Tag Archives: athletic therapy

What kind of Therapist do you want to be?

When I first started practicums (which feels like ages ago), my first supervisor told me to “work under as many different therapists as you can” to see different styles and ways of working alongside different clientele and focuses. Since then I’ve worked in numerous clinics under different ATs and even a Chiro/AT. I’ve attended extra seminars and conferences, and begun my own training and movement client base under the supervision of my mentor. I took that advice to heart and tried my best to learn and observe a variety of treatment styles, even if they didn’t always match up with my own philosophies. What better way to learn and grow your own ideas then to experience other’s ideas?

Recently, after a discussion on different treatment styles, philosophies, and options,  I was asked by a young patients mother what kind of Therapist I wanted to be. After close to 4 years observing, practicing under supervision, and interning… you’d think I’d have a fluent answer to give. Yet, I struggled with my answer. It’s not that I don’t have an idea or a perception of who and what I’m becoming as a professional, but it was how to describe it.

The thing with the profession I’m in is that pretty much every successful and practicing AT/Kinesiologist I’ve met has the same vision for what we do. Varying ways to get the same thing done. Yes, personalities and treatment styles are different.. but the atmosphere and goals are generally the same. Some may focus more on manual/soft tissue work while some my focus more on movement modalities. Some attend conferences and seminars on one thing, while others attend with interest in another. But at the end of the day, they all want their patients to get better, be better, and live better. They accomplish this with patient education, continuing ed for themselves, evidence based treatments, and knowledgeable exercise therapy programs.

So.. what kind of therapist do I want to be?

Early on I recognized I had a love for solving a problem and improving performance. This is one reason I fell in love with biomechanics and movement correction. Not only do these areas benefit athletes of all levels, they are practical and useful to general population clients as well. I’ve always had a thing for teaching and empowering people, which has blossomed as I’ve progressed into this career choice. The past month or so I’ve had the pleasure of seeing a client progress from being unable to walk without the support of crutches and deal with two legs that just would not do his bidding to being able to walk across the room standing up straight, unsupported. His renewed positivity and insatiable drive to keep improving is inspiring and motivating to say the least. Every patient or client I have that realizes their own ability to improve themselves is something that inspires and motivates me. I’ve realized more and more lately how blessed I am to have found a career that enables me to empower others, and also brings substance and meaning to my own life. This is something I’m very grateful for.

Of course there are days where I’m tired, I’m unmotivated, and I’m nervous for my upcoming certification exams. Some of those days I still end up working with clients, or doing my jobs.. and I always come out of the day feeling better and a little more motivated. Leading up to my exams this fall, I am both nervous, and excited. I know I have a solid base to support me and I have a preparation plan leading up to the actual exams. More then anything I feel undeniably ready to take this next step in my career path. As someone who is always about 5years ahead of herself, this exam is only a doorway to the next thing.

I want to be a therapist that is inspiring, knowledgeable, and trustworthy. I want my clients to leave sessions feeling like they have the tools to help themselves. I never want to stop learning, or lose the ability to adapt to each patient and work in a style that best suits them. I want to be a chameleon therapist that can fit into anyone’s mindset, see through their eyes, and change their perceptions on their body, health, and lifestyles if needed. I want to promote my profession and help change the way the world views healthcare. I want to help athletes better themselves and be the best they can be. I want it all, and I’m determined to get it.

This week I completed my interning hours and finished my last university course. 1200 hours plus some in clinic and field on top of 4 years in University, all leading up to this fall’s exams. I have an excellent support system behind me, and an every better vision for who I want to become. I think it’s a question every aspiring AT should ask themselves… what kind of therapist do I want to be? The way to finding the answer takes blood (usually other’s), sweat and tears.. but as any journey often is.. it’s worth it. Here’s to the next step in this adventure!

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Student Therapist Thoughts: The things you don’t learn in class

Arnheim’s Principles of Athletic Training list communication, stamina, empathy, sense of humour, intellectual curiosity, and ethics as the qualities necessary for an AT. What isn’t listed? The ability to self-motivate after a 14-16hr work day. All the multi-tasking. Being an educator, first-responder, student, personal trainer, counsellor, life coach, strength coach, nutrition advisor, substitute mother, and clinician all in the same day (sometimes all in the same hour). Self-promotion (most graduates are not walking into a job), and an excellent time manager (which includes keeping yourself sane).

As a intern, almost graduate, and someone who is attempting to set up their own business in a niche market that has been, for the most part, untouched by athletic therapy thus far.. these are all skills I’m developing on the fly. It’s not uncommon for me to hear from the clinicians I work under things like “you know what you don’t get taught in class..”, followed by any number of skills such as dealing with difficult patients, or insurance companies, or technicalities of charting or running a clinic. The skills and qualities I listed above often are seen as a given requirement, or a make it or break it set of abilities for young students or therapists. Many find that by the 3rd or 4th year of their studies, they aren’t cut out for the demands of this profession. Like any career, the ones who take a vested interest in personal development for the sake of their profession are usually the ones who thrive… and have fun while doing it.

In the clinic, working my way through the internship hours, I’ve found many things that are not even touched during lecture time. Including the silliest of things like getting cervical hot packs into the corresponding insulators, not getting adhesive IFC/TENS pads stuck to yourself while trying to apply to a patient, and not getting ultrasound gel everywhere. In the field, what they don’t teach you is that real live injuries don’t present themselves like the ones in your exam do (that goes for clinic too, actually), not every coach or parent will be convinced by your education, knowing how to interact with teenage athletes, the glamour of glove sweat, knowing how to layer appropriately so you will stay warm and be able to assess, tape, and stabilize too, and no matter how much you tell yourself you won’t lose your penlight.. you will always lose your penlight somewhere in the depths of your fanny pack.

All those things and more are things you learn when you step out into interning at various placements. You pick up little things here and there from the different therapists you work with (and all you upcoming students out there.. work with as many as you can!), and the different teams and events you frequent. You’ll learn that when you’re covering different events the sense the moment when athletes realize who you are and why you’re there (its usually signalled by the sudden onset of EVERYONE wanting ice, tape, a bandaid, or an ache assessed- most common with ages 17 and under). You’ll also learn how to manage burn out (in both yourself and your patients/athletes- often simultaneously), eating a half way balanced diet between time commitments, and how to carry a med bag, crutches, a coffee, and sometimes a table all in one trip.

