Sunday, February 12, 2017

Update: The Health Edition

This post is way overdue.

Back in April 2015 I started having really intense abdominal pain. Not super often, but often enough that it was definitely noticeable.

October 2015, the pain was becoming more frequent. I was probably having abdominal pain at least once a week - sometimes multiple time a week. The pain was almost always the same. I believe I would explain it to Jonathan as, 'It feels like a witch is using my stomach as her cauldron!' I'd feel a horrible bubbling sensation that often kept me curled up unable to move positions.

The frequent pain was concerning enough to get it checked out. This part may sound slightly familiar, as this was back in Kirksville when I was diligent about reporting updates on my life. I had two (or maybe three) visits with a doctor in Kirksville and talked about what I'd been experiencing. He told me he thought it was IBS. He wrote me a prescription for it, but I was on my dad's insurance (which only worked in California), so all my medical expenses were basically out of pocket. If I remember correctly, that IBS prescription was over $300 for one month's supply. Definitely couldn't afford that.

The thing with IBS is it's more of a "we ruled everything else out" kind of thing. I couldn't afford to get any of the testing done that is truly necessary to chalk something up to be IBS.  So anyway, I just dealt with the tummy pains.

Fast forward to October 2016. I was starting to feel some pain near my sternum/right breast. After feeling a small little bump, I asked Jonathan what he thought. His face grew very concerned and we set up an appointment to meet with my primary care physician here in Phoenix. She performed a breast exam, felt the lump, and said she wanted to get it looked at via ultrasound.

During this same visit, Jonathan wanted her to take a look at a few moles that looked a bit atypical to him. The doctor agreed that they didn't look quite normal, and referred me to a dermatologist.

The breast ultrasound experience came first. I believe it was the day after my doctor's appointment. The ultrasound technician was really confused as to whether to do a breast ultrasound or chest (the place of concern is between the two, so my doctor wanted both. I guess that didn't show up in the notes). The technician did an ultrasound of both places and then had me wait for like 45 minutes while she tried to get ahold of my PCP to ask if the images were good enough. She couldn't ever get ahold of my PCP, so I went home. I was expected to get my results within 2 weeks.

Not long after my ultrasound, I went to meet with the dermatologist. There were two moles she found concerning and took biopsies right then and there. The biopsies didn't hurt, but the numbing agent they injected did. Mostly I felt embarrassed and uncomfortable though because the moles were kind of in awkward places and every minute felt like an hour. I was told I should hear the biopsy results within 2 weeks.

The pathologist must have reviewed the biopsies quickly, because I got a call back from the dermatology place relatively soon. The lady on the phone told me "It came back as dysplastic nevus with mild atypia. It is recommended you schedule to come in for surgery to get them removed because they are precancerous. It isn't required and it's your decision, so call us if you decide you want to move forward." I wanted to talk to Jonathan about it. He agreed that I should probably get them removed, but that it wasn't super urgent and that the chest and stomach issues were the priority right now.

I anxiously waited for my results from the ultrasound. The 2 weeks came and went. After over a month, I finally got a phone call simply stating, "The ultrasound showed a cyst. No concern." And that was basically it. No further clarification.

Meanwhile, the abdominal pain was acting up again, but more frequently. It had started acting up the end of October, but I wasn't aware that things were getting worse. As I'm writing this post (mid February 2017), I can tell you honestly that I've had abdominal pain every day since the end of October. Every. Day. I classify my pain into three separate categories which seemed to rotate depending on the day: 1) Big Tummy. We're talking super bloated. Like, I have to wear sweatpants or pajamas because they're the only thing that fit. 2) Mini Explosions. This was the pain I had been feeling in Kirksville. The bubbly sensation that makes it hard to function or move. 3) The Stab. It's always in the same spot. The lower left quadrant of my abdomen. Sometimes it's a intense level 9 pain stab, but only lasts 6 seconds. Other times it's a very dull, but very obvious stabbing sensation that lasts a good minute or so.

