Facing the New Year

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Burt’s Bees for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

In my 2015 wrap-up post, one of the questions was about new habits I cultivated. I answered that I had started wearing make-up on most days, even if it was just powder and mascara. One of the reasons that those are the two products I chose are because they are easy to apply and make a real difference in my appearance, at least to me. One thing that always makes me feel more put together though, is wearing lipstick.

It's not news that wearing lipstick can really turn your day around. I mean, Mindy Kaling says that. "Sometimes, you just have to put on lip gloss and pretend to be psyched," and she's pretty popular. This idea that lipstick can change your mood extends back to the Great Depression with something known as The Lipstick Effect. The Huffington Post published an article last year that talked about all of the ways that lipstick can improve your day. Among them are improved mood, people thinking that you're more confident and competent in a professional setting, and increased attractiveness to potential mates. The best one though? It just makes you feel good! Finding the red lipstick for me was a great triumph last year, and I love being able to break it out for special occasions (or you know, Tuesdays).

One of the main reasons I don't usually wear lipstick is that I am extremely picky about what it feels like on my face. I don't want it to feel dry or flaky, but it also can't be gooey, like a gloss. I love a good 12-hour lip stick that stays put, but I can't stand how dry they make my lips. The ones I could stand to wear rubbed off on my coffee cup, my sleeve, my husband, the cats... it just wasn't worth it. When I had the opportunity to review the new lipstick line from Burt's Bees, I was super excited, because I am basically obsessed with their vanilla lip balm. Also, it was an excuse to go to Target, so I was pretty stoked about that too.

I was glad to see that the Target near me was well-stocked, and all 14 shades of lipstick were available for my perusal! I tend to wear nudes/browns, so I chose Suede Splash. I also wanted to try something new, and since berry lip colors seem to be in right now, I picked up Brimming Berry. At $8.99 each, they were about as much as I pay for my regular lipsticks, and since this was Burt's Bees, I had high hopes that I would like the way they felt when I applied them.

I tried out both shades over a couple of days. The first one I tried was Brimming Berry, and I wore it to my birthday dinner with Ken. Immediately upon applying it, I noticed how smooth and creamy the lipstick was. It went on very smoothly, and didn't feel heavy at all. I am not super-great at applying make-up, and usually it takes a couple of applications for me to get a nice shape and distribution. The Burt's Bees Lipstick went on great the first time, though! I choose mostly matte lipsticks, and this said it had a satin finish. It wasn't too shiny at all though, and I liked it a lot. With that, it was time to take it out for a test-drive at dinner.

I took this selfie after dinner and hadn't reapplied my lipstick at all! We went out for Japanese food, and I didn't notice any color on my chopsticks, fork, or glass at dinner. I loved the way my lips felt, I never felt the need to take my lipstick off while eating (which I often do), and if I hadn't been going to bed, I would have worn it for much longer. The lipstick will hydrate and moisturize dry lips for 8 hours, which is great especially during this cold, windy weather in the northeast. I was sold on this shade, and I can't wait to wear it again.

A few days later, I wore Suede Splash and was equally pleased with the wear. I wore it all day, and only had to reapply once after eating pizza, which was pretty greasy. This is what is looks like with my more usual routine make-up for a school day:

The nude shade is perfect for everyday wear, and it is definitely the most comfortable lipstick I've tried in a long time. This is a great shade for when I'm in clinic too, and want to brighten my face without calling a ton of attention to the fact that I'm wearing make-up.

Another thing I love about Burt's Bees lipstick is that you're still getting that great Burt's Nees natural product. Even their lipstick is 100% natural, and includes ingredients like Moringa oil (which has lots of fatty acids, to help keep your skin soft) and Raspberry Seed oil (which improves skin elasticity). Both of these things contribute to how the lipstick feels on your lips, and it actually helps keep them soft and smooth. Also, it smells really good, which is a nice bonus.

One of my goals this year is to continue last year's habit of wearing more make-up. I just feel better and more put together when I wear it, even if I'm holed up in the library or at Starbucks with my head in the books. Now that I've found Burt's Bees lipstick, I am pretty sure that I'll be able to wear lipstick way more often!

How about you? What is your daily make-up routine? Do you have "can't live without" products, or products you never use? Tell me your best make-up secrets!


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Blogger Men Tell All: Winter 2016

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

It's that time again! Becca hosts a quarterly link-up where the "men behind the blog" get to make an appearance. There's still time to link up your posts, so grab your husband, fiance, boyfriend, significant other, insignificant other, brother, dad, turtle... you get the point. Without so further ado... Ken!