When it comes to setting up your own image and stepping out into uncharted waters.. everything is fair game. Picking the brains of your mentors is the closest thing to a text book. Even then, figuring out what works and what doesn’t when it comes to getting your brand out there is touch and go. When you’re already promoting and part of a newish aspect of the health care system, working your way into a sport that is just beginning to integrate the skills you bring adds an extra challenge. What I’ve learned so far is that word of mouth is the best marketing. One happy client leads to another. Knowing  how to promote yourself online, and present yourself in person are key. Even more important is knowing how to sound like you know what you’re talking about even when you feel like your brain has melted. These things go for any young professional in any business. I see so many people around my age out there rocking their own ideas and making things happen for themselves, and I see just as many stuck doing other things. Kudos to all those out there doing what they do and loving it. Even with all the unknowns, learning curves, and long days.. I wouldn’t change it for the world!

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Re: 2014… An open letter to myself

I usually do a Top 10 of the year to bring in the New Year, but this year I thought I’d do something a little different. In place of a list, here is a letter written to myself on the past 12 months. 

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Dec 31, 2014

As 2014 comes to an end, you are reliving countless moments from the year past. Most of them good, some of them not so much. 2014 began for you with fate halting you in your tracks (quite literally), with a broken leg and a ambulance ride (this post has more detail). You probably won’t ever forget that night.

The year continued as your leg healed and your eyes were opened to new things and new experiences. 2014 was a busy year for you, in almost all areas. You began work on your own brand with Katmah Training, starting out with a strength and conditioning class for riders- and, now at the end of the year, you find yourself promoting biomechanics and position assessments, booking group clinics for riders on biomechanics, and working on your own research project. Not a bad progression. As spring came and your leg continued to mend- you had to deal with some fear around getting back in the saddle. By refusing to let fear control your season, you pushed through and got yourself through one of the toughest competition seasons of your life which brought true meaning to the saying “sweat, blood and tears”- and even made the transition from hunter land in the the jumper ring (why you chose to do this while recovering from a broken leg and nerve damage is still up for question).. all the while having great support from your teammates and now close friends M and L, your coaches, parents and boyfriend. As the show season ended, and your fear became less- you faced another hurdle when you made the decision to sell your long-time teammate Will (see When you know, you know for more on this). This meant letting go of yet another fear and letting yourself let go of the belief that taking a break from the sport meant giving it up forever, or that it made you any less of an athlete. Again- the support you had from those close to you was outstanding. Without these people- what you did this year probably wouldn’t have been possible. One of 2014’s biggest marks was likely showing you how much you appreciate the people in your life.

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Academically, you faced the most challenging year yet. However, you surprised yourself with your dedication to your studies and the profession of athletic therapy. You realized you’ve found your calling, and you began to see your own potential. You took on a leadership role in your student association, and a few teaching assistant roles. Early in the year you even applied to go to Mayo Clinic in Rochester for their AT-student internship, but fate had it that you were meant to stick around home this year. Instead you began your own research and focused your in class work towards the equestrian sport. In the field you spent the spring covering the MB Winter Games (click here for more on that experience), and football. Summer brought working at the Winnipeg Folk Fest, the Morris Stampede, and then more football, basketball and hockey in the fall. You were the main therapist with your football team this year, and got to see a truck load of injuries. Unfortunate for the kids, but excellent for your confidence levels in the field (this and this are good reads on how your football seasons went. )! You even got published again by CATA with your post Meet Your Athletic Therapist. As an executive of the student association, you were also lucky to attend the first annual Gupta Faculty of Kinesiology and Applied Health Fundraising Gala. This event inspired you and kept you in love with the ever growing profession of kinesiology in Canada. The passion of those involved in it is slowly but surely making it a well-respected part of the health care system.

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Other then being swamped by football, you were also working in the clinic(s), manning the student association, teaching, and taking the four final AT courses, and then hockey. While the entire year had it’s ups and downs, the fall took a lot out of you. While the summer made you feel like you were living a double life, being both the athlete and the therapist, the fall flew by until sh** it the fan for about 2 months straight. This is usually how you experience burn out, and you’re finally starting to understand the pattern. First your car got broken into (and all of your ID and medical supplies stolen). Then you got some marks back that demonstrated a clear case of burn out, and your leg began acting up more then necessary. Then your car got towed (you hoped it’d been stolen). Following this, and numerous breakdowns, you headed into final exams while simultaneously facing the end of your first major relationship. Oh, and then your car broke down and completely died. Ya think the universe was sending clear enough message? This post gives a longer summary. Here, again, you got a front seat view of how much support you have within your different circles. M and L, your riding teammates, didn’t just stop being your friends when you left the sport- they stepped up in a big way for you this fall and winter. Your parents were endlessly supportive, as well as all your friends and colleagues at school. Even through closing the chapter on your relationship, J remained a big support and friend for you too.

When you look back at 2014, it’s easy to see that it was a year of learning (as every year is) for you. Learning took place in new areas. You were forced to deal with many emotions and feelings you either hadn’t given time for (love), or had locked away (fear). You proved your ambition within your career, and that is paying off looking into the new year. Before the year ended, your research took off and you began to form your own biomechanics program for riders. While it’s in the early stages, it will come in handy for the few clinics and talks you’ve been booked for early in 2015. It was very much a year of growing pains, in pretty much every aspect of your life- whether it be sport, career, or personal life. After getting through December full of exams and focusing on your research before taking some time off around Christmas, you road-tripped out to Lake Louise with your cousins. You definitely couldn’t afford this excursion- but your head thanks you for it. It was a great way to hit reset and bring in the New Year.