By December 2016, the pain was not only happening every day, but multiple times per day. It used to only happen at night, but I was starting to feel pain when I woke up in the mornings too.

I had seen my PCP in Phoenix about the tummy issues once at this point, and when I showed her where my stabbing pain was, she referred me to a gynecologist. The pain is just about where my left ovary is. Jonathan was terrified at this point. My symptoms were getting worse and more frequent and he was so sure I was dying of ovarian cancer. That's not even an exaggeration. He was a wreck for about a solid week. I also asked my PCP about the ultrasound report, and she said that the image of the cyst was not clear and it was suggested to follow up with a CT scan or MRI.

At this point you're probably thinking, "wow, there are so many things happening at the same time!" And you'd be right. That's how I felt. It was hard to take in and manage everything. Gosh, and there were so many doctor appointments it was crazy.

I went in to meet with the gynecologist about my abdomen. The breast mass wasn't bothering me and the moles weren't bothering me. My tummy bothered me daily though. Figuring that out was my top priority. The gynecologist chatted with me for a bit, and then I went in for an ultrasound. My thought was that it would be like an ultrasound you get done when you're pregnant. Nope. It was a vaginal ultrasound, meaning they go IN. I was able to see the images on a huge screen in front of me. I have to admit, it was kind of cool to see my ovaries and uterus on the screen.

The gynecologist looked at the ultrasound right away and talked to me and Jonathan, saying everything looked great with my ovaries and that I did not have ovarian cancer, or any problems with my ovaries at all. He told me that my next step should be to investigate it from a GI perspective. He personally recommended someone, and so we looked into getting things set up with him.

Then Christmas break happened in Utah, so no updates on anything health related for awhile.

Unfortunately our insurance wouldn't let the OB/GYN send in the referral to the gastroenterologist. So I had to go BACK to meet with my PCP (which by the way, ended up switching because the PCP I was with before moved to work for someone else.) I met with my new PCP and had to get a referral from her to see a gastroenterologist. I also asked for a referral to get a CT scan for my breast, and she wrote me one for that as well as a CT of the abdomen.

Then my GI appointment happened. He wrote me a prescription to help with stomach spasms (it's an IBS prescription), told me to send him the CT results, wanted me to get lab work done, and to send in a stool sample to be tested for blood.

The CT scan was denied by my insurance for the abdomen. I was feeling extremely anxious about the idea of a CT scan period, and Jonathan felt like I didn't really need one for my chest. He thought it would be less risk to just get a new ultrasound done because the only reason they suggested the CT of the breast in the first place was because they didn't get a good enough picture (didn't capture all of it) when they did the ultrasound.

Soooo....anyway, I couldn't send the gastroenterologist CT scan results of my abdomen since the CT scan out of pocket was in the hundreds of dollars. But I did do the stool sample (no blood showed up, which is good). Also, just a heads up if you ever have to do a stool's gross. You basically have to stick a little swab in your poop and then put the small sample in a vile. I hated it. I also did the blood work and everything came back great except for a few food allergies.

What are the allergies? Peanuts. Walnuts. Sesame Seed. Corn. Wheat. Soy.

Let me just pause for a second and let you think about that. Corn doesn't mean straight up corn. It means CORN SYRUP, corn starch, corn meal, etc. Basically an ingredient found in a LOT of food. I'm sure you're already aware what wheat shows up in. And soy shows up in a lot of things too - you'd be surprised.

Luckily soy barely showed up as an allergy, so I don't think I'm going to worry about that one. Peanuts showed us as a high allergy (Which was total news to me!!! Scary!) and the other ones showed up as moderate. I made it a goal to avoid corn and wheat (walnuts and sesame seed weren't a problem) for a month to see if my symptoms improved at all.

They haven't.

Because my CT scan was denied by insurance, the gastroenterologist wanted me to get a colonoscopy instead. I got that scheduled and completed, and everything showed up as okay. Because the IBS prescription as helped some, but not helped with the stabbing pain, and because the colonoscopy and stool tests came back as clear, the doctor believes the CT scan will be approved this next time. That is our next step with figuring out my chronic abdominal pain.

