Sunday, January 30, 2011

My ER Adventure

This weekend was a little bit different than the average one. It started off great, a double date with Marian and her friend David. We went to Indian food and it was delicious. Then we spent nearly an hour searching for this place called Smart Cookie. My Iphone kept leading us into these obscure neighborhoods. It was rather scary. Once we arrived at Smart Cookie we had to wait a little bit because the cookies were in the oven. It was well worth it though, they were delicious. Mark and I got a dozen and Marian and David got a dozen. It was pure blissful delight.

Suddenly, as we were leaving the cookie shop I got a sharp pain in the right side of my head. I thought it was was simply because I hadn't been home to take my medication yet but something felt different about it. I became quite sensitive to noise and light. It would come in waves but I didn't talk much on the way home. When we got back I told Marian that I would go put the leftovers away and then head over to her apartment but I called her later realizing just how much homework I had and said I would have to call it a night. After taking my medication the pain ebbed away and I talked with some of my roommates for a bit. I was quite tired because I had been up until 4 am the morning before writing a paper for class. I decided it would be a good idea to take a short nap just to recharge before starting on my homework. I laid down on the couch and Mark watched over me. After the 15 minutes were up he tried to wake me up but I said no. He gave me nearly another 40 minutes before trying to wake me again.

This is when the pain hit. My head felt like it had been split into two. My right side was throbbing and then it would spread to the rest of my head before localizing again. I started to sob uncontrollably. Mark was scared because he asked me what was wrong and all I could do was point at my head. Finally we got smart and after about 40 minutes the pain started to subside. It would come in waves and then each wave was less and less painful. I started to type to Mark on my phone. I couldn't speak. The words would form in my head but when I tried to vocalize them nothing would come out. If I was lucky I could get out one or two words.

At this point I was petrified. I thought I had, had a stroke or something was seriously wrong with me. Mark called his Mom and Dad, his mom as suffered with migraines for years, but it was like nothing they had ever heard about. Finally I consented to him calling my parents. My mom and dad immediantly said that we should call 911. I refused but instead told him to call Colton to come give me a preisthood blessing. Colton was at a friends house and by the time he got there the pain was gone but I still couldn't speak. Mark and him administered the blessing and by that time Jerra, Brittan, and Liz had arrived home. Brittan and Liz took Mark and I to the Emergency room. Luckily there was no waiting time so I was able to get in right away.

Mark explained the situation to the lady at the front desk and they led me to a room after giving me a spiffy bracelet. The doctors did the typical blood pressure and temperature tests. None of those were abnormal. Then I got transferred to another room where the actual doctor came in to talk to me. I got to put on a luxurious hospital gown. He did a few tests including where I had to close my eyes and then he would touch a finger and have me touch it to my nose. Apparently I messed up a few times but was able to correct it. Then he had me stand and he tried to push me over and I was able to correct it so I didn't have any symptoms of stroke. He told me I had most likely suffered from a complex migraine. Another doctor came in and put an IV in my arm. I HATE needles so I was scared out of my mind. Tears were welling up in my eyes and I was squeezing Mark's hand so tight I am surprised he didn't have bruises.

They gave me some saline and within it they put something that makes it so when it goes into you it gives you an Awful, I repeat, I awful, taste in your mouth. It tastes metallic and it is to make sure that it is in your blood stream. Next a nurse came and gave me some anti-anxiety meds. I don't remember the name of it. It made me feel so strange. It didn't work right away but when it did I felt sleepy and couldn't focus on anything. It was very hard for me to concentrate and I just felt weaker than I already was.

Not long after that they came in and discharged me, telling me to get lots of rest. This wasn't a problem considering I could barely keep my eyes open due to the anti-anxiety medicine they had given me. I desperately wished Mark could have stayed the night with me but he helped carry stuff up to my dorm and then said good night. Liz and Brittan took great care of me making sure I was comfortable. It wasn't long before I was asleep.

In the morning I woke up around noon. Mark had been there since 10 am (the soonest he is allowed in the building). I texted him saying I was awake and he came walking down the hall. My voice was back. It was still kinda hard to speak at first but I was able to. Throughout the day it got easier and easier. Never have I been so grateful for my voice. It felt like a small miracle to me. I hugged Mark so tight and got all teary eyed, so grateful that I was alright.

Mandee was like my adopted mom today. She waited on me hand and foot. For lunch she made me the most delicious sandwich consisting of spinach and warm cheddar cheese on a baguette. I had never tasted anything so good. Then for dinner she made me pasta with yummy red sauce and vegetables. I love Mandee! Mark left at around 3pm to go hang out with his brother and I slept from then until 6:30. He came back at 8pm to check on me. I love him so much and he is going to make an excellent doctor some day. After he left I worked on chemistry. He really is amazing and I am so lucky to have him.

