O.T. sku(l)

the good, the bad, and the whatevs in between.

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[Warning: long post. sensitive subject.]

So, I’m ending my 8th week of level II fieldwork on the adult eating disorders unit and I’ve accumulated so much knowledge about mental health and so many more realizations about myself, people, and life than I thought I would — that I felt the urge to write about a little sliver of it. 

Well, before I get into it, may I just say — I’ve been leading sensory relaxation groups for the past few weeks now and I feel like a guided imagery master (guided imagery sample - “Take a deep breath in and out… Breathe in relaxation, breathe out tension. Now, imagine you’re on a deserted island… the sun is glistening… the ocean reflecting the color of the sky….” etcetera). I went from shivering in my pants out of awkwardness and freak-what-if-I-crack-up to sailing through it and getting compliments from my patients about my “soothing voice” and nice choice of relaxing piano music.

Thank you, Yiruma. You’re even doing a great job right now as I type. 

Anyway, here we go. (Ugh, where do I begin…)

Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate out of all of the mental illnesses. I’m assuming it’s partly because eating disorders are usually accompanied by physiological illnesses, as well as other mental illnesses, such as depression, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, OCD, etc. It’s serious business. When I first started my internship, I had a very superficial knowledge of eating disorders and dismissed the gravity of it. … But then it became a total “Days of Our Lives” soap opera on the unit for about 2 weeks. And even one of the members on our treatment team said that in her 20+ years of working here, she’s never seen the ED unit so full of drama and chaos.

… That’s besides the point, doe. (<— Did I seriously just….?)

I got to slowly learn about the disorder in depth by reading through patients’ constantly updated charts, observing patients throughout the weeks and documenting their progress, attending weekly treatment team meetings, building rapport with the patients, and most importantly, spending time with them in groups - particularly the body&soul groups where we talk about self-esteem and body image issues. During this group, we discuss past events that triggered their eating disorder and how we can reframe these negative “eating disorder thoughts” into more positive ones.


One of the patients’ coping cards (for shopping at the grocery store) that I rewrote in calligraphy. An example of how ED thoughts can be reframed. 

As these women began to cut themselves open (figuratively of course; FYI - sharps and other items that can be made into sharps are always locked away, but somehow some patients seem to find a creative way to cut themselves anyway) and share their deepest struggles with one another, I couldn’t help but to empathize with them. Well, to a certain extent. I mean, I don’t have an eating disorder. But, as a woman myself (duh), I often struggle with being perfectionistic, comparing myself with others, and being dissatisfied as a result… maybe because I’m very visual and have an unusually keen eye for detail, therefore easily scrutinizing and condemning the “imperfections” of my own body. Perhaps. 

My past may have not been nearly as traumatizing or depressing as the ones my patients had experienced, but I can certainly pinpoint a dozen of events or moments that could have triggered an ED in me. 

To name a few: 

1. During my “awkward” phase of life, when I was promised new clothes if I lost weight. When I was told I shouldn’t wear yellow or certain patterns because it made me look wide.

2. My senior year in college, when I lost nearly 10 pounds (from a series of stressful events) and secretly loved it… becoming unconsciously obsessive with keeping my weight at a very narrow range of numbers.  

3. My 8 months in Seoul, Korea. Enough said. 

It’s hard to admit, but I am guilty of a lot of the same things my patients have been doing as a ritual for many years. I am guilty of body checking (repeated pinching of certain body parts, trying on clothes from years back, staring a little too much and too close in the mirror). I am guilty of restricting myself from finishing a delicious meal, so that I won’t feel as “fat.” I am guilty of looking at calories to make sure I don’t go over my daily amount. I am guilty of exercising right after a decently caloric meal. Um…. I’m actually in my exercise wear right now because I was going to go to the gym right after I write this (but I’m not going to because it’s late and….). Can I get an amen, ladies? Anyone? 

I claim to be a believer of the almighty, perfect God who created the universe and the people living in it in the exact way He knew would be pleasing and glorifying to Himself, and yet I live in constant complaint of how He made me. I catch myself being hypnotized by society to believe that certain aspects of myself should either be enhanced or diminished/eliminated in order to be considered beautiful. I forget that standards of beauty are subjective and differ in literally every region of the world. I forget that God sent His only begotten Son to die for an ungrateful sinner like me, so that I can live a purposeful life in this “imperfect” body that I should consider a gift of His grace.

