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  • Danielle Raja

Week #4: Harvard Macy Institute!!!

This week was incredible! I had the amazing opportunity to learn with and from Harvard Macy Scholars! We spent an intense week discussing how to be effective medical educators. So many robust conversations happened. I feel so honored to have been a part of this! (HMI = Harvard Macy Institute)


I learned so much about being a teacher, but I think the most surprising lesson was not one that came from HMI. At least, not directly from HMI.


I have suffered with migraines for most of my life. After all this time, I'm pretty good at managing and preventing them. I found, however, that the prolonged exposure to Zoom calls during HMI was a trigger I did not anticipate. I woke up on day 2 with a migraine and benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). Needless to say, it was a rough day and the experience changed the way I was able to attend HMI. I realize that other students may have similar problems, so I offer my own insight here and the changes I made in hopes that others will find it helpful. This is not a substitute for medical care.

First, let's talk about BPPV. It's a disorder in which the sufferer experiences vertigo, which is sometimes described as dizziness. It can be spontaneous or the result of certain head movements, ear surgery, head injury, or associated with migraines.

*If you experience this, please see your medical provider*

There are some things that can help with BPPV. I am not suggesting these things in place of seeing your medical provider, I am merely providing context for some things that helped me to feel better and made it possible for me to attend my HMI course.


I suppose I could have stayed in bed all day, but I had Harvard Macy Institute to attend! These experiences weren't going to happen by osmosis! I NEEDED solutions and fast!


Enter Epley Maneuvers. These are positional changes one can make at home which can improve symptoms of BPPV. I performed these maneuvers 3 times, and I felt a little better.



After that (and some serious hydration), I began to strategize how I could handle some screen time but not make my situation worse. OSHA says that we should strive to be 20 inches away from our computer screens, but for me, it wasn't enough. My brilliant husband suggested putting some distance between myself and the screen. So, I used Google Chromecast and put the lectures up on our television. It's a screen mirroring plugin that can be used on a phone, tablet, or other device. At this point, I could watch the lectures from 20 feet away. This was probably the single most effective thing I did for myself.


For the small group discussions, I began walking around with my son's iPad in hand. I explained to the instructors that I would participate, but not look at the screen. Rather than make everyone else dizzy and nauseated with my constantly changing scenery, I turned off the video on my end and only used the microphone. It made for a less personal experience and I missed seeing everyone's faces, but taking my eyes off the screen was essential.


Ultimately, I'm hoping these strategies are effective. I know there's not conclusive evidence to support the use of tinted glasses, but I may invest in some TheraSpecs for my next HMI week in the spring. Also, I just love the pink lenses!




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