1. Did you accomplish your goal for 2015?
I...don't remember what my goal was for 2015.  I'm going to assume my goal was to make a bunch of awesome levels in Mario Maker, in which case, mission accomplished!

2. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Still spending the day after Christmas at Nana's house.  This year we had a few extra cousins and significant others, and we even stole Grandpa from the hospital for a few hours.
Wife's note: Wait, you stole your grandfather from the hospital!? I don't even... as a future physician, I do not approve of this.

3. What did you gift your blogger for the holidays?We're going to see Book of Mormon and spend a night in the city!  That's New York, for you Jersey people.

4. What is your favorite holiday movie?Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Wife's note: Uh, as awesome as the movie was, I'm pretty sure that's not a holiday movie, but it's not like you're going to say anything else so I guess I'll leave it.

Blogger Men Tell All

And that, my friends, is that! I'm off to... continue studying. Such is the life of a second semester, second year, med student.

Can't Beat that New Year Smell

Sunday, January 3, 2016

I'm sure that I'm not the first to say it, but THANK GOD 2015 has ended. What a crappy, crappy, year for the most part. Back in February, which feels like it might as well have been 17 years ago, I wrote a letter to 2015 asking it to kindly stop sucking. It mostly ignored me, and it did bring me some weird spring-like weather, but it occurred over Christmas, and I'm pretty sure it still means the planet is ruined. So, there's that.

I found these questions on the Into Mind blog, and even though they were for 2014, I'm going to use them for 2015. Here we go.

1. What one event, big or small, are you going to tell your grandchildren about?
There were so many things that happened this year, but I think the best thing that happened was that
on June 26, 2015, the US Supreme Court finally legalized gay marriage. Or, you know, marriage. So many people I love and care about are now able to marry the ones they love. As it should be.

2. If you had to describe your 2015 in 3 words, what would they be?
Oh, there are so many options:

- What the hell?
- Too fucking hard
- Will it end?
- Oh, dear God
- So much therapy
- Make it stop

3. What new things did you discover about yourself?Hm. I am pretty damn resilient, which isn't a term I would have used to describe myself before this. Also, I apparently like hummus. Who knew?

What single achievement are you most proud of?
That's easy. Finishing my first year of medical school without dying, committing a felony, or committing myself to a  hospital.

5. What was the best news you received?
That I had passed my neuroscience exam and therefore, passed the course for the year and didn't have to repeat first year. Also, finding out that one of my best friends, Julie, got engaged and then asked me to her Matron of Honor was pretty great, too.

6. What was your favorite place that you visited in 2015?
This is going to sound weird, but it's a tie between Punta Cana and... the midwest? The trip I took to see Sarah, Emily, and Marcie was AMAZING and so much fun, and I would take that trip over and over again if I could. Yes, even though it meant I was going to Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana. Obviously, Punta Cana was beautiful and luxurious, and there have been many times that I've wished I were back there, poolside with a drink in my hand, just spending time with Ken. 

7. Which of your personal qualities turned out to be the most helpful this year?
Apparently, my ability to get back up and keep going, which I didn't know existed.

8. Who was your number one go-to person that you could always rely on?
Ken. There are others who were also excellent, however.

9. Which new skills did you learn?I... um. I learned how to do most of a complete physical exam? I can't exactly tell you what's wrong with you, but I can totally examine you and look like I know what I'm doing.

10. What, or who, are you most thankful for?
Health insurance. And my therapist.

11. If someone wrote a book about your life in 2015, what genre would it be? A comedy, love story, drama, film noir or something else?
A tragicomedy. Because you have to laugh or else you'll cry. Sometimes, you'll do both at once!

12. What was the most important lesson you learned in 2015?
Oh man. I feel like I learned a lot in 2015, but of course now I can't think of anything. I learned that sometimes, talking about things that are scary and painful can help others who are going through the same thing, and that my voice is important.

13. Which mental block(s) did you overcome?
The second half of my first year of med school was really hard. Like, the hardest thing I've ever done, maybe. I had a mental block that I wouldn't be able to do it, and even though I didn't realize that I had gotten over it, I must have, because... I did it.

14. What 5 people did you most enjoy spending time with?

Ken, Sarah, Victoria, Levi, Mia

15. What was your biggest break-through moment career-wise?
I guess school is my career now, so really, finishing medical school in June, realizing I had somehow passed everything and not died was a HUGE moment for me.

