I’m Taking My Talents To…

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Here we are, the tail end of March with April creeping up on us quickly. If you have read my past blogs, you may recall that April is a big month for me. On April 25th I am sitting for the National Physical Therapy Exam (a.k.a. “The Boards”) to gain my license to practice physical therapy! It is still a bit terrifying but I have been studying for quite some time and I am anxiously ready to crush it. Naturally, after The Boards comes GRADUATION! On May 10th I cross the stage in a weird floppy graduation hat and a doctoral hood then BAM, I am Doctor Alyssa Dickens, Physical Therapist!

So let’s see if you’re keeping up with the normal sequence of events. The Boards, Graduation, then… a job. For a long time I have known that I want to practice in pediatrics. That desire can be easier said than done. Remember back in high school when you tried to get your first job? Everywhere you applied seemed to want you to have job experience. Okay, but who will give me my first opportunity at experience!? The same cycle happens with pediatric PT since it is such a specialized area of physical therapy, you have to know what you’re doing of course. Earlier in PT school, I started to think of other ways I could gain experience in pediatrics and a pediatric residency seemed to check all of the boxes for what I desired my first year out.

Next, I took to researching different programs and speaking to my professors. What did I land upon? My dream residency…a position with Nicklaus Children’s Hospital with a furthering education component from The U. It was perfect! So, in some sense of secrecy, this past fall I applied to the program and subsequently interviewed in February. Well, if you are catching my drift…last week I received amazing news. I am taking my talents to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital!

I am incredibly grateful and excited for this opportunity to further grow as a pediatric physical therapist and expand my knowledge. More than ever I feel blessed to have my path laid out for my after graduation, none the less it’s an extended portion of my dream come true to study PT at The U!

Until then, I am keeping my nose in the books to make sure I pass the NPTE at the end of April. Keep your fingers crossed for my focus…and sanity. I just keep reminding myself the reward waiting for me after this monster of an exam, and now that I have spoken it out of secrecy I am even more excited!

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MIA to NOLA

A few weeks ago I was presented with the opportunity to fly out to New Orleans with my classmates to attend APTA CSM 2018. Without the fancy abbreviations, that means the huge physical therapy conference that happens every year! I just so happened to be lucky enough to go when it was in good ol New Orleans.

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So naturally the first thing I did when I hopped off the plane (and took an extremely overpriced Uber to the hotel) was go on the search for Cafe Du Monde’s famous powdery beignets and a Hurricane to sip on. The mission was accomplished with some of my friends in the program who I hadn’t seen since we parted ways in October. It was a really cool experience to share stories of what we had been up to and talk about how insane it is that we are all almost REAL physical therapists. After a much enjoyed nap, I scouted out some NoLa seafood then hit Bourbon St….because what else would you do on your first night in the city?

Once I got a day of touristy behaviors out of the way, it was time to enjoy the business aspect of my trip! At this point in our PT careers most of my classmates, including myself, have started to gravitate towards a specialty. If you know me or if you have read my blog you know that pediatrics is mine. So when a looooooooong (I am not exaggerating) list of different lectures, presentations, and posters is presented to you including all of the different specialties of PT is given to you, you get overwhelmed! I felt like such a newbie, I had no idea how huge this event would be. I suppose the fact that it was a record breaking attendance of 17,000 should have clued me in. But hey, all I am saying is there were options EVERYWHERE and multiple options every hour! How was I supposed to choose?! I say that’s the nerd in me just eager to bite into everything and learn about every cool topic available. Sadly, I had to narrow down my choices!

 

20180222_124531 (1)I ended up exploring the vendors section in the morning which resulted in a huge bag full of PT goodies such as goniometers, tape measures, highlighters, and stress balls. My most prized possession was a pop socket I won from giving out my email (don’t tell anyone but I used a fake email for most booths…oops!) I met some cool people during this exploration and as time went on I felt more comfortable in my own skin and even ended up marketing myself as a new grad to some companies, just to practice. I was able to sit in a pediatrics lecture that morning as well before my stomach began talking to me and asking for some fried chicken “so good that it’ll make you slap yo mama!”