Don’t get me wrong. Writing all of these realizations out doesn’t make me free from it. It is something I will probably be faced with for the rest of my life, but just in different ways, according to different phases of life. And I won’t be surprised if you, the reader, feel the same. I just wanted to write all this (and more, but for the sake of time and also the health of our eyes) as a way for us women (and maybe men) to be able to relate, be open about it, encourage and pray for one another, and keep each other accountable. As I have a month of fieldwork left, I need to be in prayer for past, present, and future patients, and even so, for myself - to be in remembrance of His perfect love for His perfect creation. 

"You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you." 

-Song of Solomon 4:7

Filed under eating disorders occupational therapy

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Anonymous asked: Hi, I'm considering becoming an OT in the future. What kind of strengths and what type of personality traits do you think a person who wants to be an OT should have?

Hi! Good question. Even though OTs are different in personality, I think the common traits that all OTs share are patience, compassion, empathy, creativity, sensitivity, and flexibility. The profession is all about catering to the needs and wants of patients who are not functionally independent. Even if you don’t have a few of these traits in you, you definitely develop them as you work with actual patients outside of the classroom. You start to realize that there are so many things you took for granted that people in this world struggle with and you just want to help them increase their quality of life!

I hope this helps :)

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peace OUT, colton

So during the middle of the most stressful quarter of our OT school career, something lifechangingly horrible happened to my roommate and me, causing us to move into another apartment in a matter of days.

Little did we know that this apartment, this city, and the people surrounding us would cause us to hate more than we ever thought we would. 

We were enticed by the guarantee of safety, quietness, and free cable (oh, and a free accent wall), and although the outer appearance of the apartment and its residents didn’t really affirm that guarantee, we signed the 12-month lease agreement, excited to save money and finally be able to watch TV whenever we wanted.

What we learned looking back now is that free cable + cheaper rent =  too good to be true. … jk. We learned a lot more than that.

Let’s take a look at what my roommate and/or I have been experiencing during our 8 months here in Colton:

1. a $100 trip to the ER because of a severe headache and gushing 2-hr nosebleed session - the night I officially moved in.

2. Bloody nose every day for 2 weeks.

3. The constant stench of weed seeping into my bathroom and room from downstairs. Not surprised if they get their supply from our other neighbors.

4. The return of my back pain from college (and the worst I’ve ever felt), which resulted in multiple visits to a school-affiliated orthopedic doctor, who charged me $7,000 for the visits, MRI, and x-ray. (Good news: I wrote a letter of appeal to my school and got the charges removed. That process in and of itself was a nightmare. Praise God for the positive outcome.)

5. Extremely rude next-door neighbors who continue to blast their music and TV (my bedroom wall is their living room wall) without giving a lump, despite our numerous efforts to politely ask them to decrease their noise level, report to night patrol, and request management to do something about it. (Note: this is happening as I type.)

6. Inappropriate comments, questions, and hollers from other neighbors in our complex. 

7. Our ground shaking violently every time someone passes our unit on the 2nd floor.

8. Rat fecal matter and disgusting bugs camouflaged in our carpet.

9. The realization that the nearest market to us is where a lot of sexual assaults are reported.

10. The realization that we live within a mile of one of the most dangerous Walmarts in the state? Country? Doesn’t matter.

I’m surprised rape or robbery didn’t make it onto the list yet.

Anyway, we decided to break our lease agreement and turn in our 30-day notice. How about the $1000 penalty, you ask? After talking to the new leasing manager, who kept saying we cannot get it waived under any circumstances as stated by her supervisor, we took action and called the corporate office to inform them of some of the issues listed above (of course using Civil Code 1942 to back us up).

Conclusion: We are $1000 richer, and no longer Colton residents as of December 15th. 

Lessons learned

1. Trust God - these trials only make us wiser, stronger, and more dependent on Him.

2. Don’t trust strangers. (Why are we still learning this at age 25….)

3. Action leads to change.

4. Be careful.

5. I am undeserving of God’s unfailing grace.

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Today, I walked into my Upper Extremity Splinting class and sat next to my friend, whose HW was waiting to be turned in. I gasped in panic and ran to my professor to ask if I can run to the library and print mine out. She said, “Hurry.” I ran the detour route (stupid construction everywhere) and as I was about to finally turn the corner to go inside the library……..

I realized that I had printed it, stapled it, and put it in my folder YESTERDAY, when I was at the library.

Comes to show I’m really not used to being productive….

