Enjoy the day-to-day adventures of an Occupational Therapist in training!

Posts tagged ‘love’

The Danica Patrick of Farm Vehicles

Let me just say that it felt amazing to be back at the barn after a week off! Country air has never been more needed than it was Monday night! It’s hell week at Columbia College and I’m a little frazzled trying to finish my assignments on time… and then find time to study for my exams. As I’ve said before, DR offers me peace from my hectic school life, and for that I am truly grateful! For those of you who were wondering how my presentation went- it went well (But I’m super glad that it’s over!) I love what I do at DR, so that made it easier to talk about my experience. I can mark that off my bucket list- here’s to numerous more presentations during my academic career!

I actually did something new Monday afternoon. I’ve been wanting to drive the Kabota ( a farm vehicle, like a Gator) since my first day at DR but I never really did anything that was worthy of driving the Kabota. Monday, I got my chance to drive it! I had to pick up some branches that had fallen along the trail riding path and pick up some weeds and tarps that had been pulled out of the ground. Finally, a job big enough for the Kabota. Now, for those of you who don’t know me very well, I’m not the world’s best driver… especially when it comes to driving in reverse. Well, I expertly maneuvered that bad boy backwards and forwards (once I got the hang of driving it, that it!) Just call me the Danica Patrick of Kabota driving!! Finally, after all this time, I got to get behind the wheel- I’d love to say that it was super exciting… but it wasn’t really… I think I’ll stick to my Honda Fit, thanks!  I finished the task unscathed, and the Kabota was scratch free, so that’s always good! I also found out that Lou and AJ might be staying at the DR farm which made me happy! The vet came last week and suggested “Stall rest” to help speed up Lou’s tendon recovery and she gave AJ stomach ulcer medicine in hopes that he would be more calm/comfortable when he has riders on his back. I really hope that they are both able to stay, at least until the fall, so I can give them a proper goodbye!

I worked with Zach again Monday night and he was so happy to be back in the saddle! It makes me happy to see the riders happy; when they have good days that makes my day, too! He was doing a lot more talking than usual which is always welcomed! He makes certain noises when he gets excited/happy and he was making those sounds like crazy! I have really grown to love working with people who have Autism. It is such a fascinating disorder, but I can only imagine how frustrating it ca=n be for both the individual and the caregivers. I was unbelievably proud of Zach Monday night- I love that I have been able to work with him all semester so that I am able to track his progress and have the ability to differentiate between his moods/good days and bad days.  I love when he has good talking days because it makes the rest of the lesson flow much better! I think that Monday was the best day he (and our team of 3 volunteers) have had since the beginning of the year.

I also worked with another rider who has Down Syndrome, named Emma. Emma is an independent rider but she wanted someone to side walk with her since it was her first time riding Molly. Emma handled herself (and Miss Molly) very well. She is a great rider who has a great personality! She was telling me about her birthday coming up and her plans for her birthday party. Apparently, she has not 1 but 20 boyfriends who will all be attending her bowling birthday party… that sounds like a reality TV show in the works to me! The diversity among the riders has really helped me develop my language and actions in ways I didn’t think were possible. Since I work with riders who are nonverbal, semi-verbal, and highly verbal, I get to practice different strategies all in one evening! I know that I am comfortable switching between riders who are very different both in their diagnosis and in their level of abilities.  It is great practice for me-you never want to get too comfortable by working with the same disorder all the time. These experiences are invaluable to me… I finally have some concrete knowledge as to how I might function as an OT!

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Hoof prints on the heart

“Horses change lives. They give young people confidence and self esteem. They provide peace and tranquility to troubled souls; they give us hope”

-Toni Robinson

It amazes me how quickly I have become attached to the horses, the riders, the staff/volunteers, and the general atmosphere of the farm. Tomorrow marks my 3 month anniversary with DR, and I think I love it more everyday. I really can’t believe the impact that it has had on my life already…I know that internships are supposed to help you gain experience and reaffirm your commitment to your chosen career path, but I never imagined that I would feel so strongly about an internship as I do with this one!

