My Experience as a Patient

After years of dealing with frequent nosebleeds and progressive breathing problems I decided to undergo septoplasty surgery. My septum has been deviated for years and it has progressively gotten worse. I feel it started causing me more discomfort with the nasal swabs I had to have due to COVID. I am going to focus more on my personal recovery on this post because it varies for everyone. This experience has made me more aware on how some of our patients feel during and after they are discharged from the hospital.

Day of Surgery – I woke up early since I had to be there two hours before surgery, which was scheduled at 9am, and also because I was so nervous. I also had not eaten since 10pm the night before and my stomach was being very loud and clear about that. I got called back to get my vitals taken and get my IV placed and ready. I felt like I was in that room waiting forever. The surgical team started coming in introducing themselves to me and asking/answering additional questions, including the otolaryngologist, anesthesiologist, the nurse(s), and surgical technicians. I very much appreciated how each one came in at their own time instead of all at the same time. They each went over what their role would be in the operation room and afterwards if applicable.

In between meeting the team, I did my best to stay as relaxed as possible while I waited, but I was so nervous. In fact, when the nurse took my BP it was 140/80 and 89 bpm, which is really high for me. My norm is 108/70 for BP and about 65 bpm. I get into the operating room and this is where it all gets fuzzy. I remember walking into the room with a nurse carrying an IV bag and I was asked to step onto the table by using a step stool. I am on my back and one of the nurses says she was going to place some heart rate monitor pads on me and that they will be very cold, I vaguely remember making a comment about her not kidding because they were so cold. Someone behind me then said they were going to get started and that I would fall asleep soon.

*blinking my eyes* I can hear and see people moving around the room through my peripheral vision. I can hear the clinking of tools. I start nodding off again. The nurse tells me they will be taking me into the recovery room now.

I vaguely remember being asked to slowly slide from the operating table to the hospital bed. I was in and out for the next few hours. I do remember being helped to go the the bathroom and asked to drink some water. I remember feeling nauseous and the nurse putting something in my IV to help with the nausea. I fell back asleep after this. At some point the nurse comes back in and asks me to drink some water to see if I can keep it down. I take a few sips and I instantly feel nauseous. I was told to rest a bit and then try again. The second time was much better but I kept nodding off. She came back in (she told me her name but I honestly can’t remember and I feel so bad), and I have no idea how we got on the topic but I ended up showing her pictures of when Raul and I got engaged (lol).

After a while, I was told I was going to be discharged soon and I was left to get dressed. I still felt loopy. I have no idea how I got dressed, but I did. I had been told to just bring clothes that were comfortable and had zippers in the front, but I do remember struggling with my clothes for a bit. I also really needed to go to the bathroom and couldn’t locate my call-button so I furniture-walked across the room to the bathroom. I know, I know. How many times have I told patients to please use the call-light for staff assistance? The doctor and nurse come back into my room and start asking me what procedure I had done and the precautions the surgeon had given me prior to surgery. I knew the majority of my precautions, which they were happy with. They also reminded me of the few I couldn’t recall at the time. I’m sure more happened during this time but eventually I was assisted to the waiting room where Raul was waiting for me. He had met with the surgeon and doctor earlier and they had given him my prescriptions which he got while I was in the recovery room. He held my hand as I walked out and pointed out any ramps or steps as we made our way to the car.

Now this is where it gets a little fuzzy again. I do remember calling my parents letting them know everything turned out okay, but nothing much after that. We eventually got home and I got settled in to start my recovery at home.

