Friday, December 26, 2008

How I Survived This Semester Without Buying Any Textbooks

I have been going to college on and off since the fall of 2002. While this can be discouraging at times, I feel like I have also learned some valuable things along the way. For example: In most cases, buying textbooks for college classes is completely unnecessary. With the internet and good old-fashioned libraries (heard of them?), you can usually find all the information you need to successfully get through your classes.

For the past fall and summer semesters combined, I took 12 hours (I have to spread it out due to the chronic pain). For those 4 courses, I saved somewhere between $256 and $341.20 according to the Colorado State University Bookstore's "used" and "new" prices. You may be thinking "well don't buy your textbooks from the university bookstore - everyone knows you can get them cheaper online!" But why buy them online when you don't need to spend any money at all?

Here are some resources I used the past six months:
  • Libraries - I almost always check here first, because nothing beats having an exact (but free) copy of what you need. Sometimes libraries only have an older edition available, but in my experience this is not too much of a problem. The only noticeable difference for me has been page numbers and chapter orders. If you have assigned reading and your syllabus only lists page numbers, you can often figure out from the book's website what chapter this will be in older version. Another slight downside is the time limit, but most libraries let you renew up to the point where you could have the book for nine weeks. And you can always check it out again after you've returned it. Be sure to check both university and local libraries. Also see if interlibrary loan is an option - Fort Collins is part of Prospector, which makes items from 22 libraries around the state (along with 1 in Wyoming) available.
  • Google Book Search - This is a great way to electronically view some or all of a textbook. One of my favorite features is that you can search for specific words and phrases. Results are instantly displayed with the searched words highlighted on each page.
  • The Textbook's Website - Most textbooks these days boast online features. In some cases, these sites can be more useful than the book itself, like when I took a biology course this past fall. The site provided online flashcards with all the terms and definitions I needed to study for my quizzes and exams, sorted by chapter and alphabetized.
  • - This is fantastic site if you need more information on a topic, because it combines several resources. For instance, if you type in "endoplasmic reticulum," you get entries from a dictionary, sci-tech encyclopedia, dental dictionary, the Britannica Concise Encyclopedia, and Wikipedia.
  • Google - When all else fails, just Google it. Or sometimes starting with Google can be the fastest. Sometimes I've had questions on a study guide where topical searching just doesn't cut it, like "Who said 'sensing + selecting + perceiving = seeing' and what does it mean?” Most everyone knows that Google is going to be your best friend for stuff like this. During an English course in the summer, I had a reading assignment from the textbook which was a reprint of several articles found online. I typed the article titles in Google and survived yet another assignment without buying the textbook.
These strategies are not going to work for every class. Sometimes you have to cough up the money because there is no way to make it through the class without owning your own copy, like a math course where problems are assigned from the textbook every week. Or maybe it's a book you actually think you might use or read again, like the AP Stylebook.

But whether you think you will need the textbook or not, at least wait until the first day of class to see what the professor says. Last semester I had a professor list 2 books (over $80 at the campus bookstore) only to announce on the first day that the same information was available online for free. I once had a history professor who listed a book on his syllabus but explained it would not be necessary for the course, he just liked the book and thought we might too.

So wait awhile before you commit to buying hundreds of dollars worth of books you may only use for 4 months and then never touch again. There are plenty of alternative options out there that are free and usually more efficient.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Sometimes I get sick of only writing about my pain condition, but I guess it's about time for an update.

I recently started taking some classes for the summer. One is Basic News Writing with Front Range and it's online. The other one is Freshman Composition with Colorado State University.

It is really weird to be going to class again. It has been about 2 years since I have attempted school (the last time being Fall of 2006 when I was on heavy-duty painkillers). This time around, my body is free from narcotics (yay!!!) so it will be a whole different story. I have come to learn that having chronic pelvic pain and interstitial cystitis affects everything (my concentration, how long I can make it without having to use the bathroom, how long I can sit in a hard chair without being miserable, and my ability to be counted on for anything...), so this new venture is a bit scary for me. However, I am excited to be doing something with my time again and also very determined to finish my degree, despite all of the setbacks I've had!

I have also been playing my trombone in the Loveland Concert Band and mentoring a girl through Partners Mentoring Youth, so I am having fun and staying busy. When I'm not doing one of these activities or at class, you will most likely find me in my bed resting with my heating pad or doing protocol from the clinic.

