Happy Occupational Therapy Month! To celebrate this AWESOME month, I’ve decided to participate in shannenmarie_ot’s ABC’s of OT Instagram challenge! However, instead of posting on Instagram I’ve decided to transform the ABC’s of OT challenge into blog posts to provide you in-depth insight to the occupational therapy scope of practice and to advocate for my future profession. Stay all month long for 26 letters + bonus days of occupational therapy advocacy or just read a post here and there. I hope that through this I can teach at least a few people something new about occupational therapy! Enjoy!
Letter A: Activities of Daily Living (also known as ADLs!)
All the things you engage in on a daily basis to take care of your body for basic survival and well-being are considered ADLs. ADLs include bathing/showering, toileting, dressing, swallowing/eating, feeding, functional mobility, personal device care (i.e. hearing aids, prosthetics, glasses), personal hygiene/grooming, and sexual activity.
So how do OTs address ADLs in practice? We can teach safe transfer techniques from wheelchair to shower bench for an individual recovering from hip replacement. We can teach dressing strategies for an individual who has hemiplegia after a stroke. We can provide a buttonhook to a child who has poor fine motor coordination. We can teach parents feeding techniques so that they can feed their child who has cerebral palsy. We can help to augment confidence for sexual activity for an individual with a spinal cord injury. We can make home modifications using visual cues on stairs for individuals with low vision. The list goes on.
I hope you’ve been enlightened on day 1! Feel free to post below with any questions/comments. For now, I’ll leave you with this picture of my friend, Jess, feeding me during our pediatrics feeding lab!
Every year I start my yearly recap with intentions of making it flowy and descript. As I try to recall everything that has happened this year, it’s quite a blur. However, I can testify that 2018 has offered me travel experiences, running memories, cycling achievements, and new beginnings (GRAD SCHOOL!) that have continuously shaped me into who I will be starting off as in 2019. This year has gifted me new friendships and strengthened existing ones. I’ve become a more grateful, more mindful, more persistent, and stronger person because of my experiences and support systems. Without further ado, let’s review…
Within the first week of January, southern NJ was hit with something they call a “bomb cyclone”. I still don’t know what this weather term defines, but I do know that I went out for a run in it. Classic me.
Being a Philadelphia Eagles fan in January became a very exciting time. Nick Foles became our hero.
I was picked as an Altra Ambassador for the 2nd year in a row. Altras are my favorite!
Josh got a new bike – the Rocky Mountain Element in smoke-on-the-water black. I’ve yet to be able to compete with the affection he shows for this bike.
I was offered an interview to my top choice for grad school which I scheduled immediately and as soon as possible. One step closer to following my dream.
On February 4th (everything good happens on the fourth day of each month & I have a whole list to prove it), the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl for the 1st time in team history. Completely shocked because these championships are few and very far between in Philly, I cried, I screamed, I banged pots & pans outside of Josh’s front door. What a time to be alive!
Four days later, I called out “sick” from work to go to the Super Bowl parade with millions of other Eagles fans. We parked haphazardly in some random grassy area we discovered. We went into a Dunkin Donuts that was sold out of 75% of their stock. We stood along Broad Street and watched people climb trees, drink beer, and wait anxiously for the team caravan to pass by. It was the best morning ever for Eagles fans! Later we went home and watched Jason Kelce’s historical speech on the art museum steps from the comfort of our couch. Still to this day, I believe that his speech was the most relatable speech ever for Philadelphia sports fans.
I attended my interview for grad school and prayed that they would accept me.
Josh & I passed the time by going for trail runs in the cold.
I also took Gwin on a hike with Jess & McGee. Gwin prefers running, not hiking.
I decided not to train for an ultramarathon this year because I felt that my life schedule was too busy and unpredictable to fully dedicate to a long race. Instead, I opted for a nearby trail series in hopes of becoming a Regional champion for my age group.
By the end of February, I received my acceptance letter to my top choice for grad school! This was the best day ever because I was finally on the path of my dreams! I remember calling Josh to tell him first. Then I called my mom, who shared the news with my dad. I called my grandparents. I called Angela. And then I went for a celebratory run. Classic me.
Josh & I attended more Flyers games together and ate big slices of stadium pizza.
