Monday, September 05, 2011

It's All About Me

I ran into a colleague I haven't seen in a long time at a conference I attended for my professional association a few weeks ago. She has dropped over 100 pounds. She had some questions for me about the industry we share and I had questions for her about her successful weight loss, so we sat down to catch up. She shared some concepts with me that I have heard from other people that have managed to drop a significant amount of weight and keep it off.
  • To be successful, you have to get to the point where you are doing it FOR YOU and not for anyone else.
  • At the core of it all - it really isn't about the food. To maintain success, you are committing to a healthier lifestyle.
I have a very busy life: a full-time job, a wonderfully supportive husband, 3 amazing children, 2 dogs, a great niece that I help babysit a few days a week, a handful of committees I volunteer on, a couple of pleasurable hobbies that offer a creative or educational outlet, and an array of close friends and family that help to round out my life. There are very few quiet moments. Very few opportunities for peaceful reflection. Rare chances to do absolutely nothing without feeling guilty.

Did I mention I am a caretaker? A rescuer? A co-dependent? I suffer from "savior syndrome." I'm a fixer. I have trouble setting boundaries and using the word "no."

It can be flattering to have people valuing your opinion or wanting your advice. It can feel good to be "needed" or relied upon. But there comes a time when what I really need is time for me. Uninterrupted, quiet, guilt-free time alone. Time to do what I want to do. All of this care taking gets overwhelming.

So back to my friend's advice -
To be successful, you have to get to the point where you are doing it FOR YOU and not for anyone else.

I love walking. I love the solitude of walking laps around the junior high track by our house - just me and my headset. It's a bonus that it happens to be as good for my heart as it is for my soul. So after talking with my colleague at the conference a few weeks ago, I made a commitment to myself to start each and every day with a walk FOR ME. My time.
It will send a positive message to me that I am worth it. That I matter. If I can set an alarm to get up for a conference call or to take a friend to the airport or accompany a kid to an appointment, why can't I set an alarm to get up and spend the first part of each day doing something I love and something that is good for me? I can, I will, and I have!

I have walked every morning for the past 15 days straight. My goal is 2 miles or 30 minutes minimum every day. So far I have logged just a little over 40 miles. Some days I push myself to make the minimum, other days I easily double it. But I'm sticking to it - and the message is getting through. I deserve this time to myself. It's not selfish. Taking care of myself can feel just as good as taking care of someone else. Thank you, Lois, for helping me see that.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

GOOD READ: The Road of Lost Innocence

I just finished reading a heart-breaking yet inspiring book called "The Road of Lost Innocence," by Somaly Mam. The author tells the story of her childhood as a sex slave in Cambodia with gut-wrenching candor. Somaly Mam has taken her horrible experiences and turned them into a driving passion to save others from a similar fate. She founded a Cambodia-based organization(AFESIP)a decade ago that exists to rescue victims of the sex trade industry from brothels. Her organization works with law enforcement to conduct raids, provides the victims with safe housing, teaches them to read and write, and trains them in a marketable trade like tailoring, agriculture and cosmetology. She has also opened a US-based nonprofit organization called the Somaly Mam Foundation with the same fundamental goals.

I am embarrassed to admit that prior to reading this book I was very naive about the human trafficking epidemic that is running rampant both at home and abroad. Human trafficking has become the second largest organized crime in the world, even surpassing drug trafficking. Somewhere between 2 and 4 million women and children will be sold into prostitution in the next 12 months - some of these victims as young as 5 years old. Cultural factors, poverty, illiteracy, and corruption all contribute to this growing industry.

I dare you to read this book and not be haunted by its message. Somaly Mam is a heroine in every aspect of the word. She survived horrific circumstances in her early life and yet she is truly making a difference in thousands of women's lives. There is no "woe is me" in her vocabulary! The world would be a better place if we had more of her kind around.