Some words about the protocol: It's amazing. I don't know where I'd be without it. I still hurt and I still have symptoms, but the intensity has decreased and I now feel like I can help myself, which is worth so much more than I could ever describe. I have been doing a lot of relaxation sessions lately and also using the Theracane to relieve trigger points. My friend found a YouTube clip of Dr. Wise explaining the protocol if you'd like to see a bit about it:

I also didn't update on here as much as I would have liked to while I was quitting my painkillers. The one entry I did post during the withdrawal was about as good as I felt. After the first few days, my legs started to have the constant desire to kick and move and jiggle and basically flail about. It is quite a feeling because your body is so tired but you can't let yourself fall asleep.

On the whole, I am of course glad that I quit. It is great to not be dependent on the drugs anymore and to be dealing with the pain in alternative ways. If there is anyone out there who is interested in what it's like to quit Oxycodone or wants to hear more about the clinic, please feel free to contact me.

I know I say this every time I post an update, but thank you to all of you who pray for me, ask my parents about me, and send me cards. All of your support is such an encouragement!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Well, It's True

Sometimes when I open a can of tuna, I think to myself, "Hmm, my cat food is ready."

Saturday, June 07, 2008

"An Adventure Beyond the Ordinar-E"

I think I'm in love. I know he's just a cartoon, but I am so excited about Wall-E. When I watch trailers of him, I smile the entire time and find myself laughing about every 10 seconds, for no other reason than he's so completely adorable it drives me crazy. I can't really decide which is cuter, his eyes or the funny noises he makes. Well, hats off to Disney and Pixar, because from what I've seen so far, I'm a huge fan.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Derek Dream

So I had a dream the other morning about Derek Webb. I was in a grocery store with my brother Ryan (who then turned into someone who was sort of like Chris Washington) and he left. While I was waiting for him to come back, I suddenly decided that I should go to the Derek Webb concert that the grocery store was hosting in a back room.
When I got in there, Derek was playing "What Do You Do With A Drunken Sailor" and he didn't have Derek's charmingly scratchy voice. He didn't even look like Derek! If it wasn't for the red curly hair, he might have looked like game show host J.D. Roth from Fun House.
After he finished singing his drunken sailor song, he did not start in on excellent Derek Webb music. Instead, he started promoting his new boxed set (there is not one of these in real life). He started announcing to everyone in the room how, not only did they need to buy one box set, but two, because you would get a special deal that way.
I was really starting to regret ever being a fan of Derek when I finally woke up from the nightmare!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

day 1 (or are we on 2 now)?

things aren't so bad yet.
i'm very jittery and my body seems upset with me like we aren't quite on the same page. draping my body over an exercise ball and bouncing my stomach on it feels good.

i have lots of layers of clothes on. chilly. kinda sweaty too. but i think i still need some more on.

been going on some walks to get the jittery-ness out. my dad was laughing because he couldn't keep up with me.

sleep is hard. the body doesn't want to stay in the same position for any amount of time. i am taking a drug to help with this and it seem to be helping.

i talked to jamie online today and i couldn't read what we were talking about. my eyes needed the font bigger so that i could see it properly.

i tried to read a book. it was quite the experience. some words are there and the others don't register in my mind. if i could get some sentences together, i couldn't remember what they were trying to say.

not too much nausea or extreme increase in pain.

tomorrow is supposed to be the worst but maybe it won't be as bad as some other experiences i've had with withdrawal in the past.

thanks for all of your facebook comments and support.

i will try to update again.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Cold Turkey

Well I'm not in a very bloggy mood but I thought I'd type on here real quick while I still feel like it.

I saw a doctor today that specializes in helping people that are dependent on opiates. He gave me several options of how I could get off of my pain killers, and I decided to just go for it and take the super-fast track. Now is the time to do it. I've been quitting since August very gradually, and I'm really sick of dragging it out.

So I took my very last pain pill at 2:23pm today. I am not feeling anything yet. He gave me several new drugs to help with the withdrawal symptoms. He said you can't die from opiate withdrawal, but you will just wish that you could. I will feel like I have the flu, get nauseous, probably vomit, be agitated and restless, have chills and sweats, and experience an increase in my pain levels. My dad brought me home a sack from Walgreens of all the medications I can take to help combat those symptoms.

The doctor said day 3 will probably be the worst, but after a week or so I will feel better (not like a million bucks, but better).

So this is the new plan! I am scared out of my mind but it was completely my choice to do it and I really want to go through with it.

I would appreciate all your prayers so much. Any strength and courage that I have to conquer this I know will come from God and Him alone. If you have any fitting verses to share with me that I can be meditating on while I'm sick, I would love that too - thank you, friends!

Here's a link if you want to know a little bit more about opiate withdrawal:
MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: Opiate withdrawal