Friday, September 27, 2013

9/27/13: Oh hey, Winter...its okay, nobody likes Fall anyway...

Well, it seems that I've found the class I'm going to use to blog during every week--Research and Methods!  I just took the undergraduate version of this class 2 months ago and it seriously feels like I'm taking the exact same class again.  Same lectures, same expectations, and nothing much more complicated yet.

So, lucky for you, you'll get a blog every week probably this semester :)  Not-so-luckily for you, though, I don't have anything exciting to talk about (like I ever do...), but I'm bored so I'm going to write anyway.

This week in our lives a lot of things happened:

- This isn't really exclusive to our lives, but Provo has decided it's time to be winter.  It's literally about 40-50 degrees and cloudy/rainy every day and I'm loving it :)  (Of course, I have a garage to park in...)

- Emma got her mission call to Nashville, Tennessee, English Speaking, leaving January 15th!!  I have a very love/hate relationship with missions, so I'm extremely sad to see her go, but she's going to be an amazing missionary, I know it.

- We had everyone over for a back to school breakfast on Saturday morning.  It was great, and we are getting better at delegating so we don't get stuck paying for and cooking everything on our own.  Derrick and Rachel, Jim and Christi, Jeremy and Sierra, Annie and Russ, Emma, and Scott (Dave's brother) were all able to make with which was nothing short of a miracle.  It was nice to catch up and have a relaxing breakfast with everyone.

- We watched the BYU Utah game that night with Annie and Russ and we were pretty upset at how terrible it was.  Mostly because we stayed up so late for it and it ended up not being worth it.

- Choir started at a new time this week!  I just got called as the choir director for our ward and released as music chair (Is it bad that I'm happy about this?) and I decided to change the time from 4:15-5:15 pm to 9:00-10:00 am.  I know neither of these times are stellar, but I think 9:00 is more doable for the families with kids in our ward (i.e. EVERYONE).  So I made a bunch of calls the night before begging people to come, and so many people showed up!  We had like 25, which is about 5x as many people as normal.  Hopefully I didn't scare them away and they'll keep coming back.

Side note:  I just absolutely love conducting choirs.  It's exhilarating and feels transcendent for me sometimes.  Even though we're no Motab, something about hearing a choir who's really polished and beautiful express their testimony by believing the words they're singing really inspires me.  I love it!!

-We had Bailey and Travis over for dinner on Sunday evening.  Travis and I were best friends freshmen year, and Bailey waited for him on his mission so we've stayed in touch over the years as well.  It was nice to catch up with them, and I think I inspired Bailey to start applying for the MFT program.  (She's a Psych undergrad) It'd be so awesome if she got in and we could be in the program together next year!

-Wow..all that was just the weekend...

-During the week, I went to the doctor because I'm still in pain and he asked me to come in to kind of reevaluate things.  He did an ultrasound and we were finally able to very specifically figure out why I'm still in pain.  It turns out that it's my ovary.  It's not the muscles or tissues around it, it's not adhesions or scar tissue.  I just have a painful ovary.  The pain is continuous and spontaneous which is frustrating, but that happens with endometriosis sometimes.  We didn't see any endo on my ovary during the surgery, which we were happy about because of fertility, but it certainly seems like there is some microscopic endo on my left ovary right now causing me pain.  I'm already taking the right hormone meds that should shrink the existing endo so we just need to give it some more time to see if it will help in the next month or so.

I was just happy that when he touched my ovary he could reproduce my exact chronic pain.  No one's been able to figure out what exactly is causing it before now.  Now that we feel more confident about what we are specifically treating, both my doctor and I are more comfortable with pain management medicines in the meantime.  He gave me a new, slightly less effective (and therefore, less addicting) drug than hydrocodone to use when I need it.  (Tylenol and Ibuprofen don't help at all)  I used it this week, and the next day I was completely pain free!

This felt like a complete miracle because it's been so long that I haven't felt any pain at all...I had so much more energy and I was happier and completely able to be productive all day long with no nap!  I just use that medicine as needed right now, but I'm going to ask my doctor if maybe it would be a more effective way to treat the pain continuously since it was so effective after just one pill.  Wish me luck!