Day two of the conference was really the special day for me! I had built a much better understanding of how to structure my day and include as much peds stuff in as possible to surround the time slot allotted for me to present my own research poster! I attended an awesome lecture bright and early in the morning on treating hypermobility disorders from pediatrics through adulthood which really got my gear turning. I headed back to the vendors section to kill time in between…and to get more free goodies (don’t judge me!) Next up was my favorite time of the entire conference, Pediatric Platform presentations! I loved hearing other students and pediatric PTs speak about their latest discoveries. It gave me a glimpse of what my future will hold since I am really interested in furthering research in pediatric PT therapy. I also got to sit with and chat with some PTs who are EXACTLY where I would like to be in a few short months.

CsmHere the time was, time for me to present my research poster alongside two of my classmates and our mentor. I was incredibly nervous, what if someone asked me a question I didn’t know? What if I made a fool of myself and made UM look bad? Then I remembered, I know way more about this subject than anyone coming up to ask questions! They are sitting in front of my poster because they want to learn, and I slowly eased into the position of doing the teaching. It was a nerve racking experience but it resulted in my confidence level going up and I actually am looking forward to being able to present again at a future conference!

All in All, CSM in New Orleans was a blast. I got to be a bit of a tourist, learn a ton, and do some teaching as well. It’s just another thing added onto the list of really cool opportunities UM has presented me with. 🙂

Don’t worry, I know one day exploring NoLa wasn’t enough but I am headed back in October to celebrate a close friend’s bachelorette… I probably will skip a blog post on that trip, haha!

 

 

 

Slacker

Yes, slacker! Right at your face with the truth. I made a promise to those of you who read my blog posts and to myself and then I broke it, what a slacker I am. Well, actually it’s more of the opposite. I can genuinely say this past month has been filled with some big accomplishments, and some small ones.

I believe in this day and age 9 times out of 10 we are too hard on ourselves. We fill our calendars up, rush from place to place, write long to do lists, and dwell on the things we don’t cross off. But what about all of the things we do accomplish on a daily basis?

As I’ve mentioned, I’m in the midst of studying for the boards which I’ll be taking in April and I’m about to turn up the heat and truly be in the thick of it. As I’ve also mentioned I was on my first full-time pediatric rotation (yesterday was my last day, I’ll elaborate on the incredible experience I had there in a blog post soon). If you do the math… studying for boards + full time rotation + working + exercise + errands = very little time for myself, and for sleep!

My point here is maybe I’m not such a slacker for missing a few blog posts and maybe you aren’t such a slacker either. Don’t believe me? Well here’s 5 reasons why I believe you are actually doing your best despite feeling otherwise!

1. The stakes are high. In today’s world a lot of times you only pat yourself on the back or only get a pat on the back for completing the big task ahead of you. What about completing all of the little steps along the way? For example, why wait to celebrate once the brick house is move in ready? I say celebrate when the foundation is laid, when the walls are up, when the fireplace is running, when it’s move in ready, and hey how about again when it’s decorated?

2. Downtime isn’t laziness. I’m extremely guilty of this one, I’ve said it before but I’m one of those *watches Netflix all relaxed until I remember I should be studying so then I watch Netflix anxiously*-type-of-girls. We deserve some downtime! Okay, if downtime > productivity then maybe you are a bit lazy but when you really weigh it out and hour or two to yourself is totally fair.

3. You can have multiple goals. For a while during the summer this blog was a top priority, I was trying to build a support base and had a lot of time on my hands to do so. Nowadays my focus has shifted to studying for boards, excelling on my internship, taking care of my body and just like that the alotted time for my blog got pushed aside. So just because you’re focusing on one of your goals more doesn’t mean you gave up on the others, it’s just not in the top tier at that moment. And that’s okay.

4. People won’t care as much as you’ve convinced yourself they will. I may be biased, but I don’t do a lot of the things I do to impress other people and I don’t believe other people put as much weight in my goals or even as much celebration in the success or sorrow in the trials. With that being said, this blog is for me…to help people. My career path is for me…to light the lives of children. If I remember those statements with that exact wording it’s a lot less pressure. I’m my biggest hater and supporter here! (So choose to support yourself. 😉)

5. Your corner will understand. When you feel lazy, like a slacker, overwhelmed, accomplished…it’s important to have people in your corner that understand. When you feel this way you need people that will list off all the amazing things you’ve accomplished and the chips you’ve made in the old block (is that the saying?) NOT ones who discourage you! Build your corner up, mine has slapped me back into reality several times.