As usual, I celebrated the first day of spring with a free Rita’s Water Ice.
On the second day of spring (my birthday), we had a huge snowstorm so Josh couldn’t come over. I made the most of the snowy birthday inside by playing board games. Once the snow slowed, I convinced my parents & Gwin to come out for a snowy trail run. We made it 1.5 miles from home, posed excitedly for a snow selfie, and 5 seconds later a snow-covered tree branch snapped, hit my back, and slammed me to the ground. Hello, 24th birthday! We spent the 1.5 mile run back towards home in fear of more falling branches/trees. The welt on my shoulder blade stayed for a few days. Nothing out of the ordinary for my life. Perhaps even an exaggerated metaphor.
I competed in the Xterra Brandywine 12k for the 2nd year in a row and defended my 2nd place finish on the podium.
I missed training for ultras.
I started a new blog section called “OT Chronicles” to document my experiences through grad school and beyond!
I raced a 5k for the first time in 3+ years and shared the #1 podium spot with Josh as the male & female winners of the race.
I really missed going to Hyner for race weekend.
Desiree Linden won the Boston Marathon in epic weather conditions. Sara Sellers came in 2nd and everyone in the running world was wondering who she was. Now she’s a sponsored Altra athlete!
I raced the Xterra Lums Pond 12k and finished 3rd overall female. I also fell ½ mile into the race and ran the remaining 6+ miles with bloody knees and an achy elbow. The paramedics took care of me at the finish line (infection prevention, people!). Josh & I then hustled to the NICA race the local mountain bike team was hosting and I hobbled around for the rest of the day while cheering the kids on.
I worked a race expo for Sparkly Soul all by myself for the first time ever. I even got interviewed by NBC 10 because they loved the unicorn headbands (which I absolutely hate so it was ironic). My interview was shown on TV and Josh came to the realization that he was dating someone famous.
I started working at wine festivals with a local winery. They were very fun but very exhausting to work. My right arm hurt after my first ever wine festival day from pouring so many tastings repetitively for 5 hours straight.
I attended the wine festival in Josh’s town with his family. Good company and good wine indeed!
Josh and I mountain biked together as much as possible. Trail therapy is the best therapy.
I continued to miss training for and racing ultras.
I ran the Xterra Wetlands 10k. It was muddy and I finished as the 3rd female. This was my least favorite race of the trail series.
Sneakers & Spokes hosted an Altra demo day and we had 15 people attend! It was great and my Altra heart was happy!
I stopped working in retail.
Josh & I flew out west and explored! We visited Angela & Phil in Colorado, explored Moab on mountain bikes, and visited Michael in Utah. I could go on and on about everything that we saw and did because it was truly the greatest six day adventure ever! But I won’t go on and on because I have two separate, lengthy blog posts about it on my blog already. Go check ‘em out!
I am still eternally grateful that Josh & I got to go on our Colorado-Utah adventure together. I am so glad that we got to see so many beautiful mountains with our hosts – the Dunn’s and Michael. We got to run and hike in places that were absolutely breathtaking. We got to mountain bike on trails that were challenging yet had rewarding vistas. I will also remember our trip together and the experiences we shared!
With altitude training on my side, I snagged some QOMs on my bike.
I started working at the winery’s tasting room once a week for the remainder of the summer. I worked one of the more quiet days of the week but I enjoyed the atmosphere and my responsibilities.
Josh & I planted our garden together for the 2nd year in a row. It was a sad garden this year because the wind destroyed half of our plants during a summer storm and nothing grew too well. I guess we needed to replenish the “special dirt” we got in 2017. Maybe next year.
I continued to coach runners and do personal training sessions with clients.
Lance, Josh’s dog, who was 15 years young passed away. His snuggles, prances, and love of human food will be cherished forever.
I also finished the 4th and final race of the Xterra series. I finished the Big Elk 1/2-marathon as the 4th overall female and 1st in my age group. I had achieved my goal of becoming regional champion and the long-sleeve they sent me a few months later was totally worth it! However, I’m going to give this series a rest for some time because 1) grad school and 2) I want ultras back in my life.