16. How did your relationship to your family evolve?
Eek. Well, this sounds weird, but I got better at telling them less. I have a really bad habit of involving my family in my life in ways that I end up regretting, so it has been a learning process to put down boundaries in a way that makes me feel like a grown-up without alienating my family.

17. What book or movie affected your life in a profound way?
Hands down, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Dr. Atul Gawande. He is a fantastic author, but the subject matter really made me think about how I want to work as a physician and what I would want for my own end of life care.

18. What was your favorite compliment that you received this year?
Pretty much anyone told me that they read and enjoyed my blog, or that my writing helped them through something they were experiencing. It makes me feel like I'm doing a small part of what I'm meant to do in the world.

19. What little things did you most enjoy during your day-to-day life?
Sleeping in, leisurely coffee, extreme productivity, easy laughter, snuggling with the cats, good podcasts while driving

20. What cool things did you create this year?
Um... I guess working on this blog counts? I created new friendships. That was pretty awesome.

21. What was your most common mental state this year (e.g. excited, curious, stressed)
Stressed. Definitely stressed. Tied for a close second was depressed/anxious. 2015 was fucking hard.

22. Was there anything you did for the very first time in your life this year?
I traveled to Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana by myself to see my girlfriends, which was awesome.

23. What was your favorite moment spent with your friends?
There were a lot of good moments. My 29th birthday was low-key and fun, hanging out with my med school friends was always great, especially if we weren't studying, and the entire time I spent with Sarah, Emily, and Marcie over my spring break was pretty much the best.

24.What major goal did you lay the foundations for?
I feel like everything I do in therapy is laying the foundation for my major life goal of not being a complete disaster, so let's go with that.

25.Which worries turned out to be completely unnecessary?
I was worried that medical school might ruin my marriage, but it totally didn't because my husband is amazing (and I'm not so bad, either.)

26.What experience would you love to do all over again?
I would totally redo our Punta Cana vacation. It was so relaxing!

27. What was the best gift you received?
The gift of time. Anytime my friends made time to see me and hang out with me meant the world, especially because my schedule was so nuts. I cannot tell you how much I appreciated being able to maintain my friendships despite med school trying to suck the life out of me.

28. How did your overall outlook on life evolve?
After my miscarriage, I don't want to say that I stopped caring about med school (because I didn't), but it no longer seemed like THE ONLY THING IN THE WORLD. I was much more concerned about my identity as a wife, friend, and mother. Honestly, it made med school less stressful because I wasn't 150% focused on SUCCEEDING academically all the time.

29. What was the biggest problem you solved?
I feel like most of my problems were small, and the big ones were largely unsolvable and just had to be let alone until they figured themselves out. I guess I solved the problem of not knowing how the hell to read EKG's? That was pretty clutch.

30. What was the funniest moment of your year, one that still makes it hard not to burst out laughing when you think about it?
My friends are hilarious, so I can't pick just one. Ken and I definitely had some "you had to be there" hysterical moments, though. I can't even try to explain them because they'll sound dumb. He makes me laugh all the time, though. I'm so thankful for that.

31. What purchase turned out to be the best decision ever?
Plane tickets to see Sarah, Emily, and Marcie. It was expensive, and I was nervous about taking a trip by myself, but it was THE ACTUAL BEST.

32. What one thing would you do differently and why?
I would spend less time worrying about my grades. In the end, I passed everything and that is literally all I needed to do. 7-0 = DO.

33. What do you deserve a pat on the back for?
Not ending up in a psych ward after my miscarriage and subsequent horrific depression

34. What activities made you lose track of time?
Studying. I once sat in once place in a Starbucks for 9 hours. It was a poor life choice. In a more fun arena, the internet is always a good way to lose track of time.

35. What did you think about more than anything else?
Med school, how to not fail med school, exactly how many questions I needed to get right to pass a particular exam, when I could sleep next.

36. What topics did you most enjoy learning about?
Despite my loud complaints, I really did enjoy physiology last year.

37. What new habits did you cultivate?
I flossed every night for an entire year! I also wore make-up on most days, even if it was just powder and mascara.

38.What advice would you give your early-2015 self if you could?
2015 is going to be really awful at times and basically the hardest thing ever, but you're going to make it. Keep going.

39.Did any parts of your self or your life do a complete 180 this year?
Not really. Lots of little changes, though.

40. What or who had the biggest positive impact on your life this year?
Therapy. This will pretty much always be my answer.

