Student Health PSA

August 28th, 2012 by Jenni Benda

DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor. Obviously you should always check with a doctor first if you’re unsure about a medical issue. I’m just going off what I’ve learned from my lifetime.
A lot of folks are coming down with colds now that the semester has started. I have noticed in some places people sniffling and coughing. I think it’s a thing known as dorm crud (we talked about it briefly in Human Biology last fall). When all the new freshman come in and are living in close quarters and not taking care of themselves, they get sick and it spreads quickly. Then they go to class sick, and the upper classmen/commuters get it.
I started taking 500mg of vitamin C every day to help absorption of my iron pills, and I’ve been taking zinc for immunity health and I’ve noticed that I have been a lot less sick since I started doing so. In fact, the 1 time I had to skip a lot of that due to me not being able to keep anything down, (yay concussions…NOT!) I actually got a sinus infection.
So take vitamin C (or just add more c-rich foods/juices) into your diet, and take some zinc supplements. It will help.  Trust me. And of you find yourself sick already, don’t knock the chicken soup theory. It’s a good thing to eat. Also HYDRATION is very important. Not just drinking water but also making sure you get enough electrolytes.
I have a lot more posts/topics on my mind and more posts are forthcoming, but after seeing the third person on Facebook in two days post that they were sick, I felt like I had to say something.

Spring Review, Summer Plans

May 29th, 2012 by Jenni Benda

So, I haven’t used this blog much this semester.  I am proud to say that I’ve made it through my first full year as a Redbird and I am now a Senior! Yay! I have a year and a half to go until I complete all my courses for my shiny Bachelor of Science degree that I’m chasing.

Despite having my husband as a teacher, I managed to pass MAT 200 (MAT 160 at ISU).  I got a C, but given all the OTHER things I dealt with this semester, it’s pretty remarkable that I got that far.

My other classes were a bit better.  A’s in PSY 110 and ITK 261 (Despite the difficulties of being the only woman in a class full of men and taught by a man.) and B’s in ITK 254 and ECO 105. (Why did I take an honors section again? Oh yeah, schedule. Sheesh).

So my GPA didn’t suffer too much as a result.  The coursework and attendance were made more difficult by a rather nasty fall I had in March, which involved me attempting to walk down a flight of stairs in Schroeder and failing.

I stepped down each step, leaning on the middle railing (I was on the right side to the railing was to my left) for support since my left side tends to be weak, and then on the third step, my left ankle turned and I lost my balance. I tried to catch myself on the railing and failed, slamming into it with my right leg and right elbow. I don’t recall much after that other than winding up on the floor at the base of the stairs, on my back with the wind knocked out of me. (I am not sure whether or not I hit my head, it’s possible I may have.) The pain was horrible, but thanks to adrenaline coursing through my body, I was able to get up and get to the classroom.

Amazingly enough I sat through the 75 minute class (I couldn’t focus for beans, but this is why I record lectures) but once it was over, I didn’t think I’d be able to get up again without enough pain/dizziness to make me pass out. ISU PD was called, and later paramedics.  The paramedics got to the classroom and after a momentary panic about whether or not they would but a neck brace on me (One of my PTSD triggers is having things around my neck after all) they had me sign something saying I’d declined the brace and I was place on the gurney and they tried to get me to the ambulance. This proved to be more challenging that it probably ought to have been. The gurney barely fit in the elevator and due to the angle they had me in at, they couldn’t get me out the opposite doors once it got to the upper part of the first floor. So back down we went, as the freaking Fire Department was called, so they had more men to grab hold of me and take me up the same stupid steps I fell on.

At the ED, I was examined, X-rayed (15 xrays! The most I’ve ever had at one time) and all that time, no one thought to check my head. (This is important. I’ll come back to this point.) I was diagnosed with a L ankle sprain, a R Knee contusion, a R hip contusion, a R elbow contusion, and a back strain. I had an air-cast put on my ankle and was discharged. I also had a note excusing me from classes the next day because the Dr said I’d feel much worse the day after. It did all right, and I spent a lot of time after that laying in bed and trying to sleep off what I thought was the pain medication.  It wasn’t until I’d gone to see a sleep doc on Friday that they figured out I had a concussion.  Four days of dizziness, nausea, and pain before they figured that out. Thankfully the next week ISU was on spring break and I was able with the anti-dizziness and anti-nausea meds, get up and get to my MAT 200 class at Parkland.  (The breaks for each school were staggered.)

This fall caused a lot of problems for me, one of which was my application for running for Phi Beta Lambda State office and making sure I had all the components completed in time to send it off.  Through a huge effort by myself, my advisor, the chapter president and my campaign manager, we got it done! By this point I had to concentrate on the next step which was preparing for the State Leadership Conference and the campaign itself.  The process was intense, but I got through it and got elected! I still maintain that I couldn’t have gotten through it without Vince and the support of everyone in my chapter.  I also placed 3rd in the Computer Concepts competition which allows me to compete nationally at the National Leadership Conference in San Antonio TX in June.

During finals week, I also managed to re-sprain my ankle, I’m still recovering.

So now that the semester is over, I have to work on studying and preparing myself for the national test.  I’m also working on  making jewelry to sell to go raise funds for the PBL NLC.  Then I will take over the State Secretary office, attend two more conferences and then in Fall, the fun really begins.