After the race, Josh & I ate brunch with Jess & Steve on Main Street. Those breakfast tater tots were the best!
Within less than two months, I started to miss Colorado and Utah.
I organized a road bike ride to a local Alex’s Lemonade Stand. We enjoyed water ice at 10 AM and got to enjoy a long bike ride on a perfect Saturday morning!
On July 4th, I ran the annual Pitman 4 Miler as a family tradition. My Altra Escalantes helped me run my 3rd fastest course time, finish 3rd in my age group, and finish in the top 7 female finishers. I also didn’t feel overly nauseous after I finished which is always a good thing.
After racing the 4 miler, Josh & I drove to the Woodstown 4th of July parade to ride in the parade with the Salem County Reactors. I felt sort of out of place but it was fun nonetheless!
Less than one week later, I raced my first mountain bike race of the 2018 and finished on the podium for THE FIRST TIME EVER! This was the highlight of my cycling year because I had never been on the podium at a mountain bike race before! Finishing 2nd was an awesome feeling, especially since I started in the back of the pack. I hope that in 2019 I can improve on my 2nd place and step up on the podium again!
I cheered Josh on at many mountain bike races and I took my job as his crew very seriously.
Josh & I attended a local food truck festival. We ate delicious tater tots!
I biked to a winery with the Sneakers & Spokes crew, did yoga in the vineyard, enjoyed a glass of wine, and then biked back to town.
I got really pissed off at township workers for talking down to me when I questioned what they were doing to a local trail. Idiots!
My dad hosted a women’s mountain bike clinic and it was so awesome! Fourteen ladies shredding the trail together?! It doesn’t get any better than that!
I started riding in the faster group for group rides. The first time I attempted I only was able to hang on for half of the ride. The second time I attempted, I was able to hang on for all but the last 3 miles of the ride. I was so happy that I could keep up with “the fast guys”; this was an accomplishment for me!
Josh & I biked to a food truck festival at Fort Mott. Typical us.
I attended grad school orientation where I got to meet some of my classmates and professors. It made me very excited to start the semester!
Josh & I went for an after work trail run and got stuck in a torrential downpour and thunderstorm. No worries, we took shelter at The Loufa Hut.
Sneakers & Spokes celebrated its 3rd anniversary!
I ordered a total of 10 textbooks for my 1st semester of grad school. TEN!
I was offered a position as a graduate assistant to offset tuition costs. Thank goodness for financial aid!
I volunteered Angela to be a guest on a podcast and somehow then got persuaded to be on the podcast myself. It was fun and I really enjoyed talking about running and cycling with Diz Runs Radio!
I raced my 2nd mountain bike race of the year. My bike wasn’t shifting right but I got to crew Josh’s first endurance race which was more fun than racing myself!
Josh & I spent a staycation weekend together. We went mountain biking, had a lovely night out in Chesapeake City, and went trail running/hiking at a state park we had never been to before – Susquehanna State Park! It was a great way to end the summer!
I still think that my dogs are the most adorable dogs in the world.
On September 5th, I started grad school. My parents were in Utah visiting Michael so Josh stayed over the night before and took my 1st day of school picture! We also took a selfie together before he left for work. I was officially “a first year”.
After a very long Twitter hiatus, I decided to tweet once per day until I graduate from grad school. Some days I forget though but I always make it up by combining two days into one tweet….
I participated in a local 9/11 run for the 2nd year in a row. I wore my purple Altra Escalantes and red, white, and blue socks – a colorful combo.
School took over my life and I spent less and less time running and riding and a lot more time sitting and studying.
The Flyers hired Gritty. I still have mixed feelings about him….
Josh & I attended Oktoberfest in Delaware for the 3rd year in a row. I am always the DD.
I became more and more grateful for the time that I did get to spend running or biking, even if it was only for 30 minutes every other day.
I raced Shred the Edge – my 3rd and final mountain bike race of 2018. I crashed really hard within the first 1.5 miles. I spent the next 11ish miles in pain and I came in last; however, I did have fun! It was a good day for the local mountain bike race!
The next weekend, I raced my first ever cyclocross race. I finished as the 3rd female and had a lot of fun! I hope that I can do one or two cyclocross races in 2019!