Day 1-5 Post-op
Raul had asked for the day off after my surgery since I was still going to be a bit groggy from the anesthesia. I tried to stand or walk a bit because my legs felt a bit numb from being on my back/in bed for about 9 hours the previous day. I made sure to apply ice to control the swelling and to get plenty of rest those first few days. I did experience plenty of dizziness and lightheadedness for a couple of days so Raul did help me with taking a bath/shower. I also had to be extra mindful about not bending to pick anything up. I constantly had to remind myself to squat down even if it meant picking up a piece of paper. We also made me a space in the living room with easy access to snacks, water, and the bathroom during the day while Raul was at work. I also pretty much stayed in the same couple of outfits those first few days. I don’t own many clothes that are open-front only and I did not feel safe to do the laundry on my own the first few days.
By days 4 and 5 I felt more like myself, but I was still very swollen and bruised. Especially around the cheeks and eyes. I was able to get up and walk around the house safely. I was also able to prepare simple meals.

Day 6 – Getting Splint Off
I had my first follow-up appointment and had my splint taken off and got to actually breathe. Because my nose is still fragile, my doctor educated me and provided me with tape to apply a certain way until my next follow-up appointment. I was provided with a new list of precautions and we problem solved a few scenarios to make sure everything went smoothly until my next follow-up. I was reminded to continue to take it easy even though I feel 100% back to normal.

Day 7 – 10 Post-op
I feel more like myself and able to walk around the house without taking any breaks due to dizziness or fatigue. My sleep cycle is back to normal and I am getting ready to return to work tomorrow (10/21). During recovery, I made sure to order scrub tops that are open-front for work (thank you, Landau!) I have also ordered masks that my doctor said would be okay for me to wear while I continue to wear the tape on my nose that will not cause any damage during my recovery.

Before heading into surgery, I did some research and purchased a few things I would need to help me during recovery:
1. Bed Wedge Pillow
2. Small Reusable Gel Ice Packs
3. Lip Repair Ointment
4. Eyeglass Suspension Nose Guard
5. Saline Nasal Mist
6. Front Zip Sports Bra

I don’t usually post to much about my personal life on here, but I felt like writing about my experience as a patient would help other practitioners reflect on how they approach patients or choose to educate patients after any surgery. To read what other healthcare professionals would want to experience as surgical patients, read this article.

OT School · student loans

My Favorite Financial Apps That Help Pay Off Student Loans

Even before I started the application process for graduate programs, I knew I would be taking out loans to get me through school. I was also aware that interest accrues from the day you take out the loan. Yes, you read that correctly.

In order to get a head start on paying for my loans to decrease the amount of interest that would accrue, I used 80% of my babysitting money to make small payments towards my student loans. I also started researching ways to continue to make small payments without feeling such a burden on my already limited budget. Here are my favorite apps to help me with those small, but important extra payments:

The ChangEd App

ChangED ($3/month) is a great round-up app that rounds up each transaction to the nearest dollar that you make with the cards you link up to the app. Example, you spend $33.07 on groceries using your debit card, the app saves $0.73 for that transaction if your debit card is linked to the app. Once ChangEd saves up $5, it sends the money to your FDIC-insured ChangEd account. When your ChangEd balance reaches $50, the amount is automatically send to the student loan provider you link to the account. Check it out here.

Digit: Savings & Debt Manager

Digit ($5/month) saves money for your personal goals based on your spending habits and income. It automatically moves the ideal amount to a secure Digit account without letting you overdraft or drop down below your established “safe level. For student loans, the app automatically makes payments once a month to your loan service provider. The payments vary month to month depending on how much Digit was able to put aside for that goal. For example, the last 3 months, Digit has sent the following payments: $59.57 (Aug 2020), $31.07 (July 2020), and $20.31 (June 2020). Check it out here.

Qoins: Pay Off Debt Faster

Qoins ($1.99) is another great round-up app that can be linked to multiple accounts and help pay off multiple debts. You can personalize this app to use daily round-ups (like ChangEd) or “Smart Savings,” which is calculated by an algorithm to determine a daily amount to contribute to your debt(s). Once it has saved up $5, it sets it aside in your Qoins account. Qoins makes monthly payments towards your debt(s) on the dates you decide you want payments sent out, no matter how much it has set aside. Check it out here.