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As the clock nears midnight, you’re sitting in the Fairmont Chateau watching rich people in velvet suit jackets get progressively more confident on the dance floor (it’s as entertaining as it sounds). You have a fresh mindset on many things, and are looking forward to 2015 as a exciting year for you. Right now you have plans to work the Scotties tournament, the National Badminton Championships, and are starting in a few new clinics. You will continue with hockey, now with a younger student shadowing you, be a teaching assistant in two new classes, continue your own research, and come spring return to you beloved football team. You are done course work now, with just two humanities left to finish- which means your schedule is much more flexible and coordinated to your AT life. You will return to MORFit, after a month off, continue running your own business, and tutoring. With a little more wisdom when it comes to scheduling (we think) you will get back into the gym and yoga on a regular basis, because you know it’s what you need– that time for you– to stay sane and keep the Universe off your back. Since you aren’t riding competitively anymore, you need to find other ways to keep your body moving and your mind settled. Hopefully you’ll make it to this years CATA conference in Halifax, and surely you’ll find some new adventures to fill your summer with. This will be the first summer without a heavy training and competition schedule to keep you busy- but also the summer before you challenge the national certification exams.  After reflecting on 2014, you’re grateful for all the things it’s shown you- and are welcoming 2015 with a smile!

For future reference- practice gratitude everyday, it’s one of the things that kept you going through the low points of 2014.

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Driving in White Out Conditions

The usual driving condition for those of us living on the cold, wide-open, wind blown prairies during the winter months.. could it be a metaphor for life?

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In the last few weeks I’ve found myself feeling emotions I don’t know if I have felt much before, going through a few personal stressors that both surprised me but then didn’t. I’ve found myself at the funeral of a long time mentor and former coach, dealing with a new up cropping of feelings and re-instillation of the fear I thought I was making progress on with riding, and finding myself lost within a myriad of personal relationship stress. This lead to a week or so of not eating properly, and the gains I’d made on rehabbing my ever persistent leg and nerve injuries back slide as I wasn’t about to slip down the overtraining slope on zero nutrition (plus side.. lost some weight?). Most recently having finally thought I was getting myself picked up and well on my way to being done this semester (only two exams and one paper to go) to have my car hit what may be it’s final bump, and finding myself driving through white-out conditions in a car that’s not mine (dad if you’re reading this from your warm location.. I’m borrowing your car) pondering what the last few weeks have dragged me through and wondering what could possibly come next.

While over the last few weeks my go-to answer to the question “how’s it going” has been a very simple “oh.. it’s going”. Somedays profs would find me sitting in my office literally banging my head against my desk.. and unfortunately for them dare to ask how I was. His only response to the half hour long rant he got was “how are you not an insane person by now? You always seem so calm and collected.” Thankfully, my profs and mentors are all unbelievably compassionate and understanding human beings.. and every day I’m grateful for what they’ve done, said, and taught me over the last few years.. especially this year. There’s been a lot of rough days in the last few months for me.. hence the “it’s going” response.. but, the more I go through, the easier it is for me to just adapt and move on from all those little personal stressors. Time rolls on.

I’ve always liked driving through winter storms. Maybe it’s because I was raised doing it, but if we get a little more deep- maybe it’s the feeling of not being able to see where you’re headed.. but having to trust you’re on the right path anyway.

When I began this semester, just shy of turning twenty-two, I foresaw what was likely going to be the most challenging academic year yet. What I didn’t see was non-stop challenges from  every other aspect of my life in between the demanding school life.

I feel like I’m coming out of this semester with more then just 4yrs of education in kinesiology. I’m coming out of it with a better understanding of who I am, and who I want to be.

While at the funeral last week, I expected to feel sad.. and finally snap out of the shock I’d been feeling at her death the week leading up to the funeral. Instead, I found myself, once again, feeling inspired by the life she had lead. From having a successful career in more then one area, chasing her dreams relentlessly and achieving whatever she set out to achieve, having a loving marriage and family, and travelling to her heart’s content. She lead the life I see and dream of for myself. She wasn’t slowed down, or if she was not for long, by all the bumps and bruises life can bring.. and she was always smiling. You could tell by her passion and enthusiasm that she was fulfilled in every way, and had passion for everything that she did (and she did pretty much everything). I grew up with women and men like her in my life. People who have gone through hardships, but have chased their chosen paths without being held back. I left the funeral both still in shock, but mostly grateful to have known her- and to be blessed with her inspiration even now that she isn’t humanly here. I was also overwhelmed with the people I have surrounding me now. All filled with their own passions, stuck with their own challenges, and moving down their own paths. While we all have different reasons for doing what we do on this earth- we all face many of the same challenges, fears, and “white out conditions” if you will.

Things are not always going to go smoothly. Actually, I’ve come to learn that if they seem to be going smoothly.. you must be doing something wrong. Life is full of challenges, big and small, and different for each person. Growing up and figuring those things out and learning how you react to stress is sometimes the hardest part. But being able to follow that path even when it’s completely blown over and visability is crap.. that’s sometimes where you just gotta trust in your belief, your support systems, and keep your head up.

As weird as it is, the last two months started out as having an effect on my marks. Big time. But even though exam season came with a whole new wave of the Universe laughing at me… I was able to just throw myself into full AT mode as it has been the one constant for me this year. Studying, writing, working with clients (exciting research has happened here.. I’ll really write a post on this like I’ve been promising soon!!!), even doing practical exams.. it’s become my happy place. That and spending time with my spectacular friends and family. Yes I rant a lot.. but it’s times like these when having dreams that are becoming a reality keeps you going. Everything falls into place.. just not always at the same time.

The same prof that found me banging my head against the desk a few days ago just walked by as I was finishing this post and tentatively asked how I was doing.. and when I told him “I’m doing okay, you know, I’ve decided that I’m letting all the stress go and just gonna roll with whatever happens next”. He kind of chuckled and said, you know.. we should have you teaching classes at that skill- you are unbelievably good at it!

So as I finish my final week of my last full-on semester.. I find myself blasting Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” (don’t judge me) and realizing that being stressed is overrated when you have been doing it for months.. all I can do is control the controllables, and mainly.. my reaction to what I cannot control.

 

 

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Meet your Athletic Therapist

That cool and calm silhouette bundled and layered on the side of the football field.

That critical eye efficiently assessing and educating in the clinic.

