Category Archives: Graduate School

Too Tired to Think


I. am. utterly. worn. out. I don’t know what’s gotten into me this past week or so, but I am exhausted. Absolutely exhausted. I drink coffee in the morning and then a glass or two of iced green tea, so it’s not as if I’m not getting any caffeine! And yet, I am still completely run-down. I mean, there has been a lot of excitement going on around here. We just signed a lease for our first house! I had a personal record run of 6.02 miles! I found out one of my best friends is preggers! But I’ve also been getting decent amounts of sleep. So who knows. I am still sticking with the point that I feel great while working out but awful when I’m not. But I can’t work out all day, not with a full time job and not with the life that we’ll be living over the next month or so between traveling and packing and moving and working!

Wednesday at 4:15PM I have a follow up appointment with my Rheumy. I am hoping and hoping and hoping that he tells me it’s ok to go back on Enbrel. The Nambumetone just doesn’t seem to cut it and I’ve been really sore these past few weeks.

For the first time though, I am scared that I may not be able to do it all.

Classes started today. The national workgroups that I’m leading at work start this week. Calculus still has to be completed. We need to pack up the apartment. We need to find a subletter. We need to move. I don’t know if I can do it all. I’m scared that I won’t finish Calc and I’ll get kicked out of Grad School. I’m scared that I’ll fall flat on my face while leading a workgroup. I’m scared that I’ll fall behind in class because I’ll be too tired to do the readings and take part in the discussions. I’m worried we won’t find a subletter. I’m worried we won’t have anyone to help us move. I’m stressed out and I feel like crap.

Somehow things will work out…


The Implications of a Tick on an Auto Immune Disease


If you read my last post, Implications of an Autoimmune Disease, then you are aware of some of the risks that come along with Enbrel; mostly a weakened immune system. In addition, you know that I’ve been dealing with some swollen glands, sore throat, stiff neck, headaches, fatigue, and more recently… despite the Enbrel helping my back, I did not like these other symptoms. So, after a visit to the minute clinic, another visit to a regular doctor to get tested for Mono, the flu, and a whole slew of other illnesses, I finally got my answer.

On Thursday afternoon, I called my doctor to cancel the appointment we had scheduled for Monday because it overlapped with Andrew’s staple removal. The doctor came on the phone and said, “well I’m looking at your bloodwork… everything looks normal except well, you tested positive for Lyme’s disease.” And thus, I had an answer to my symptoms. Albeit, perhaps not that answer I had hoped or wanted (if you can possibly hope for some type of illness), but, at least it was an answer. She said she would send me antibiotics that I should take for two weeks and she would refer me to an infectious disease doctor who I needed to follow up with.

I’m sorry what? The last time we went hiking was 6 MONTHS AGO! Such is life. On Thursday and Friday, I checked my email and mail for either a prescription or medicine; I found neither. I called my doctor’s office to ask if I could just come pick it up and the woman told me that it was the doctor’s day off and she would just call me back on Monday. This kind of upset me because even though Lyme’s is very treatable, 1) I feel like SH*T and 2) you’re supposed to start taking antibiotics the second you find out. Luckily, on Saturday, the medication showed up in the mail . The medication is doxycycline (pictured below). You take it twice a day either 1 hour before eating or 2-3 hours after eating. It causes nausea and headaches and fatigue. Here I pause- wasn’t I supposed to be on this medication to stop the headaches and fatigue? Oh, life! In the meantime, I had to call my Rheumy and explain that I had been diagnosed; he told me to immediately stop taking Enbrel. Which is just fantastic, considering that I just started to feel immensely better on Enbrel.

I called the infectious disease doctor Monday morning and the woman said that the next available appointment was January 23rd. Wait, what? 1.5 months from now? There’s no way I can make it 1.5 months without Enbrel. So, I called my doctor back. She said, yes you can wait until January 23rd and you should keep the appointment because you may need a longer course of antibiotics. I mentioned that I had to stop taking Enbrel until my clearance from the infectious disease doctor. She replied that this infectious disease doctor was the only one in the area and that I should call back and say if there are any cancellations to let me know. Let me pause here– does it make any sense to go on antibiotics for two weeks, only to go off them for a month, only to possibly find out at the end of January that I should be on a longer course of antibiotics? But, i digress.