The pain's back today, so I'm pretty sad about that, but I know this is how it goes; Good days and bad days--I'm just grateful I'm starting to have some good ones :).

- I don't want people to think that I define myself by the pain, because I'm trying really hard not to.  I don't want to live as a sick person for the rest of my life.  But it is my reality right now, and I can't really change that.  I'm at the doctor's office almost weekly because I haven't given up trying to figure this all out and I'm really reallyyy hoping to be healthy by the time I start seeing clients (in a month or so).  For right now, we're hopeful about having a good day this week.  Hopefully it was a taste of good things to come.  We're definitely praying for it!

- Let's talk about Dave for once, yeah?  He is really really loving his internship.  He's getting paid, which is always nice, but mostly he just loves the research he's doing, and he really feels like this is what he wants to do with his life.  It's all about how to help online classes be as effective for students as personal tutoring is.  He's also made tons of time to get out and go fishing this week.  And today he's going fishing with my Dad for the second half of the day after work.  I think they're crazy because it's 48 degrees and rainy!!  But fishermen are a special kind of people, I guess.

In other news, on top of thinking I have diabetes, my cohort probably thinks Dave abuses me now because I showed up to class on Tuesday with a huge blue and purple gash on the side of my cheek by my eye.  It looks like a bruise, but it's just a bad burn from my curling iron.  Hopefully it heals soon because it's really hurting and I don't want a scar on my face!
Please excuse the selfie, and keep in mind
this is covered with makeup.

Also...I eat chocolate chip Eggo waffles and In-N-Out like nobody's business all of a sudden.  And I'm not even sorry about it.

So that was our week over here.  Nothing too exciting, but school is going great for both of us, and after a few major minor freak-outs about whether or not I'm cut out to be a therapist, I am more excited than ever to see clients and start practicing the skills we're learning in school.  And tomorrow my sister receives her endowments and I can't wait to be there with her for such a special experience :)

Happy days here at the Rackham household!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Back to School Struggles...

I've had so many thoughts swimming around my head the last few weeks since Dave and I went back to school this Fall.  I usually do some kind of "back-to-school" post on here because I love school!  I love learning, and I will happily admit that I'm a total dork when it comes to reading and classes. This year, though, the start of school was a bit rocky for me.

I've been struggling with this chronic pelvic pain that feels like it's gotten worse since the surgery for about a month and a half now.  (It's been almost 18 months with the regular pain, but this last month has been particularly difficult)  What I guess didn't realize or appreciate was that over the summer I had the ability to lie down on the couch or take a nap whenever the pain got to be too much to handle.  I was never forced to sit anywhere for longer than an hour or so.  Even at church, I was standing up and down because I was conducting the music, and I could take breaks in between the hours.

On the first day of school, we had two 2.5 hour blocks of class and I just couldn't do it.  I went home and seriously thought I was going to have to postpone doing the master's program until I got this pain figured out.  I physically and mentally could not be present in the classroom because the pain was just constantly vying for my attention.  I was hoping that going back to school would be enough of a distraction to take my mind off the pain, but it almost had the opposite effect.  Because I'm usually very engaged in my classes, I was frustrated with myself that I couldn't give school 100% because of this pain.

The next day, I had physical therapy (which I've been going to for a loooong time working on all the secondary muscular issues from the pain) and I told my physical therapist whom I love that I was pretty discouraged about my ability to do my program and succeed.  She wanted me to be patient and give some new chronic pain meds time to work, but in the meantime she gave me this amazing device that's basically magic!!

It's called a TENS unit and if you've ever had physical therapy where they use stimulation machines on you, you'll know what it is.  It's basically a portable stim machine and it has saved my life!  It sends signals to my brain that overtake the pain signals my brain is trying to receive.  So instead of feeling pain non-stop, I feel these electrical waves that sort of feel like a light massage.  It's just a temporary band-aid for the pain because it won't resolve anything, but I can put it on during class and I'm a whole new person.  I'm much nicer, can pay attention longer, and I'm not in as much pain!!