Those quick hands managing to tape quicker then you can say “zagopophyseal joint”.

The craftsperson that can stabilize any structure, and the magician who can mobilize each one as well.

The healer who can get you back to where you want to be.

The support system when you’re exhausted, and running out of perseverance.

The motivator when you need that extra push, and the responder when you push (or get pushed) too hard.

The mediator between parents, athletes, and coaches.

The comforting hand on your shoulder when there’s nothing else to say.

The brick wall when you need protection and solace.

The one heads turn to when an athlete falls down.

The under-recognized professional who asks for nothing more then a positive outcome for their clients.

The behind the scenes hero that hopes to never have to be in the spotlight.

Trainer. Teacher. Comforter. Pusher. Hydrator. Protector. Therapist.

On the field we stand by our athletes, doing everything we can to keep them performing their best at what they love.. but above all keeping them safe and healthy. We put our critical thinking and practical knowledge to use in every situation, creating tape jobs that have never been seen and remedying the most abstract injuries. The thank you we want is the well-being of our athletes and the trust of our coaches. We breathe easy when nobody stays down. Prevention is our jam, and we know how to train each athlete functionally so they go into play ready to perform their best.. every single time. Our pride can be found in each wrinkle-free, sturdy tape-job that runs by our special spot on the field.. and in every athlete who performs better because of our work. We don’t lose our cool, even when we are bombarded with a eager parent’s arguments, a coach’s hopeful questioning, or an athlete’s pleading. Come rain, shine, snow, hail, downpour, delays or all of the above…we’re there. Our job is our passion, for nobody could survive our daily routine without a special spot in the heart for what we do.

In the clinic we are the healer. After the lights go down on the field, and in between practices…we’re there to make you better. Professionals, recreationals, or occasional go out and get-er’s come to us for relief, improvement, and education. Fixing the pain is one thing, but fixing the problem is the athletic therapists’ bread and butter. Think we’ll stop once you’re “text-book” healed? Think again. Where you aim to be in your health and movement endeavours, we’ll get you there. Each body is unique, and our expert assessment and rehabilitation abilities are more then capable to figure out what works for yours. Our extensive background in exercise science, musculoskeletal care and variety of clinical skills offer more then just a quick fix. Health is dynamic, and so are we.

Ask us how we got here, and we’ll say we were inspired. Inspired by what we’ve seen and experienced ourselves as athletes, through injuries and downfalls. We’ve been there. We know. That comforting hand on your shoulder is one of understanding and compassion. We won’t let you face the challenges of healing and rehabbing alone. We won’t let you down when you need tough love through the extra mile. Each one of us has a story that led us to where we are now. Each one of us comes with a unique personality, and our own strengths and weaknesses. But every one of us has the same qualities of leadership, compassion, confidence, and unfailing drive to do the best we can to help you be the best you can be. Doing no harm is our responsibility. Getting our clients to their absolute best is our goal. Seeing our clients heal, improve, and perform is our thrill.

If you’ve been thinking of getting an ache or a pain remedied, think of an AT. If you’ve been wondering how you can prevent aches and pains and maintain your health… think of an AT. We’re your prevention and care specialist. All sports, all hobbies, all professions… athletic therapy is for everyone. We’re here for you, no matter what.

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Immersion

If last weeks theme was feeling overwhelmed, this weeks theme is “I think I got this?”

Note the slight lack of certainty.

There is something about being surrounded by the student AT family who are all equally stressed about pretty much all the same things constantly that has brought back my cool, calmness.

So much about what we do as athletic therapy students (and graduates) is about jumping right in and just taking it as it comes. Really. You can’t fight against the current here. When you find yourself on field with no certified to answer your questions in person, and you have one athlete with a dislocated shoulder calmly (surprisingly) laying on the ground saying he can’t move his arm, two others waiting less patiently to be taped, 25 other players grouped around the first kid gawking, a currently injured athlete standing on the field yelling “you’re a wimp, you’re not actually hurt!” at players who come off the field injured (usually significantly) in between flirting with the water girls, coaches yelling things like “you are not brothers today.. you’re enemies! Let’s see what you can do!”, and kids getting absolutely smoked, getting up, coming off the field, and matter-of-factly stating “what happened? I can’t remember..?”…. all within an hour… you have to acknowledge this as a normal wednesday, go with the flow, and deal with it. Don’t worry about the numb hands, you can tape just fine with them. Palpating an acute injury doubles as icing when it’s 10deg and windy on a Manitoba fall evening. Jump in there… awkward injured teenagers are waiting.

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So far this week has been all about immersing myself back into a routine. I’ve found myself in many positions (partly volunteered) of leadership already, between being head therapist with football, c0-president of KSA, and just generally being a final year student. People ask more of you, people expect more of you, and you expect more of you. The first week of this new realisation terrified me, but so far the second week has reminded me that I’m ready to tackle all this (and hopefully fare better then my football players).

As classes got rolling this week, I thanked summer me for pushing myself to almost crazy squeezing all the extra reading, clinic time, and field work that I did manage to. It’s already made 4 super intimidating courses seem a little less mental. The switch back to super-human scheduler has begun. I’ve noticed that (so far) I don’t find myself feeling like prep reading for class is as dreaded. I actually just do it without thinking. And I usually actually find it quite interesting. Which in turn also helps to make these courses seem more manageable. Studying is so much easier when it doesn’t feel like work! Now I just have to figure out a way to get my brain to shut off for bed time. It wants to just keep on rolling 24hrs a day! Luckily, I never really find myself low on energy (again, so far). I still manage to find time to have car naps, a habit a started this summer too. And, as my boss at the gym pointed out one day after coming in stressed as I could be (during week 1)… “you still have time to work out, so things must not be too bad). I’m making a conscious effort this year to take time each day for me, even if that’s just a car nap. This is in an attempt to keep myself from the colossal melt down that usually happens around January.

This past weekend we welcomed home the newest addition to the hobby farm… Lucy (already sometimes “Lucifer”)! She will the the new project, now the Felix is almost all grown up. Of course he isn’t going anywhere fast, and Lucy has a few years yet before we’re riding her as she’s only just 4mos old now. What we’ve learned so far is that she loves people, but not in the mornings.

