Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Summer! & work (a lot)

This past summer, I was always busy. I had two jobs, one working for a seed company and the other working for the gymnastics center in my hometown. Being a gymnastics coach was definitely the best part of my work. I worked with children between 6- early teens. This was so much fun! The girls I taught were a great group, and it was like one big family in the gym. Seeing their hard work pay off and the encouragement in the gym made many of my days. I was also doing something that I love, so for me it never felt like actual work.

When I am home, my dad and I usually try to take as many boat trips as we can to the different rivers in the lower part of South Carolina. One of my favorite trips out on the boat this summer was a boat ride down Black River out to Georgetown, and spending the day on the water. Spending time on the water with my family has always been a big part of my summers. Of course you can’t have a real boat trip without doing a little bit of fishing, we went fishing several times while we were out on the boat. Our fishing is never anything too big, though there was one attempt for sheepshead, but that attempt was abandoned when the mid-July sun got too hot and windy that afternoon on the jetties.
I was able to check off (at least) two of my life goals over these past few months. I learned how to drive a straight drive this summer, and learned to surf. I have wanted to learn to drive a straight drive ever since my dad got his jeep, so this was a big accomplishment for me. I went down to Charleston to visit a friend for a weekend, and she taught me how to surf. Although I only stood up once, in the short time I was in Charleston, I cannot wait to go back and do it again!
Overall, this summer was pretty great, and I enjoyed every minute of it. This will be my first semester in the creative inquiry and I am so excited to see what this fall has in store for me!

Friday, September 9, 2016

A Very Different Summer

In January of this year I was offered an amazing opportunity to work for one of the largest and greatest companies in the world: Apple. This summer I continued my job with the company working from home and continuing to learn about technology and its impact on the world. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. The hours were odd and the days were long, but because of my hard work I was able to work full time and establish myself at the company.
However, there were many times I got to be a bit too restless, sitting in the house allday and not getting to go experience summer. Imagine my relief when I finally boarded my flight with my crazy friend Kelly in Atlanta to go down to the Keys. When we arrived and felt that hot, muggy Miami heat, I really did feel home again. However, I was extremely anxious to actually get down to Layton and start diving!

My first few days down there, we started doing something we had never done before, tagging damselfish. We wanted to do this to determine if these territorial fish actually stay in their territories over time. Kelly was an expert at elastomer tagging and helped Kylie and I concoct a plan for catching, tagging, and successfully releasing these little guys. The first few tries catching them were rough (to say the least). Kylie sustained multiple head wounds, I injected myself with elastomer (more than once), and I’m pretty sure we made some reef critters hate their life, but we finally caught the fish and marked them!

These weren’t the only fish we tagged though. In the evenings we had a new challenge, to tag parrotfish with acoustic tags. Unlike damsels, these fish are relatively large, fast, and pretty skittish. Needless to say, it can be a bit tricky to find, catch, tag, and release them while diving in pitch black. However, after only about 20-30 minutes of searching, we found and tagged a nice big redband supermale. Although this was my last dive of the trip, it was definitely the most exciting. This one-week was the highlight of my summer (although working for a great company wasn’t too bad either). I can’t wait to go back this fall!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Upe, Buenas!

This summer I had the opportunity to shadow in the month of June at the USC School of Medicine in Columbia. I did rotations in Pediatric Cardiology, Psychiatry, Surgery, and Family Medicine and of those I realized I am very interested in Cardiology and Family Medicine. It was a pretty intense month of shadowing but it was awesome because it confirmed my passion for medicine.

When the shadowing program ended in the beginning of July, I had a two week turn around before going to Costa Rica for a medical mission trip through Clemson. We were in Costa Rica for two weeks and stayed with nuns—which was actually a lot cooler than you would expect—and served the poorer communities. I got to practice diagnosing diseases and thinking like a physician with the triage of other Clemson students. This trip also reaffirmed my interest in Family Medicine because we saw a lot of the same diseases and problems that I saw when I was shadowing in Columbia. But then again we saw some other things that I never saw before like a really intense foot fungus. The other students and I got really close so quickly and we had so much fun together in clinic and especially on recreation days. The trip to Costa Rica was very enriching, gave me a new perspective and understanding of medicine, and also gave me a greater appreciation for everything I have.

It was really difficult to leave such a beautiful and biodiverse country like Costa Rica, but I’m happy to be back in Clemson kicking off the new semester working on the lobsters!

A picture of the mountains when we were at UCIMED in San Jose.

A cool picture of me while we wait for our site assignment outside of Alajuela.

On my birthday, which was one of our last days in a community outside of San Jose, we got to give our donations to the kids in the community and play with them for several hours.

A beautiful summer spent in Europe

This past summer I had the amazing opportunity to study abroad in a small city (Viterbo) outside of Rome, Italy. It is an old, medieval themed city that has cobblestone streets and a wall around it. I am really thankful for the opportunity to stay in a smaller city because I feel that I received a more authentic experience because I was forced to use my broken Italian that I learned in my class while studying there, learned to adapt to local stores closing from 1-4 pm during the week, and meals being more of a celebration than a feast to gorge yourself.

The food was delicious in every city that I traveled to. I traveled to Spain, France, Greece, and within Italy. I studied food cuisine while in Viterbo so that I could learn about the typical dishes of different areas of Italy, cook them, and enjoy them! Traveling this summer has been my favorite life experience because I became more responsible, learned how to figure out my own problems, and became more aware of my surroundings because I stopped depending on my phone to feel connected so I started feeling more connected to people and earth. I loved going hiking, jumping off cliffs, and being immersed in so many different cultures.