41. What do you want the overarching theme for your 2016 to be?
Do the damn thing. Whatever it is.

42. What do you want to see, discover, explore?
I want to see the end of my board exam and then six weeks later, see a score that makes me want to throw a party.

43. Who do you want to spend more time with in 2015?
Victoria, Levi, Ken, Pam, Patricia, Mia, Ashley, Lea, Jill, Mary (The last 5 in a non-school setting!)

44. What skills do you want to learn, improve or master?
I want to learn how to knit a sweater and I want to get back into playing the piano or the viola.

45. Which personal quality do you want to develop or strengthen?
I want to stop doubting myself. I want to truly believe that I am good enough and that I deserve to be happy.

46. What do you want your everyday life to be like?
Well, I would love for my everyday life to be like our vacation in Punta Cana. That is entirely unreasonable though, so I'll settle for interesting without being chaotic, fulfilling without being draining, and productive without being boring.

47. Which habits do you want to change, cultivate or get rid of?
I want to stop picking at my nails and my skin, and I'd like to start exercising on some kind of regular basis, even if that's a walk every day.

48. What do you want to achieve career-wise?
I want to pass my boards and figure out where I want to possibly apply for residency.

49. How do you want to remember the year 2016 when you look back on it 10/20/50 years from now? 
Regardless of how far I am from 2016, I want to remember it as an academically successful year, and a year of growth.

50. What is your number one goal for 2016?
Adapt, change, grow.

And on that note, I hope that you all had a happy, relaxing, and joyous holiday and new year, and that 2016 brings you exactly what you need, and lots of what you want. 

    Sh*t Med Students Say

    Monday, December 14, 2015

    It's finals week, which kind of doesn't mean anything because every time we have an exam, it's like we're studying for finals anyway. But this week contains the last exams of the fall semester, which means that assuming I don't burst into flames, somehow start failing everything, or die, on Friday at noon, I will be 37.5% doctor.

    Last week, I was MIA because I had three exams on three consecutive days. It was a blast, let me tell you. By Wednesday, I was so fried that when I pulled the card to perform a complete cardiac exam in my Physical Diagnosis practical, I started by listening to lung sounds (as we were told to do), and then just... completed most of the entire pulmonary exam, only realizing my mistake when there was a minute left on the clock. Pro-tip: You cannot perform a full cardiac exam in 60 seconds. Fortunately, the grader in the room with me took pity upon my poor, addled, 2nd year med student brain, and said that it was fine, just keep doing the pulmonary exam, it didn't really matter anyway. So I did. And I honored that freaking practical, so suck it, cardiac exam.


    Anyway, this week, it's all nephrology and urology, all the time. Kidneys are pretty much my least favorite things in this world. I swear, every time I've learned about renal physiology, it's like it's a brand new experience. Somehow, I always feel like I have never heard any of this information before, beyond maybe knowing the words "nephron" and "loop of Henle". Every time, I realize about 37 seconds after starting to listen to the lecture, that I friggin' hate renal physiology, and I could not possibly care less about which parts of the nephron are permeable to water or where potassium gets secreted or where sodium gets reabsorbed. I just don't care. I know that I need to care. I recognize the value of my kidneys and that I should understand at least when things aren't going correctly, but... I'm just going to refer you to a nephrologist, so it's really hard for me to care. Also, it's 3 days from the end of the semester, so I am absolutely out of fucks to give at this point. Somehow, I shall scrape the bottom of the barrel and come up with a few more to last me through Friday at noon, but it won't be easy.

    So instead of studying the enormous pile of papers that represents most of what I need to cram into my head this week, I thought about all of the lies I tell myself and things I've said or thought on a regular basis now that I'm in med school. Some of them are particular to DO school, while some, I'm sure, are said by medical students throughout the world.