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The rest of this week brings another football game (on my birthday of course), plans to spend time with friends and family over the weekend bringing in the 22nd year, and hopefully a continued progression of immersing myself into a comfortable stress/study/function level for this semester.

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Surreal

Lately I’ve found myself too busy to stop to think (and write blog posts). But when I do find time to take a minute, and I look at what the past few months of my life has unfolded into- and what the next few months hold potential for.. it all seems very surreal. I’ve had many opportunities lately that only remind me how lucky I am.

Let me explain.

We know I’m a very goal orientated person, whether I set them consciously or not, I am constantly being driven to achieve both my small and larger scale goals. I have also had the experience a few times of having to adapt or modify goals because of life slamming my original plans down. Which means I approach many of my bigger life goals with the attitude that they are allowed to evolve and change with time. Change, after all, is a necessity to life. So, when I reach the point where those big goals I set years ago are starting to actually happen, and ones I didn’t know I had appear– it equals a somewhat “I have to be dreaming” feeling.

All the areas of my life having been moving consistently in the direction I’d like them to. The past school year brought me a vast skill set at a solid network of students and faculty. My leg is pretty much back to normal after the accident, and I’ve been able to get back into a more regular training routine (on and off the horse). I am able to run, and 5k seems to be my limit at the moment, but I’ll take it. I’ve started more agility and plyometric training to coincide with my return to jump schools with the horse.

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My riding is the best it’s ever been, and my horse is consistently proving to me that all the years of hard work I put into him were worth it. In my last session with C I got the massive compliment of “huh, your eye is really good today! I’m impressed!”. If you know C, you know sometimes her compliments are far and few- so hearing that sentence from her was a big boost! Every time I get on I feel like I’m ready for the next step, which is why this year we have plans to spend a lot more time in the jumper ring and are hoping to make it out to Alberta later in the season.

This past week I did my first biomechanics consult for a rider (a regular to my weekly strength and conditioning class)- on which I will write a more detailed post later. It was a blast! Very cool to be able to put my knowledge into practical use in a new way. The class that used to be only a pipe dream for me is moving out of MORfit and outdoors for the summer as I take it on as a private instructor. Speaking of surreal, you couldn’t have told me 6-8 months ago that I’d be starting my own business and have me believe you. There is definitely ups and downs with this whole business thing. Quite often I have to remind myself that  its going to take a lot of time to get these ideas off the ground- and the fact that I have the interest I do already is huge. It’s easy to get caught up in the woes of trying something new in a very “set in their ways” environment. However, as much as I get frustrated and impatient- the results I’ve seen in my regular clients after the last few sessions of the class are more then enough to keep me going, and I hope they are seeing the results as well.

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I made the last minute decision last week to switch back to my old football team- Murdock McKay. That was definitely a good life choice. Besides the fact that their schedule will allow me to keep up with my own training, and I already have a good working relationship with Nikki.. My decision was justified when upon arrival at the first practice back I was welcomed by a bear hug from the head coach with a “I’m SO SO SO happy you’re back!!!”, numerous exuberant “Hi trainer Kat!!!!”s from old players, and Nikki handing me over the keys as the new charge person and trainer for the team. I’ll be busy with spring training until June, but I’m quite looking forward to it. This team has always been good to me, and I don’t see this season being any different. Hopefully now that I have some more experience I won’t be as shell shocked when I’m required to deal with an injury, as now I’m the one who has to deal with it. With a team of mostly brand new grade 9’s, it’s definitely going to bring a interesting season.

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Stocked up- I’m sure I forgot something..

With football, and my 4 other jobs (Horse Connection, teaching assistant at the University x2, MORfit, and my rider mechanics work) I am kept quite busy.  My scheduling has to run like a well-oiled machine, but I’m finding value and feeling valued at each position. As busy as those things keep me, I’m still blessed enough to have time to ride my horse, do my own training, spend time with my friends and the great guy who appeared in my life (again.. surreal). I can afford to eat, get around, and ride. I’m so close to finishing a long degree and continuing to pursue more goals within the field. I’ve found a path and made my way down it. From where I’m standing now, I think I picked a good road to travel- even if it has it’s bumpy patches.

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I lasted 3 years as a Uni student before becoming addicted to coffee…..

I think the title explains the last 3 weeks of my life. However, I will state that it is roll up the rim season.

This is going to be a monster of a post…..A few things to talk about, so I’m going to start off with a contents list so you can skim if that is your preferred method:

1. Midterms
2. The view of the Manitoba Winter Games as a student therapist (spoiler: it was awesome!!)
3. Leg update
4. General life update
5. The general thought/whining section
6. Summer planning

Okay. So it’s been a while since I’ve written an update. I’ve had my hands full, often literally, and been running (not literally) from place to place the past few weeks!

First up, Midterms:

These went shockingly well. Of the marks I have back, anyway. The first one I got back (Therapeutic Modalities) I completely expected to be around the class average (which was..very low.. talking maybe 50-60 ish), but was pleasantly surprised with a 71, which happened to be in the top five or so of the class. Bonus! Then came Ergonomics, the class I really like but am sometimes lost in. Somehow swung an A here. Awha? Sure. I’ll take it! If you’ll recall from my last post, I had gotten my Ex Phys exam moved to this week due to a mystery virus, and had a super fun crazy day on Thursday where I drove back to the city from the Games (see next section) for a day at school where I wrote 2 exams and 2 tests, with classes/labs and a clinical shift thrown in as well. I am still waiting for Ex Phys back, but am not optimistic it was anything amazing. Meh. I also wrote Rehab on Thursday, which I feel pretty decent about. I don’t really remember most of the day though, so who knows. Lets talk about something more exciting..

How about The MB Games experience from the eyes of a student AT?

First off, thank you past self for volunteering up for this event in the fall. Holy guacamole did I learn!!! I worked full days (and then some) in Morden/Winkler covering different events on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. I seriously never wanted it to end (only a little bit because I’m sick of school (see section 5)).