One of my favorite cities was in Genova, Italy because I spent time at the beach and visited Italy’s largest aquarium that had so many vividly colored invertebrates and vertebrates. They had a dolphin show, huge shark tank, penguin exhibit, and many species of corals, starfish, and herbivorous fish. I was even brave enough to pet the stingray in the petting zones. This was my last city that I traveled to and made me excited to be heading home to do some research on the feisty and beautiful Damselfish we study in the Florida Keys.

My favorite city: Burano (outside of Venice, Italy on an island)

I hiked from Manarola and Riomaggiore in the cold rain. Totally worth it!

All of the churches (Cathedrals) in Europe are so beautiful, even the ceilings.

At the Genova aquarium petting tank
Yes, I ate snails in Paris

A Summer with a New Perspective

This summer I went on 2 medical mission trips.

My first trip was to Peru. I had no idea who I was going with and what I was doing. All I knew was that I was about to embark on an adventure of a life time. I got on the plane by myself flew 9 hours to Lima, Peru. When I got to the airport, no one spoke English and I started to get really scared of what I signed up for. I traveled 12 hours by bus  through the mountains to where I would be staying for a month. There was 13 of us on the trip. Those were 13 students I have never met before and that would be considered family after just one month of knowing them. When we got to Peru, we all went to where we would be staying. We all lived in a shack in the heart of La Merced, Peru. Many people in this town had never seen Americans. I got a lot of questions from kids, “Why are you white?” We giggled and tried to explain to them that throughout the world, different countries have different looking people. It was really cute to see their reactions. In the morning we had clinical rotations. We would go into the hospitals and help the nurses who have to check up on hundreds of babies in one day. We took their vitals and helped in any way we could. We also worked in the emergency rooms, we put on casts, sutured, scrubbed in on surgeries. It was amazing the freedom that we had in the hospitals. As well, we shadowed different doctors like orthopedic surgeons, general surgeons, ect..  Unlike in the US, when volunteering in hospitals you are allowed to touch the patients.

 Even though there was a language barrier, just a smile or a laugh is universal which I learned at my time in Peru. I connected with so many people just by expression. I also did learn a lot about Spanish there as well. By the end I could carry a conversation with the natives.

In the afternoons, we went to native indigenous communities and held Health campaigns. I really enjoyed this. Although their living conditions were really hard to see, they always kept a smile on their face. They didn't have running water, or drinking water. They would suck the oranges that grew on the trees for hydration. We also had to dress and look like the other members of the tribe. It was really cool to see all their different traditions and their lifestyles. They still keep their culture alive after hundreds of years. I firmly believe that knowledge is power. We taught them all about sexual health. The women in these communities would be pregnant at 13 years old. We really wanted to educate because in their communities, talking about sex is not acceptable. We also took their vitals and did full physical exams on them. I learned all the medical techniques, and people were very thankful for all that we had done. Another big problem there is, is nutrition. A lot of the people are malnourished, or overweight from eating just carbs and fat because those are usually the cheapest options. We provided pictures and information to help them have a healthier diet. Also I loved playing with all the little kids. The biggest problem I saw with the children is they don’t brush their teeth because they cant afford tooth paste or tooth brushes. We would go into the communities and schools and brush every single one of their teeth and apply fluoride on it. It was amazing how excited they were and appreciative they were.  It was an experience that I will never forget. It taught me to be appreciative of everything little thing I have, even a toothbrush.
I could talk about Peru forever because it was by far the most amazing things Ive done in my life. I would take anything to back to it.

After I got back from Peru, I went to Costa Rica for my next medical mission trip. There we set up free clinics and went door to door looking for sick members of the community. These people lived in shacks which was really sad to see. Most of the people whom were sick were immigrants of Nicaragua and didn’t have any health insurance. We got to take a full physical exam and take their vitals. We also took their medical history and found out what could be wrong with them. It allowed us to feel like we were the doctors and I think that made me want to be a doctor. There was also a lot of sick babies which was really sad to see so I really enjoyed holding them or even if there mother was sick, get to hold the babies while the mother had a consultation. Most people that were sick, received medication from the pharmacy. We had certified doctors there prescribe the medicine, because we obviously couldn’t. These people had such appreciation that we would help them and listen to their problems. It was really nice to see. Overall, I had one of the best summers of my life!

Summer at the Sullivan Center

This summer, I spent my time volunteering at the Sullivan Center. It was a really great opportunity full of hands on healthcare work. I took patients vitals and health history, sat in during different consultantations and got to observe and lend a hand a few minor procedures. It was nice for me to see a new perspective of healthcare and to get to know the people at the Sullivan Center. I learned a lot about different treatments, medicine, bedside manners, lab work and protocol. I learned how to work up a patient and to report an accurate health history to a provider. It was rewarding to have positive interactions with patients and to see how much they appreciated my work as a volunteer. I made many great friends there including Elizabeth who helped me improve my Spanish. It was knowledge like this that allowed me to especially appreciate my opportunity to volunteer at the Sullivan Center because it offered me lessons outside of a textbook while also expanding my very factual knowledge. I appreciated the outreach work we did with the free clinic side side of the clinic, which serves as both a healthcare-accepting nursing clinic and a free clinic. I find it very important that we uphold the responsibility we have as workers in healthcare to put patients first and to do everything in our power to help them receive the treatment and care they need. It was a truly invaluable summer!