I made two new friends while writing a 26-page group paper on obesity with them! We promised each other brunch for a job well done on our paper.
My car surpassed 300,000 miles.
My family celebrated my cousin’s marriage. There was good wine and good dancing!
My car got flooded out on my commute to school after I drove through a very deep puddle in a jug handle. Classic me. That was an extremely stressful morning but luckily my dad was able to fix it. I only got to class an hour and 15 minutes late…
I attended the AOTA Student Conclave conference in Atlantic City in November. I learned a lot about occupational therapy practice in a variety of settings and with a variety of populations. I really really enjoyed learning about travel therapy! I also got to reconnect with a classmate I attended undergrad with who is also in OT school in Delaware! We got to meet Amy Lamb, the AOTA president, and attend sessions together. The Student Conclave was an awesome experience and I am so grateful that I got to attend both days because I learned so much and fell more in love with the profession.
Josh & I attended a Flyers game and tailgated beforehand with good drinks and frisbee. The Flyers lost that game but we had a great date day nonetheless!
I analyzed a video of my dad clicking a computer mouse for far too many hours. That project was the worst!
I celebrated my 5th year of vegetarianism.
On Thanksgiving day, I bundled up in 5 layers and ran 6 miles. Then Josh and I went to dinner at Jess’s with his family and then had dessert at my house with my family. I played Bananagrams with my cousin.
Classes got very stressful, but by one project at a time, assignments were being crossed off the list.
I made more OT friends.
I twisted my ankle trail running at night. I was very unhappy and my ankle was very swollen.
My mom and I volunteered at a Flyers charity event for military families. We got to meet a lot of Flyers and we helped military families celebrate Christmas together!
I was given my Level I Fieldwork placement for the spring semester. I will be in a school-based setting.
I survived finals week without becoming too sleep-deprived. Study groups kept me sane and I made more friends in the process!
Part of my class celebrated the end of our first semester by having brunch (the promised brunch from the obesity paper group) at IHOP. It was nice to bond with classmates outside of the classroom and to celebrate surviving our first semester of grad school together!
School ended and I felt free to run and bike whenever I desired! It has been the best feeling ever to run guilt-free!
Josh & I went on a Christmas light run together through his town.
I organized a Santa run through Sneakers & Spokes. It was a success because 58 people went running festively through Woodstown and everyone had a fun time!
I supported local businesses while shopping for Christmas gifts. 85% of my gifts came from local businesses which I am super proud of!
My family cut down our Christmas tree from the front yard.
I got a new bike for Christmas and I love it!
I got to reunite with friends from high school while they were back in NJ for Christmas.
Angela came back to NJ from Colorado so we got to run together!
I initiated a shoe recycling program for retired shoes as a fundraiser for the local mountain bike team. I’m excited about this because I feel guilty throwing my retired running shoes out. I’m glad that my collection of shoes can have a second home now.
I got to ride my new bike at Fair Hill with Josh!
Running Stats of 2018:
Total Miles: 1,064 miles
Highest monthly mileage: March (136.1 miles)
Five trail races – Brandywine 12k, Sasquatch 5k, Lums Pond 12k, Wetlands 10k, Big Elk Half-Marathon
One road race – Pitman 4 Miler
Shoes worn: Altra Escalantes, Altra Superiors
States I ran in (5 total) – New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Colorado, Utah
Biking Stats of 2018:
Total Miles: 1,257.9 miles
Highest monthly mountain bike mileage: August (76.3 miles)
Highest monthly road bike mileage: June (248.4 miles)
Highest monthly combined mileage: June (324.1 miles)
Highest weekly cycling mileage: 105.2 miles
Total Road Bike Miles: 832.7 miles
Total Mountain Bike Miles: 425.2 miles
Mountain bike races (3) – Fair Hill Classic, Big Elk, Shred the Edge
1 cyclocross race – Salem County Witching Hour
2018 brought fewer running miles but more cycling miles. All these woman-powered miles make me excited for 2019’s miles. Running & cycling were not prioritized once grad school began, but I am determined to integrate running/cycling into my daily & weekly routine once my spring semester begins because these activities are important to me.