The week started with getting my volunteer badge and medical team shirt (which made me feel super legit, anyone else?).

Yes I realize how old that picture is...

Yes I realize how old that picture is…

The sports I covered for the first couple days were ringette and gymnastics (both male and female, ages 9-14). Monday was just practice for gymnastics, and I hung out there for most of the night after being shown around and bombarded with an ankle support and shoulder assessment within my first half an hour there. It was pretty crazy watching some of the things these kids did on the uneven bars (terrifying). Surprisingly (to me) there was only one injury that day for me to deal with: a gymnast came down during her floor practice off some sorta intense double round-off thing and landed in full plantar-flexion, inverted, and hit the ground crying. Cue my brain shutting off for 3 milliseconds then realising that everyone was looking at me because I was the one wearing the super cool medical shirt..

First lesson I learned: asking the patient questions doesn’t only make you look like you know what you’re doing (even if you don’t), it prompts your brain to start working again. I managed to go through a half decent assessment after getting her off the middle of the mat, and decided that she most definitely needed to go for x-rays; so after breaking that idea to her, and making her cry more, I headed to find the doctor, ice, and crutches. The doctor promptly confirmed the x-ray, and I had to mcgyver a set of crutches (the supply we had was sketchy- the only pair I could manage for her height was one metal and one wood, the wood taped together as there were screws missing…). Then we sent her off to Boundary for imaging, and the rest of the night was relatively uneventful. I did get to tape another gymnasts ankle, after the coach realised that I could actually do that. I got a little confidence boost as this 11yr old watched me tape with wide eyes, and expressed adorable gratitude.

The next day started out similarly uneventful. I taped a few ankles (including the young gymnast from the previous evening, who swore it was making her better!), wrapped a few groins, ate some great canteen food, and chatted. Then headed over to watch the first of the gymnastics competitions. This age group went smoothly, although I cringed a few times with some close calls on the vault. After this I had another couple hours to chat with the other health care professionals about the place, then me and the other student AT headed back to watch the second gymnastics event. With no other events running, the sport med doctor was hanging around with us too. Thank goodness, as not long after the event started a floor routine went horribly wrong. I was unfortunately watching this girl’s feet as she landed, which resulted in me seeing her ankle dislocate and her go down. I 110% froze, and probably said something not school appropriate out loud- and had that great moment where again we realised everyone (and there was A LOT of people there) was looking at us, and then hearing the doctor tell us to “go!”. Matt and the doc headed out while I stayed by the med kit ready to bring it out if needed, pretty much right away got the signal to call 911. I went out onto the mat to help, only to have the coaches lift the girl and start moving her (seriously…. who does that!?). Thankfully the doctor had a good grip on the ankle and we all headed to the other room to carry on. The ankle was most definitely fractured, with what looked like the fibula pretty close to breaking the skin. Needless to say all we could do was splint and wait for transport. So that’s what we did. The poor kid was understandably freaking out. While the other two stayed with her and her parents, I headed back out to the competition, only to find another athlete had thrown up and was looking pretty faint. Her mom quickly explained that she had had a very similar injury last year, and was reliving some of the experience.

Definitely the worst injury I’ve dealt with so far, and once the adrenaline worse off I had a seriously hard time watching floor routines for the rest of the day. I couldn’t watch the feet anyway. Who woulda thought floor over bar and beam would cause the most anxiety! After that gymnastics ran smoothly, and I spent most of the rest of my time handing out ice bags (snow bags). The next day was much slower, as it was a transition day for the games- so after watching the boys gymnastics, and still cringing during floor routines, I used the rest of my time there to study for rehab and ex phys. My last day at the games I got to cover hockey (female) for the first time, and thankfully nothing major happened. I did get an insight as to how intense the sport of table tennis is- especially when we had one athlete come to us with stomach flu symptoms (which 50/50 could have been caused by the stress being placed on him by his mother and coaches… oh, and the large plate of meatballs, fish, and rice he had eaten.. oh and the dehydration…)- and saw his coach sprint out to get ginger tablets so he could play in the next 15minutes. Between the coach freaking out about her athlete (who was like 10) maybe being down for the count, and his mom wanting to take him to the hospital (for mild stomach flu symptoms..?..)- it was understandable that the kid was a little uneasy about his life.

What did I notice this week? I really noticed myself gaining confidence in acute assessment, and even just standing rink side or event side. As terrifying as the gymnastics ankle was- it solidified that I do have a solid education behind me and I am trained to handle things- even if my brain shuts off. It was sorta neat seeing how people looked to you as you had the most training. Another very cool side to this event was getting the chance to network with athletes, coaches, parents, doctors, nurses, other ATs and fellow students. I was asked so many questions about what athletic therapists do this week, and was able to provide semi-educated answers. People were able to see how competent we are in a variety of areas, and doctors were often looking to us to deal with assessments, taping, and return to play protocols. After injuries, I was able to hang out with the sport med doc on sight and discuss possibilities for what the images would show, recovery, and mechanisms as well as got to watch her do some kick ass assessments. Just watching her interact with patients was a learning experience! So yeah, it’s been a pretty athletic therapy filled week! I got to practice many skills at the Games, that I didn’t even know I needed to practice. Talking to young athletes, for example. Or talking to parents with heavy accents. Or talking to a sobbing kid with a near broken ankle. Not things you get to do or see everyday, that’s for sure. It was such a great week, and I really look forward to continuing to grow as a AT working in the field. Multi-sport events are a fantastic place to learn skills and gain confidence, even if it takes being absolutely terrified half the time. Faking it til you make it is definitely the way to go! People eat up confidence, and acting confident inspires real confidence. It was such a good feeling realising that I know what I’m doing, once my brain caught up with the moment I was in. The week at the Games ended off with a nice compliment from the head therapist, after finding out I was only in P1 she was very surprised and said “You have an amazing skill set for your level! Seriously, keep it up!”. Overall everyone was very impressed with the UW students, so I guess our education is actually getting us somewhere!

Now that we’ve discussed all the injuries I’ve dealt with, how’s my own Injury Progress?