I urge you to purchase a copy of her book "The Road of Lost Innocence" and then tell all your friends. A portion of the proceeds are donated to the Somaly Mam Foundation and go to further her efforts on behalf of the victims of human trafficking. You might also visit There are opportunities to get involved, donate money, or purchase items that help to support the foundation.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Deciphering Medical Dictation

In my roles as an educator and a mentor in the medical transcription industry for the past 9+ years, I have assisted a lot of new transcriptionists along their journey to become productive MTs. One of the most common issues new MTs have is hearing all of the words being dictated. Today I had a student who is studying for her RMT exam write to me for advice on how to fill in blanks and not miss the little words being dictated. The following is my proven method for tackling both problems at once.

1. Listen through the dictation the first time and transcribe everything you can easily hear. Leave blanks for anything you aren't sure of. (Feel free to leave yourself "sounds like" clues in your blanks.)

2. Read through what you transcribed WITHOUT THE VOICE FILE. Correct any obvious grammar and/or spelling errors. Read the report like you would a story - connecting the dots in your mind and making sense of what you are reading. You may be able to fill in some blanks this way.

3. Go back over the dictation a third time - this time listening to the voice file and stopping on your blanks. Don't spend more than 5 minutes per blank. If you're struggling to make out a word, try writing it down phonetically. Then try pronouncing it out loud by putting the emphasis on different syllabus. For example, you hear what sounds like "eye-bip-row-fin." Say it the first time out loud emphasizing the first syllable: EYE-bip-row-fin. Then: eye-BIP-row-fin. Then: eye-bip-ROW-fin, etc. Then try running some of the syllables together: eye-biprow-fin. Or eyebip-rowfin. In the case of this example, hopefully you will eventually hear "ibuprofen."

4. Go over the transcription one last time without the voice file - again reading out loud and trying to understand the story being told.

5. If you end up having to submit the report with blanks, it is imperative that you go back over the report when your instructor or QA person completes it. If you have the opportunity to listen again to the voice file, I highly recommend it. This way you start to make the connection between what you are hearing and what belongs in those elusive blanks.

Learning to decipher medical-ese is like learning any other foreign language. You can't just learn the words using flash cards - you have to hear the words used in "conversation" to truly grasp the language. You will find that there are certain phrases that you hear over and over again: well-developed, well-nourished; no wheezes, rales, or rhonchi; alert and oriented x3. Over time you will almost be able to predict what is being dictated next. And that's when you know you've arrived!

The truth is, you can master anything that you spend valuable time practicing. The only way to master the language of medicine is by repeatedly being exposed to it. Watch medical shows on TV, listen to medical podcasts online, and concentrate when you sit down to the keyboard to do your work - whether for an instructor or your employer. At the end of the day, always aim to do your best. Treat every medical record you work on as if it was your own.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

I LOVE: Teavana Teas

A great friend introduced me to Teavana Teas last Christmas when she gave me the 16 ounce Perfect Tea Maker and a bag of Rooibos Sweet Amore tea as a gift. I have been a tea drinker for as long as a I can remember - raised on hot tea with a little bit of sugar or a dash of milk, maybe the occasional cup of Market Spice Tea (made at Pike Place Market in Seattle), or a tall glass of iced tea on a hot day. I have never been a fan of traditional herbal teas, though. Until now... Teavana has opened my eyes!

A trip to a Teavana retail store is an adventure for the senses. Loose leaf teas are arranged by category in colorful tins lining a large bookshelf - white teas, green teas, oolong teas, black, pu-erh, herbal, rooibos, mate, decaf, organic, and blooming teas - each with dozens of individual flavors to choose from. (Check out and click on "virtual tea wall" to see what I mean!) The employees are standing by to help you pick the perfect tea and will spend as much time as you need pulling down these large tins and allowing you to enjoy the different aromas. They are extremely knowledgeable about the health benefits and caffeine content of each of their teas, and can make excellent suggestions about ways to combine them to create your own custom blends to maximize both flavor and health benefits (I'm currently a fan of a custom blend to help with digestion and weight loss made with monkey-picked oolong, strawberry slender pu-erh, mate lemon blast, and imperial acai blueberry.)

If seeing and smelling aren't good enough, there are always free samples of both hot and cold custom blends to tantalize your taste buds. It's a great way to try something new without having to spend a penny. If you find something you like, you can order a drink to go from their beverage bar. Or purchase a bag of loose leaf to take home.