So even for myself, I started out writing this blog post feeling like a slacker then I read my own 5 tips and remembered “hey, Alyssa you’ve done some awesome stuff this past month so it’s okay you missed a blog post!”

P.S. one of the exciting accomplishments I have made while not writing any blog posts is APPLYING FOR GRADUATION🎓🙌🏻

(If you still don’t think it’s okay I missed a blog post I’m sorry!!! I’ll do better 🙃)

Thunderstorm

Do you ever feel like there’s a big dark cloud lurking over your head? It keeps raining for days and then lightning strikes and a full blown storm breaks out. Yup, that’s been me this week. Somehow I managed to break my keyboard on my laptop, the ZXC & V keys don’t work so here I am typing out a full blog post on my phone. I also ripped the seam of my pants on my scrubs at my internship yesterday, dropped a full plate of food on floor, lashed out at people who care about me the most, and cried in the shower for no reason.  This week sucked! But I’m not writing this blog post to complain, I’m doing it for quite the opposite.

My happy place in the midst of my thunderstorm ⛈

I woke up this morning well rested and happy as ever in the exact moment I was in. Somehow the week of mishaps seemed to magically vanish over night. I’m actually pretty grateful for how rough this week was because despite the mini meltdowns now I could have a totally basic and bland day today and be extremely content. Simply put, the bad days balance out the good, if you will.

The bad days discouraged me from studying as much as I wanted to this week, I did get some study hours in but my head wasn’t fully focused. I’m learning to not beat myself up over missing a day or cutting a study session short… but it’s tough. When I crack open my book to study for the boards I feel like a weighted vest magically appears and all the pressure in the world is on me. How could one test, 250 questions, 5 hours determine the direction of my whole year, of my career?! It’s extremely intimidating.

So, what do I do? I take the bad days on headstrong (and use cheesecake as back up when needed.) The bad days are what motivate me to have better days. And a day without studying needs to, I repeat NEEDS to stop being defined as a bad day in my book. I don’t know why I’m so hard on myself and why I treat unplanned days off like the end of the world. Or wait, maybe I do. Maybe it’s because my fear of failure… Yeah that’s it.

But no more!

From here on out, days with ripped pants, dropped food, emotional breakdowns, or unopened text books are welcomed. Without those days I won’t realize that I need a break. Those little things are all just that, little things. Because of the stress I’ve put myself under they felt like mountains. I know I can’t be the only one. Do you ever feel like the tiniest thing could just set you off and ruin your whole day? Maybe it’s time we starting checking the weather above our head, when there’s a big dark stormy cloud don’t test it and head to the beach. Instead, listen to your body and give it the rest and relaxation it needs. My body needed a heap of blankets and pillows on my bed with no alarm clock.

With that being said, it’s Friday and I refuse to let this emotional rollercoaster of a week run into my weekend so I listened to my big dark cloud, it needed some sleep and a couple days off from studying. It’s sunny now and I’m clear minded. Time to hit the books!

All I’m really trying to say is, whoever you are reading this if you’re having a rough day, rough month, rough year…Just take a break. I promise even if you don’t think you deserve it, you do and it might be just whay you need.

Stay golden. 💫

Clean Slate

Happy New Year! It’s 2018 and according to my new favorite app, I have 110 days until I take the NPTE. In non-PT-student terms that’s the National Physical Therapy Exam a.k.a. “the boards.” *Cues dramatic intimidating music.* Today is Friday January 5th a.k.a. the first day of my 4-month study program for the boards.

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Peaking into 2018 with a clean slate and big expectations like…

Am I nervous? anxious? terrified? Yes, yes, and yes. But, luckily I have my blog as my outlet for the next 4 months to get out of my own head when I need to. With that being said, I’ve decided to go bi-weekly with my blog posts until the boards are said and done just so that I can pour all of my focus into the adequate places. Between now and April the focus of my blog will be about my journey in studying…and passing!

I wanted to begin 2018 with a clean slate, I think I was pretty successful since on January 1st I didn’t get out of my PJs all day. These next four months won’t be easy and I know that so I figured I should at least let myself start out with as little stress as possible. So, in the last weeks of December I was sure to cross off as many things as possible so that I’d have that clean slate feeling. I also printed four blank calendars and filled in my study goals for each day up until the exam, and I included break days! I’m such an organizer freak, having this all laid out for me gives me such peace of mind; thus a clean slate.