This is where we are at now. I have another appointment with my gynecologist in a little over a week for a well women's exam. While there, I plan on asking him about the breast cyst and if he thinks I should get another ultrasound (from his office staff this time!!) or if I should go ahead and do the CT scan for that.

Finally, I have every intention to get my surgeries scheduled for the removal of the precancerous skin lesions. I have gotten two letters in the mail from the dermatologist the past few weeks telling me if I don't take action, my moles can develop into skin cancer. The surgeries need to be scheduled two weeks apart from each other, so I'll probably try to get them both done in March.

My hopes are that by the end of next month I will be all taken care of and not have to worry about these issues anymore.  (Well, I'll probably forever have to keep my eye on the breast cyst and other moles, so that statement wasn't entirely true.) It has been a roller coaster of emotions over here. I'm grateful for the members of our ward we've been able to turn to for priesthood blessings.

I haven't really brought up the health issues with family or friends because I didn't want to worry anyone. I wanted to have answers first. I think we are at the point now where we know there is nothing life threatening and we've ruled out the major things! Whew!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Hi! Remember me?

Can you believe I wrote a blog post every single week in Kirksville?! I can't. I've been failing pretty miserably at staying caught up with blogging and it makes me a little bit sad because it was suppose to be my alternative to writing in a journal, which I haven't done since being married.

But here I am, trying to make an effort at being in the habit of blogging again. We'll see how it goes.

Nobody cares about my work life, but I'm gonna talk about it anyway. Feel free to not read on.

We have a new manager. I don't really know her, but she seems good for the company. As in, I think she's going to make some positive changes. Changes in management is always a bit scary to me because living out of state, it's easy to be forgotten. I hope I'm still seen as an asset to the company because this work-from-home opportunity has been fantastic and perfect for our situation.

I am only teaching 2 classes this semester. We're about 4 or 5 weeks into the semester, and I'm enjoying the students I have so far. They seems pretty diligent, hardworking, and willing to participate. I hope they keep it up. :) 

Last semester I taught 4 classes, so I was a little bit financially nervous to learn my hours would be cut in half. But an enormous blessing in disguise happened. I am working on a very time consuming project that has given me the opportunity to work extra hours (probably an average of 15 more hours a week).

Why is it a blessing in disguise? Shouldn't that just be considered a very obvious blessing?

Over the summer I had this brilliant idea of a way to improve the online class. It would help to save my students time, help them understand concepts better, and save us both the hassle of emailing back and forth for clarification and help on specific types of problems. This brilliant idea was not something I discussed with my manager. I took initiative and made the idea happen -- not logging in the hours since it wasn't approved officially (it might have been had I actually asked about it). Anyway, I probably spent about 60 hours (at least) on the project, all of which was unpaid for because my motivation was to help my students, not to find a way to make extra money.

During the fall, I told one of the directors about my brilliant idea. Over the course of a few months, we sent dozens of emails back and forth, had several hours worth of phone calls, and spend countless hours doing research about how to make my brilliant idea even more brilliant. I thought I had just had an idea to improve the online class, but looking further into the idea proved to be an improvement to the effectiveness of our company AND would save us money in the long run. We brainstormed and hashed out so many details to get it to be a resource for everyone to use come January and then just shortly before the semester began I got some heart-stopping news:

"[Big Boss Man] wants you to redo everything." Not because it was bad, but because we need to cover our bases. And if it was to be a company-wide resource used for years to come, it had to be perfect. I have to admit, my unpaid work on the project wasn't perfect. It was decent, but not to the standard Big Boss Man wanted. And there were a few stumbling blocks I hadn't found solutions for in the summer that I had ignored my first go-through with the project.

We talked about the changes that needed to happen, and it ended up working out that I'd be needing to spend about twice as long on the project. Oh, and it needed to be completed within 8 weeks. So somehow, I'd have to find a way to fit 120 hours worth of work into an 8 week period (thus the extra 15 hours a week). As stressful as that has been, the blessing is I am now getting paid for this project. And I feel like I'm really making a positive difference and a promising improvement to our company.