So you are probably wondering what a complex migraine is. They are relatively uncommon.
TA "complex migraine" is one in which there are neurological symptoms such as weakness, loss of vision, or difficulty speaking in addition to the headache. In fact, a complex migraine may be mistaken for a stroke.

One theory about the cause of migraine headaches is that blood vessels in the brain suddenly narrow (or spasm) and then dilate; when the blood vessels dilate, the headache develops. During the spasm phase, certain parts of the brain may receive too little blood, and this may cause the stroke-like symptoms. However, unlike a stroke, blood flow is not permanently interrupted during migraine headaches, and the neurological symptoms are nearly always temporary.

So now you know a little bit more about what I went through this weekend. I can certainly say I got a lot of rest. :) Much needed let me tell you. This next week though is going to be stressful. I have 4 tests and a large paper due! *EEP* Wish me luck!

Random Fact:  In ancient Greece, throwing an apple to a girl was a way to propose for marriage.. If the girl caught it, that would mean she accepts.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Busy as a Bee

The end of another busy week and the beginning of an even busier one. Monday is jam packed with classes and work. Tuesday will be spent in line for the basketball game and going to classes. Wednesday is basketball night :D so excited for this game against San-Diego State. It should be amazing! Thursday will definitely be a homework day and then the best day of the week FRIDAY! Looking at my current homework schedule I have no clue how I am going to finish it all and still do what I want. My poor Bed will be missing me more this week it seems. Our relationship has been a bit strained lately. I just can't devote enough time to it. Oh how I miss sleep.

Besides the hustle and bustle of College last weekend Mandee, Britan, and I were able to have some bonding time while the rest of the roomies were gone and Mark was busy with family. We had many "awkward" moments and the apartment was actually CLEAN! It felt funny that each one of us had our rooms to ourselves, yet oddly refreshing just to kinda have some Me time. I must say though It wasn't a super productive weekend. Lots of fun but homework was lacking because we knew Monday was a break from school. Thank you Martin Luther King! There are only two breaks this semester, Martin Luther King Jr. day and Presidents day in February. *sigh* No spring break for me folks.

Stress is really starting to get to me with me not understanding what is going on in Chemistry. Mark has been trying to help me but even he is getting confused now. -.- FAIL! So I'm going to go in for some extra help and try to really master this delta G nonsense. Cause right now with my teacher being gone so often it is going right over my head and crushing me. Other than that classes are going really well. I got a 100% on my math test this past week. That was a huge moral booster looking up at that screen and seeing "Perfect Score". My heart just leaped! I am loving my Molecular Biology class and heavily considering the option of switching into that major instead of just plain Biology. It will really help me in Grad school.

Anyway, I am very much looking forward to my Sunday afternoon nap. This whole 5 to 6 hours of sleep a night is really not working out very well. The good thing is I was able to enjoy going to Horses yesterday. We put some shavings down in the barn because now that it is slightly warmer all the ice is melting and the ground water is seeping up. It forms nasty puddles of mud which will freeze every night and then thaw again. Kirk (Mark's brother) was able to go with us and I think he had a good time. It's always nice to just get out of Provo. But then I spent the rest of the day working on homework and then Liz and I watched a rediculous movie called Corky Romano until Mark got home and we worked on Chem. I eventually gave up from frustration. Then we just chilled for a while watching SNL.

After he left I got online and talked to my family for about 2 hours. I am such a Boss. Mina is in the same IB SL Biology class I was in last year. She had to do Fly Lab as well and I still had all my notes so I scanned them in and sent them to her. :) She was confused on how to do all the Punnet squares. I really love Genetics and I am so excited to work in that growing field. Everybody seems to be doing well. Jared is healing and Mina is too. She got in a Motorcycle accident. She was pulling out of the Gas station and a motorcycle came from the opposite direction and hit her. She was able to stay on the bike and only suffered a large bruise to her hip but our motorcycle did get some damage. Other than that things are good. Peace world!

Random Fact: The name Snickers for the popular candy bar was named after a horse that the Mars family owned.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

R.A.D. is not so Rad after all...

Here is some more information about RAD. One of the guys who was volunteering said that RAD isn't so rad after all and it should be named something more appropriate like "Sucks". I thought that was highly appropriate. Enjoy reading this:

As a fairly new diagnosis to the DSM-IV manual, Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), sometimes known as Attachment Disorder (AD), is frequently misunderstood, and is misdiagnosed as Bipolar Disorder or Attention Deficit Disorder as often as 70% of the time.

motherandbabyToday, perhaps more so than at any point in history, kids are apt to be separated, ignored, or neglected by their birth parents, shuttled between multiple foster parents and day care workers, or traumatized by physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. Even while physically present, some mothers are yet incapable of providing adequate care and attention for their children.
RAD kids have learned that the world is unsafe, and that the adults around them can’t be trusted to meet their needs. They have developed a protective shell around their emotions, isolating themselves from dependency on adult caregivers. Rather than depending on their parents or other adults to protect them, the protective shell becomes the child’s only means of coping with the world.
Dependent only upon themselves for protection, they come to see anyone who is trying to remove this protective barrier as a threat, not to their emotional well being, but to their very lives. They turn on those who seek to help them the most.

