napupui ayong

“napupui ayong” means “I don’t understand” in Karimojong, a native Ugandan language. My good friend Sara is in Uganda until April working in a clinic as a nurse-missionary, and she’s doing a fantastic job. She’s exploring and making new friends and loving God. She’s helping Ugandan people who need medical attention, vaccinations, and love. I wish I was there with her…but I am here, in Spokane, almost done with pharmacy school.

Waiting for residency results, dealing with life difficulties, friendship struggles, spiritual dry patches, and all manner of things that are straining and stressful.

But I take solace today in the fact that I can sit down with God and a cup of coffee and say, “I don’t understand”.

I could even scream, “I DON’T UNDERSTAND!!!” or ugly-cry while I said it. And he will still be there, always faithful and understanding.

I’m asking for patience and a soft heart these days…it seems like bitterness and hardness of heart are my enemies.

“God engineers circumstances to see what we will do. Will we be the children of our Father in heaven, or will we go back again to the meaner, common-sense attitude? Will we stake all and stand true to Him? “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” The crown of life means I shall see that my Lord has got the victory after all, even in me.”  Oswald Chambers

AAAAHHHRRGH. But I want to stand on my common sense, my self-righteous and in-control sense of self. Surrendering that for the peace of God feels weak and limp and unproductive.

Another friend once told me, “It’s ok to have a prayer that goes somewhat to the effect of ‘Oh God please help’.” And I think that’s what I’m praying these days.

Lovely and splendid things have been happening too…

Warm and sunny enough for birks!!

Cabin + tomato soup/grilled cheese + friends galore

Running along the river, the snow melt raising the level as March goes on…

right now

A sketchy version of the view from my office at the moment. A long hallway, usually filled with sounds of people chatting and working and doing fancy higher-education things. I’m writing a short case study on diabetic neuropathy right now – trying to stay focused but instead doing things like staring out the window and putting fun filters on random pictures. I have the Friday procrastination bug right now – but I know I need to come back to center and settle down into my mind, focus on the task at hand.

Right now. That concept is so difficult. Remember the movie Flubber? With Robin Williams? It was one of my absolute favorites growing up. This mad scientist invents Flubber, which is basically a highly flexible, incredibly bouncy and unruly piece of green rubber with its own free will. Anytime it hits anything, it causes catastrophic bouncing, bounding, and ricocheting all over the world, up to the sky, everywhere. It’s unpredictable and almost impossible to control. My thoughts feel like Flubber today. And maybe a mad scientist too.

So… Centering. Deep breaths. Feeling the weight of my thoughts and body. Focusing on a central point. That’s the challenge (and prayer) for the next few hours.

steamroller

1http://banksy.co.uk/

Sat down to a meeting today and felt ‘steamrolled’. You’ve felt it: that moment where you realize, with a sickening drop of the stomach, that the (fairly accomplished, important) person you’re talking to doesn’t want to know one bit about what you think, who you are, or what ideas you have to contribute. Attempts at inserting oneself into the conversation are abruptly cut short. Suggestions are dismissed. It’s not a learning environment at all. The caveat I will give this meeting is that it was planning for a grant proposal, and if you have any experience at all with asking people for money, the ‘ask’ has to be within a set of boundaries.

But what if I have the creative idea that will push those boundaries just enough to be interesting? What if you’re putting together a study that has already been done several times? Where is the desire to break new ground? Why don’t we ask, “What could make this EXCITING?” instead of going with the status quo. If everyone stayed inside the boundaries, played it safe, nothing new ever develops (thank you Capt. Obvious).

Thankfully I have a very open preceptor who listens and gives credit to my ideas. They may be harebrained and out in left field, but he does listen. I hope to keep being someone who listens, asks questions, and doesn’t steamroll.

Curiosity is closely tied to many things, and I think it’s the essential character trait of someone who doesn’t steamroll. Quite often, I do a heinous job of being curious, present, and caring. But being curious is something that I want to focus on more. Wondering why instead of accepting things as they are. Kids ask that question all the time – and perhaps that is part of what Christ wanted us to do when he told us to be more childlike.

still snowing

we’re reaching for March over here, hoping that the change on the calendar will bring more sunshine and brightness. Yet there is still a reluctance to let go of the gently falling snow that always perfects the landscape. I was talking with Mrs. Marsten yesterday at Madison’s baby shower (!) and mentioned something about being glad that the snow would leave soon. She made a wonderful point, though, saying ” although, dear, the snow does a lovely job of amplifying the weak light this time of year, making things a bit less gloomy”. I felt chastised over my impatience to see the seasons change, because hadn’t I wished for that very snow to up its game a couple months ago? So I shall enjoy this snow – observing the delicacy with which it falls in the watery February light. 