While I still have some ways to go, I do feel like these apps are helping me makes those additional payments once a month. Hope this motivates some of you to check out additional tools that can help you pay off your loans faster! We can do it!

Updated January 21, 2021

Awareness · Occupational Therapy

Summer Temperatures and Effects on the Brain

Days are averaging 105+ degrees for the last couple of months, and the heat does not seem to be going down any time soon. We are all familiar with the physical symptoms that extreme heat can cause: heat stroke, fatigue, dizziness, muscle cramps, etc. Since May, I have noticed an influx of patients being admitted due to altered mental status, hypernatremia, and increased risk of dehydration…with more than half of them being older adults or people who are homeless.

I have also noticed that I am exhausted by the end of the day. Especially on the days I hit traffic on my way home and then have to walk from the parking lot up to my 3rd floor apartment. Lately, I get home and go straight to the shower, followed by a nice nap. 💤
The heat really slows me down and I have not had energy to do anything OT-related (research, brainstorming ideas, blogging, etc.) after getting home from work. I can only imagine how my dad feels after working all day outside in the sun doing construction.

So why does heat decrease cognitive performance? When the hypothalamus (part of the brain that monitors temperature) receives the signal that our body temperature is rising, the brain sends signals to different chemicals in our bodies to work on regulating our body temperature. Glucose is not only our source of energy, it is also important for temperature regulation. When glucose gets depleted, it leads to less energy for brain function. Below is a diagram that I found online that easily explains the cooling and warming mechanisms of the hypothalamus:


Impact on Cognitive Performance by Increased Temperatures:

  • Decreased attention and focus
  • Slower reaction times
  • Decreased working memory
  • Difficulty with completing complex tasks – The is due to the fact that the brain is in thermoregulation mode and trying to achieve homeostasis rather than trying to sustain the brain capacity needed to complete complex tasks
  •  Balance deficits
  • Vision difficulties
  • Difficulty executing activities that involve psychomotor skills:
    • driving a car (ever get drowsy while driving a car in the summer?)
    • hand-eye coordination activities: catching a ball, hitting a ball
    • typing
    • playing a musical instrument
  • …and more.

As an OT, it’s important to take into consideration any cognitive deficits patients present. This is because cognitive deficits can lead to impaired safety awareness and processing skills impacting their independence with daily activities. By assessing and addressing patients’ cognitive functioning, we are able to provide strategies for appropriate care by staff during their stay and for discharge planning with the necessary resources and recommendations.

Tips for Dealing with Warm Temperatures

Stay safe and cool this summer! It’s been too warm for my liking in Arizona, but they keep telling me cooler months are coming!

To read more about this topics, visit the following links:

Occupational Therapy · OT School

Graduate School and Earning Money

Between assignments, tests, and trying to balance a social life, many students consider working in order to save up some money while in graduate school. I personally did not start working until my second semester of graduate school, which was when I had finally established study methods that worked for me and had a much more balanced lifestyle.

While working is not for everyone in a graduate program, there are plenty of jobs that are flexible enough to not intervene with study time:

  • Server – Convenient hours and flexible schedule that you can base around your school schedule. You can also make decent tips to take home along with your paycheck. There are restaurants everywhere, so finding a job is not difficult, especially in a college town.
  • Tutoring – Arrange tutoring hours based on your schedule, location, and determine what you want to tutor people in. You can either tutor through a contract company, your school, or word of mouth/posting flyers, or posting on social media.
  • Exercise Instructor – Many grad students in OT and PT school hold some sort of certification to teach exercises classes (ie: Yoga, Barre, Pilates, Cycling, Swimming,  Zumba, etc). You can set your teaching schedule based on your learning schedule, plus you’ll also get a workout! (Keep in mind these certifications can be pricey. Many of my friends got their certifications prior to starting grad school and had been teaching for some time. So please give it some thought before you invest in instructor courses).
  • Rehab technician/Therapy aide – Rehab facilities (especially outpatient clinics) are always willing to hire student interested in the rehabilitation field. They work around students’ schedules and you’re able to get hands-on experience with patient care. 
  • Child/Senior Care/Caregiver – Websites like care.com and sittercity.com make it easy to find babysitting and caregiver jobs. It can be a job with set days and hours or an as-needed basis (ie: date nights). I was babysitting regularly for a few families and it helped me save a decent amount of money. A few people from my cohort also had caregiver jobs. Many of us found these families from the cohort before us. Many of these families stick to graduate students and know they eventually graduate, so making connections is important this aspect. 

