Wednesday, January 20, 2010

sickety sick sick

I have been coughing for a week. Last week I was conveniently able to blame it on the inversion, but now with clear skies I am feeling worse than ever. I have spent the whole day in bed (except for when I made it to anatomy and chemistry this morning). I need to get healthy because...

-I love yoga. I have started a yoga practice, which is no fun when sick.
- I auditioned for Samba Gringa on Sunday (while sick)... have practice this Sunday... hopefully not while sick.
- I am almost able to stand on a snowboard... big accomplishment for me. I need to get back at it before I lose what little skills I have acquired.
- With clear air I am months past due for a winter hike.
- I am remarkably behind in Organic Chemistry... as in have not even opened the book yet...
- I am remarkably behind in anatomy... although all 3 of those books have been opened and flashcards have been made... how am I behind already?
- I have a very messy apartment that has been made even messier by the plumbing and dry wall guys that have basically moved in with me this week.

Dearest immune system, please step up your game!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Massachusetts... MMM

The state of Massachusetts has played a hug role in my mood for the day.

First, one of my dearest and oldest friends- Emily Frydendall - is heading to Boston in two and a half weeks for a med school interview... and I am flying out to meet her there! Emily and I have been friends since 7th grade. She is genuinely one of the kindest, most supportive friends I have ever had, not to mention brilliantly smart (the girl pretty much single handedly got me through calculus and physics in high school), and I'm so excited for this next step in her life. Plus, Boston is my dear friend Diana's all time favorite city - so I cannot wait to go!

Now booking my flight TO Boston... was rougher than expected. My dad is awesomely awesome and is letting me use his frequent flyers, but apparently a daughter using frequent flyer miles is really confusing for those working at the airlines. I spent an hour on the phone today trying to get that all worked out... my itinerary was supposed to be emailed... it wasn't... sounds like I will be spending more time on the phone with the airline tomorrow... It will all be worth it, though.

Currently, I am watching Rachel Maddow reporting from Boston on MSNBC on the election that took place today in Massachusetts. Much more than frustrating airline employees... this issue really has me down. The vote was to replace the beloved Senator Ted Kennedy, the "Lion of the Senate" who recently passed away from brain cancer. (Anything having to do with the brain instantly gets my attention.) Ted Kennedy, especially with his health situation, was one of the strongest senators for health care reform. He also was able to accomplish what most Democrats can not... compromise and gain the respect of Republicans. The loss of him in the senate was a great loss for the country. I am very much a Democrat, but I fully realize that this country would not work, and would not be as great, if everyone believed what I believe. But I truly TRULY believe in health care reform as it has affected my life and the lives of those I love. Today a "teabagger"/Republican was elected to fill Teddy Kennedy's senate seat - surprising because Massachusetts is a largely Democratic state and has not had a Republican Senator since 1972. This is a major bummer because 1) Dems no longer have the votes they need to pass health care reform and 2) this man is the exact opposite of Ted Kennedy. In Massachusetts 98% of people have health insurance- so this was not an election that dictated health care reform for them... but it does dictate health care reform for the rest of the country. Congrats to the Republicans? ... I am majorly bummed out.

Also bumming me out? An article I read this morning that completely contradicts the praise I had for those in Haiti...

Losing a little bit of my faith in people today... here's hoping for a better tomorrow.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Thoughts on Haiti

My book of 2009 - a book that truly inspired me- that kept my interest every moment- that even inspired me to sign up for the medical anthropology class I am in right now- is the book Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder - a biography of Dr. Paul Farmer. Paul Farmer is a Harvard educated doctor who also holds a PhD in anthropology. Already sounds like an amazing guy, right? I haven't even begun... he works 4 months of the year at Harvard as an Anthropology professor and doctor. He then uses the money he makes in those 4 months to fund a healthcare clinic in Haiti where people can be treated for whatever they can afford- even if that means treating them for free. This is a huge undertaking since Haiti is one of the poorest nations in the world, and good healthcare is unheard of. What makes Paul Farmer successful is that he approaches his medicine from an anthropological perspective. What has made the western developed world's attempts at fixing AIDS or Tuberculosis a complete failure is that lack of an anthropological perspective.