That all said, things have been very busy and stressful. I have a very strict schedule and deadline for things to be completed and sometimes I feel like I'm treading water with broken arms. I think I only have 3 more weeks of the crazy though, and then I'll still have to tread water, but will have floaties on -- so things will be a bit easier and less stressful. 

Like I said at the beginning, I know nobody cares about my work life. But it's a huge part of my life, especially right now. And I can't give a true journal account/update of my life without mentioning this project!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Christmas Songs

On Sunday I was able to go to Relief Society for the first time in awhile (I'm usually in Nursery). One of the ladies in the ward announced that on Wednesdays she sings Christmas songs at the assisted living facility nearby and invited anyone to join her that was able to. Normally I work Wednesday mornings, but since the semester is over, I could actually make it.

I woke up and seriously contemplated staying in bed. However, I felt a push to get up and get ready and I'm so glad that I did. I drove to the assisted living home and the only other person there was this lady who made the announcement. There were a handful of residents sitting around to listen, but I was grateful I came. 

The lady in my ward played the piano and sang the melody. I was secretly grateful because 1) I can't play the Christmas hymns very well, 2) I can't sing melody. I harmonized with her and many of the residents joined in singing with us. 

Things have been pretty overwhelming for me lately. I have been dealing with a lot of stress, some health issues, and some new changes with management at work. But going to the assisted living home reminded me of something -- service brings peace. I put my selfish desires aside, and spent time visiting with people who don't always get may visitors. I was able to celebrate the birth of the Savior through song. I was able to share my testimony through music. And by simply smiling at the residents, putting my hand on theirs, or taking the time listen to them, I could see their eyes light up and I thought, 'This is why I came'.

I have been using too many excuses lately. It's really not hard to serve others and I want to do a better job at following Christ's example of service.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Updates Via Pictures

I decided I have too much to write about, so it's easiest to just summarize some of the events that happened via pictures and short captions:

I apologize for the messy sink full of dishes. But this picture was taken literally the day before Bastian learned how to jump on our counters. I blame Alvin and his terrible, terrible example. Alvin not only jumps on our counters, but he jumps on our fridge.

 We built a table fort one night for date night. It was fun.

A friend in the ward had some free VIP tickets to a golf tournament. He gave them to us and even though we aren't really into golf, the course was beautiful and it was nice to just get out for the day. 

This picture does not fully capture how awesome this is. This was in a children's hospital we stopped at on day. This adorable miniature town with trains was fun to watch! And the hot air balloon is super cute. 

One day we explored old town Scottsdale. We walked around, looked at some art galleries and some shops. Arizona weather is really nice. I love we have opportunities to walk around outside in November and December without freezing. 

Sometimes we explored malls or outlets and our favorite kind of stores to check out are toy stores, game stores, or places that sell miscellaneous treasures. Like these cat mugs. I'm going to make some of my own because these are awesome.

We went to Santaquin for Thanksgiving! I was happy Jonathan was actually able to come too. Both of my siblings were there. They brought their significant others (gotta admit, that was kind of weird for me). We had a nice time. It was a short trip, but I didn't realize how much I missed my family till I was there with them. 

This was from a trip we made to the Mesa temple. It had been awhile since we'd done a temple sessions and it was so peaceful there. 

 Gingerbread houses because, well, that's what you do in December.

Went to our ward Christmas party. I should have taken a better picture, but you can tell we're at the church, right? 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

End of the Semester

I have been so behind on blogging. Oh my heavens.

Things have been really busy. This is the last week of the semester, and then I'll have some time to actually breathe. I have FOUR WEEKS OFF for Christmas. On the one hand, that's awesome. It gives lots of time for getting stuff done and visiting family. On the other hand, that's four weeks that I'm not getting paid. Luckily I've got a few work projects and tutoring sessions lined up, but it still will be a smaller paycheck than usual. And med school is expensive. So are bills. Blehh.