It feels like it’s still snowing in my work/professional world as well. I keep waiting for that magical day where I feel on top of things and ready to take on each day. Some days, I think that feeling has come. And then I fail at something. Learning is a constant..I do keep failing and bumbling, but if I’m not I suppose that means that I’m stagnant and not moving forward. 

Seeing all my dear friends in Pullman yesterday was great – but there is also a note of sadness and grieving at the ways in which things are different, the ways that I am different. I don’t know if I could go back to that community and be totally content, or even fit in anymore. I can pick up a conversation with any of my best girlfriends, but we haven’t lived life together in so long. I remember warm summer nights in Pullman, stargazing from the domed water tower with the ‘No Trespassing’ signs so clearly stamped on the walls. Waiting for all the cars to pass before clambering up on top. You’d think if they didn’t want people to trespass they would have made it more difficult to climb. Barbecues and picnics and nights full of piano and violin. Bonfires and running with Sharon and so many laughs. Sprinting out to my hiding place out in the country, with a giant rock where I could sit and watch the sun set with the deer roaming around, munching on dry grass. 

Liam. Pullman reminds me of Liam. From the church to Fran’s kitchen to the high hills and sunsets. All those music filled nights with scores of friends. 

Praying for joy in the midst of the snow – and finding joy in the many small, good things right now. I’m loved deeply by an incredible boyfriend – he is selfless and kind and hears me when I speak.Our one-year anniversary is at the beginning of May! I’m graduating in May as well – and by March 21st I’ll see the results of the residency match. Seattle, Spokane, or Couer d’ Alene. Or job hunting around the state…whatever happens I’m excited! My prayer for the day is that God would let me enjoy the snow, in every sense of the word. 

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olympia

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Yesterday we advocated for students (specifically Spokane WSU healthcare students) at the Capitol in Olympia. We braved the torrential downpours, running between buildings to meet with legislators, sharing our opinions timidly at first, then more boldly as the day went on. I was surprised at how easy the whole process was, how accessible and open each legislator’s office is. It was an experience that showed me exactly how to communicate with the people who form the laws that govern our state (an invaluable lesson for someone who has been fairly ignorant of the process until now). After Coug Day 2014, I feel much more comfortable dashing off an email to a legislator or bringing up an issue with them over a phone call, heck maybe even grabbing coffee in the interim between sessions when they’re back home. I would encourage anyone to go to a legislative lobbying day, step outside your comfort zone, and arm yourself with a bit of knowledge on the state that you live in. We pay into the system, so it makes sense to ask the hard questions about how it is being run. Some acts that we talked about yesterday were the Real Hope Act (a close relative to the Dream Act), allowing discharged military personnel to pay in state tuition immediately, requiring universities to award academic credit for military training, requiring universities to publish their detailed budgets online, capping tuition at 10% of the average state income, and several other pieces of legislation that are relevant to higher education.

What bothers me about the legislature is that the people who are making the laws rely almost totally on the words of others. By this I mean that legislators have to know a little about a LOT of things – especially concerning highly technical language in bills that address issues like manufacturing or healthcare policies. Lawmakers rely on the input of lobbyists and experts to tell them the highlights, and then they go make a decision based on a limited scope of knowledge. If someone has a game-changing bit of information that would expand the lawmaker’s perspective, they may never know about it if that person chooses not to talk to their representative. As far as I know, committees are designed to create focus groups among legislators, and the entire government is supposed to work as a body of honest and frank people. All the legislators that we met with yesterday, all the aids that we spoke with, seemed to uphold the standards that they are sworn to…but it occurred to me how easy it would be to miss something essential in the whole process.

Such is the nature of making laws, I suppose; another fact to note is that I have little experience with this process, so maybe I’m missing some integral pieces of information.

In short, the ever-changing, dynamic environment of Olympia is a fantastic venue for students and citizens to express their perspectives. I shall continue to be involved in the making of the laws that govern my state!

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Monday Snow

The flesh is death but the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:6 speaks the truth. A fresh coat of snow covers everything this morning, and it reminds me of the fresh start Christ bestows on us every day. He is a kind and gracious King.