Andrew then did a search of infectious disease doctors in the area and found one up near my Rheumy. I immediately called and they were super friendly and got my an appointment.. wait for it… TOMORROW MORNING! Amazing! So, I am off tomorrow morning to figure out the next course of action. Needless to say it has been a whirlwind tour of diseases and illnesses! By now I am sure that Andrew is sick of my complaining, but, he is being a great sport and I continue to appreciate his support as I have my mini emotional breakdowns!

I will see that although the past few months have been trying, finding out that Andrew’s tumor was benign, seeing the drain and now the staples/stitches removed makes me sooooo completely happy! On top of that, I just found out that I got an A in one of my courses and an A+ (the first he’s given to a student at JHU) in my other course. So really, it’s hard to say that this past week has been anything but AMAZING.

Work and Grad School


The picture at right is my view for the next two days straight… and probably many more, too. I’m getting into crunch time. I have less than a month left in my first semester of Grad School at Johns Hopkins! I am excited, stressed out, and exhausted all at once. I absolutely love my courses (Water Resources Planning and Smart Growth/Urban Revitalization), but whoever even thought about working full-time and going to grad school part-time should be smacked. It’s impossible. My days are constantly consumed by working all day and feeling guilty about leaving work on time and then working at night and feeling guilty about stopping to go to bed or eat dinner or heaven forbid, do nothing. Any free time that I find I constantly feel guilty and like I am wasting that time that could otherwise be put to good use.

This begs the question… did I make the wrong decision to go back to school right now? No. I am glad that I did. As I mentioned before, I love my classes; they are interesting and I’m learning a lot. Do I think that writing 3 papers a week for one class is a little excessive, yes, I do. But, that’s life. The crunch time now is spent attempting to write and edit my term papers. They aren’t really long, but they require even more work because there is a page limit. I often think to myself, one more month and I’m done. I’m free. Then it kicks in. Calculus II. I still have to finish Calculus II.

Before I started this blog, I signed up for Calculus II as a requirement for my grad school program. I have to finish it before the Spring semester begins. I worked on it here and there when I first started it out– I made progress. slowly. Now I am at a point where I am wondering how I am going to finish it. It is a mastery course that consists of about 128 assignments (including 4 exams). As a mastery course, you have to continuously revise your homework until you get 100% on it. The idea is that you walk away really understanding the program. Great in theory, but I am on about assignment #25 and I have a few corrections to make to a handful of previous assignments. My fear is that if I wait until my classes end to re-focus on Calc, I will NEVER have enough time to finish everything including a final proctored exam in time for Spring classes.

Of course in the midst of this funness of work and school I am stuck wondering if medicines will work on my AS and if my pain will decrease and my exhaustion will be squelched (hehe I like that word). In the past two weeks I’ve had an increasingly hard time using my fingers and wrists- they seem to get extremely sore and tight… to the point where I was spraying a spray bottle of cleaner and had to stop because it hurt so much and I felt like I didn’t have the strength. It sucked. It makes me wonder if this will be a re-occurring issue that I will be facing and if so, I will need to figure out a way to handle it; much of my job and certainly the majority of my schooling revolves around typing so that is a must. Guess we’ll see what the Rheumy says at my follow-up appointment next week!

I supposed I will close with this; this is a HUGE shout out to anyone who is working and going to grad school at the same time- I feel your pain.

~Stress is waking up screaming only to realize that you haven’t been sleeping~

A Weekend at Home


This weekend was our first weekend at home in a while. Even though we cleaned and ran a lot of errands, it was fantastic… mostly because I finished all of my grad school homework for the upcoming week on Friday night so Saturday and Sunday, we got to sleep in! And sleep in we did– at least on Sunday. I slept until 10:30AM!!! I can’t even remember the last time I slept that late. What a great feeling. I don’t think I really ever thought about how much work it would be having a full-time job and going to grad school part time. It’s a lot. I find myself constantly doing work and I feel bad for Andrew because I come home from work and sit down at my, er his, desk and go to work and just hope that he’ll make dinner and what not. He’s been amazing… really. I don’t know how I would do it otherwise. School and work keep me in a constant state of stress, not to mention the added fun of random side effects and drugs that I have to take to try to feel normal.

