Wrists, Hearts, and Psychosocial Care in the ICU

Hello all!

I wanted to write a post last month but then I developed a very unfortunate case of tendonitis in my wrists. Did you know that tendonitis really hurts? I always thought of tendonitis and carpal tunnel as just annoyances that hurt when you used the affected area. Not true. My right wrist was throbbing even with lots of ibuprofen. Obviously not a terrible medical event, but it made typing and working at the daycare really difficult considering picking up infants 20.000 times a day is what gave me tendonitis in the first place. I also stopped doing a lot of yoga because of it which was sad. Now I’m working on rebuilding some wrist strength and getting back into my yoga practice.


Having my yoga is actually pretty important right now because it is a big part of my self care during my internship. I started this week in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit and it is… intense. I expressed interest in high acuity environments during my interviews and I definitely got what I asked for. Did you know that in pediatrics the patient’s chest is left open after surgery to accommodate for swelling? They are sedated and medically paralyzed while their hearts beat under only a thin clear bandage. A lot of the patients on the unit are sedated and a lot are infants, so it is a very different environment than my very play-based experience last semester. I’ll be learning a lot about sibling support, validating and encouraging parents who are unable to hold their newborn, and bereavement support.I’m super excited for the opportunity and can’t wait to become more integrated into the unit.


Midterm Madness (featuring a leisurely spring break)

This past week was spring break, which I spent at home with my cats (duh). I did a fair amount of homework, etc, but didn’t have to go in to my internship at all. So instead of being at the hospital every day I…




Hid under blankets


Did Yoga

(done with 30 Days of Yoga and on to Adriene’s Yoga Camp videos!)

Sewed a shirt

(while watching an entire season of Alias)




Wore this tank top way too many times

Put the deck furniture back out


And broadened Hunson’s literary horizons


This has been an episode of Michelle’s life in pictures. Tune in next time for an exciting glimpse of Internship Applications (that’s right folks, fall internship slots are filling fast!), Birthday Shenanigans (will Michelle ever pick a restaurant for birthday dinner? But what if she wants birthday brunch? How will she ever decide??), and our fan favorite: What Non-Food Item are the Cats Trying to Eat Now? (will Hunson find a cardboard box to rip to shreds with his teeth? Will Freyja ever find a snack tastier than Michelle’s hair at 5am when she is trying to sleep? Just what decadent treats are the humans hiding in the bathroom trash can?)

A short blog visit to Michigan

I meant to do a real post about January, but that didn’t happen.  Maybe I’ll get to that this weekend.

Today is a short update on the ongoing myocarditis thing.  I had a couple of ER visits to treat some symptoms, and a cardiologist appointment today (my cardiologist injured her right arm so she was in a sling, so we were just both a mess this week, ha).  Next week I have an echo, and am getting a halter(?) heart monitor (edit: Google says it’s a holter monitor.  With real wires.  I thought it was going to be something fancy ant+ enabled like my watch.  This is going to be slightly more annoying than I anticipated, lol).  I guess it’s a device made of three little monitors that I have to stick to the same place on my chest for 21 days, and wear a little computer on my belt like a cell phone, and it will monitor all of my heart activity (and all you triathletes thought you were so cool with your heart rate monitors, ha).

Today she also discovered that I have a rotated rib on my right side.  It’s about two inches down from my collarbone, and is slightly rotated/warped/turned from it’s attachment point in my back all the way around to the front.  While I was definitely having real chest pain and palpitations, it’s good to know that some of it is not currently heart related, instead my skeleton just being weird.  So I am going to call the licensed massage therapist I went to a lot last year, and see if she thinks she can work it out.  I am hesitant to go to a chiropractor, but I would definitely like to be able to take a whole breath, so this may be the thing that pushes me to a chiro!

January in Colorful CO

Happy last day of January!