    1. I'm definitely going to get up early and study tomorrow.
    2. Getting three hours of sleep before this exam will be fiiiiiine.
    3. This will definitely be on the test.
    4. There is no way this will be on the test.
    5. Someone else probably wrote that down.
    6. That's a dumb question. Don't ask it during lecture. He'll probably answer it later.
    7. I am definitely going to lecture this block.
    8. Next block, I absolutely will not spend the first week doing nothing.
    9. OMM is easy, I can study a few days before and be fine.
    10. Wait, do we have to know all of this? Was I even alive for this part of lecture?
    11. Oh, cool. 198 slides. That's a completely reasonable number of slides for a 60 minute lecture.
    12. Do you want to get food?
    13. I can't study in the library, it's full of crazy people.
    14. I think I was in a fugue state for this part of the block.
    15. Yup... those are words.
    16. Why do these printers never work?
    17. 8 am lecture? What do they think I am, some kind of wizard?
    18. I never thought I'd miss my office job, but man, I miss my office job. Even the IRB stuff.
    19. I'm paying so much money and for what? To be tortured. HURRAH.
    20 Don't think about your debt... la la la.
    21. More coffee is definitely the answer.
    22. Maybe you should start drinking more water instead of coffee?
    23. Well, at least I'm not as behind as (insert name here).
    24. Well, at least we're not first years anymore!
    25. Shit, now we have to take board exams though.
    26. That is a problem for Future Alison.
    27. Damn it, Future Alison is quickly becoming Present Alison.
    28. I wonder how much money I could make as a goat herder...
    29. Okay, exactly how many hours do I have between now and the exam?
    30. Wait, how am I supposed to do (OMM technique) without hitting my patient in the face?
    31. I have no idea how I got so far behind in this block.
    32. Okay. That's it. I am officially out of fucks to give.
    33. Fuck it, we'll do it live!
    34. It's a two part plan. First, we show up. Then, we see what happens.
    35. Is this real life?
    36. What in the fresh hell is going on right now?
    37. God, I can't stand my classmates.
    38. Holy shit, I love my classmates.
    39. Can you treat my neck/back/innominate/carpal tunnel real quick?
    40. No one has ever died from med school. Right?
    41. Med school is so freaking weird.
    42. Med school is amazing and hard and insane and there is nowhere else I'd rather be.

    Now, back to your regularly scheduled studying.

    Public Health Announcement

    Tuesday, November 24, 2015

    Well folks, it's the middle of November... somehow. I'm not sure how that happened, but here we are. November means lots of things. Cooler temperatures (at least in the northeast), boots get pulled out of the closet, pumpkin spice lattes abound (or in my case, caramel apple spices!), and Thanksgiving is right around the corner. However, a dangerous and much scarier event is also lurking right around the corner. In fact, it might already be here.

    (Insert ominous music here!)

    Imagine there is a disease that you can contract from someone sneezing at another end of the subway car that you're on. Imagine that this disease can occur throughout the year, throughout the world, and that the attack rate (or the biostatistical measurement of how fast a disease can spread in a population), is 10-15% for adults and 20-30% for kids. Imagine that this disease was expected to result in 3-5 million cases of severe illness (that can land even healthy people in the hospital, but is especially bad for the very young and very old), and that it will cause between 250,000 and 500,000 deaths. Imagine that this disease shows up, every year, without fail. Then imagine that there is a vaccine. Would you get it?

    I would hope so.

    Surprising probably no one, I'm talking about influenza. Influenza (or the "flu") has its peak incidence between December and February, but can occur as early as October and as late as May. It can also randomly pop up not during the "flu season," because influenza is a virus and it does not give a crap about your seasons. As a future physician, current public health degree-holder and enthusiast, and person generally in favor of people not being deathly ill, here are a few helpful tips, some busted myths, and some interesting facts about the flu.

    No, You Can't Get the Flu from the Shot

    You would think that by now, this myth would have died. You would be wrong. Last December, an article was published about a 2012 online survey in which 1,000 people were surveyed about their concern about the flu shot. Nearly 40 percent of the people surveyed believed that you could get the flu from the flu shot. Even when half of the group was given information from the CDC about the safety and efficacy about the flu vaccine, a bunch of people (statistical term, obviously) still were concerned, and a third of those surveyed said they wouldn't be getting the flu vaccine. 

    WHAT? I would think information is power! Make better, more informed choices! Turns out that the more information you give people about vaccines and their safety, the less likely they are to get the vaccine. Figure that one out. As you probably know, trying to change someone's mind is intensely difficult, and the best tool we have, information, doesn't seem to work. 

    The truth is, it is biologically impossible to get the flu from the shot, as what is in the vaccine is dead virus particles. Yes, you might feel crappy and your arm might hurt, but that's because even with dead virus pieces, we're activating your immune system, and we also just stuck a needle in your arm, so that might be sore. The good news is that you won't actually get the flu, and now that you got the vaccine, you're far less likely to contract the flu. All good things. (And I promise, your arm will stop hurting soon. Try some ice.)

