Sunday, January 10, 2016

1/10/16: There is So Much...

Since it's been a few months since I last updated the world on the Rackham happenings, this blog will probably be chock full of surface-skimming summaries about all the areas of our life.  Sorry!  I wish I had energy and time to go more in depth with everything, but there is too much, so I will sum up :)

He's still loving his job at GoReact.  And our marriage is loving his job at GoReact ;).  It is SO fantastic that when he's home he's done for the day with work and can focus on school or relax without having to be constantly connected to his email.  He's also making serious headway on his dissertation and it's really exciting, but super complicated and basically impossible to understand.  Like really, when I can't sleep I ask him to tell me about his dissertation and I'm OUT. Sorry Dave 0:)  So he's still doing school and making progress towards graduation requirements.  We're looking forward to when he's done with classes so he has more time to focus on writing his dissertation.  Actually we're just looking forward to when he doesn't have to be working and in school at the same time.  That'll be the day, right?

 He also got released today from the Young Single Adult ward bishopric, which is a big deal because it means now we are going to be back attending church in our Provo homeward!!  We're both pretty happy because it just means is one less thing on Dave's plate as far as time requirements.  He gets a whole night of the week back and his Sundays are much less busy--depending on his calling in our homeward, of course.  But we volunteered to be teachers in the primary and the primary is basically always desperate for teachers, so I have a feeling we'll end up there.  We're sad to leave the YSA's and we're not really sure if we contributed enough while we were there, but I know Dave had some really spiritual experiences with some of the kids, and I know I was able to teach some important lessons and at least help reduce the shame and self-criticizing in the ward, along with inspiring some kids to go to therapy (yay!).

I wish I could say Dave gets out pretty regularly to fish and rejuvenate, but that's just not true.  I've been pretty sick lately, so Dave has taken on basically all of the household duties--laundry, cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, errands, etc.  So every Saturday he always has a long list of to-do's to catch up from the week.  It's pretty sad and I wish there was a better system or that I could help more, but at least we don't have kids thrown into the mix right now.  I'm grateful we're not having to manage that just yet.

So I think that covers Dave's updates for now.  He's just the greatest husband ever, and I feel lucky every day to have someone so kind and selfless by my side through all of this craziness that is my health.

My health pretty much dominates my life (surprise surprise...), but I'll get to that last or maybe in a different post since there's so much.  So...things other than my health issues...

I passed my first semester of my PhD program!!  In all my 7 years here at BYU, I don't know if I've ever legitimately had a semester that I was worried about failing, but this Fall I honestly didn't know if I was going to pass my classes.  I count it as one of the many miracles in my life that I passed Structural Equation Modeling and don't have to retake that class, haha.  But seriously.  In the last week of the semester Dave was researching for me and organizing my articles and helping me with my references list while I was seeing clients so I could write my two final papers.  It was a HUGE push and I couldn't have done it without Dave's edits and help writing.  Thank goodness I married someone well-versed in psychology and mental health, not to mention APA writing.  #phdlife?  So overall, super surprised and grateful I passed, woo!  Now onto Winter...

I'm still seeing clients one night a week at the Provo Center for Couples and Families and I absolutely love it.  They pay me really well and they have systemic perspectives and are well-trained so I trust my supervisors.  It feels very much like a private practice because I'm totally in control of my clients and schedule and stuff.  It's been neat to see I'm getting referrals from previous and current clients and I've had enough clients contact me to have a waitlist now!  I also see clients at the BYU clinic, but on the advice of multiple professors, I'm dropping my caseload there down to just 2 a week so that I can reserve my energy and use it where I need it most (since I don't get paid there).