The end of the semester is always so bittersweet. I hate goodbyes. It's a bit easier with the online class because I don't know what the students look like (once you attach a face to a name, then goodbyes become harder). But all the same, the end of the semester is tough because my students have mastered the basics, as well as some really hard concepts, and it's hard to go to a new semester starting from square one where the majority of students are still working on understanding how to factor. And finally my students are participating and we have gotten past the awkwardness! But the sweet aspect comes from seeing how far they have come. Seeing them finish up math for good. Having people tell me this was the only thing holding them back from graduation. Hearing them tell me they never thought they'd be able to conquer this class, but then they come out with a B-. I legitimately feel like I have made a difference. That feeling is priceless. That is why I teach; it's a very rewarding job.

I have a lot of updates to give, but for now I'll have to keep things short and sweet. Technically the last day of the semester is tomorrow, so I've still got a few more busy and demanding few days. Next week the updates will come though. I'm making it a goal, so be prepared. :)

Sunday, October 30, 2016

A Hiking We Will Go

I've been a bit of a slacker with my blogging. I meant to post about this 3 weeks ago, but better late than never!

For Jonathan's birthday, we decided to go hiking on a day that we both had off. We looked into several options but eventually decided to travel to Sedona and do some hiking there. It was really pretty! It was also nice to just get away and to see trees and red rocks again. We enjoyed spending time together to and getting to enjoy some fresh air. Here are some pictures from our hike:

Near the end of the hike I started to get a headache. I'm sure there were multiple reasons - I wasn't drinking enough water, I hadn't eaten much all day, we were walking in Arizona heat for 8 miles or so. When we got back to our car I took some Excedrin that I keep in my glove box. Well, my headache turned into a migraine and about 20 minutes up the road we stopped at a Wendy's to eat. I was starting to feel nauseous and before I had a chance to eat my food, I ended up throwing up in the bathroom. My migraine quickly got worse and I couldn't handle any lights or sounds. Jonathan ate his dinner in the car in the parking lot and I ended up throwing up a second time (only I didn't make it to the bathroom. I was that person who puked on the parking lot. It was embarrassing.) 

Jonathan drove us home and I had to lie my head on the side of the car door holding my head super still. I was scared of throwing up again. I was scared to eat anything. I was scared to try and take medicine again (I literally threw up the Excedrin, so I didn't have anything to help combat my migraine anymore). We got home and Jonathan had to carry me to our apartment because I couldn't even handle the slightest bit of movement. He laid me on the couch, gave me a neck massage, rubbed tiger balm on my temples (that stuff is amazing), made me eat and drink a little something. I could only handle eating half a piece of toast. I tried to take a nap to sleep off the migraine, but when I woke up an hour later, it was even worse. And then I threw up again. Jonathan was so sweet and right by my side the whole night as I was lying on the couch practically paralyzed in pain. After several more hours, I finally was able to take medicine and move to our bedroom. 

The migraine started around 6pm and did not subside until around 10:30 or so the next morning. I have never in my life had a migraine last that long and have one severe enough to cause me to vomit. It was not an experience I'd wish on my worst enemy. 

Lessons I learned: 

Do not take Excedrin on an empty stomach.
Drink lots of water while hiking.
Headaches can turn into migraines; take medicine early on.
If you're going on a long hike, eat more than a granola bar. 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

My Life, Defined by Taylor Swift Album Releases

It's October, 2016 and I had a good friend ask me, "Do you think Taylor Swift will come out with a new album?"

Since she asked that, I've been thinking about about the previous Taylor Swift albums and more specifically what they remind me of. And I tell you what, thinking back made me cry. I was one of those people who absolutely loved listening to Taylor Swift and so each album brings back vivid memories of my life.