Even if I weren’t taking the boards this year, I would want to give my mind that same clean slate mentality. I know it’s corny but a new year always feels like a fresh start for me. I say take advantage of anything in life that looks like a “start line” to you. What do you do before a race? You train, you eat well, you ensure you get good sleep, you lift yourself up with motivation, you study people you admire in that same field. Then on race day you’re ready for the start line and focused on the W. Well, 2018 was my “start line” and I am running a few races this year! I don’t mean that you should race through life, in fact I’ve been wishing it would slow down, but I do believe you should mark “start lines” in the months laid ahead of you so that you have goals of when you’ll collect yourself and build yet another “clean slate.”

Right after I hit “publish” I’ll go to the kitchen grab a tall glass of water and open my Scorebuilders NPTE book for the first time. It sounds silly, because I’m sure I don’t know every single one of you reading this, but I feel like if you are reading this you’re rooting for me and that truly motivates me. So THANK YOU for sticking with me into 2018 and respecting the time I took off to polish my clean slate. I promise, I am going to have some great stories to share in 2018, it’s a big year for me.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

A Christmas Gift

It’s December 22nd, just days before Christmas and this Christmas season has been filled with love and excitement for me already. I’ve decided to give myself the Christmas gift of as much relaxation and fun as possible over the next two weeks. I hope I don’t break your heart when I tell you that means no new blog posts until January! I need a little break, especially because in January I will begin studying for my boards. 2018 is going to be a big year for me and I’m excited to share more stories with you all, trust me there’s so much more to come. So, Happy Holidays… I’m taking a mental vacation. 🎅🌴 

See you next year! 

First Glimpse

dsc_3408.jpgI know it’s a cliché for one to say “time really flies” but BOY, it does! I can’t believe that now it has been about a year and a half since I was given my white coat, over a year since my first clinical internship, and now my second clinical internship is also in the books. I recently have had a few conversations with either people completely disconnected from my PT program or with some of the first-year students. Every time the topic comes up of how great it must be to finally be out in the clinic applying what you’ve spent years studying in the books. And yes, this is true! I wanted to share how it felt to have my first experience in the clinic last Fall.

Headed in, I was as nervous as ever. I already knew that outpatient orthopedic PT probably wasn’t going to be my niche which made me much less confident even though I completed all of the necessary coursework and did well. The nervousness was much different than the nervousness I know I’ll be experiencing very soon when I start my first pediatric clinical experiences. For my first internship, I was nervous because I knew my passion wasn’t quite there to back me up. For my pediatric internships, I am nervous because I want to excel since I will be beginning what I hope to be my future career. Regardless of the type of nervousness, it was there.

I spent the day before my clinical began meal prepping for the week and looking over notes to ensure my first day would go as smoothly as humanly possible. I tried to get to bed at a decent hour (even though I spent hours anxiously staring at the ceiling the night before something exciting as I normally do). Then there it was, my alarm clock interrupting the deep sleep I had finally fallen into in the wee hours of the morning. It was go time! I put on my very unflattering navy blue scrubs, pulled my hair into a bun, clipped my name tag on and headed out the door.

I’m a punctual person… that Monday morning I was obnoxiously punctual. Thirty-five minutes early. THIRTY-FIVE. So, naturally I watched an episode of Grey’s Anatomy in my car prior to heading in to meet my clinical instructor. When enough time passed for me to make a socially acceptable entrance, I was introduced to the woman who would be clinical instructor for the next eight weeks. She was welcoming, silly, excited to have me as a student, and BUSY. Downtime wasn’t really a thing at my first clinical. If a patient didn’t show, there was always another task to fill the time. The busy pace of the clinic was something I loved and my instructor’s speed to keep up with it was something I admired.

The first day I mostly observed, I participated a little bit in directing patient’s exercises but day one was used to ease in. By the end of the first week I was partially completing patient evaluations with supervision. The confidence aspect was still lacking but I found a way to basically “fake it until I made it.” Honestly, I just used my personality to overcome any insecurities I had treating patients. I figured if I built good rapport and the patient liked me they’d be more accepting of my shaky hands or squeaky voice when I was feeling less confident in myself. (I’m happy to say that a year later on my second internship my confidence really started to bloom.) During this experience, confidence was nerve my strong suit BUT I was okay with that because my patients seemed to have no idea!