What an odd thing to say; I’ve always prided myself on not being normal, so it’s funny that I am now trying to find the right combination of drugs to be normal. Ah life, so entertaining. Feeling wise, my jaw hasn’t acted up since last weekend, my injection site is a big red bullseye, and my back has been really sore… so all in all, the usual. I do have the added pain in the butt of my fingers, wrists, and hands just giving up on life constantly. They are super sore and I am finding it hard to grasp things or squeeze things (say like a bottle of spray cleaner). They tighten up and feel like someone is beating them. The funny thing is, I don’t know if that’s the ankylosing spondylitis, the grad school/work combo, stress in general, or what… but regardless I am trying to figure out how to make it better.

I am confident that I’ll figure something out! My next follow up appointment is next week and I just passed the month mark of giving myself injections (where does time go?) so I’m sure soon enough I will find something that works well.

On to more uplifting things… this weekend we got some rearranging done in the apartment, we tried to clean the carpets, we cleaned up the kitchen, we watched some movies, and we made baked lasagna-like spaghetti squash. I can’t wait to try it out! Here are some pictures:

1. First you roast a spaghetti squash in the oven









2. After the squash cools, you shred it like spaghetti, using a fork and mix it with some ricotta cheese.









3. In a baking pan you spray with pam or olive oil and then spread pasta sauce or marinara on the bottom to coat.









4. You spread the squash-ricotta mix on top of the sauce in the pan.









5. Then you spread some fresh basil and dollops of marinara or sauce









6. Then you sprinkle on some Mozzarella cheese and a couple dashes of parmesan cheese.









7. You cover the whole thing with foil and then bake for 15minutes (until the cheese melts). You remove the foil and bake 5 minutes longer to brown to preference. This is how it looks!









Guess we’ll see how it tastes tomorrow!

Tired, Itchy, and Calculating Submitted Charges


Today I am utterly exhausted. Maybe it’s the AS, maybe it’s the 9 hour mandatory office training/retreat that I had today, maybe it’s the lack of sleep, maybe it’s the stress of my GRTS conference coming up next week, maybe it’s the stress of my yet to be determined Halloween costume, or maybe it’s my grad school work.. regardless, I am exhausted. I feel like I have one of those lead blankets on, you know the ones they give you when you get an xray? Well it’s been on me all day or at least that’s what it feels like… on top of that, I itch. Yes, itch. My fingers, my toes, my ankles, my head, my arms, my legs, my back, even my eyelids. What gives? I don’t think itching everyone is a side effect of enbrel and I’ve only given myself one shot so far, so I doubt it’s that, but it still makes me wonder… why do I itch so much?

So, that’s how my day’s going. I managed to answer my smart growth discussion forum questions today, I responded to 15 comments on my term paper presentation (everyone in my class has to comment and I respond), and I wrote a technical paper review on retail LEED certification. I really should have read and written the two other papers that I have that are due tomorrow at Midnight but I’m too tired. Instead, I’m going to try to get up early tomorrow morning to work on them. I have a pretty full day tomorrow between another full day of training/retreat and my annual PARS review with my boss.

You’re probably wondering what the calculating submitted charges means in the title… well, I thought it might be neat to track how much money is submitted in charges for the doctor visits and medications that I’m having/will have. While I’m still awaiting summaries on a few appointments and I need to scrounge up my Ortho appointments, I do have a few… I’ll try to keep a tally as we go, might be kind of interesting :0)

Diagnostic Pathology (at MRI Center): $18.00
PT Physical Medicine: $675.00
XRays and Medical Equipment/Supplies for first Blood Tests: $5,320.00

*does not include full blood tests, TB test, enbrel visit/medication, MRI exams, Orthopedist visits, or SI joint xrays*