January used to be my least favorite month of the year. It is always so gray and seems to drag on forever. However, this January was a great start to 2016. It was filled with a lot of adventures and fun! Here’s a quick recap:

New Years: We started out in Denver for New Years Eve with friends. It was great to catch up and was one of the best New Years to date. The place we went wasn’t too crowded and had great music. We then headed up to the mountains to play for a long weekend. I snowshoed on Saturday and went snowmobiling Sunday. I had never snowmobiled before by of course my adventurous boyfriend insisted it would be a great time…and it was! It was a lot less scary than I thought and it was a beautiful way to explore the mountains. IMG_1286

Back country Skiing:

We grew up taking cross country ski lessons and skiing with our parents, however I had never gone back country skiing. We rented some cross country skis and drove up the Poudre Canyon and went skiing. It was SOOO pretty and fun! There were no groomed trails so you just went on the snow covered trail. I think I enjoyed it more than snowshoeing. We covered about 6 miles on our skis. On the way back the weather got a little dicey! The temps dropped and the wind picked up which created a lot of blowing snow. I was not dressed appropriately and Matt broke a ski, but we survived!


Courage to Risk Conference:

Last weekend, I was able to attend the Courage to Risk Conference in Colorado Springs with some girls from work. This is a special education conference held at the Broadmoor Hotel. The hotel/grounds were beautiful and the conference had great topics! I think we will try to go again next year. It was a nice change of pace and was a refreshing start to the new semester.


Lastly, the month ended by staying in town and enjoying some of the local breweries. We had planned to go skiing this weekend but are supposed to get a huge storm today. I didn’t want to be stuck in the mountains or traffic, so we decided we would wait until next weekend. I was a little disappointed because I wanted to get out and ski before I forgot all my tips from my lessons in Michigan. However, this ended up being a great way to end a busy month. The weather was really nice on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. We decided to take our bikes out for a spin around town. However, the snow started around 6, so we took a cab home! We covered around 11 miles. It was so nice to be outside and enjoy the warmish temps!

P.S.: My roommate last year found that cruiser in the dumpster at our apartment. We washed it and gave it a little TLC. IMG_1366

Workouts: I’ve been much more consistent with working out now that I’m finished with grad school. I’ve been going to Bodypump one time per week and am trying to get back into running. I can run about 2 miles now. I just got a new pair of running shoes and they are oh so pretty. 🙂


Xoxo Rachel



New Semester, New Goals

Today was my first day of internship! Today and tomorrow are mostly going over orientation materials, getting the lay of the land, and settling in. So far so good, it seems like the internship will have the right mix of structured time/tasks and independence for me to learn and grow. I’m anticipating a busy semester but I think it will be manageable.

I quit my job at the childcare center to make space for the internship, and though I intend to go back over the summer it was a little sad saying goodbye. I worked pretty  hard with a some of those students and am sad to no longer be their to work on their goals and watch them grow. I guess it’s time to work on my own goals and growth now!

Speaking of goals, I recently started a youtube yoga series! I’m doing the 3o Days of Yoga from Yoga with Adriene. I’m not doing it every day because I think I would lose steam on it and just don’t want to over commit. Realistic goals. So currently my plan is to do it four days a week, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday. Tuesday is my day off from internship so Thursday will be the only day that I will have to commit to coming home from the hospital and pulling out my mat. That said, it was kind of nice to come home from my first day at the hospital and take some time to myself, do my yoga and get my mind calm and organized before word vomiting about my day to Nathan.

Current/Semester Goals:

  • Yoga with Adriene 4x per week
  • Daily notes/journals about my internship
    • We have to turn in weekly journals, but I’m afraid that at the end of a busy week I wont remember enough details to write in depth. To help organize my thoughts I’m going to commit to writing at least a few notes every day. Today I did that on the train on my way home, which I think will be a nice routine.
  • Be honest with myself about my professional growth and actively seek opportunities to branch out and strengthen my weak spots.

Acceptance and waiting

“Accepting where you are is not the same as settling.” -Lauren Fleshman

I started writing this last weekend, after an appointment with my cardiologist here in Lansing.  I had a whole big thing of feeling sad about the irony that is my heart being damaged by something that is supposed to keep me healthy – but I’m gonna delete it all, and start over.