The most frustrating part of that first clinical experience was knowing that this type of setting was not where I wanted to end up, and sometimes I would get down on myself and think things like “this is pointless!” But it most certainly was not, that was a huge mistake on my part to ever allow those thoughts to pop in, no matter how infrequent they were. Even if outpatient ortho wasn’t my cup of tea, it still held valuable lessons (almost all being applicable to pediatrics) and I just needed to open my eyes to it!

Ultimately, I was a nervous wreck for my first internship just as many of my fellow classmates where. I don’t like to say I ever have regrets, just learning opportunities. But if I could change one thing, I’d go back in time slap myself on the back of the head and say “Hey, be confident Alyssa! You know what you’re doing.” I finally did give myself this pep talk a year later, and maybe it came right on time, but I can still give the pep talk to you. Yes you, whoever you are reading this. When you get your first chance, the first glimpse at your future… don’t be scared! Be willing to make mistakes, feel silly, and make the wrong choices all before it feels right. If it’s meant to feel right, I believe it most certainly will. Now let’s just see how right this pediatric internship that starts next week feels.

Customizing My PT School Experience

Many people are unaware of how many areas physical therapists treat in, myself including prior to starting PT school. Even medical colleagues of physical therapy as a profession may be shocked to hear some of the settings in which we treat and diagnoses that we can intervene in. For example, this week I spent time learning at Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital and Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies and I saw a lot of very interesting things. I thought that at this point, I have seen or at least heard of the majority of avenues for a physical therapist in pediatrics but I was proven wrong! The PTs there also provide physical therapy treatment for expecting mothers on bedrest, how cool?

The point is, I’m still learning and I’ve been submersed in physical therapy for quite a few years now so I would not necessarily expect a new first year student or an everyday person not studying PT to be aware of all of these things. That’s where education and awareness come in to play of course.

More importantly my main point here is that there is a lot to learn in PT school and as much as I did (somewhat) enjoy learning all of the topics at some point along the road I had to customize my learning experience for myself. By customizing my PT school experience I mean making sure that I learn everything possible about peds. I’m sharing this because I think it’s a helpful mindset to have in a lot of avenues. The obvious example would be for someone in or entering into a PT program but really it could be for any student in any kind of program or anyone with a job. If you want to create your own special niche, it’s up to you to create your own opportunities and get involved.

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So how did I customize my PT school experience?

First, I started early. Within the first month of school I made sure to find out who the go-to pediatrics professor was and I made sure I introduced myself and expressed my interest in peds. This set me up with the knowledge that for my first year, the most involved I could probably be would be to join the pediatrics special interest group, kind of like a journal club. There it was step one! This also allowed me to meet some of the other students in my class and the classes above me who were also interested in pediatrics! If this type of group doesn’t exist for you, who says you can’t create it?

Secondly, once I survived the first year being mostly orthopedic content and my first clinical rotation at an outpatient ortho clinic, we started to study other realms of PT – neuro, cardio, PEDS! Now, (and in the first year) I focused on relating any and every lecture I could to pediatrics or to an experience I had while working as a rehab tech. This helped me stay engaged even when the content was directly about a subject I was as passionate about. It took a bit of creativity but it helped me stay focused and interested throughout the whole program!

Once I finally was in the pediatrics class (or any pediatrics lecture) I completely tuned IN. I took notes, swallowed my pride and asked questions, and did further research on my own on things I found especially interesting. It was time consuming at times, but I really feel like I retained this information and that’s proved true as time has passed. I know studying isn’t for everyone but when you want to specialize you have to be eager to learn and competitive with yourself to make sure you are the best you can be.

Outside of the classroom I sought out as many opportunities to observe pediatric PTs. Seeing it all happen in person made things click. The notes I took in class started to come to life and the time I spent with my nose in a book felt 100% worth it. I had super cool opportunities to observe in elementary and high schools, hippotherapy, NICU, acute care, and outpatient! Each time I was with a different therapist which means I could see everyone’s own little tweaks to their approach. I like to think that I’ll take little pieces of everyone I’ve looked up to in creating my own special treatment method!