 

Thesis Thoughts

I’ve been approved to move forward on my thesis! And my goodness does it feel great to be validated in my pursuit of better lives for cancer patients. Months of work and thought… with more to come.

Using the ketogenic diet raises so many intricacies and questions, it’s hard to know where to start. I find myself practically running away from the computer instead of delving into the research and the details.

I often find myself perusing low-carb blogs and Marks Daily Apple for information instead of peer-reviewed databases. The thing is, I love food. I love cooking, dancing around the kitchen, making meals for the people I cherish. Dry studies from certified intellectuals rarely excite me. I’ve recently recognized how powerful food can be; we give it, we use it to comfort ourselves, it speaks to the fact that someone cares about us. Even if that ‘someone’  is yourself. I want to approach this ketogenic protocol development with compassion in mind…in a gentle, caring, kind way. This isn’t meant to upset people or disrupt their lives, it’s meant to heal and restore.

Should I come right out in my thesis and say that I’m on the Paleo/Low Carb/Pseudo Atkins train? I really detest those labels, for several reasons. I don’t believe in evolution, first of all, so the Paleo diet has some theoretical flaws for me. The second the word, “Atkins” passes my lips, people (especially medical professionals) stiffen and laser-beam stare me down. I think ‘low carb’ has the fewest negative connotations, but it’s meaning is very ambiguous. I’ve read studies about ‘low’ carbohydrate diets that had its patients eating upwards of 150 grams of carbs per day…OF COURSE your results aren’t significantly different than the low fat protocol.

Perhaps ‘restricted carb’? No. There is nothing harsh about this…it needs to be something people can use in conversation…well I suppose I could take the vain approach and name it after myself : the Schaffer Protocol. Ambiguous, neutral, no hint of bias. Hm. I like it for now.

I wonder if there are any nutritionists out there doing the same thing? I can’t imagine that a whole foods ketogenic diet for cancer patients is highly commonplace, especially as a practice standard.

On a much more interesting note, coconut milk whipped cream happened in my kitchen this morning as I was preparing breakfast. Oh dear Lord this is fabulous. I was inspired by Kathy from Healthy Happy Life .

Coconut Milk Whipped Cream Via Kathy of Healthy Happy Life

My version used the coconut water as well, because I’ll be stirring it into yogurt and coffee and other such good things. I simply tossed a chilled can of Classic Coconut milk into my Kitchenaid with the whisk attachment on and let it go to town for a few minutes, adding a packet of NuStevia and a drop of vanilla.

I used this in my breakfast this morning – a lovely bowl of Fage Total, coconut flour, 100% Whey protein powder and the aforementioned coconut whipped cream. Fiber, fat, and protein combined to tide me over a good long while.

on What I Would Have Wanted…

What would I have wanted to know about the first year of pharmacy school…before it started?

It’s hard.

You will drink more coffee and diet Coke (or real Coke if that’s your thing) than you thought possible.

There are more lists, charts, and paragraphs to memorize than you want to know.

It’s scary – you’re learning how to teach other people about really important, life-changing medicines. If you mess up, they die.

If you don’t study every single day, you must pack all of those study hours into Saturdays, which effectively destroys all that Saturday was meant to be.

It’s really easy to feel pointless while you’re memorizing generic name, brand name, control level, indication, dosage, over and over and over again…until something happens: a patient on your first rotation asks you a question. Their brows are knit together, a frustrated air surrounds them. The patient tries to tell you exactly what the doctor told them about their medication, stammering, ” He said to take it until it is gone. And it’s an allergy medication. But I have a stomach ulcer. Why am I taking this?”

As you gently lead that first patient through the confusing world of their Prescription Medication, the sun begins to rise, illuminating the past year of grueling memorization like a bright summer morning. You, a fresh student pharmacist, explain simply how this medicine works and how the patient should take it; the frustrated air around the patient dissipates, leaving something entirely different… the hopefulness that always accompanies a new plan of action. They murmur their thanks, slightly surprised that someone took the time to make sure they understand. As the patient turns to leave, you remind them, “Call if you have any questions!”

And you mean it.

That’s what I would want to know before starting my first year of pharmacy school – the thrill of helping someone to understand not only that they are taking a Medicine, but why they are taking it, how to take it, and how they can improve their health so as not to take it any more.