Not even 2 months after finishing this book, with Haiti still fresh in my mind, the country is hit by a devastating earthquake. With a thorough image of how poor their healthcare system already is, I think I felt perhaps even more panic and worry for those living there than others with a less informed view of how hard it already is to live there. Of course a disaster like this would be terrible anywhere, but it really couldn't hit anywhere worse than Haiti- a country where people are already struggling beyond what most Americans can even comprehend.

I watched footage last night on my favorite news channel - MSNBC (Yes, I'm well aware of their very liberal approach to news reporting, but being a liberal myself, I find myself agreeing with most of what they say...). They approached their news coverage in a way that I had not expected. Yes, there is chaos in Haiti, many are homeless, many have nothing left... but there is not as much chaos and crime as one would expect in a poverty stricken "undeveloped" country. People seem to be helping one another out in any and all possible ways.

While watching this coverage I had flashbacks to the footage of the most notable natural disaster we saw here in the States- another area close to my heart - when Katrina hit New Orleans. I was born in New Orleans, and my parents' old house was 6 feet underwater when the levies broke. What made this disaster even more terrifying was that those who were seeking refuge in the Superdome encountered, robbers, rapists, and murderers. I don't mean to judge the people of New Orleans - I have no idea how I would react in a terrifying situation like that- and this could all be skewed news reporting- but nothing like this seems to be going on in Haiti- nothing that the news is covering at least. The people of Haiti seem to be handling a terrible disaster with much more class and bravery than Americans would (I don't exclude myself from this...).

I've been pondering the effects of living in poverty for some time now. After my visit to Ghana I could genuinely say that generally- Ghanaians seem to be, as a culture, more open and giving than Americans. Something I found to be quite ironic since most Americans have so much more than those in Ghana. Perhaps the lack of material things causes people to be more concerned with people than "stuff," and that value of a person causes someone to react differently in a moment of crisis. Of course I am speaking in remarkably broad generalizations and stereotypes. And I also realize I sound very hypocritical since I, myself have lived a very cushy life filled with much "stuff."

So I hope that Paul Farmer is safe and sound - he is someone who has truly saved the world. And I know he will be essential and necessary in helping Haiti rebuild. Read about his story!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Epilepsy Gala

So I guess this is blog 3 devoted to Epilepsy... this one is a bit more joyful.

Last night was the Utah Epilepsy Gala, put on by the Epilepsy Foundation, a black tie event. My Dad is a very notable person in the world of Epilepsy research, especially in Utah ... so my parents got all dressed up last night and made an appearance at this black tie affair.

For those that know my parents, it is probably quite difficult to picture them in tuxedos and ball gowns. My parents are both very casual people that live their lives in t-shirts and jeans. I was quite excited to see my parents all dressed up and have spent this last week helping my mom prepare for the event. (We went ball gown shopping... and even though I wasn't going, I made sure to try on a dress too, because who can resist trying on a ball gown?)

My parents were so cute the morning of the event. They spent it practicing their black tie etiquette over a very casual breakfast and googling all the black tie faux pas. One of the most classic moments goes like this...
Dad reading from a website: "Black tie means one thing - tuxedo."
Mom: "oops!"
Dad: "and floor length gowns..."
Mom: "oops again!"