Lastly, I fought and hoped and prayed for pediatric clinical rotations and I sure did get lucky! I have two pediatric clinicals coming up starting this month which means 16 weeks of hands on pediatric time before I cross the stage. I have seen the reactions of PTs and I know I’m very lucky to have the two rotations because sometimes people don’t even get one! In any other case, I think it’s important to seek out a mentor. Find someone in a similar place that you dream yourself to be in and pick their brain, study their habits, watch them in their element!

All in all, I think I sought out as much pediatrics as I could from my time at UM. I still have until May to really soak it all in before I’m out in the real world but I’m so grateful for my own ambition that first month of PT school to get the ball rolling. But if you’re reading this and you are a bit later in the game don’t be discouraged. It’s never too late to learn more or to make your dream come true (cheesy, but I believe it!)

 

Tis the Season

Tis the season, to be thankful!

As the week of Thanksgiving comes to a close and we step into the Holiday season I want to take the time out to express the gratitude I have for where I am in my life right now and for all of the reasons I got there. Also, I personally am not a fan of how we go from Thanksgiving on Thursday full of love and thankfulness to Black Friday full of craziness and greed (just a generalization). So I am going to sprinkle some extra thankfulness into your Friday!

I have a million and one reasons to be thankful, I am six months away from achieving my Doctor of Physical Therapy from my dream school with a group of friends that support me like family and a family that has bent over backwards to help me stay afloat through the grad school struggles and I’m about to begin my last two clinical rotations in pediatrics. Come on, how could I not be thankful! But I am a believer in not letting gratitude and love go unspoken.  Yeezy once told me “If you admire somebody you should go on ‘head tell ’em · People never get the flowers while they can still smell ’em.”

First, I’m thankful for every single rejection letter I received

If you’ve been keeping up with my blogs, you know that in the process of applying to PT school I received seventeen rejection letters. At this very moment I can say that I am thankful for all seventeen of them, including one of them actually being from The University of Miami where I am currently a third year PT student. I wasn’t ready the first year I applied and I surely wasn’t meant to be at any other program. The U is home for me and the extra year I spent after my first rejection letter there toughened me up, showed me how to build a solid work ethic, and gave me an extra year of experience working with children at Ability Plus Therapy. The further along I get in the program, I realize how much my time working as a rehab tech there already has shaped me into a great physical therapist.

I’m thankful for my friends that have stuck around and became my family

I’ve told all of my friends before and I’ll tell them again, THANK YOU! Thank you for the support you’ve given me. Thank you for being understanding every time I had to decline an invitation due to having to study or just being too tired. And you know what, thank you for continuing to invite me despite all of the times I declined! Not all of my friends have been around for years like some have but I’m equally thankful for those I’ve met along the way. That includes all of my friends from Vous Church who starting praying for my health and success the second they met me and haven’t stopped since. That also includes all of my friends I’ve made at the U inside and outside of my program. I’ve made some great friends at the gym on campus which sounds silly but going to the gym and seeing friendly faces became my escape from studying and a fun place just to chit chat before and after my workout, it’s the little things!

I’m thankful for the crazy things my family has done to help me succeed DSC_6987[1].JPG

When I say crazy, I mean crazy. They have put up with my tears, listened to long drawn out stories about physical therapy (that they probably could live without hearing), supported my financially, and made it to every single important event along the way. I know that not everyone has a close family or supportive parents and that alone is a reason to praise them but I truly believe they go above and beyond for me and I’m so lucky. I’m also grateful that yesterday we all spent Thanksgiving together under one roof! Dinner together every night was “the normal” a few years ago but as time passes they chances we get to all be together become fewer and fewer so this weekend together is a speical one.

I’m thankful for my classmates, professors, and the U!

I have spent the last two-ish years with the same 58 faces… every day, all day. It’s enough to drive you crazy some days but I was grateful to find a crew of classmates that kept me sane and understood how silly and weird of a person I am. I truly made a few life long friends thanks to my program and even though we have already started our separate journeys across the states, I’m glad I know I have colleagues and friendships all over the U.S.!  I could go on and on for how thankful I am for our professors, they honestly treat us like the UMPT family and I can say I learned from the absolute best. They make it hard to rule out wanting to be involved in PT education down the road because they make it so amazing. I couldn’t not forget how thankful I am for THE U (ranked #2, FYI) and that I got to spend my Fall Saturdays at the Hard Rock, my weekends studying on a beautiful campus, and my life in general spent in the beautiful city of Miami.