It was sort of weird today- Miss Jennifer and Miss Corky wanted to know if I was coming back to volunteer in the fall when school started up again, of course I said I would come back if they’d have me. I honestly think that I have to continue to volunteer here so that I maintain my sanity. As I’ve said before, I find the barn to be extremely soothing. They both said that they were so glad that I was interning with them-and they thanked me for my willingness to help out. It was nice for them to thank me, sometimes I feel like they are helping me way more than I am helping them.

We have 2 new horses at the farm!! Mindy, a rescue, and Charlie, a halflinger! They enthusiastically greeted me as I drove up the driveway, so naturally I stopped and chatted with them. Both horses will be used in the DR program;however, they both need some training in order to become full fledged therapy horses. I’m looking forward to seeing their progress, just like I saw Mollie progress within the program. Not to be pessimistic (or philosophical, you choose), but in keeping with the balance of nature, no good news is without bad news. I found out today that Mindy and Charlie are Lou and AJ’s replacement. I also found out that Lou’s leg injury isn’t healing, in fact, he’s not improving very much at all. This news, especially about Lou, broke my heart. I’ve really gotten attached to him over the past few months. After all, I spend the most time with him, and I’ve been trying to nurse him back to health.  *Aside* Please don’t think that Dream Riders just throws horses away when they are no longer of use to the program… that’s not it at all!! Lou will most likely go to a retirement home for horses, yes they have those, where he will live out his natural days without stress. AJ will be going to Miss Jennifer’s cousin’s farm to chill and be ridden by riders who have riding knowledge, so hopefully he’ll be happy! I want what is best for both Lou and AJ, but I am really going to miss Lou’s company and his ornery nature. I guess this is good practice for when I have to say goodbye to patients with whom I’ve developed friendships with. I’m going to squeeze in all the Lou time that I can during his remain days at Dream Riders (however long that might be!)

Today I was reunited with the old team-Me ,Zach, Mollie, and Amanda (Zach’s other side walker.)  Zach apparently missed me because he was super vocal today and laughing.. which he hadn’t done since I switched riders. He also was saying “walk” clearly on the first try, which has been a struggle since my first day-apparently he hasn’t been saying it much since I’ve been “away”. I had really missed working with him. He is such a calm rider, and he never ceases to amaze me each week with something new that he shows me he can do or say. Autism is a funny disorder- it really doesn’t make sense sometimes in the way that it manifests in different people and different forms within the same person. Example: Zach knows all of his colors,numbers, farm animals, and shapes, but he has trouble saying the word “walk” clearly. He can say other things just fine, but walk gives him trouble. It’s really bizarre.  He’s inspired me to write my abnormal psychology research paper on Autism so that I can learn more about it, and hopefully be able to interact with him in a more effective way!

Monday’s always leave me exhausted, so I’m going to sign off! I’ll post again soon, not Thursday though because I won’t be at the farm. Thanks for reading!

Hours at Barn:

2:00 pm-7pm

 

How many interns does it take to change a light bulb?

If you answered “Just one” then you’re absolutely right… just because I’m the only intern at Dream Riders! Today. we had so many volunteers, which is a GREAT problem to have! I suppose that today was a “slow” day for me.  Instead of doing my normal job of side walking, I worked on other tasks like changing a light bulb!

Funny story: the assistant riding instructor, Ms. Corky, calls me Katie… all the time… and for those of you who don’t know, my name is Sami-not Katie. So this evening, Ms. Corky calls me over and says, “Hey Katie, how tall are you?” So I answered 5’10 and then she proceeded to tell me that I’m definitely tall enough to change a light bulb. Kind of an odd way to ask someone for help, but then again, Ms. Corky isn’t the most conventional person I’ve ever met! So I changed a light bulb (while the circuit was still active mind, you… I had to be able to see what I was doing-apparently) Yolo.

I really am loving the “barn mentality.” Essentially, if you can help, you’re going to. It doesn’t really matter what the task is, and it (in my case) is usually something that you’ve never really done before. This calls for one to be independent and a great problem solver! Usually, by the time you can formulate a question, the person telling you what to do is already on to something else so you’ve got to figure it out the best way you can! This isn’t to say that the DR staff (of 2 people) aren’t willing to help, they are just really busy ladies! I feel like barn life is simplistic, in a good way, of course. It’s easy to over think things, but usually, common sense wins out on how one approaches situations at the barn! Using your noggin is a great skill to have out there in the real world, however rare it might be 😉