    If you opt for the nasal vaccine, FluMist, you will be receiving live-attenuated virus (which means we took some live flu virus and beat it up a bit, to make it less virulent), but you still can't get the flu from that. You might get stuffy, or even a bit of a cold, but you won't get the flu. I know that giving people this information is unlikely to change anyone's mind, but here it is. 

    There is No Such Thing as the "Stomach Flu"

    Lots of people will say that they have the stomach flu. They are lying, although probably unintentionally. I don't know how the phrase "stomach flu" got started, but the flu is a respiratory virus. Yes, some strains (H1N1, for example) can cause nausea and vomiting. Also, kids are usually more likely to experience nausea and vomiting with the flu. Symptoms of the flu include fever/feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, muscle and body aches, runny or stuffy nose, headaches, and fatigue. Not everyone who contracts the flu will get a fever, however.

    So, if you're puking up your guts, chances are, you don't have the flu. You probably have gastritis, and it's probably viral.

    Semi-related: You probably don't have food poisoning. At least, probably not from food you JUST ate. Depending on the bug, it can take anywhere from an hour (if you've picked up Staphylococcus aureus, yes, the same organism responsible for MRSA) to 28 days (if you have Hepatitis A). So, wash your hands, make sure you cook meat until the internal temperature is high enough, and don't contaminate your work surfaces with raw meats. Oh, and while I was working on my MPH, our epidemiology professor told us one very important thing: don't eat the potato salad. It's always the potato salad.

    Every Year is Different

    Mazel tov, you have beaten the odds and have yet to get the flu. However, just because you haven't gotten the flu doesn't mean you won't ever get the flu. And yes, you do have to get the flu shot every year. Viruses, despite not being technically alive, are pretty smart, and they mutate. This is why sometimes, the flu shot "doesn't work". Scientists start building next year's vaccine a year ahead of time, because it takes that long to develop the vaccine. A network of labs all over the world analyze data and patterns, do a lot of math, cross their fingers, and hope that what gets spit out on the other end will be a vaccine for the major strains of the flu circulating in the coming year.

    But like I said, viruses are smart, and sometimes, they outsmart us. Last year, lots of people were up in arms because "the flu shot didn't work". It did, just... not as well as we thought it would or would have liked it to work. That being said, just because a virus mutates doesn't mean that it completely changes its identity. Parts of the virus stay the same, and so the vaccine can confer some immunity, because our immune system is really good at picking up patterns. Even if you got the flu last year, chances are, if you were immunized, your illness was less severe and you weren't sick as long as you would have been without the vaccine. If you want to try and create a vaccine, check out this website. It's pretty fun, and it shows you just how complicated vaccine design can be!

    You're Not Getting the Flu Shot for You

    It's pretty great that you can get a vaccine and protect yourself from the flu, but it's even MORE awesome that you can protect lots of other people by getting yourself vaccinated. If you are over the age of 6 months, you should get a flu vaccine. (Also, to the 6 month old babies reading this blog, I commend your advanced skills, but you should probably work on like, rolling over or something. There's plenty of time for public health later.)

    Here are the people who shouldn't get a flu shot:

    - Kids younger than 6 months of age
    - People who are allergic to the vaccine (this means eggs, gelatin, or any other vaccine ingredient)
    ... and that's about it. Here are the people who should REALLY get a flu shot:

    - Kids between the ages of 6 months through 4 years

    - People over the age of 50

    - People with chronic illnesses like asthma, cardiovascular disease (except if you have high blood pressure), kidney disease, liver disease, neurologic conditions, blood disorders, and metabolic disorders (including diabetes!)

    - Immunosuppressed people (like people who have had organ transplants, who have autoimmune disease, and those who have HIV or AIDS)
    - Women who are pregnant, or who will be pregnant during the flu season

    - People between the ages of 6 months and 18 years who are on long-term aspirin therapy (This is because being on aspirin and getting the flu can give you this other condition called Reye syndrome. No bueno.)

    - People who live in nursing homes or other assisted living and chronic-care facilities

    - American Indians and Alaskan Natives
    - People who are morbidly obese (this means that your BMI > 40)

    - People who work in health care

    - People who live with or take care of or hang out with kids younger than 5 or people over than 50

    - People who live with or take care of or hang out with people who have chronic medical conditions (like those listed above) who are more likely to have chronic complications from getting the flu

    That list is a lot longer. And even if you don't think you fit into any of those categories, just think about all of the people with whom you come into contact every day. On the bus, in the grocery store, getting your coffee at Starbucks, touching doorknobs and keyboards and faucet handles all day... and there's no way to know if a little kid or an immunocompromised person or an elderly person (or really, anyone who is around any of those people) is also touching those things or sitting next to you on the bus or is behind you in line at the grocery store. 