While these are not all the flexible jobs out there, these are the common ones people I personally knew had. Many programs have work-study opportunities so definitely take time to research that. 

Awareness · Occupational Therapy


A simple 4-letter word that, depending on where it is placed in writing or conversation, minimizes what you are communicating. It is one of the most common words used in the English language and often used as a filler:
I’m just a [insert profession here].
I’m just taking a couple of classes.
I’m just working out a couple days a week.

Continue reading “Just”
Activities and Projects · Occupational Therapy

LEGO®️ and Brain Benefits

The LEGOs the majority of us grew up with have been around since 1949. Interlocking bright-colored, plastic bricks to build whatever our imaginations came up with…and the pieces we had allowed us to. During more recent years, many people have expressed concern about more set kits being manufactured, requiring people to follow “strict guidelines.” I have had conversations with people saying the same thing, or have heard someone make a comment as we walk down the toy aisles at Target and come across Lego set after Lego set. I understand why people may think this. Having a boxed set of specific colors, pieces, and instructions limits the creativity compared to the classic Lego sets. However, as someone who enjoys challenging different functions of the brain, I believe putting together sets with specific instructions is just as important as being creative.

Continue reading “LEGO®️ and Brain Benefits”

Activities and Projects · Occupational Therapy

Multi-Purpose Magnet Board

Easy DIY poster board for all your OT needs! I was brainstorming ideas for one of the clients I work with that is nonverbal, but does use a homemade communication board: whiteboard with “yes” and “no” written on it. When you ask a question, the client uses their hand to point to the corresponding answer. I noticed that the words were always in the same location: “Yes” on the right and “No” on the left. Due to the various diagnoses, I wanted to make sure the client was scanning and thinking through the answer, instead of just memorizing where each answer was on the whiteboard. I made two variations of the multi-purpose magnet board, one for the specific client, and a larger one that can be used in the therapy gym for other clients. Continue reading “Multi-Purpose Magnet Board”

AOTA · Fieldwork · Occupational Therapy · OT School

Gifts and Stocking Stuffers

Gifts for the Occupational Therapists in your life.

The holidays are among us and you’re almost done with your list…except you notice you still don’t know what to get for the OT, COTA, or student in your life. You’re torn between something handy, something fun, or something functional. Here’s a list of some of the items I have found helpful as both a student and new practitioner and some of the ones I wish I would have had to ease the transition from graduate school to the real world.

Continue reading “Gifts and Stocking Stuffers”

Occupational Therapy

11 Things I’m Thankful For

2018 has been a huge year for me. I decided to really reflect on what I’m thankful for this year. I was going to make it 10 things, but I had trouble narrowing it down and since November is the 11th month, then why not make it 11? Here’s my list:


Continue reading “11 Things I’m Thankful For”

media · Occupational Therapy · Terapia ocupacional · Uncategorized

Movie Night

A couple of years ago I wrote a post about good books for OT students to read, so I decided it was time to compile a short list of movies that any healthcare students and practitioners can enjoy. The list is compiled of a few movies that have been personally recommended to me and I know there are so many others. Feel free to add any movies you’ve enjoyed! 

The ones I have watched are in pink and I’ve noted the ones available on Netflix or Hulu.   Continue reading “Movie Night”