I've absolutely loved the TENS unit, and there's a free trial with the physical therapy clinic so so far it's free.  Hopefully the pain will be gone once the free month is up...haha.  I'm trying not to think about that right now.  It's a little strange to walk around with this little gadget clipped to my pocket--I'm pretty sure my cohort all thought I had diabetes for the first week or so--but it's so so worth it.

So since the TENS has entered my life, my program has been doable, but it's still a little rough.  I love what I'm learning, and I love observing therapy sessions.  I really like my cohort (the other 11 students in my year) and have already made some good friends.  But I still struggle with all my classes being 2.5 hours long.  That's a loooong time for me to stay seated.  I feel like I'm having a hard time being empathetic towards people, listening fully to others, and accepting that some people need to ask a lot of questions in class to fully understand the concepts.

 ^^If I'm being honest, this is how I feel when it's a bad day for the pain...I'm working on it?^^

I sort of cope with this pain by just trying to keep moving.  I want to go go go, get things done, and never really sit with nothing to do.  So when class starts to get repetitive or someone needs help with a concept that I already understand, my immediate thoughts are pretty negative and I'm working really hard on being patient--not letting this pain change the person that I am.  I want to be nice, understanding, empathetic, and patient, but I think it's going to be a bigger struggle in the program than I realized.

Sorry this is a pretty "woe-is-me" post, but I just needed an outlet today about the pain.  Congrats if you made it all the way to the end!

Monday, September 2, 2013

August 2013...

Things we did this August to commemorate Summer's end and our 1st year of marriage:

1.  Dave's long-time friend and best man at our wedding, Tim, came to visit and he and Dave went on a small backpacking trip up to the Uintas to camp and fish.  They hiked in a float tube and a pump with no shame!  Caught a few fish, but mostly just loved soaking in the beauty of nature and their time away from real life.  Tim's in a PhD program at Georgia Tech so it's good for him to get a break once in a while.  It was a blast to have him here with us and we can't wait 'til next year's adventure!

2.  Celebrated Annie, Jeremy, and Tim's August birthdays at our house with three different cakes!

3.  Annie and I went to 7 peaks with the Highams and had a blast swimming with these cute girls.

4.  Got together with Dave's grandparents Rackham (who live pretty far from us) and his Rackham side of the family for a great dinner together one weekend.

5.  Went on a double date with the McKee's to Texas Roadhouse which we've been trying to plan for MONTHS so it was nothing short of a miracle that it actually happened!  We love Maddy and Jordan and are sure glad they moved in the ward when we did.  It's nice to have another couple in the same place in life as us.

6.   Celebrated our 1 year anniversary by spending the weekend in Park City and then coming home on Saturday to meet Caleb James, the newest member of the Higham (and Penrod) family!!  He was born on our wedding anniversary!!

7.  Bought a used '97 Ford F150 from our friends the Olsens because Dave's car is about to die and they were incredibly generous with us and made it affordable.  I think Dave's in love.

8.  Finally finished painting the rest of our house (all the bedrooms are done!) in time for our new carpet to come!  Our house finally feels clean because the nasty old carpet is gone!  And I must say it is beautiful :).

9.  Helped move Jeremy and Sierra to a new apartment, helped move Annie and Russ to a new apartment, and had people help us move all of our furniture in and out of the house for the carpet to come.  And helped Emma move all of her stuff and some new furniture into her apartment.  It was a crazy couple of weeks of physical labor.

10.  Hosted Corinne and Emma (my younger sisters) at our house as Emma moved into my old apartment on Condo Row for her last semester here at BYU before her mission!!

11.   Had my old roommate from sophomore year in said apartment^^, Rachel, come stay with us at the same time while she was visiting her boyfriend Noah who's at Law School up here right now.  She had to stay on the inflatable mattress because my sisters had the bedroom which was sad, but hopefully there will be many more visits and she can use the real bed next time!

12. Said goodbye to everyone as my Mom, Dad, Emma, Corinne, and Rachel all left today to head back to California and started mentally preparing ourselves for school to start all over again.

It's been a great month full of family, friends, sunshine, and all things that make life beautiful.  And even with all the craziness, we feel pretty refreshed after summer break and ready to head back to school!  Wish us luck!