So I ran back to class and walked through the front entrance (the only… entrance) in shame. The professor asked if I had printed my HW out. I didn’t know she was talking to me and fast-walked to my seat. People called my name out and pointed to the professor. “Oh, me??” Embarrassing (and not even the first time). And with nothing in my hands, I had no other option but to tell the truth and say it was in my bag the whole time. Everyone laughed. I turned hot and wanted to slap my imbecilic self. UGH

My roommate, sitting 2 seats away, texted me this picture:


#seriously #storyofmylife

Filed under myotahapea story of my life occupational therapy grad school

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Anonymous asked: I am interested in OT school, and I have heard from an OT I shadowed for, that you will be required every so often from semester to semester to do an oral presentation in front of your class. I have shadowed many OTs in different settings and have liked what I have seen, but the thought of public speaking in OT school scares me to death! Is this true, and if so, can you simply just read off your notecards or do you have to explain a process or something off the top of your head? Thanks.

Hello! OH YES. Oral presentations become second nature to everyone. I HAAATED speaking in front of a crowd, but now that I’m so comfortable with my professors and classmates (we see each other every single day for 3-7 hours), I’ve gotten much more comfortable. In terms of reading off of notecards, I guess it depends on the professors and what they like/don’t like, but I think most professors would prefer students NOT to read off notecards because doing so shows that they’re not knowledgeable about their topic. One thing I have to do for SURE is to practice the night before and time myself because the professors don’t like us exceeding a certain limit. I also say “um” and “like” a lot (yay for being a socal girl…), so I have to be VERY conscious NOT to say those words too much. 

Hope this helped! Don’t be scared. If I could do it, you can definitely do it. :)

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Dear Harry #2 (7/3/13)

"… Til this day, I don’t really know exactly what your condition is or why you are the way you are. Mom keeps changing the story every time I ask. Or maybe it’s because I asked as I was growing up and she couldn’t explain it to me in a way my adolescent brain would comprehend. (Plus, the language barrier.) I feel dumb for not knowing, but I will ask again soon. 

I will.

The more important thing to me, though, is not your condition or disability, but your human being-ness. I’ve always been self-centered and not thought about what 
yougo through or whether youhave/are even capable of having dreams or goals, but I hope as a future OT that God can use me in whatever way to help you experience full joy in life and ultimately in Him. 

I love you, Harry. I’m sorry for the way I was in the past and even the way I am now, but I am so thankful for you and I promise while we are apart to always keep you in my thoughts and prayers, and to do what I can to make you happy…

… because you are you and you deserve it.


Your baby sister”

{full letter here: http://ot-sku.tumblr.com/post/42495074143/dear-harry-as-i-was-watching-a-video-on-adults}


Dear Harry,

That was a letter written to you 4 months ago — and today, I could finally say that I KNOW. I KNOW YOUR DIAGNOSES.

God is a very funny God. He has impeccable timing and he likes to use that skill to say, “See, Sarah? I told you to have faith” and totally humble-bomb me at the most necessary times.

You see, when Mom told me the annual meeting with your social worker was coming up, I mindlessly asked if she needed me there to translate. She said sure. So today, I ran some errands and headed over to your house. Mom called and said she was running late, so I let the social worker and the owner of the residential care facility know that I’d be taking her place.

It is all thanks to God for tactfully – and graciously — placing me at LLU (the only school I applied to) for the OT program and allowing me to successfully finish my first year, so that I can fully comprehend everything that was being discussed, participate in the meeting by giving my own input and asking my own questions, and know wadahail a social worker does.

(I mean… what if this was a year ago. #inoneearandouttheother)

It is all thanks to Him that at the right moment, I glanced over at the social worker’s sheet that listed all of your diagnoses – and completely knew what each one meant.




Age 29; 63 lbs

Born 3 weeks premature with multiple neonatal anomalies; severe scoliosis


-moderate mental retardation 
[FYI: they shouldn’t be using the term MR anymore; it’s changed to “intellectual developmental disability”]

-cerebral palsy 
[I might have heard these two words like… ohhhh maybe 203958092 times the past year.]
[this one was kind of a shocker because I don’t see the characteristics of it in you at all. AT ALL. You are a thousand times more social than I am, you probably don’t have the capability of being angry or aggressive, and your loving gaze and smile can pierce through any soul.]

{short video clip of him here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-_KQDZhpFs&feature=youtu.be}

-developmental expressive language disorder 
[the only thing you can say upon cue is “umma” (Korean for “mom”)]
[When I was in middle school and I tagged along to one of your doctors appointments, I heard the doctor say, “Harry has the bones of an 8-year-old.” That’s all I knew about you after that, and all I told people when they asked what your condition was.]

You don’t know how life-changing and liberating it is to finally know. I now have the ability to confidently tell people what you have. More importantly, I now have even more motivation to study hard in school – to gain the expertise necessary to serve you better as your sister, directly (using OT if need be) and indirectly (discussing with other professionals better ways to increase your quality of life).