Album 1: Taylor Swift
This album came out in 2006. I was 15 years old and a sophomore in high school. I had just moved to Layton and had discovered the song "Teardrops on My Guitar" around the time a boy I had a crush on told me he liked a girl name Annie instead of me. I was hurt and it was the first time I felt I could truly relate to a song. Maybe that experience is what made me like Taylor Swift. I could relate to her music. She's also the person who got me starting to write my own songs, as cheesy as that sounds. I guess I never saw music as storytelling before. I was into poetry at the time, and I had composed a couple piano pieces before, but it wasn't until I listed to Taylor Swift that I realized songwriting was simply the child of piano compositions and poems. My life was changed. I got so excited the first time I heard Teardrops on the radio, because until that I just listed on the internet. I'm pretty sure one of my siblings got me her album for Christmas and it didn't take me long to learn every single song on that CD.

CD 1 reminds me of discovering a new way to express myself. It reminds me of my love for songwriting. It reminds me of my friend Trevor because I begged him to teach me how to play guitar so I could learn to play "Our Song" and being the great guy he was, he taught me how to play some chords OVER THE PHONE. He was patient with me and even though we were miles apart, he successfully taught me how to play that song.

Album 2: Fearless
This album came out in 2008, when I was a senior in high school. Naturally, this song reminds me of my senior year. It reminds me of my friend Alyssa because I got to know her around the time the album came out. I'm reminded of random memories that school year involving my friend Jennie, my high school boyfriend Andrew, high school dances, visiting friends in Layton. It also reminds me of graduating and moving away from home.

Transition, it was an album my roommates and I bonded over. Freshman year I didn't know anybody and roomed with strangers. I remember fondly singing Taylor Swift songs with my roommates, who are now some of my closest friends. I am reminded of the new experiences of college. I'm reminded of working on developing my songwriting. I'm reminded of starting counseling and trying different prescriptions to combat depression. I'm reminded of Creamery ice cream and FHE and figuring out who I was.

Album 3: Speak Now
This came out in 2010, the year I met JulZ. That was a fun year. I lived with Kacie, Alix, and JulZ and I have a lot of great memories from that time. This album is probably my favorite Taylor Swift album. It could be partly because of the memories I have tied to it. I am reminded of Brynlee, Kacie's niece, and all the fun we had with her. I'm reminded of adventures with my roommates. I'm reminded of walking 25 minutes to get to campus each day. I'm reminded of talking to my parents on the phone more and working on saying "I love you" to my family more frequently. I'm reminded of working really hard in school to get straight A's (which some semesters I did, and some I didn't). I'm reminded of my friend Spencer and a little girl we were mentors for. I'm reminded of helping out at a kindergarten once a week. I'm reminded of gaining more confidence in myself and learning how to mature.

I also hold on to this album because it helped me get through a horrifying experience. The summer before I met JulZ, I went on a date with a guy I didn't know very well. The date went well and he asked if I wanted to watch a movie at his apartment that night. A million red flags went up, but unfortunately I ignored all of them. His roommate was lying in the living room with a girl on top of him. They didn't even acknowledge the fact we walked in, and the guy I was on a date with said we could just watch the movie in his room. I wasn't being very smart, and I agreed to go back there. I can't shake this memory, because it broke me. The movie ended and when I got up to go home, I was completely thrown off guard. He kissed me hard, without my consent, and pinned me down underneath him. His hands went places they shouldn't, and even though things didn't escalate past that, I was horrified. I got home after my roommates were asleep, and I locked myself in the bathroom and just sobbed. I felt scared and dirty and broken. However, thanks to amazing roommates, the power of the Atonement, and classes that kept me distracted, I was able to recover and move on with my life. I vowed I would never allow myself to be in a situation that like again. As ridiculous as this sounds, I got rid of any clothes that were even slightly immodest because I so badly wanted to be a better person and redefine myself.

What in the world does this have to do with Taylor Swift's 3rd album? Maybe it doesn't. But all I can say is I listened to that album countless times as I was going through the whole "redefining myself" process. And the next two years were really good years for me. I really did feel like a new person and I was learning to be more comfortable with who I was.