It’s definitely improving. Not a whiff of pain with every day stuff now, I’ve been able to kick in the pool and other then feeling like I’ve never worked out a day in my life- I have no pain. Yay! I’ve been able to up my strength work again too (to.. more bodyweight.. haaa high five for atrophy), and today did a full hour of cardio training (on a bike and elliptical). I’m anxious to get running again, but doing my best to not push it. Because that would likely hurt. I did have an MRI this weekend, so pretty pumped to see what that shows!

I faced a fear this week! I must confess I’ve been absolutely terrified about getting back on a horse. The idea of getting right back on after you fall all riders are taught from day one has legit meaning- the more time that has been passing while I recover, the bigger the fear gets. Stupid, for someone who’s been riding for more then half her life. With my horse being moved back to M&C’s in a few weeks (eeeee!), and me getting the okay from my AT to try riding in a few weeks- the nervousness around the idea only doubled.. So, yesterday, since the weather was finally spring like- I decided to go out to the barn to just reintroduce myself to the environment. I didn’t plan on riding, as frankly it was hard enough to get myself out to the barn. But I did it. I got myself there, and spent some time with Lauren and Megg while they rode. I don’t think I’ve ever been that nervous in a familiar environment. Whyyy! I decided then to follow my personal rule of “If it terrifies you, it’s probably a good thing to try.”. And Megg let me sit on her horse for a few minutes. More then enough for my body, and my head. Funnily enough, as nervous as I was before getting on AND after getting off- while I was in the saddle on Justinian, I felt nothing but calm. Thank goodness that learned instinct of focus in the tack is still there. Shoulda just stayed on I think because as soon as I got back off I was apprehensive again. And sore. Very sore. Oh the joys of coming back from an injury.

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The general life update/general thoughts/summer planning sections: School and Work have been good. School is getting old. It’s that time of year where pretty much every student is done with it. My class has continued to keep my spirits up, every week I’ve seen my students greatly improve and am always getting good feedback. Next week is the beginning of another 8-week block, and I’m excited to continue with it! I’ve begun my search for another summer job (keeping MORfit, teaching, Horse Connection), as I recently found out that I was not accepted for the internship at Mayo Clinic this summer. I was somewhat disappointed by that news, but then realized it only meant I can hopefully save some money and ride my horse this summer- which is a plus. As great as Mayo Clinic would look on my resume, I can always apply again and I’m sure I’ll find some other sweet experiences.. it seems to be a thing I do anyway. What does my summer look like so far? About 3 spring courses, work work work, teach teach teach, and, oh yeah! Almost forgot! I got asked to work (volunteer) with another football team! Until a few days ago I was planning on going back to the team I worked with last fall. But on of my supervising AT’s senior students approached me and stated that she thought I would be really good with their team, a team that happens to be a heck of a lot closer to my location then Transcona is (as much as I love them), and a team with a schedule a little more conducive to mine. It was quite flattering to be approached by a senior student (again) and asked to come to their program. Doesn’t always happen that way! That combined with the blush worthy feedback I got from the head therapist at the games, I am quite happy with where I’m at as a AT student! This May brings the CATA conference to Winnipeg, and I’m looking forward to attending that. Of course I’m planning on training and competing as much as I can afford to.

Finishing up this semester is exhausting, between job searching, studying as much as humanly possible, working, and planning end of the year events for Kin and AT student groups- oh and running for student group exec positions for next year (my last year? What?)- my schedule has been nuts as usual. The last two weeks I’ve felt like I’m running on fumes (coffee fumes), but have been surrounded by an amazing group of people, new and old, who keep me going. Whether it’s students in any of my classes, fellow classmates and ATs, friends, family- there always seems to be someone there to study with, rant to, or cook for me after a long day at work/school. I’m very blessed!

I think that’s all I’ll burden you with for now, dear readers. I promise I’ll get back to a regular post schedule now that I’ve gotten back to a semi-normal schedule! End of term and finals are fast approaching, which means so is riding and training- recovery permitting! I can’t wait to see what the 2014 season has in store for me!

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What day is it?

Yesss I realize I skipped a week… forgive me.

I’ve had a busy two weeks, as usual. Classes wrapped up this week and am now in full blown study (procrastinate) mode. I’ve realised thought that preparing for exams is a lot easier when you’ve studied consistently throughout the term. No panicked cramming for this kid.

The past two weeks also brought me wiping my diet slate clean again. Gluten and processed things were sneaking their way back in and it was definitely having an impact on my energy, and when my energy gets impacted- keeping up with my 14hr days gets a little crazy. So I got strict. And I actually stuck to it. It hit me that if I don’t have energy on my side, exam season is going to be a lot harder then it needs to be. In the last two weeks I’ve gone back to straight up clean eating. No gluten, no dairy, no processed sugars (I went from Starbucks almost every day to only twice in two weeks, and one of those times it was tea). I also made a point of not being lazy and buying food as often. My University has an absolutely amazing cafeteria, all organic and local foods, and when I do buy food there it’s always food that is good for me. But it’s expensive, and too easy. And my style is never the easy way.

So, did all this actually make a difference (asked my Naturopath yesterday at a follow-up)? Of course it did. Nutrition is everything (not that I had bad nutrition before, but it wasn’t the best nutrition for me). This got me the “uh-huh, uh-huh” knowing nod from the ND. Since getting serious about eating my energy has pretty much tripled, I sleep much better, and I’m a little quicker with my thoughts. I’ve also noticed that since taking dairy out again, the headaches have decreased. All good things with 9 exams starting Monday morning.

This past week has probably been my favourite. Last Saturday I went to a basketball scrimmage  in Carman, and was introduced to the girls (both JV and Varsity teams) as a training resource for the upcoming season (no I don’t have time for that, yes I’m going to do it anyway). Monday brought the Older Adults fitness class, which is for sure always a highlight of the week. I’m going to be sad when it’s over in a couple weeks, it’s truly a very rewarding experience. One of the co-ordinating profs came up to me as I was watching a few of the participants at the core station, and told me that his “favourite part about this class was not only seeing the progress in the older adults- but even more in watching us students smile as we work with them, and have just as much fun”. After that I headed out to Carman to basketball practice, where I ran the warm-up and a 15 min block of conditioning. I’m really loving the chances I’m getting to teach/train others. Between the older adults and the basketball team I worked with Monday, I was on cloud-9. I even got to help with actual skill work and scrimmage with the girls at the end of practice, and find out I can still play like I could in high school-maybe even better (although I was killer sore the next day!). It’s becoming clear that I picked an appropriate career path, every time I turn around I’m finding something that I love more within this profession.