These statistics are merely numbers. These numbers were oftentimes accumulated side-by-side or stride-for-stride with others. For that, I am grateful. The running & cycling community I am a part of has grown immensely in 2018 and I hope that it continues to expand in 2019.
I am proud of my race performances this year and I hope that I can compete in both running and mountain bike (and cyclocross?) races in the upcoming new year. With my dependable Altras, my loyal Fuji Finest, and my new Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt I am motivated to put forth solid training and determined racing.
This year has been full of amazing experiences and fresh starts. I am grateful for all the opportunities that have been given to me this year which makes it somewhat difficult to put 2018 to rest.
However, I know that 2019 brings me one year closer to achieving my goal of becoming an OT. I know that 2019 will bring me stronger friendships. I know that 2019 will bring me adventures on my own two feet and while balanced on two wheels. I know that 2019 will be a year of great challenge yet great victories. I am excited to see what 2019 will bring and how I will become a stronger, more determined person.
I am thankful for all of what 2018 has given me. I am excited for what 2019 will become.
Winter break has arrived! In retrospect, the first semester of grad school was a whirlwind. It FLEW by, just like we were told it would. I’m not quite sure how to begin this post or how to dive into reflecting on my first semester because there was so much, yet so little, jammed into three months…
I feel like September and October were the awkward months for my cohort. We didn’t really know each other and we were all trying adjust to the new demands and stressors of grad school. I know personally that I felt like I was kind of just doing my own thing.
Doing my own thing was fine until we got assigned a bunch of different group projects. At one point in time, I remember being on five different Google docs with five different groups of varying size. It was extremely difficult trying to keep track of who was in which group and when due dates were for each project. This is where I began to fully depend on my planner for EVERYTHING. If it wasn’t written down, there was a good chance I would forget to do it. My planner organized my life!
One by one, projects were submitted and crossed off the to-do list. Each project came with its own personal bundle of stress. The Colombia project still makes my blood boil. Don’t even get me started on the Lifespan Task Analysis project! I never ever ever want to spend hours trying to analyze someone clicking a computer mouse ever again. Never. On a brighter note, I enjoyed our health literacy project and occupational profile project. Those were manageable.
The exams required dedicated studying. Even though I often went into each exam nervous, I always left feeling confident…. except that time I got a 78% on a group process exam because half the material on the exam we never even covered. That time I was pissed.
By November and the beginning of December, I had found my niche of friends. United spontaneously by a 28-page paper on obesity, I can truly call Michelle and Jess my confidants. Becoming friends with them opened up another door to become friends with friends they were friends with (so much usage of the word “friends” in one sentence). Finals week we were gathering for study groups, just trying to survive together. On our last day of our first semester a group of us went out to IHOP to celebrate!
The hardest transition for me to make wasn’t the 55 minute commute to/from school everyday (although the morning my car got flooded out by a puddle I drove through was one of the most stressful mornings of my semester). The hardest transition for me to make wasn’t the “lack of sleep” (pretty sure the littlest amount of sleep I got all semester was 7 hours because I am a nervous wreck as a sleepy driver).
There have been three really hard transitions for me to make since starting grad school. The first two are sitting for long durations of time and sacrificing a normal running routine. My core, back, and leg muscles have atrophied. This is due to sitting for 85% of the day (between studying, 4+ hour classes, and driving 2 hours/day) and not having time to get out for runs to move those muscles. These two things have crushed me time and time again the past 3 months. My back hurts all the time. I don’t feel confident in my body like I did before. My ankles are weak (hence why I sprained my ankle a few weeks ago). I miss running so very much. I am working on coming up with solutions to these two challenges so that I can strengthen my back/core/ankles and maintain my sanity through running. It’s just been a really challenging transition for me to make.
The third difficult transition has been sacrificing time with Josh & my family. I used to be able to consistently spend the weekends with Josh spending time together or going out for runs/mountain bike rides. With an excessive academic workload, I’ve sacrificed part of my weekends to study rather than spend time with loved ones. I’ve politely declined invitations for socializing with others. I’ve tried to balance socialization as much as possible by allotting at least one day each week to spending time with loved ones and that has helped keep my mind fresh and my stress in control. There’s just days that I miss not having schoolwork always lurking in the back of my mind. Days like that will pass though – these sacrifices are temporary and my support system knows that I just need to push through these next two years until I graduate.
