Reflections

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It’s that time of year again… the time for sheer panic because you’ve just got your refund check and realized that $83 just won’t cut it for books, rents, groceries, and all the expenses a trimester has to offer. So what did I do? I trekked to financial aid and asked them what I can do to make it through this semester. Although I have mountains upon mountains of work, studying, and preparation to do, I had to make time to write a few short essays for scholarship apps. The topic of the following essay is, “What I believe are the most important characteristics of a practitioner of holistic medicine.”

          “My journey of becoming a practitioner of holistic medicine has not been a direct path, but more of a meandering journey. Rarely does one wake up and say – yes, I have exactly what it takes to become a practitioner of holistic medicine. For me, this realization was slow like a crescendo. The most important characteristics a practitioner of holistic medicine must possess are open-mindedness, dedication to continuing education, benevolence, and most importantly, they must have a present clinical mind.

          In order to be a successful practitioner, he or she must be open-minded and dedicated to the lifelong journey of learning. Holistic medicine, more specifically, Chinese medicine, is very scholarly – even for practitioners who have been in clinical practice for many years, there are always more opportunities to learn from our patients. The beautiful, yet challenging aspect about this medicine is that no two cases will present identically. This means there are immense amounts of variability and many moments of potential learning.

          We must be benevolent – meaning we must have a disposition to do good. For many patients, turning to holistic care is an act of last resort – one that brings closure to a frustrating journey through the convoluted processes of western medicine. Patients are stressed out, upset, and sick and tired of being, well, sick. As the last stop in the chain, we must care deeply, be generous, and offer a nurturing sounding board for our patients.

          Lastly, good listening skills are very important. Make every effort to relate to the suffering of others. Establish a therapeutic relationship, for how much healing can occur in its absence?  A practitioner of holistic medicine could be the most scholarly, the most published, and the smartest person on the face of the planet, but if they can’t relate to their patients the treatment is all for naught.

          Attaining clinical excellence is a lifelong journey. I will keep my eyes open, listen carefully, be open minded, dedicate myself to learning, have a disposition to do good, and be as clinically present with my patients as possible. “

With any luck… maybe I will get a sum of money to help me squeak by this trimester.

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Transitions

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There is a major shift happening in my education right in the early moments of this fourth trimester. For the past year, I have been memorizing nearly every piece of information I’ve come into contact with. The amount of information requiring memorization without any conceptualization is MAMMOTH and honestly, memorizing is an instrumental skill to becoming an acupuncturist. The question I have is: Without actually assimilating the concepts, have I managed to remember anything? 

Well, I’m about to find out because there is a transition happening in which all the stuff I memorized in the past year could possibly be presenting in a patient sitting across from me in a treatment room. That’s right…. I have made the clinical shift from observer to assistant. AKA: I have gone from a fly on the wall to a fly that gets to do things like needle, perform adjunctive techniques and hopefully diagnose properly (in time!) I’m not going to lie – I have felt a nervous tension since the tri began because frankly – I just want to do a good job!!!!!!!

My first assistant clinic shift was this past Wednesday! It was absolutely awesome because I was able to learn conceptually and clinically rather than just memorize words on a page. On another note, I asked so many questions and truly hope that my supervisor doesn’t think I am incompetent! I just want to act as a sponge when I’m around her and soak up every clinical pearl that falls out of her mouth with enthusiasm and fervor!!

At the beginning of my first shift, we had an orientation where we were all given the “what kind of acupuncturist do you want to be?” talk. Emphasized was the fact that now is the time to watch various licensed acupuncturists and decide if you like their “style.” What exceptional attributes do you wish to mirror from them? How do they treat their patients? What types of treatments do they perform?  Not only should we all think of these aspects, but also down to the details. For example, how do you want to dress and present yourself? Do you want to dress like a hippy? Practice in scrubs? Or do you want to be sleek and uber professional? For me, these aspects are SO exciting to think about because now it feels like I have important choices to make about my future practice. The shift from a didactic mind to more of a clinical mind is scary, yes, but exciting none the less.

The picture of a Kleenex pack and bar of soap are the means by which we were shown proper needle technique and hand strengthening exercises.  The Kleenex pack is used to build up the smaller muscles of the fingers to have the strength and control to properly perform acupuncture, while the bar of soap is more representative of a typical body resistance. Today was our first day of needling on each other and I have to say, it went better than I expected! The whole process of being more clinically focused is an exciting beginning of something wonderful! 

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I SURVIVED!