Album 4: Red
I never bought this album. It came out while I had a serious boyfriend and he bought it for us to share. We were usually together anyway, so it didn't make sense to have two separate copies. I didn't like this CD quite as much because it started to stray away from Taylor's country roots. My favorite songs to listen to were "Begin Again", "All Too Well," "Stay Stay Stay", and "I Almost Do". My boyfriend would always skip these ones, but when I was listening by myself I'd listen to them over and over again. He preferred the more upbeat, pop songs. It wasn't that I had anything against the other songs. But part of me felt like I only liked them out of loyalty to Taylor Swift. Like, I loved all her other albums, so I forced myself to love all the songs on the album Red as well.

This album is hard for me to listen to now. For several reasons:

1) The obvious reason. It reminds me of that boy and that relationship. And even though I'm married now to somebody wonderfully perfect for me, that relationship was a huge part of my life.

2) I felt like Taylor Swift wasn't being as true to herself. I started feeling uncomfortable watching her music videos. I can't explain it exactly, other than I didn't feel like she was quite as sweet and innocent anymore. Almost like her focus turned into what would make her most popular and successful rather than focusing on singing from the heart and holding onto her innocence. I don't mean to judge her or put her down, because there are hundreds of celebrities who are 1000 times more provocative and self centered and crazy. But I guess I felt a little disappointed is all.

3) Lastly, my life was a complete mess at the time and I lost myself. This album just fills me with regret, guilt, and pain. I tried to keep it a secret from people at the time, but after I graduated from college until about January of 2014, I struggled. That vow I made a few years prior, where I'd never "be in a situation like that again" was broken. Multiple times. I don't want to talk about details; I don't think they are necessary. But suffice it to say, I made some really big mistakes. And even though I've never admitted it before, in hindsight I see I felt trapped in that relationship. I felt like I had to marry this guy because nobody else would want me. I cried a lot. I felt scared I'd say something wrong when I was around him and that he'd blow up at me. He would coerce me into doing things I didn't want to do and if I didn't comply, he would make me feel guilty. He'd constantly play the victim and after nearly a year and half of that, I ended up a broken soul. I struggled with church, wasn't temple worthy, and even though I felt so incredibly lost and distant from myself, I felt I was too far gone.

In summary, the album Red brings back way too many hard memories that haunt me.

Album 5: 1984
Honestly, I only know the songs from this album that played on the radio - "Blank Space", "Shake it Off", and "Style". I might have heard one or two others once, but I never bothered to buy this album because I knew it was even more in the pop direction than Red was. Some people love that, but not me. I didn't feel like the lyrics were as good/meaningful anymore and I didn't want to listen to the others songs and just be disappointed. Maybe one day I'll listen to the songs on this album, but no guarantees.

So what does this album make me think of if I haven't listened to the whole thing? Well, it came out in 2014. I was roommates with Jenna, working full time as a director for Ology, and I was working on gaining back a testimony. I was meeting with my bishop frequently and working on developing my desire to live the gospel to the fullest. 2014 was a huge growing time for me. I was figuring out what I wanted and sincerely trying to be happy and confident with myself again, but so many hard things happened that year. That was the year Trevor died in a car accident. That was the year my mom called me and told me she and my dad were divorcing. That was the year I found out my mom was in love with someone else. That was the year I tried dating again and was broken up because, in his words, he needed to focus on himself. But ya know what? As hard as those things were, life went on. I survived. And not only did I survive, I regained my strength and I'm feeling pretty good about how things are now.

Now we are in 2016. I am far from the person I was in 2006. And 2008. And 2010. And 2012. And 2014. It's kind of crazy looking at all those years and seeing how much things change in such a short period of time. Part of me wishes I could erase several of those years, but at the same time, I know things happened within those years that helped me become the person I am today. I'm not a perfect person. I have so many areas of my life I need to work on and improve. But overall, I'm feeling happy and I'm feeling more confident with myself. I can look in the mirror and say the words "you are a good person" without feeling like it's a lie now. That's a huge deal.

So I guess now the only question that remains is the one from the beginning of the post - Will Taylor Swift release a new album this year?