This semester was primarily foundational classes that have prepared us for the next three academic semesters. I finished my first semester with 4 A’s and an A-. To say I’m ecstatic would be an understatement. I am proud of myself and my success proves that all my hard work paid off this semester.
Next semester we will be immersed in pediatric classes, my Level I fieldwork placement in a pediatric setting and…… *insert dramatic drumroll here*.. neuroscience. Oh boy!
I am looking forward to enjoying this much deserved and hard-earned winter break before starting the daily grind again. But for now, I will enjoy time with Josh, friends, and family, stress-free & guilt-free running, and maybe a few glasses of wine. Cheers to the first semester!
Our first full week was way more overwhelming than our half-week, rightfully so. We had three more “1st days” which is probably why I’m feeling a little more overwhelmed with everything that needs to get done. However, I am continually reminding myself to take it one day at a time.
One highlight of the week included having our first SOTA meeting where we discussed upcoming conferences, volunteer opportunities, fundraising ideas, and elections. I decided to run for a position but I wasn’t elected. The election did not include speeches or even introductions; therefore, most votes were based on first-impressions or a game of eenie-meenie-minnie-moe. I’m ok honestly with not being elected. I started this blog without being elected with the full intention of advocating for the OT field. I will advocate on this blog, my social media pages, and to anyone that wants to listen to me talk about what I learned in class so far. Here, I can voice my opinion on my own time, in my own way, and with intrinsic purpose to self-reflect and teach others.
This week I also attended an adult autism support group where I interacted and played board games with the attendees. It was a very relaxed environment and I know that the individuals enjoyed seeing a new face in their group. I plan on trying to volunteer at the support group 1-2 times per month because I know how much they enjoyed having new people to play board games with!
This week we were assigned an activity log in which we have to record every activity we do in a day and how much time we spend doing it. We then categorize each activity into one of the eight occupations listed on The Framework. Once they are categorized, we have to make a pie chart. A lot of my time (obviously) is spent doing educational occupations. This has been a tedious assignment but it’s helped me become more familiar with The Framework.
Also noteworthy is that our professors have forced us to change wherewe are sitting every class and who we are sitting next to. They’re teaching us not to get comfortable all the time with routine and to get to know our classmates better. I was a little hesitant at first because I liked sitting on the left side of the classroom, but after moving to the other side/middle, I’m ok with it!
We also had two guest speakers who worked at a community-based mental health organization nearby to the university. We participated in a “Hearing Voices” activity for about one hour to gain a better understanding of what individuals with schizophrenia experience on a day to day basis.
For an hour, we all wore earbuds and listened to an audio recording of voices that individuals with schizophrenia have heard themselves. The guest speakers rotated the class through three distinct activities – an individual 10-question test on a packet of information we were given on hurricane preparedness, a 20 minute game of Scrabble with four classmates, and an interactive task with someone on campus.
This experience resulted in empathy and a better understanding of what individuals with schizophrenia experience daily. It was very eye-opening for me because it can be very hard to relate to someone who experiences auditory hallucinations. This activity provided me with a hands-on learning opportunity to gain insight on how difficult it can be for individuals with schizophrenia to socially interact or complete necessary tasks on a day to day basis. A few days later, I spent at least a half hour teaching Josh all about schizophrenia to bring better awareness and understanding of the disorder. (If anyone is interested in learning more about “Hearing Voices” please reach out to me!)
This weekend I have been overwhelmed by readings to prepare for next week’s classes. I have tried to find occupational balance by taking mental/social breaks. I went for a bike ride today because I wanted to spend 30 minutes outside on a beautiful day. I set aside time at the end of my day to write this blog.
Tomorrow I plan on going through the remainder of a Powerpoint recording I need to finish for Monday’s class, reading more for Monday’s Group Process class, going for a run/bike in the morning, and finishing all supplemental material for the beginning of the week.
My Friday & Saturday nights aren’t going to be very exciting for the next few weeks but I’m ok with that. This aspiration of mine requires a lot of sacrifice, persistence, and determination and I’m fully committed to succeeding. I’m living my dream.