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The Standard Process Cleanse is COMPLETE! It was quite a challenge for me, but I did it! The experience had many ups and downs – I cheated at times and it hurt to eat those bad foods, but I accomplished the overall goal. I sped up my previously sluggish digestion and in addition lost about six pounds! I feel slimmer and more confident! In general, I would recommend this program to others with this important piece of advice, “If you slip up and eat something that is not on the food list, don’t beat yourself up! Do the best you can with what you have. Just know that whatever positive change you’ve decided to implement is better and more productive than your prior eating habits!” (This is actually what I wish someone would have been there to tell me when I foolishly went to a clam bake expecting to eat only fruits and vegetable – hah! YA RIGHT!)

Not only has the twenty-one days of the Standard Process Cleanse come and gone, but I also survived my third trimester and consequentially my first full year of acupuncture school! Honestly, it has been a doozey! I am glad to have progressed through my studies well so far. As it turns out, acupuncture school, has made me learn quite a bit about myself.  Obviously – it’s a big challenge academically, however, I think it really is a test of intestinal fortitude. According to Merriam Webster, the definition of intestinal fortitude is “courage, stamina.” Courage and stamina are definitely the right words to use when realistically talking about what it takes to become an acupuncturist.

Say What? 

Courage is necessary because this profession goes against the grain of what many believe in the West. Although I believe that both Western and Eastern Medicine CAN be successfully used together, they do appear to conflict with one another at times. Also, certain religions and cultures believe that acupuncturists perform some kind of voo-doo. The honest truth is that I’m never sure where the conversation will go when I say, “Yes – I go to the Finger Lakes School of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine!” It also takes a great deal of courage, commitment and assurance to plunge into three years of graduate school studying a subject completely foreign to you.

Stamina

Stamina is definitely the right word for the qualities needed in this program and future profession. Imagine running a marathon for years– because that’s exactly what this experience is like. I’m confident I will look back and say, “HOLY $%^&! I completed the first leg of the ‘Acupuncture and Oriental Medical Marathon!’ ” Now what is the next leg of the journey?! Oh – that would be to start or join a practice and take as many cases as I possibly can! This is a lifelong study and it is slightly comforting to know I have a whole lifetime to memorize the information. I hope I never stop learning. 

Back at It

Tomorrow begins the first day of classes as I enter my second year! (I have to mention that I was so excited to change my “about” page from “first year” to “second year Acupuncture and Oriental Medical student!” YAY!) I was invited to attend the orientation for the new class! I think it will be a great experience to see how excited the new students are! I remember sitting in orientation feeling elated to finally begin learning a career that I’m going to love! A lot has changed in a year, however, my love for this profession has not – and I am thankful for that! 

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Cleaning Myself Up… Continued!

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Well, folks – Today is day 12! I officially have completed more than HALF of my 21 day cleanse and have 9 days left to go. I found that the addition of lean meat to this diet helps tremendously! I am staying fuller, longer, and I just love meat, so my attitude has become substantially more positive since making the addition. Also, the amount of capsules has gone from 30 per day to 19! Great news for me since I’ve always had difficulties swallowing them.

 

I am not going to lie – I cheated recently!! As a woman, I find myself having food cravings around certain times of the month [that’s what I‘m going to blame it on]. I had some chocolate covered pretzels thinking that would help satisfy the craving. It turns out after cutting out sugar for many days, the result was a stomachache. I was shocked by how quickly it came on too.  Needless to say – lesson learned – it just so happens that bad food really does make you feel bad. You just don’t notice how bad it makes you feel until you’ve cut it from your diet. I wonder how many Americans are walking around feeling “good,” when they probably don’t even know how the quality of “good” can change with a simple diet modification. This is not to say the Standard Process Purification Program won’t be quite a significant change for some; however, I believe everyone could take a good hard look at what they consume and how this may relate to their quality of life!

 

Positive Changes

 

What a difference it has made for me so far! It has been a struggle to at times, but I have noticed many positive changes. According to my agenda, there are 2 more weeks in this trimester, which means this is, “crunch-time, stress-filled, holy-cow,-can’t-stop-studying” time in everyone’s life at NYCC. I was nervous and apprehensive to have such a strict diet just when comfort foods during finals help take one over the hump. By abstaining from the junk, though, I’ve been amazed by my extended attention span. I am able to get more accomplished than ever before and in a shorter amount of time too! This means, I am not AS stressed! Also, I have all the energy I need to get through a day of studying WITHOUT coffee! I bet if I were to ask the employee who runs the coffee kiosk on campus the amount of coffee she brews during finals compared to a regular day, it would be shocking! I’m proud to say that I will not be contributing to the caffeine buzz on campus, and it feels pretty darn good! Until next time…

 

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