Sunday, June 13, 2010

Compartments

In the TV show, Alias, Sydney Bristow (played by Jennifer Garner) provides an excellent case study on compartmentalization. Many of the episodes in the first 2-3 seasons are thematically related as Sydney learns how to allow the different compartments of her life to overlap and strive to establish balance. She feels scared at the vulnerability associated with breaking down the walls she has carefully cemented around her, but she experiences joy and love as she establishes more balance in her life.

I have been reflecting on the compartments of my life and have realized that marriage requires the dynamiting of one's walls around compartments, but a healthier balance results. While there will always be natural boundaries established by distances between social groups, which are particularly large due to the broad nature of my interests, I feel less polarized than I ever have before. My compartments do not seem as distinctly defined. The post-collegiate lacrosse league that I play in allows me to compete and interact with people that my co-workers from my most recent clinical placement at Spaulding Hospital Cambridge will never meet (unless I were to facilitate it, and that would be kind of weird). I love learning about, discussing and debating health and fitness topics, but I also enjoy being well-read on current events and minimizing my ignorance about politics, economics, and government. I enjoy being pampered, getting pedicures, and wearing perfume, but I love the mountains and could care less about being clean when I am hiking or camping.

Despite my currently diverse set of interests, there is one force that helps me to create a better balance between them all; Dan is genuinely interested in all of the compartments that make me tick. Prior to marriage, my family provided support for each of my compartments, but their influence was limited by distance and decreased interaction. Now, Dan is at every lacrosse game (that I have enough time or energy to go to), debates every topic with me, gets to know as many of the other participants in my compartments as he can, insists that I get massages, pedicures, and perfume, and mountaineers with me (including allowing me to get a mountain board!). As a result, my interest in lacrosse doesn't seem as far removed from my desire to be well-read in current events because I can share all of it with Dan and he can help me to establish balance.

I have realized that this is one of the most distinct benefits of marriage. Ironically, this is the one that scares a lot of people from long-term commitment to one person. Some perceive the destruction of compartmental walls as bad, but I have come to know that it is very much superior to designing our lives like a filing cabinet.

Here are some pictures from some of the compartments of OUR lives these days:

Collective Soul Concert in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire. Followed by camping in New Hampshire and playing in the White Mountains. An amazing weekend!

You can't fully see it, but the waterfall here had carved a natural waterslide that was very tempting to try and ride. However, Dan and I had a competition to see how long we could keep our feet in the water (it was probably less than 40 degrees! So cold!), and neither of us could keep our feet in for more than 30 seconds at a time. This area of the White Mountains is called Franconia Notch, and has some of the most majestic waterfalls I have ever seen!

This tree was growing on top of a HUGE boulder.


After climbing Cannon Mountain. It was really windy on the summit.



video


In front of A. Bronson Alcott's Concord School of Philosophy, meetingplace for many of the early Transcendentalists.


I am going to miss going to school in the Charlestown Navy Yard. I eat lunch every day with this view.


And here is a picture from our wedding day! No, the backdrop is not fake... A classmate asked me if it was!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Sleep-therapizing!

Apparently, I have been performing physical therapy on Dan in my sleep. Not just from my spot next to him in bed. Apparently, I walk around the bed to his side of the the bed, stand next to him, and demand in a very stern voice, "Now I want you to sit up. First reach for the bedrail and then I will help you to sit up safely." This has happened multiple nights this week. I barely remember performing therapy on a very difficult patient in my dreams, one that would not respond to my directions, and then realizing it was Dan. I also remember on two occasions thanking Dan for "letting me practice on him." However, I do not remember walking around to the other side of the bed and I am definitely never aware of the full extent of what I am doing.

In my defense, I have had physical therapy on my mind lately! I am sure it just a short phase, like some children who wet the bed (haha), but Dan hopes the humor and entertainment continues for a long time.

I just finished my second full-time clinical affiliation with Spaulding Hospital Cambridge, a local long-term acute care hospital that facilitates further medical management and provides a setting for all rehabilitation for patients that are very, very sick. I primarily worked with patients who have neurological or oncological diagnoses, and got a crash course in progressive brain cancers, multiple myeloma, graft verses host disease, and other rare neurological disorders. I had two patients pass away while I was their primary therapist and dealt with multiple complex family situations surrounding providing end-of-life of care.

I also saw people make incredible gains and be able to resume a good quality of life after being diagnosed with a serious, life-threatening disease and undergoing chemotherapy, radiation, and other very advanced medical treatments. Most of the patients did not leave without their disease, but made good gains with therapy to be able to leave the hospital (to a skilled nursing facility or to home, on rare occasion).

My experience made me think a lot about what is most valuable in the end to most human beings. In the end of one's life, family relationships seem to be the strongest, enough to provide a person who is very ill with motivation to improve, emotional support, and a sense of purpose. It isn't a boss, it isn't a teacher, it isn't even friends (usually). There were a few patients that I had that did not have good family support and never had anyone visit them in the hospital. They were more apathetic about making progress, felt less of a need to return to any particular level of social responsibility or social role, and did not do as well with physical therapy as other patients who had the family support. I am very grateful for the family support that I have: a husband who would do anything to make me happy or comfortable, and a family that is always there, no matter what happens. I plan to try to make my family relationships as strong as I can, as it is what matters in the end.

I am also in the process of applying and interviewing for multiple final internship positions throughout Boston. The locations where I will be interviewing are:

Spaulding Hospital Cambridge
Spaulding Rehabilitation Outpatient - Medford
Shaughnessy-Kaplan Rehabilitation Hospital
Massachusetts General Hospital
Brigham and Women's Hospital
Community Rehab Care
Hallmark Health - Melrose-Wakefield Hospital

After 3 more months of classes (I start again on Monday), I will be starting my final one-year internship, and in February of 2011, I will be taking my boards! I will graduate in May 2011, one year from now!