  Other than that, my life basically revolves around my health.  So here goes, only read on if you want to know the details of what we've tried over the last few months:

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*tldr: I have crazy joint pain and inflammation, and nobody knows why, but the pelvic pain is feeling better after getting rid of surprise parasites we found.* 

So back in November I did the Candida diet--which was no sugar, no dairy, no gluten.  It was hard, but I had a lot of help.  It was actually a really amazing few months where I felt super supported by so many people with cookbooks, recipes, moral support, etc.  I didn't notice much difference from the diet except that my depression seemed to lift a bit, and my energy crashes seemed to lessen or disappear.  Once I had been on the diet for a while, though, I started to see parasites (Just like how the Candida starves, so do parasites, they live on the same foods. So they die and then pass through your body's detox system.) come out, which was FREAKY.  So we immediately got an anti-parasite medicine, and after taking the first one, I started to see different parasites, so I went on a second one (this was all a super emotionally charged, terrifying, and stressful few weeks full of my own research, my doctor's research, and the pharmacist at Walmart's research, mind you, since no one knows anything about parasites, apparently) and it was like magic.  I started feeling better the first night I took it, and then continued to take it for 2 full weeks.  I was passing parasites in droves and it was horrible, but felt very productive because I was killing awful things inside me!

Once I finished that first round of parasite meds, I started to feel pretty horrible again, so I did another round of 2 weeks of it and this time, my pelvic pain went away!  Oh and this whole time I've been sort of on and off the diet because it really makes me nauseous to stay on it 100% strictly, but during this second round, I tried to be perfect on the diet and I think it helped get rid of the parasites.  They say you can never get rid of them fully, but at least I can say they're not coming out of me anymore.  I have NO idea why the medicine helped my pelvic pain, but I've had a lot of days lately where I have none!  Even if I sit all day or something!  That's been amazing.  Just feels like a dream.  But then if I eat something with dairy in it or anything that upsets my stomach it seems to come back a little.  I'm still trying to figure it all out, but something about that second parasite medicine made it disappear for a while.

Unfortunately, throughout all of this parasite madness, my arms and joints have started to kill me.  They just burn and burn and ache and ache and I can't really correlate the bad pain days with anything like activity or food, so I just sit on the couch with ice packs on my wrists and elbows and sometimes cry because I feel like my body hates me.  And if we're being honest it's not that rare that I end up in a total WebMD spiral and end at the result of I'm dying and I have every cancer in the world.

I have now been tested for Lyme, Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sjogren's, Candida, Parasites, Thyroid issues, Adrenal gland issues, and lots of comprehensive blood tests to test hormones and vitamins.  Everything always comes back mostly normal, except that my adrenal glands are not functioning, so I take a supplement called Adren-All which helps regulate my sleep and energy levels, and my body wasn't processing Vitamin B, so now I take a type of B vitamin that my body can process, I guess, and my Iron is crazy low.  I also have some inflammation in my body, but not enough to be officially diagnosed with Lupus, they don't think.  But I have random big bruises all over my legs and arms that come from nowhere, and the fatigue is out of this world.  I feel like I have the flu--ALL the time.  It makes adulting pretty hard, but I don't want to take a medical leave from school until I absolutely can't do it.  Right now I worked my schedule so I have break-days in between school and client days to recover, so I'm able to do it so far.  We'll see how the semester goes.  I'm trying to be honest with myself about maybe needing to take a break if I'm in too much pain later on, but I really don't want to if I can help it.

So since the pelvic pain was gone for so long, I started weaning off Gabapentin (my previous miracle drug) slowly to see if it might help with my fatigue.  Gabapentin definitely makes me tired and I'm on an incredibly high dose.  The withdrawals are messing with my sleep, which is a bummer, but it should level out here soon.  Other than that, everything is pretty much the same with my medicines--lots of supplements, eating healthy and definitely avoiding dairy and sugar, and I feel like they're all helping and doing what they're supposed to, we just can NOT figure out this arm pain.  It's getting really bad :(.

So my life is basically lived from the couch, in a constant brain fog, struggling to be productive with anything, and once in a while feeling good, but way overdoing it so I end up back where I started--on the couch.  It's not super great, but I have a really checked-in doctor (like he texts me over vacations to check in...) and I feel like we're at least working on all the variables and maybe getting close to figuring it all out.

You're amazing if you made it to the end, that's the update for now!  Thanks for reading!