HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE!! As October draws to an end, it’s a great feeling to be able to tell you all that I survived my first round of midterms of graduate school and I am still alive to tell the tale. It’s a very particular sense of accomplishment to be on campus at 8am and then leave campus at midnight without having gone anywhere else but the library. I’m not one of those able to study at home. I find myself constantly hungry, developing a sudden disgust for how disorganized my room is, or catching a severe case of the “nnasap” (AKA, need-nap-as-soon-as-possible). So if you are like me, heading to campus is the right decision. NECO during exams was truly a festive period. Students were able to study virtually anywhere on campus; it’s as if the whole school was at my disposal. It wasn’t unusual to find someone crammed into a corner table that you never knew existed or find a few people having a study-food party in one of the conference rooms. On top of that, Paulo, our amazing cafeteria man, provided free coffee and tea the whole week of exams as well as fresh fruit and baked goods! On a side note for how suave Paulo truly is, on my birthday, not only was my coffee on the house, but I got a kiss on the hand with a birthday greeting in Portuguese…when was the last time someone kissed your hand? And no, I will not tell you how old I am because a lady never divulges that information.
Now, I say October was the month that could not decide because aside from the days that were spent endlessly at NECO studying (to the point of befriending the janitorial staff during closing time), the studying was balanced by this incredibly exciting time to be a Boston resident. This week we won our first World Series at home since 1918, nearly 100 years ago. The beard nation is in uproar! After the tragedy earlier this year, it felt like Boston really needed a good hug…in the form of thousands of people flooding the streets in celebration of the big win. There were even people at the Boston Marathon finish line chanting, “Boston strong!” In the two months I’ve been here, I’ve grown to really love the people in this city. There’s a familiar sense of family that spreads from NECO all throughout the city. My stress level varies like the colors on the leaves here; there are days where I am overwhelmed between class assignments, quizzes, and papers to write, but NECO will find a way to revive my spirit a few days later with a fun event or Boston will reward my hard work with a free movie screening. This is honestly the best place to be young!
On an optometric note, the Performance Vision Club at NECO invited the Boston Red Sox ophthalmologist, Dr. Dan Laby, to talk to us this week and it just reinforced why I am on the career path I’m on. It was doubly exciting to witness a profession in the field that was a part of the great Boston win the night before. I felt as if I was meeting a celebrity! He spoke of his interest in improving athlete performance through different vision therapy techniques and corrective lenses instead of jumping straight to corrective surgery and that definitely sparked my interest. I often felt that there was a stigma to use surgery as a means to correct many medical issues relating to health when it was definitely necessary. Dr. Laby explained some helpful examples of athletes using corrective contact lenses to improve their visual acuity from a standard 20/20 to a 20/12.5 while an athlete who received corrective surgery might only achieve 20/15 at best. It was inspiring to meet someone successful in the field speak of his trials and tribulations and it reinforced how vast and ever-expanding eye care is as a profession. And above all else, how health care is linked together. A professional athlete’s vision health and performance is based on more than a simple eye exam. A team of sports psychologists, ophthalmologists, and optometrists all contribute toward the accuracy of a baseball player’s swing, the subtle changes in a pitcher’s throw, or how well they focus under the pressure of a few million watchful eyes. Even if I don’t get to serve on a star-studded baseball team later in my career, I know that these same pressures apply to the everyday patient. As a future optometrist, it will be my duty to watch for strabismus and good tracking in children so that their academics are not affected by vision, the same as it will be my job to keep a watchful eye on adult patients as they begin developing cataracts. I’m grateful for NECO’s vast connections throughout the Boston area and that we’re able to bring speakers, such as Dr. Laby, to speak at events to help students understand how optometry can have an immediate impact on someone’s life. It’s a good time to be a Bostonian and a NECO student!