People require attachments with others in order to develop psychologically and emotionally. Attachment is the bond that normally develops between a mother and her child during the first few years of a child’s life. The quality of this bond affects the relationships that a person will have for the rest of his life.
Attachment develops in the early years of life when a mother responds to her baby’s cries by meeting its needs, appropriately feeding, consoling, soothing, and comforting, as well as keeping the infant safe from abuse and harm.

Fundamental to RAD kids is that they haven’t bonded and are unable to trust. They have learned that the adults in their lives are untrustworthy. Trust hasn’t worked for them. Without trust, there cannot be love, and without love they are emotionally underdeveloped. Instead of love, rage has developed within them.

In the first few years of life, at a time even before they have learned to speak, they have learned that the world is a scary place, and that they cannot rely on anyone else to get them through it.

Normal parenting doesn’t work with RAD kids. Neither does traditional therapy, since these therapies are dependent upon the child’s ability to form relationships that require trust, something that is at the root of the problem. Sticker charts and behavioral programs don’t work because the RAD child doesn’t care what you think about his behavior. Natural consequences work better than lectures or charts. Structure is a necessity, but only when combined with nurturing.

While these kids can be healed, they have to want it, and the prognosis is not good. Without healing, these kids grow up unable to form healthy relationships with other human beings. Too often, these kids develop into sociopaths devoid of conscience or concern for anyone other themselves.

Random Fact: When snakes are born with two heads, they fight each other for food.

Sometimes You Just Gotta Shovel A Lot of Manure

Well it's been a very busy week and I am really looking forward to enjoying my day free from classes tomorrow. We only get two breaks this entire semester! Crazy right? No rest for the weary I suppose. I've learned some interesting lessons this week and more about myself too. I've decided I may quite possibly become a work-a-holic. I really do love my job. Unfortunately, that means less time with my ever so loving boyfriend Mark, and even less time to do homework. It's going to be an adjustment considering we pretty much spend every waking moment together but it'll be good. Work really has been good for me and it has taught me how wonderful it is to feel like you are independent.

My parents can testify that I haven't always been the one to do it myself or to seek opportunities without a nudge but college really has made me grow up a lot. My computer crashed a month into the semester and I lost all of my notes and some vital information. I felt like I was going back to the stone ages writing notes by hand and trekking to the library nearly every day to use the computers there. Then right before finals week my iPhone 4 decides it is going to hate me as well. The sleep/wake button on the top got jammed suddenly and I had to send it away to get repaired. It was quite interesting trying to handle all this basically on my own. My dad sent me a new harddrive for my computer and so I took it apart and installed it by myself! I was so amazed and truly felt accomplished.

Throughout last semester I had the opportunity to work with a service group called Horses for Healing. Tami, the owner, works with kids who have RAD, moderate to severe Autism, and other mental or physical handicaps. It has been so humbling to hear the stories of these poor children. One particular story really touched me when I went this past Saturday. A warning to those who are a bit queasy, this story is not for the light of heart. 

Tami told us of a young girl from Ethiopia that had been adopted by a family here. Apparently the orphanage that she was raised in from an infant from the time of 18 months on would sell her for prostitution. She was violently raped and molested. The orphanage would also film the children and turn them into pornographic movies. They would sell these to raise money. Not only were the kids treated horrifically but they were deprived of basic necessities and tools for learning. This young girl arrived in America and was shocked that suddenly she had clothes, a bed to sleep in, and two loving parents. Because RAD is a mental disorder caused by trauma at a young age this girl had developed it. She has an extreme Love/Hate (mostly hate) relationship with her mother that is heartbreaking to watch. These RAD kids thrive on attention and can be very manipulative to get it. One time while she was riding she threw herself off the horse while her mom was leading just to get her attention. That day while we were there instantly when her mom was leading her around she would slouch down in the saddle. When asked how she felt when us, the volunteers were leading her she said "Good" but when her mother led her she replied "Sad." It was heartbreaking to watch the love this mother had for her daughter not being returned.

More about RAD: I'll make my next post dedicated to this disorder. In the mean time you can learn more about it on RadKid.Org
While out at the ranch we often shovel a lot of manure. On Saturday Mark, Caleb, Cambria, Josh, and I were shoveling a particularly filthy pen. It was home to a mother and two young foals. It was fun to watch them frolic around. Because this pen was outside the snow and manure had mixed forming a nasty frozen slush. We used shovels to break it into chunks before dumping it into wheelbarrows. This took nearly an hour. Something about shoveling all that manure makes me realize how much I truly do love horses and even the messy not so fun stuff can be quite enjoyable in the right company. I was actually grateful that it was frozen because trust me frozen manure does not have the stench of it does on a hot, humid, day in August. Waking up today with my arms and shoulder sore reminded me that I have made a difference. Tami honestly could not run it alone. I look forward to going there every Saturday and helping out.

