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!

1 comment:

  1. I made it to the end! I'm hoping you can find something concrete to fix. Patience for sure!! Love you Erin