Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Getting Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

Disclaimer: If you read this blog and are participating in my study please, please do not think that I do not want questions and calls and emails. I would much rather you do things correctly than me not get a phone call or email. It's just that my life went from no communication to the outside world basically to a whole lot of communication and it is over stimulating me. I am very grateful and appreciative of all my volunteer participants and could not do this without you! You all rock in my opinion! You are making my dreams come true!! :)

I've been spending time doing nothing else (virtually speaking, of course not technically but pretty close) for the past 2 weeks.

I am not sure how many people that read my blog know this whole story because I don't really talk about going to school on my blog. So here is the deal-io. I'm getting my Masters in Dietetics. I was supposed to graduate 4 weeks ago, but I had to take an entire year off of in class classes and just do very few online classes due to all the hospitalizations, countless doctors appointments, therapies, infusions. etc.

To complete my degree you either have to do a thesis or what's called a CIE exam which is a test that makes sure you've met all the competencies to a satisfactory standard so you can graduate. I chose thesis track because that gave me 2 (now 3 due to last years crazy hospital, tube, appointment every day year) to complete the thesis. I could take my time and write and re-write and re-write some more to make sure it was perfect. I didn't want to do the CIE because it's a 4 hour test the week before you graduate and do to all my health conditions and the fact that they cause brain fog so I was scared that I would be having a bad day on that particular day and I wouldn't pass the CIE. So thesis track it was and my topic is "Does an anti-inflammatory diet alleviate any of the symptoms of fibromyalgia?" On that note if you have fibromyalgia, are between the ages of 18-65, don't have diabetes or hypoglycemia, aren't on a renal diet or dialysis, don't have cancer, and aren't planning on becoming pregnant and want to participate in my study send me a message on this page: Healing Hopefully: Megan's Chronic Illness Journey

There were so many glitches and getting approval and then denied approval then approval again. Countless hours of time spent writing, etc. My proposal section is 126 pages alone. Anyway, I was supposed to start data collection in the fall, but I was in the hospital all the time. In the spring I had 2 very heavily based research classes already. My adviser kept coming up with more things that I needed to do before I recruit participants, etc. I felt like we would never get this off the ground and actually be able to do the data collection at all and I would just never be able to graduate. Ever.

Then summer came along and I've finally been able to recruit participants in the study. I am just in the beginning stages of the data collection. I have one participant finishing her week 2 this weekend and most others are finishing their week 1 this weekend/week. Then I've had 4 meetings this week and only one of them can start because I received her informed consent. You cant start the study until I have all the email forms and the forms that are to be mailed to my house. But on the bright side, I feel like something that I have been working on, doing literature reviews, finding alternative solutions to problems, etc.for the past 2 years is finally coming to fruition and we may actually get some answers if it helps or not by the end of October. And that is very exciting for me!!! 

But here comes the part where I'm having to be "getting more comfortable with being uncomfortable).

Because of the aforementioned Asperger's that I was recently diagnosed with (and communication was my worst scoring on the test) and just my in general disdain of being on the phone/Skype/FaceTime/Google Hangout to anybody ever...this whole thesis orientation thing is kicking my butt. I know that these are my personal issues. And, if any of you that are in the study end up reading this please don't stop calling or emailing to ask questions, I just have to get used to it. I am sleeping so much the past week and a half and I really think it's because these meetings are socially awkward (in my Aspergers brain) and therefore the meetings are taking all my energy out of my body to use them for my communication and keeping my head straight with everything. 

You see, I don't even really like to talk to people that are very good friends of mine, or my family even 95% of the time. Usually I just like to sit in my recliner, watch TV, pet my dog and cat, and have the day pass me by. So if I'm an Asperger's person and don't communicate to even people I know, you have to realize the gravity of the the situation where I'm having to talk to all these people (face-to-face mind you via Skype or FaceTime or Google Hangout), that I don't even know (well I know some of them, but most I don't) and go over the informed consent and study process and make sure they do not have questions. I also have to answer all their text messages and emails and keep everyone's dates straight in my brain so that I can help them keep their days straight in their heads. 

You see, this is like an impossible task for me. I can't even make eye contact during most of the meetings because I am just trying to make sure I don't have any anxiety issues that would make my study results invalidated or anything like that. And when I'm not on the phone, email, FaceTime, Google Hangout, Skype, etc. my brain is constantly turning it's wheels on whether or not I confirmed dates with this person, has this person started yet, did I get forms back from this person yet, and on and on. It's like for the past 2 weeks I've only breathed thesis breaths and dreamed thesis dreams. It's so far out of my comfort zone it's not even funny, but I need to do this to prove to myself that I can and because I want to graduate. Haha. But mostly to prove it to myself that I can. 

Even though it is completely draining me of all my mental faculties, I know when my thesis is finished I will be pretty dang proud of it. And I've been thinking about starting a bucket list. And if I do, getting my research published would definitely be on it. I don't want these past 2.5 years of work to go to waste. Right now, while I'm getting acclimated to it and a pattern is forming in my schedule I'm completely exhausted and fatigued beyond the imaginable levels. But once we are in a groove and I finish recruiting participants I'm hoping I will get into the swing of things and maybe some of my energy will come back. I'm so happy I didn't start this during classes I would have gone insane. It's mentally and physically taxing as it is right now in the summer when I'm not doing much else. I couldn't imagine doing this on top of classes (I will have to still be collecting data until the end of October probably, but data collection is much easier than this orientation mumbo jumbo.) I just can't wait for it to be done. And even though it's a struggle and the days, nights, and weeks are gonna be long and hard. It will all be worth it when my name is published in some fancy scientific and nutritional journals in the years to come. But for right now I am just working on getting comfortable with being uncomfortable because I think that I'm just going to have to be uncomfortable to get this thesis done and written. There is no other choice. I want my research to come to life. There's no backing down now. High obstacles are what I strive to surpass every day of my life. This is just another one of those obstacles. 

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