The short version is, the EKG and echo didn’t show any change from the previous appointment in December.  The result is another appointment in March, and continued orders of no exercise till then.  But I can walk.  So I went to the indoor track at the Y and walked in circles (ovals?) for 20 minutes, which seems to be my activity threshold for right now.

I emailed my tri coaches and withdrew from the tri team training at the Y. 😥  I am signed up for the Bayshore Half Marathon on May 28 and Ludington Triathlon on August 21, but I am going to have to accept that there’s no way to know when I’ll be able to train again, so I am not signing up for anything else until I know for sure I am back at normal capacity.

So here’s what I’m doing to fill my time:


Keep up on my grad reading, not just skimming or skipping chapters

Read more books for fun, and keep a list of 2016

Cook – I actually really like cooking when I am not pressed for time…baking is a different story.  I melted some cookies today.

Get back into art – there’s a studio nearby with open nights on the wheel, I have a friend with a wheel and a kiln, I’ve still got all of my drawing and painting supplies

Still no updates.

I had a follow up appointment with an echocardiogram yesterday.

I had three questions for this appointment:

  1. Can I run again?
  2. Do I still have to take this medication? (it ran out last week with no refills, so I had to call and the after hours nurse refilled it for me, even though she said it’s not documented how many refills they want me to have)
  3. What’s next for follow up – is it over, or can I least go to a cardiologist in Lansing?

Continue reading Still no updates.

Welcome Aboard!

It has been a jam-packed month and I am finally finding time to take a breather, read all your posts, and do some last minute Christmas shopping. Part of the reason this past month has been so crazy is because my cohort and I have been applying and interviewing for our super competitive Child Life internships. After many sleepless nights filled with stress dreams, at least one panic attack over an email typo, and occasional random outbursts of tears, I am pleased to announce that I will be interning at Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center! Do you know why it is called Floating Hospital? No? Allow me to enlighten you. IT USED TO BE A BOAT. About 100 years ago someone decided to take the “fresh ocean air is good for your health” idea to a whole new level. They made essentially a doctor’s office on a boat, and offered free boat rides around the harbor to impoverished children and their mothers, getting that lovely ocean air into their lungs and providing medical care and maternal education. Talk about Family Centered Care! Sadly the boat was lost in a fire, after which Floating Hospital became an actual building downtown Boston. My internship will be throughout next semester, so I start mid-January. I’m very excited and a bit nervous to finally be in the field. I’ve spent a lot of hours in multiple hospitals as a volunteer, but now I actually get to learn how to create care plans and provide procedural support.

I hope everyone is having a great December!

❤ Michelle

Why I Love BodyPump

I joined the local 24 Hour Fitness club after training for my half marathon a year and a half ago. I joined so I could switch up my exercise, use the equipment, and possibly go to a group class. I was able to get a super sweet membership deal with my student discount (Hello Master’s Degree!) and started going regularly.

I had heard my aunt rave about BodyPump during holidays so I was excited to see that the gym had this Les Mills class. If you don’t know, BodyPump is a full body workout that utilizes light weights and  repetition. You workout each body part to a song and follow cues from the instructor. For example, you may squat for 6 minutes because that’s how long the track is. We do various types of an exercise and the music is usually upbeat and energizing. I would never push myself to do weights for that long independently.

The first time I went, I had no idea what I was doing. I grabbed a bar and two 10 pound weights for it along with my bench and some 10 pound hand weights. I was incredibly sore and shaky by the end of the hour and learned that I needed to figure out what weights I actually needed. I couldn’t use the same chest weight that I used for squats. However, I was hooked. I figured out what weights worked for me and have slowly built up from there. I go weekly and have noticed a change in my overall appearance. Before, I simply ran and did some push-ups and used my 10lb. dumbbells at home. While I was never big, BodyPump has made me feel and look so much stronger!

If there is a class near you, give it a shot! It takes a few times to really figure it out, but it’s worth it!