Ok, but on to the important stuff. The Gala had several key speakers including Susan Axelrod (wife of David Axelrod - Obama's right hand man- whose daughter has a very severe case of epilepsy), Orrin Hatch (our Utah senator who has worked to get the Americans with Disabilities Act passed), and one of the Osmond brothers... My parents shared some interesting facts with me... Did you know that in the United States it was illegal for someone to marry someone with Epilepsy? And worst of all, that the last state to end this law only ended it in 1980? That's right... only 6 years before I was born was it legal in the entire USA to marry someone with Epilepsy! Crazy, no? Also, in our world today, more people die each year of Epilepsy than they do from breast cancer! Many don't think about Epilepsy being a terminal disease, but it most definitely is! And think of all that pink you see out there in the world! There are so many breast cancer awareness t-shirts, ribbons, events... which is totally awesome, but how often do you see a ribbon for Epilepsy awareness??? There are so many misconceptions about the disease, it is unbelievable! When I was a sophomore in high school, I sold crocheted hats at Colorado State University and donated all the proceeds to the Epilepsy Foundation. I went to school with some pretty intelligent kids (shout out to the IB nerds that I love sooooo much)... yet as SOPHOMORES IN HIGH SCHOOL many people didn't know what epilepsy was or had even heard of it! Crazy!

Anyway, I'm glad my parents were able to attend. My dad is a great scientist who I look up to and admire every day and my mom is now living with Epilepsy and handling it better than I ever could (she saw a lot of her doctors at the event last night) Go Mom and Dad!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Hello 2010!!!

I can truly tell the year has changed, promise. Never mind that all my bills payed thus far accidentally have 09 written on them and that I seriously almost put "Hello 2009" as my title... haha... oh dear.

ANYWAY... I had hoped that my first blog of 2010 (yeah... almost did it again) would be about this fantastic book I'm reading called 7 Days in the Art World. But, I still have 100 pages to go and I am a firm believer in not formulating all thoughts on a book until it has been read completely through... why have I not finished this book? Because I am completely addicted to my crochet projects at the moment... whatever will I do when school starts???

So goals for 2010:

1. Prioritize. I will not let my crochet addiction keep me from studying... I will not, I will not.

2. Keep up with my reading. Much of what has been learned this year has been through the reading of amazing books, I need to keep that up.

3. Take better care of myself. I will not put off doctors checkups till the last minute (I scheduled my dentist appointment today- be proud!). I will eat food that is good for me that will help me stay alert and active. I will exercise my heart - because it needs it (as soon as icky inversion goes away... gag!).

4. I will volunteer. Been meaning to, don't have a decent excuse for why I haven't...

5. I will go on a fantastic trip. Ever since Ghana, this travel stuff has become an addiction... one I will happily give into because I believe it makes my life better. (Been looking at trips to South Africa, Tanzania, Egypt, Costa Rica, Thailand, and India for this summer... I CAN NOT decide!!!!)

6. I will climb a 14er. I believe Mount Elbert has been the lucky 14er of choice and with any luck... my mom will be in healthy enough shape to go with me! (The risk for seizures increases at higher altitudes, so we might have to do a gradual climb... giving that brain of hers time to adjust.)

7. I will write down at least 3 of my hat patterns - the official start to the crochet book I will write in the next few years.

8. I will be able to carve on a snowboard... once I get a firming grasp on the whole staying standing part.

9. I will not sweat the small stuff. I get worked up over silly things and am really hard on myself sometimes. I'm 23. I should have a better grasp on what's important and what is not.

10. I will keep dancing. Not the crazy amount I have kept up for the previous 18 years, but I will do something to keep it up. I took a dance class over Christmas with an old teacher who has become a great friend. She stopped us in class to say this, "I love you all for how vivacious, individual, and full of light you are! Each one of you has something precious and unique to offer in movement and spirit - Always know how lucky you are to be dancing!" We danced to a song with the lyrics, "If my heart was a house, you'd be home." She talked about how dancing feels like home to her... and it does to me too- especially being back in my old studio, with people I knew from high school, my sister, and her teaching. I was home in so many more ways than one. It was funny to be there listening to her say that. All the younger dancers (which I used to be!!!) were there smiling and nodding, but I was on the verge of tears! It takes maturity and dancing for 18+ years to realize the magnitude of those words and to truly understand the great great advice we were being given. So in 2010, I'm taking that advice.

2010 is going to be awesome. I can feel it!