Loose leaf teas are sold by the ounce, so you can buy as little or as much as you like. They package them in foil-lined bags to preserve the flavors - or you can purchase metal tins to extend the shelf life (and they look great lined up in your cupboards at home). They even sell a variety of pretty tins to match your every mood.

On a rainy day in Seattle, there is nothing better than a hot cup of tea and a good book. Which is exactly what I'm planning to do now.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Woman to Cycle Across America in Support of Military Spouses

This is from an organization I have worked with to help bring military spouses into the medical transcription industry. A very dedicated group of individuals with a noble cause.

Operation Life Transformed
For Immediate Release

Riding Across America for our military
HeadQuarters - WoodBridge, Virgina- June 19, 2009
Jeannie Benton, a 51 year old female from Bedford, NH, has chosen to seek pledges for Operation Life Transformed by pursuing her first cross country bike ride endeavor exceeding 3600 miles.

A dream that has sat at idle over 12 years to ride across America is becoming unveiled over the next 6 ½ weeks. Jeannie Benton, a 32 year resident of Bedford, NH, believed she would ride the distance one day, but she wanted to do it with purpose. It was at the health club about 12 years ago when she started getting involved in spinning and strength training classes that she realized her ability for endurance on the bike. Jeannie began doing one-day cycling events for fun and for charities and it was then that she started to dream about the idea of riding across America! She is a special education, Para Professional and mom of four grown children. Her ride will start June 21st from Astoria Oregon and will end on August 10th in Portsmouth, NH totaling 3625 miles across the Northern United States.

Operation Life Transformed, established in February of 2007, provides access to flexible accredited online certification programs that lead directly to virtual or portable career placement. These services are offered to military spouses and caregivers of the war wounded. We can also extend our assistance to the military sponsor including; active duty, reserve, National Guard and Veteran service members who have unmet needs due to injury, physical/mental disorders or deployment as a result of service in Iraq or Afghanistan. OLT is expecting to see over 200 students graduate with full job placement by August of 2009. In 2008, over 86% of all monies donated went directly to OLT’s program.
Please join us as we she embarks on her journey across America in support of our military spouses and caregivers of the war wounded around the world!

Learn more:

Follow Jeannie’s Ride:

Contacts: Operation Life Transformed
Jay Brethen, Grant Development and Fundraising 619-884-0518
Kristina Saul, National Outreach Program Manager 770-445-5286

Sunday, January 11, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: Newfound Medical Thriller Author

I just finished the first of what I expect to be many great medical thrillers by Vancouver, BC, ER physician Daniel Kalla.  I found him while searching Barnes and Noble for medical thriller writers that I had not previously read.  I wanted to send some to my step-mom for Christmas.  By using the "Fans of this book also ordered..." feature, I found my way to Daniel Kalla and quickly scooped up 3 titles.  I shipped 2 to my step-mom and kept Rage Therapy for myself.  What caught my interest almost immediately about Daniel Kalla's books are that some are centered around Seattle, WA.  Who can resist a good thriller placed right in your own back yard?  

Rage Therapy is the story of a widowed psychiatrist (Joel Ashman) who consults with the Seattle Police Department doing criminal profiles.  When his ex-business partner, the esteemed psychiatrist Stanley Kolberg, is found brutally murdered in his office, Joel is called in to help solve the crime.  He soon learns that his ex-mentor was involved in a seedy world of S&M and surrounded himself with a host of shady characters.  When Kolberg's partner, Dr. Nichols, is also found murdered, Joel knows he is likely to be next.

Rage Therapy was a real page-turner.  The characters were engaging, the plot moved quickly, and there were enough twists and turns to keep my interest.  If you're looking for a quick read with a great story line - I recommend you run out and get this one!

For more information on Daniel Kalla, check out 

Monday, October 27, 2008

Goodbye Common Sense

Got this in an email today and just had to share it.

An Obituary printed in the London Times

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old hewas, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessonsas:

Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
Why the early bird gets the worm;
Life isn't always fair; and maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children,are in charge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boycharged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.

It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an Aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.

Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from aburglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death, by his parents, Truth and Trust, by his wife, Discretion, by his daughter, Responsibility, and by his son, Reason. He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers;

I Know My Rights
I Want It Now
Someone Else Is To Blame
I'm A Victim

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.