Lastly, I’m thankful for my future and where it looks like it’s heading

It’s bright, I’m working on a big project for my future right now and I’m extremely excited to see it unfold. Once it starts to unfold that’s when I’ll share it with the world! My near future is just as exciting, I am finishing an acute rotation at a hospital in Orlando in 2 weeks and then I head back down to Miami for 16 weeks of pediatric experience! How could I forget the most exciting event in the near future, May 10, 2018…graduation day 🙂

Happy Holidays everyone! If you’re thankful for someone, go ahead and tell em.

Nervember

November is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) Awareness month, if you’ve read my previous blog post about my little sister then you’re aware that CRPS was her first diagnosis of many Invisible Illnesses. With that being said, November is a special month for my family and a time to ramp up the awareness we are spreading. For Melanie and my family, awareness is a year round thing but it peaks twice a year… November A.K.A. Nervember and January for Crazy Sock Day & Crazy Sock Walk!

So you might be sitting here reading this wondering a few things… well, you’re in luck because I have read your mind and I’m going to answer three of the questions floating around in your head right now!

Why is raising awareness so important?10497850_692323287549093_4633260726176504956_o

Like I said above, CRPS is an invisible illness, it can’t speak for itself! There’s a high possibility you’ve encountered someone with CRPS (or any other invisible illness for that matter) out when you’re grocery shopping, or in class next to you, or out at your favorite restaurant. A lot of times from the outside looking in they may look like everything is just dandy, they are masking their chronic pain and trying to fight through another day. Not Melanie, yes she is masking her pain and fighting through another day but she’ll gladly tell a stranger all about CRPS or her wheelchair or her crazy socks. Why? Because awareness gives you power. Awareness helps Melanie feel less alone, it builds a foundation of support for her to stand on, and it gives her a platform to tell her story and empower others.
Melanie’s biggest awareness project is Crazy Sock Day and Walk! Every year since 2010, we have celebrated on January 24th (the anniversary of Melanie’s injury) by wearing crazy socks! The first year it started out as just my family wearing crazy socks and surprising Melanie with a cookie cake but now it’s a world wide celebration and social media takeover all for CRPS Awareness! In 2015, we decided to go bigger and ended up holding the first Crazy Sock Walk in Melbourne Florida! Now, not only did we have an internet gathering but also a physical gathering of people in crazy socks to raise awareness and donations for CRPS research with The U.S. Pain Foundation!

How can I help?

Easiest way to help us in raising awareness this Nervemeber is first to educate yourself. Do you know what CRPS is? Have you read Melanie’s story? Do you feel confident giving a simple definition of CRPS if a stranger where to ask? Will you wear crazy socks out and about for Melanie? Well, if you answered no to the first 3 questions and yes to the 4th then all you need to do is a bit of reading and then you’re ready! A great resource to learn about CRPS is from RSDSA.org. RSDSA is a huge supporter of Melanie and we give a portion of our donations to them each year. Usually, my simple answer to someone who asks about it is “CRPS is a chronic pain condition that causes burning, stabbing, constant pain to a limb after a basic injury. Basically, the nerves do not heal properly leaving the limb with hypersensitivity, pain, and temperature changes. And that’s just a simple answer.” I start there and see what type of questions come to follow or direct them to my sister’s facebook page. That’s just one way that I help raise awareness for Nervember.

Can I participate in Crazy Sock Day 2018?

16299374_10207986752168218_5462970466118945533_nYes! Of course you can! If you live in Florida, you can attend the 4th Crazy Sock Walk in Melbourne Florida (Here’s the flyer!) But if you don’t live in Florida or you’re busy that Saturday you can still participate and help Melanie raise awareness. On January 24th wear your craziest socks and share them on our Facebook or Instagram, and tell your friends how they can help too.

 

This blog post may have been a bit of a shameless plug but awareness is something that is so important to me. I’m in a position as a PT student where I can influence and educate my classmates to also see the importance of awareness for invisible illnesses which means I’m making a small but sure impact on future health care providers. Never be scared to start too small, with awareness or with anything, because once you get the ball rolling, it snowballs and all of the sudden you’ve touched more people than you could ever imagine!

If you want to learn more about Melanie or keep updated with what’s to come for Crazy Sock Day & Walk 2018, check Melanie out on Instagram and Facebook 🙂