    By getting vaccinated, you're helping yourself, but you're also helping all of those people who need to be more protected. The reason vaccines work is due to herd immunity. This means that by getting vaccinated, you're helping ensure that people who can't get vaccinated, or who are at a higher risk of contracting an illness even if they are vaccinated, don't get sick. So get vaccinated, and you could save a life!

    Here are a few more fast facts about influenza for you. You know, to share at cocktail parties and such. Trust me, you'll be super popular.

    - You can't get the flu from going outside in the cold without a coat.
    - The flu is not "just a really bad cold".
    - You can still transmit the flu if you feel okay.
    - For the love of God, don't take antibiotics if you have the flu. The flu is a virus.**
    - Only certain people should get the FluMist nasal vaccine.
    - Just washing your hands a lot is not enough to prevent the flu. (But still, wash your hands.)
    - If you got the vaccine and still got the flu, it doesn't mean the vaccine didn't work.
    - There is no link between the flu shot and Bell's Palsy.
    - There is no link between the flu shot and Alzheimer's disease.
    - There are egg-free, preservative-free, low-dose, and high-dose vaccine options.
    - People die from influenza EVERY year.
    - Getting the vaccine at ANY point during flu season helps reduce your risk. But earlier is better!

    And if you want even MORE information, check out NPR's list of concerns and flu facts

    I hope this post helped you learn about the flu, and I really hope that if you haven't gotten vaccinated yet, that you will at least think about it. If you don't have a primary care physician, the clinics at CVS and Walgreen's have the flu shot, and you can stop in on the way to work, on your lunch break, or when you're out running errands without making an appointment. (Note: I do not work for CVS or Walgreens, I just want people to not get the flu.)

    tl;dr - The flu sucks. There is lots of misinformation out there. Read the CDC's website. Get vaccinated.

    With much love,

    Your friendly, neighborhood, public health advocate (and future physician)

    Life Lately: November

    Friday, November 20, 2015

    Hi. It's been a minute. I have a bunch of posts brewing, and I promise, they're coming soon. I decided I should at least update what's been going on here before I start talking about why you should get the flu shot, how not to refinish a dresser, how I study in medical school, and lives I may have lived if I was a completely different person. Also, probably a lot of things about cats.


    THINKING about how I just need to get through this week and Monday's exams so I can relax for 6 days straight. Also thinking about how cool psychiatry is, and how I might actually like it as a career. To be continued.

    FEELING sleepy. Ever since DST, I've been practically falling asleep at 5 pm. I maintain that people were meant to hibernate between November and March.

    READING books for school. First Aid for the Psychiatry Shelf and Psychiatry Case Studies are super thrilling, let me tell you. I'm supposed to be starting The Secret History for a book club, but I keep forgetting to pick it up at the library. Also still reading a ton of blogs and journal articles.

    WATCHING a lot of things on Hulu/the internet. So far in the rotation we have SVU, Criminal Minds, American Horror Story: Hotel, and Quantico. Ken and I also watch Last Week Tonight and The Daily Show, and I'm planning on catching up on Blindspot, and maybe starting Chicago Med. We'll see. Over the weekend, I saw The Martian, which was excellent. Highly recommend.

    DRINKING so much mint tea. My favorite is Jade Citrus Mint from Teavana right now. I've also been trying to drink a lot more water. Success has been... less than optimal.

    LOVING that Sarah, Josh, and Patrick are here this weekend! I met Sarah our freshman year of college when we lived in the same dorm, and we've been pretty inseparable since then. They live in Lexington, KY where she is a resident physician, so we don't get to see each other very often. I am so happy she's visiting; she is seriously part of my heart.

    LISTENING to podcasts, of course. I started listening to Radiolab, and now I can't stop. Thankfully, there are about 937,000 episodes, so I don't think I'll run out any time soon. I also downloaded the first season of Invisibilia, which is great. There are only 6 episodes, but they're supposed to be doing a second season.

    PLANNING for next week/weekend. After Monday, I am off for 6 glorious days. On Thanksgiving, Ken and I are driving to New York to see his best friend Pete and have dinner with Pete's family. Then on Saturday, we are cooking "Thanksgiving" for what turned into 9, possibly 10 people! I've never had dinner for that many people in this house, other than ordering pizza for game nights, so this should be interesting. My mom will be around to help with the turkey and stuffing, but it's all happening at our place. It should be fun!

