Tag Archives: family,

Book Review – “Left Neglected” by Lisa Genova

So of course I’m going to be partial to a book that not only has an occupational therapist as a prominent character but also know that an OT is not someone who finds people jobs. I started reading Left Neglected last night and finished it before dinner today. I’m pretty bummed that I finished it so fast and I can’t wait to read Genova’s other book “Still Alice.”

In summary “Left Neglected” is about a career woman and mom whose life is a constant juggling act. Sarah has carved out for her and her family what seems to be society’s definition of success. All that changes after a traumatic brain injury. Lisa Genova not only captured what it’s like to adjust to life after a brain injury but she also does an amazing job following Sarah as her emotional perspective changes.

Honestly I think this book should be mandatory reading for any health professional in the rehabilitation field. It is an amazing story of learning to live life with purpose – even after your abilities change drastically. I am so proud to be able to do the job that I do and I’m so grateful that I can do it part-time and I savor every moment with my children and family.

This week I was finally let out into the home health world. Even though my job now involves at times wiping bottoms and dealing with people who are frustrated and angry that life turned a direction they didn’t want to go – I love it! I am honored to be able to help families and patients navigate through the storm, even if it’s just helping in the smallest way.


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Filed under family,, health, Occupational Therapy, working mom, writing,

The Creped Crusader

When I married my husband (almost 10 years ago), I married into a culture with some of the most amazing food I have ever tasted. One of my favorite shows – No Reservations – has featured Vietnamese food on more than three episodes. Anthony Bourdain has travelled all over the world and where does he want to live? Vietnam.

One of my favorite dishes we have learned to cook is Banh Xeo. It is a crepe that is flavored with coconut milk and turmeric. Add to it shrimp, pork belly (or bacon), onion, bean sprouts and mushrooms. It took us a while to perfect the recipe but here is one recipe to watch – Banh Xeo tutorial.

To thoroughly enjoy we wrapped part of the crepe in a baby mustard green leaf with fresh herbs (basil, mint and a spade-shaped leaf) and dipped in nuoc mum sauce (fish sauce mixed with water, sugar, lime juice, garlic and of course hot peppers).

So while this has absolutely nothing to do with hands I just could not resist sharing the feast we had last night. I love my husband for many reasons and yes – food is one of them.

The kids (ages 6 & 3) have not embraced banh xeo yet. They do however LOVE nuoc mum and the youngest has been known to through a mini tantrum if there is not enough on her rice. In fact she will not touch rice unless it has fish sauce on it. I’m ok with the fact that they eye the crispy crepes with suspicion. That just means more for us!


Filed under cooking,, family,

Chuc Mung Nam Moi! AKA – Happy New Year

If we lived in Vietnam we would still be celebrating Tet, the lunar new year. We would be traveling to the homes of friends and family, eating amazing food, and watching our children collect the little red envelopes with money in them. But we are in the US and my in-laws live on the south side of the States.

I miss Ba and Me on holidays like this. I miss the stronger connection they have with Vietnamese traditions and memories. But we still celebrate. We took my very American parents to a Vietnamese restaurant owned by a friend. We watched my parents clean their plates and praise the food. We watched my friend’s young son chase our daughter around the tables and listened to the laughter and squeals.  We might as well have been in a friend’s home.

We called Ba and Me and my 6 year old son proudly stated the phrase he had practicing all day, the phrase it took me 7 years to pronounce right “Chuc Mung Nam Moi!”

We handed our kids a little red envelope and we took pictures of them in their new clothes. I know that I cannot make the same traditions and memories my husband grew up with but I am blessed by the new. I watch my husband as he watches the kids carefully open their envelopes and I know that he is blessed too.

So to all the people who stumble across this blog I wish you a new year full of joy and peace, prosperity and health.

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Clean (verb not adj.) House

Let me start by saying that I am preaching to myself more than to any other person who may stumble upon this post. Cleaning house is therapeutic – especially when it is done the right way. That leaves a big question on the table: What is the right way?  Well I’ll take the easy way out and say that it is simply the right way for you.

Ok so I would not be writing this if that was the final answer. Here are just a few tips I am trying to follow myself and ones I’ve seen work for others.

  1. Break the job up into manageable pieces – no one wants to spend an entire day cleaning the entire house (well not any sane person).
  2. Use proper body mechanics – cleaning is no fun when it hurts and you cannot clean at all if your back goes out on you. Learn more here.
  3. When you make a mess clean it up right away – this is the maintainance part of cleaning and makes the bigger jobs much smaller.
  4. Share the work – if there are other people in the house then they need to help with the cleaning. Children can take empty trash cans back to their place, spouses can carry the laundry basket back upstairs.
  5. Reward yourself! Take time to sit back and enjoy your hard work. Pat yourself on the back and let yourself enjoy something that is truly just for you.

Besides not being mortified when a neighbor expectantly drops by, cleaning has other benefits. I am less likely to trip over a stack of books and break my wrist (I do not want to be my own patient). I can find what I need more quickly. I enjoy my house more, and I actually like sitting in my bedroom reading a book rather than losing myself in the TV. Also I feel pretty good that I have made a personal goal (keep the house more clean/neat) and I am getting it accomplished.

I used to treat cleaning like the 50 yard dash – a sprint to the finish line that left me exhausted. I’ve realized that cleaning (the verb) is more like a marathon. When I pace myself but stay moving then the job becomes monumentally easier. I don’t think I will ever truly enjoy the act of cleaning but I am learning to enjoy the results enough that I don’t mind it as much.

So what are your cleaning secrets? Please leave a comment because I am still learning. Thanks!

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It’s 8:30am and I’m on my second cup of coffee. The kids are eating breakfast at the coffee table and SpongeBob is on the TV. I’m not going to work. Usually I am wrestling with doubt and guilt at this point but today there is snow on the ground so I’m probably not canceling as many patients as usual.

So what’s the reason for this homebound day? Last night my three year old was up until 11:30 refusing to sleep. Her reasons alternated between not being tired, being afraid of the “bad stories” (aka bad dreams) and needing either food or drink. Unfortunately a small but more constant theme was that her right ear is hurting. Now she is happy as a clam and full of energy – but still says her right ear is “sick.”

The guilt comes from struggling with this question. When is my child sick enough to justify cancelling the appointments of 8-10 other patients who need hand therapy. If they are seasoned patients then I don’t worry too much – they all have homework, exercises to be done no less than 3x/day. But if it’s a patient who is brand new, who needs a splint after surgery, or exercises to keep the newly repaired part from stiffening up with scar tissue then I’m a wreck.

I wouldn’t struggle with guilt if there was another person to step in for me and take on the priority people. Then there is the possibility that the pediatrician will say “it’s just a virus, no ear infection” and I realize that she would have probably been fine at day care. Ok no judging – that’s where she got the virus in the first place (and my no-break rule is no school if there is any fever or vomiting).

So here I sit waiting for the doctor’s office to open, wondering how the snow on the road will affect my chances of getting in. I hope my patients are doing their homework and are relieved that they don’t have to venture out in the weather.

One more note: I love my job and I love my kids more. While I struggle with how to balance the needs of patients with the needs of my kids I am so grateful that I have the kind of job that I know makes a difference. I am spoiled by the instant gratification I get when someone tells me they can finally clasp their bra, open the car door, or fix dinner like they used to.

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Filed under family,, hand therapy,