Again, I’m infinitely thankful to God for you and the impact you’ve made and will make in my life. I can’t help but to think that the world is missing out on you

We love you so very much, and God loves you so very much more.


Filed under OT my brother intellectual developmental disorder cerebral palsy i love him

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Today is my brother Harry&#8217;s 29th birthday! So proud to be his baby sister. Please pray for his health and happiness! 💕 #hewouldvebeensuchagreatbballplayer #siblingdate

Today is my brother Harry’s 29th birthday! So proud to be his baby sister. Please pray for his health and happiness! 💕 #hewouldvebeensuchagreatbballplayer #siblingdate

Filed under brother birthday sibling date

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what we learned from our Task Analysis class

So…. one of my OT professors, Heather Thomas (author of the textbook “Occupation-based Activity Analysis”), is leaving after having taught at LLU for 8 years. She taught us many things, one of them being “Task Analysis,” which is breaking down the steps of an activity and analyzing them, taking into considering the different bodily functions needed to carry out those activities. (Get to the point? Okay.)

So as a token of our appreciation, a few friends and I made a video for her.

[oh, makeup tutorial is back.] 

click title to view video

Filed under makeup tutorial occupational therapy task analysis

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see you never

Warning: long post.

In a week, I will be finishing up my first year of OT school.

Here’s a gist of what it was like: 


… I know. “This is grad school?” 

Anyway, let’s do a recap on this past quarter, shall we? — And no, I’m not going to waste any space to say all this cliche stuff, like “OMG I can’t believe it’s over~~!” “This year went by so fast~~!” (Oh look at that, I just wasted space.) (It’s so true though…)

This quarter was by far the worst quarter I’ve had in the history of ever. I know in a few months I will look back on it, sigh, and then smile, thinking, “Ahh… what a quarter of sanctification it was. God taught me soooo much,” but let me just……—- just let me. 

1. My roommate and I moved during one of the busiest weeks ever— and didn’t really know the extent of how screwed over we were until our birthday weekend came up and things were revealed. To the shady, sick individual who made us cry and ruined our 25th birthday - Thank you for what you did. Sarcastic or not, I learned a lot of life lessons from you. 

M.S., see you never. (But if I do ever see you……………)

2. The night I finished moving, I got the most intense bloody nose and headache ever (see post below) and ended up going to the ER at midnight. Five hours and a hundred bucks later, I came out with only pain medicine and a referral to the Eyes/Nose/Throat doctor.

ER, see you never. I hope.

3. About 10 bloody noses later, I got my nose cauterized (for the first time). Basically, the doctor first sprays this really nasty chemical down your nostril and you start to wonder if it’s really poison because it tastes so disgusting you want to cry. Then after your nostrils and throat become numb, he/she gets a wooden stick, dips it in silver nitrate, and shoves it deep down your nostril to scrape and burn off any blood vessels hanging out where they’re not supposed to. If you’ve never gotten your nose cauterized before, DON’T DO IT. 

Then. The silver nitrate stains your nostrils and it looks like dried blood that you forgot to wipe off (so embarrassing). And your nose runs with clear discharge about every 10 seconds and it drives you nuts. And then your nose plugs up with boogers and you can’t do anything about it for a week. (Actually, I didn’t care. I picked out the burnt blood vessels 2 days later. It was gross, but cool.) (TMI?) 

ENT, see you never. Ever.

4. A week after all of this mess, my lower back became jealous for attention. If you don’t know me, I’ve had a lower back problem for about 6 years now (on and off), but it’s never been THIS bad. Last Wednesday during lecture, I was in so much pain that I had to sit on a yoga ball, sprawl out on the floor, squat and hang onto the edges of tables and stacked chairs, and even lie down on the plinth in the back of the classroom.

Today, I went to get an MRI. I get my results back in a few days. Hopefully, they know exactly what’s wrong, so I could say…

Lower back pain, see you never.

5. Every single week was just packed with quizzes and/or exams, in-class assignments (which are basically quizzes), papers, homework, and presentations. It was so hectic that we almost never knew exactly what class we were in or what exactly we were studying for.  ”ECU presentation? What’s that? Who’s in my group again? What class is that for again? Wait… what class am I in right now?” 

Today, I gave 6 presentations total. My throat is as dry as my legs. But I’m done!! Nothing due no mo’! 

Finals next week and then… 

1st year, SEE YOU NEVER. 

Filed under occupational therapy grad school see you never