The rest of the week was pretty standard. Classes ended on Wednesday (seriously, already?) and since then it’s been all work and study. Oh, and riding. I rode two on Thursday at HC, one on Friday (Shakka), and two Saturday (Will, and Shakka). Shakka is a project horse at M&C’s that I’m hoping to be able to hack every now and again, especially throughout December.

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I had a great work-out on Wednesday, which somewhat bit me in the ass on Thursday when after 3 hrs working at HC (2 rides), and then 7 hrs at MORfit brought some very sore arms and some less then light legs to stretch out. Needless to say I was pretty tired. On Thursday Claude had me teach all the lower body stretching to a client, which was interesting. It’s not something that’s particularly hard in theory.. but (and maybe it was the fact that I was exhausted) I found myself stalling out more than once on simple explanations. Luckily, Claude is very good at pushing me to the point where things actually stick, and after stumbling through the evening I feel much more confident in what I know. Again, that push off the deep end learning strategy is working.

This week I also began working on (actually putting pen to paper) setting up my Functional Training Class geared towards equestrian athletes. This is something I’ve been thinking about for so long, and I’m finally getting the chance to put those thoughts to action (courtesy of my awesome boss at MORfit). I sent out some feelers early in the week to the riding community, and got a fantastic response of interest back. My progress on this is definitely going to be hindered by exams for the next couple weeks, but the gears are turning. Some things that will hopefully be sorted soon are pricing, timing, and specific goals and progressions I want to aim for within the class itself. I’ve found a love for helping others discover how health and fitness can make a difference in their life and goals in so many places this year, and I can’t wait to explore how I can do that in the sport I already am highly involved in.

I’m absolutely loving how I’ve been able to get creative with my goals in this career so far. Every side I see of where my future can go is very exciting, and I always have an answer for one of the most popular questions I get: “What are your job prospects post-grad?”. I almost always say that there is good prospects, especially for those who are willing to be creative with how they go about things. I used to say that because it’s what I’d heard from other graduates, but now I’m learning how many little windows of opportunity there are. Like I said earlier, sometimes it’s like every time I turn around there is a new idea forming beside knowledge I already have.

So, here we are on the eve of exams. 4/9 this week…Tomorrow I start off with my massage practical, and then Tuesday is First Responder written. Thursday brings pathology and Friday is the big First Responder practical. It’ll be a busy week for sure, that will go by way too fast. I’m feeling strangely prepared for everything. It’s almost harder not to overpressure myself then it is to review and relax at this point. If that makes sense? I’ve noticed that students have a way of working themselves into a complete freak-out over finals, when really, it does them no good. Especially when it comes to First Responder. I’m lucky in that I’ve found myself surrounded by recent grads, or working ATs through practicums and work, who, although sometimes have horror stories, also come with tips, advice, and reaffirming words in regards to all the exams up ahead. I stocked up on all the essential foods today, lots of fresh (as fresh as you can get in Winterpeg) fruit and veggies too cook with over the next couple weeks and keep me going. #brainfood

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The saddest part of the above picture is that that basket is completely full of all things healthy, spinach, kale, eggs, apples, blueberries, onion, green beans, vegetable protein/vitamin powder, etc etc = $110. This will probably last me a week ish, feeding just me. The guy in front of me, shopping for a family, had a cart full of household goods and food (some healthy, some not), and  total of $80. While I fully believe that money spent on one’s health is never money wasted… but it does make me wonder how different the world might be if the good for you things were priced like the not-so good for you stuff. And of course, which is more expensive long-term: health, or sickness? I’m sure it all balances out in the long run, but I know my bank account misses the living off KD and ramen days.

Think studious thoughts for me this week!

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A super productive weekend.. studying.. (…sleeping)

If one dreams about reading notes and making study guides.. does that count?

This week seemed both really long, and like it disappeared way too quickly. I’m going to keep this one brief, as I can’t really remember many events from the week right now anyway. Here are some of the memorable moments:

  • Coconut pumpkin cashew chicken curry, on sticky coconut rice noodles, courtesy of Wednesday night wine and dine with Emily. Probably the best recipe we’ve made yet!
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  • Walking onto the IG field for our final game on Friday! If you want to feel like a real badass, that is how to do it. Plus, they had sideline heaters. Seriously. I had to compete with players half the game for a spot in front of it.. I lost majority of the time.. because, well, they are twice my size.. BUT STILL. It was super cool to play on the “big kid field” under the lights. Makes one feel important!
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    And so my football season is over. I have Friday’s back, but I haven’t figured out what to fill the time with quite yet. While I don’t have the energy to reflect on it now, trust me- there will be a full katmah style reflective post on football coming soon.
  • Grandpa’s birthday dinner with the famjam. Always a good time when the Rance’s go out. 85 and looking young!
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  • My hair is long! Almost!
    20131110-200916.jpgWhen taking a selfie, silly faces are mandatory.
  • Sonny at HC actually listened to me this week. Huh? It’s like we’re making progress or something. We’ve been working so hard on getting the left lead and balancing his canter out. This week we actually picked up the lead with little to no issue. While we did do more bucking then smooth cantering.. the bucking was at least on the correct lead. I’m taking that as a win.
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  • I accomplished nothing this weekend. Besides sleeping. And hanging out with a dog I’m dog sitting. I did open my Assessment textbook for almost 2 hrs today. Whether or not any of the information got off the page into my brain is another story. I also started to study my First Responder text, but then I fell asleep… Soo.. there’s always tomorrow.. right?
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    This coming week I’m looking forward to more studying, and practicing. I live such an exciting life! The countdown is on til the series of 9 final exams hit and my life becomes even more exciting. Can’t you wait to hear me whine about it?!
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