When Mark and I got home we were starved! So I made some oatmeal while he enjoyed a nice bowl of coco puffs. After that we got talking and we talked for nearly 3 hours before realizing that his sister would be there soon to pick us up for his brother's basketball game. We got ready and headed off to the game. Kirk won 58 to about 33. It was great to see him smiling and enjoying the game. He is quite an agressive player. The scare of the game was when number 35 on his team fell and slammed his knee into the bleachers. As he hobbled off the court and into the locker room you could see the blood. Being an amazing trouper that he was though he was only off the court for about 10 minutes and then he was back in the game. That amazed me because I though for sure he had shattered his knee cap or worse!

After the Game we took Kirk out to Chick-fil-a. I hadn't been there in ages so I was super excited. Munching on my chicken nuggets and talking with Mark's family was really enjoyable. I was pretty tired on the ride back, and when we arrived home in Provo Mark and I relaxed and started talking again. He was telling me some family stories and about his Grandma who passed away in August. This brought back a flood of memories about my Grandpa Phillip Edwards "Poppy". Before I knew it tears were flowing and I could barely choke out a few words. I guess I had never truly grieved about it before. My mind just took the event and tucked it deep away where it wouldn't surface and cause pain. It felt wonderful to have Mark there and talk things through with him. It made me that much more grateful for the Gospel and I know that I will see him again, hopefully not too soon though.

After everything that has happened over the past few months I have learned that you really do have to shovel Manure sometimes in order to find out who you really are. Honestly, I can say that I have learned so much more about myself being here and not just in school. I realize that my future is bright and am grateful for the little things like a box of fruity pebbles or a new shirt that I earned. It really is the little things in life that make you grateful. I'm grateful for my trials because without them I would not be the Kierstyn Edwards I am today. So next time you are ankle deep in Manure just remember, sometimes you gotta shovel it anyway and just keep keepin' on.

Random Fact:  Women are 37% more likely to go to a psychiatrist than men are.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Frozen in Utah

So Winter Semester is off with a running start. Classes are quickly piling on the homework because obviously our entire life revolves around that teacher and their assignments. I am working this semester as a TA for Dr. Marsh. I had him for Book of Mormon last semester and LOVED his class so much I asked him if I could TA for him. He ended up hiring Marian Spencer (my good buddy from Bangkok) and I! So not only do I have the best job on campus I have one of my best friends there with me. Currently he has us copying his Book of Mormon that he has been editing for the past 35 years and scanning in all the books in his office. Fun stuff!

So besides classes and work life is pretty great. Mark and I eat lunch at the Cannon Center nearly every day and we either make dinner together or eat at the Cannon/Wilk. Utah is nice and all but it is entirely too cold here for skinny little me. Every time I step out that door I feel like I am taking my life into my own hands. Seriously, if I were cry I think my tears would freeze on my face!

This new semester has a lot of Promise and will be the deciding factor for whether I switch my major from Biology to Molecular Biology. So far the MMBIO 240 class that I am enrolled in fascinates me. I love learning about the cell and DNA/RNA. I eventually want to go to Grad School and major in Genetic Counseling. You are probably asking what is a Genetic Counselor? What do they do? Here is some info on them:

Traditionally, a genetic counselor has a masters degree in genetic counseling and has studied genetic diseases and how those diseases run in families. The genetic counselor can help a person or family understand their risk for genetic conditions (such as cystic fibrosis, cancer, or Down syndrome), educate the person or family about that disease, and assess the risk of passing those diseases on to children.
A genetic counselor will often work with families to identify members who are at risk. If it is appropriate, they will discuss genetic testing, coordinate any testing, interpret test results, and review all additional testing, surveillance, surgical, or research options that are available to members of the family.
Genetic counselors often work as part of a health care team in conjunction with specially trained doctors, social workers, nurses, medical geneticists, or other specialists to help families make informed decisions about their health. They also work as patient advocates, helping individuals receive additional support and services for their health care needs.

This truly seems like it will be right up my ally. It will allow me to be with my family but also work and do what I love. I'm really excited about this prospect for my future. It is a relatively new field and only 32 schools in the nation that offer the masters program and they are very selective taking only 6 to 12 students normally. Hopefully I can get in! I'm probably going to do the Honors program here at BYU but it will be a lot of work.

Well that's an update on my life and my first Blog post ever! :D More to come I promise!

Random Fact: Ketchup actually began in Thailand. There it was labeled Kachiap.