    WEARING scarves, so many scarves! Victoria just gave me a blanket scarf, and I have yet to really master wearing it without looking like I fell into a pile of fabric. Also, if I could just wear pajama pants for the rest of my life, that'd be great.

    WONDERING what I'm going to get people for the holidays. I love giving presents, but I'm not very good at it sometimes.

    WISHING that I could nap way more frequently and that I had time to really finish decorating our house. Winter break will hopefully be a time for that!

    And how about you? What are you up to lately?


    Tuesday, October 13, 2015

    I've been working on a few posts. There's one about flu shots and why you should get them. There's one about World Arthritis Day, which was yesterday, so I guess better late than never. There's one about how I study in medical school. This is not any of those posts.

    This is a post that was inspired by talking to one of my best friends, V. The context is unimportant, because the message is really what matters.

    Part of depression and anxiety, a big part, at least for me, is the near-constant self-doubt. At times, it can be crippling. Despite having a list of pretty decent accomplishments, ranging from graduate degrees, to successful jobs, to personal accomplishments like marrying a fantastic man and having an amazing group of friends, there are times (a lot of times) that I feel like a big failure. Like someone who is just playing pretend at being a grown-up. Like someone who somehow doesn't deserve whatever good has come my way. Like someone who, at her core, is not "a good person," whatever that means.

    Another part of it is the exhaustion of feelings. I tell people all the time that they have to "feel their feelings," and that having feelings, no matter what they are, is totally okay. (Of course, I'm not as gracious to myself.) I joke a lot about having a lot of feelings, a la "Mean Girls," but it is seriously true. I have a lot of feelings. What's worse is that I have feelings about my feelings. That is the exhausting part. But, as Kelly Williams brown aptly puts in her book, "You don't have to have feelings about your feelings." My therapist also tells me this. I tell other people this. And yet, here I am, having feelings about my feelings on a regular basis.

    We've all done it at least once.

    "I know it's stupid, but I feel nervous when I fly on airplanes."

    "I shouldn't feel jealous of that girl from high school who got married before I did, but I do."

    "I'm so mad that I am so upset by the fact that my boyfriend broke up with me. He was a total jerk!"

    And on and on. But it's okay. You can be afraid to fly on airplanes, you can be jealous and not be a bad person, you can be sad about something, even if in the end, it might be better for you.

    The time I sabotage myself the most, oddly enough, is when I feel good, though. You would think that someone who suffers and struggles through feeling functional, let alone feeling good, would welcome "good" with open arms. That positivity would feel amazing, not terrifying. Maybe for some people, that's how it works, but not for me. The minute I start to feel good about something, whether it's an upcoming exam, or a job prospect, or life in general, there's a tiny voice in the back of my head that says, "You can't feel good. The outcome could be terrible, and then you'll have felt good about something that turned out to be BAD. And then what would you do?"

    Spoiler alert: This usually ends with me in what I refer to as "the doom spiral," the ending of which is always that Ken will leave me, and all my friends will leave me, and my family will abandon me, and I will live alone, in a box, in a van, under a bridge, down by a river, and there I will die, childless, and alone, and I will be eaten by wolves. Basically, a bad time.

    Second spoiler alert: It doesn't MATTER if it turns out terribly. How I feel right now has literally NO BEARING on the outcome of whatever I'm feeling good about. It only affects how I feel right now, and if I feel good, then I need to just let myself feel good. I don't need to feel anxious about feeling good, I don't need to feel sad or stupid or angry or anything else about feeling good. I can just feel good, and that's fine.

    This is all easier said than done, of course. Anxiety isn't something I can fold up and put away on a shelf because I want to. But for me, it helps to remind myself that if the thing I'm feeling good about goes well, then I got to feel good, and then I will feel even better! And if the thing I'm feeling good about goes badly, then having felt good about it doesn't make the bad outcome worse, and if I had forced myself to feel negatively about the whole thing, it wouldn't make the bad outcome LESS terrible. The two events have nothing to do with one another. How I feel right now has no effect on the outcome of this thing. So if I feel good, I'm going to feel good.

    Or at least I'm going to try.

    Here's to feeling our feelings, and letting ourselves feel good without repercussion from our inner anxiety and depression voices.

    What do you think? Do you have feelings about your feelings? What do you do to make it easier for yourself to feel whatever you're feeling? Are you sick of hearing the word "feeling" at this point?