I also got to play nurse to a 1000 pound patient again tonight. It’s become my routine every Monday and Thursday to look after Lou, the injured therapy horse. He and I have been together since my first day at DR, and I have to say that he’s been wonderfully patient with me while I struggle to pry information about how to properly put on a halter from deep within my brain. He and I have wonderful chats, I do most of the talking, while I brush him down and make him look sparkly clean. Don’t trust a person who doesn’t talk to his/her horse. I’m taking a course about patient provider interactions and while I am soaking his swollen tendon with icy cold water and rubbing ointment on the affected area, I talk to him like I would talk to a patient receiving OT from me. It’s good practice for me, and I don’t think he seems to mind either. That might sound strange… actually, that does sound strange…but think about it, I’m sure I’ll have patients who cannot verbally respond to me, so I’ll have to read their body language and other nonverbal cues that they give me. Obviously Lou can’t talk, he’s pretty awesome, but he’s no Mr. Ed so I have to rely on his body language to tell me when he is irritated or in pain. Also, horses are incredibly good at reading people’s body language; in other words, they feed on and react to people’s body language. When I feel frustrated that I didn’t put the halter on right for the 1846th time, Lou can sense my frustration and in turn, he becomes irritable as well. I’ve learned to become aware of my emotions, and to get them under control so that the horse (or the rider) doesn’t sense that something is wrong. Both skills are going to be useful for me as an OT, I just never thought that I would learn them and practice them on a horse farm. Did I mention that I am so in love with this “job?”

Well, friends, that’s all I’ve got for tonight! As always, thanks for reading 🙂

Hours at barn:

Monday 2/17/14    1:45pm-7pm

Thursday 2/20/14   4:45-7pm

Patience: Maybe she’s born with it… or not!

 I guess you could say that I have a patient heart, but an impatient head. In other words, when someone is talking my ear off about things that have absolutely nothing to do with me, in my head I’m begging them to finish their story and praying that they don’t start another one; but instead, I just smile and try my hardest to listen and to display pleasant facial expression. In this case, my heart won out… I didn’t make a scene. Since I have those annoyed feelings, I think that it is a huge injustice to people who actually are patient to label myself as a patient person. I mean I want to give myself some credit here, I don’t strangle people who waste time with nonsense either. So that’s where I’m at- floating somewhere between Mother Theresa and a moderate politician in our current governmental gridlock . Stupid analogy? Probably, but you catch my drift!  🙂 

Yesterday was a very exciting day! I think we might have found out why Zach was having such a hard time saying “walk” and not acting as excited as he has in the past (so I was told.) The young lady who usually leads Molly (the horse) wasn’t able to make lessons last night, so we had to use a different leader. Our new leader walked at a much slower pace which, in turn, made Molly walk slower as well. When Molly speeds up her gait, her body feels much different to the rider- it’d almost an overwhelming experience to feel her back muscles ripple over and over and over with each step. I think that Zach was getting too overwhelmed by the sensations he felt when Molly walked fast. Last night,with the slower walk, Zach was saying “walk” loud and clear on the first try almost every time! I was thrilled to have seen that progress. I was also amazed at difference that changing the horses gait made in his demeanor.  This experience helped me realize how much patience it takes to work with people who have special needs. On the outside, it may seem silly to get excited over someone saying “walk” but I know how much effort it took over the past 4 Mondays to get to this point. I am also learning that progress is, more often than not, is going to come in baby steps in this line of work. 

Last night, I also got a quick lesson in being patient with myself. In the last lesson of the evening, we were short one leader… who has 2 hands and volunteered herself? THIS GIRL! I was way more nervous to lead AJ (the Horse) than I am when I have to help out his rider. It is much more difficult than it looks. The rider kept making him stop when it wasn’t time to stop yet, so that always makes leading horses more interesting! I’m really glad that I had the opportunity to experience that part of the lesson, but I think I’ll be okay if I stick with being a side walker for now! Working with animals ,who can sense frustration and fear, really helps keep those feelings in check. If I’m feeling insecure the horse will feel the same way, which could lead to trouble! getting frustrated with myself during the lesson because I knew that I had no idea what I was doing… but I was trying! I need to work on cutting myself some slack; it was, after all, my first time doing that particular job! 

Nobody ever said that patience wasn’t a learned virtue! 😉