Stay safe this summer.  See you in the fall.

Car Trouble

February 21st, 2012 by Jenni Benda

Aka a commuter’s worst nightmare. This is mostly why I’ve been quiet lately.

I managed to get to Bloomington before my car started acting up a week ago.  As a result, I missed one of my classes (the other one that day had been canceled) and ended up having to stay in town for nearly 3 days before my car was ready.  Then that night I had a sleep study at a hospital in Champaign so at least that night I was in the right county, but I still wasn’t home.

And of course, the stress of the situation caused me to get behind in everything because I was stressed, tired, and I had to spend some time with my husband because I missed him you know?  I didn’t even get to spend Valentines Day with my own husband.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my friends and the two I stayed with are some of the best friends a person could ask for, but I was glad to get home.

I just get the feeling that this semester is going to be one of the roughest ever that I’ve encountered and I still have 3 to go after this one.  Sheesh.

One of those days…

January 30th, 2012 by Jenni Benda

Have you ever had one of those days?

Where you feel like no matter what you try to do, it’s never going to work.

Where no matter how you look, you always feel ugly and out of place.

Where no matter how hard you work, you always seem to fall short.

I’ve been having one of those days for a about 3 weeks.

And of course right now is one of those times when I really don’t need a lack of self-esteem nibbling at my subconscious mind.

And you go on trying, working, and attempting to at least look presentable like you do…just becuase life decides to kick you around for a while, doesn’t mean it stops for you.  Especially when you’re 31, married, and trying to improve your life.

Days like this are when the nagging questions flood my brain making it hard to focus or sleep.  “What am I doing trying to earn a college degree at my age?” “Why do I even bother with trying to relate to my fellow students?” “I should have just stopped at the associates degree.”

It’s hard to fight those kinds of things.  But I do, mostly now because I don’t know what else to do.  There’s worries about finding a job in my field if I even make it to the goal of the degree.  But one worry at a time right?  No sense putting the cart before the horse.

Sometimes I wonder if younger students have as much self-doubt as the older ones, but we’re just more vocal about it?

Maybe it’s just one of those days.

Topic 3 of 3 for the week: Why being in your husband’s class is not as cool as you’d think.

January 27th, 2012 by Jenni Benda

First of all, in all the math classes I’ve taken the last few years, I’ve come to see my husband as a help source, and while he still sort of is, it’s different when he ’s my instructor.  I could go to his office hours and ask him for help.  I could email him and ask him for help.  But when he’s sitting 3 feet away from me at 10pm the night before the homework is due, I can’t ask him anything because it’s unfair to my other classmates.

(And let me be clear, the only reason I was working on it at that point was because I’m taking 13 other credit hours at ISU AND I’m an officer in a business fraternity.  I’ve been busy and that was the first week of classes at ISU.  Sue me.)

Seeing him in class is always awkward at first.  See, I have this reaction thing when I first see my husband each time, it’s generally a loving smile or a happy face.  But it’s like…you see me look at him and you can tell that I know him in a far closer manner than student/teacher.  I’ve had to work very hard to try and hide that.  It’s NOT easy.  Also? When I talk to him in class, I’ve so far been avoiding calling him by name.  Calling him Mr. Benda is just awkward for me, though it would be the respectful thing to do.  I can’t call him Jason, because I call him that at home.  And I’ve been trying really hard not to call him any of the lovey-dovey pet names you could think of that are usually exchanged between a husband and wife.  On top of that, when I talk to him about something in class, I end up telling him information he already knows, because I have to act like I’m just another student and he doesn’t know my entire educational history.  I don’t know if it’s awkward for him, but it sure as hell is for me.  And it leads to odd things occurring in class like the story of the damn meter stick.

See, one day he was lecturing and he wanders around in front of the whiteboard like most instructors do, (And my husband is very high energy when he’s lecturing, so he does this a LOT) and he walked in front of a shelf on the far side of the room and as he did so, he knocked over this meter stick that was leaned against the shelf.  It clattered to the floor.  Did he pick it up? No, he just kept on going.  He kept wandering back and forth and stepping on the damn thing as he lectured.  I couldn’t focus on the material as I kept seeing him losing his footing and smashing into the whiteboard or onto the floor, breaking his nose or something.  Finally I couldn’t take it any more and put my hand up.  He paused and acknowledged me.  I asked him to please pick up the stick so he didn’t trip over it an injure himself as it was making me nervous.  He tried to laugh it off, but I think he was embarrassed by the whole thing.  I mean, yes, I am overprotective of those I love and care about and in many cases don’t want to see anyone come to harm.  (Anyone who knows me for more than two days can figure that out.) But honestly! I couldn’t STAND IT! Had I done the same thing if it had been any of his colleagues?  Yes.  I would have, though I cannot think of any of them off the top of my head that wouldn’t have picked the damn thing up when they knocked it over the the first place!!!!

There’s always a low level of paranoia that the manure is going to hit the fan once someone figures out the relationship between us and is going to try to get myself or him, (or both) into trouble with the Department Chair.  I honestly don’t care if I get into trouble.  I would drop the class and find a way to pay Jason back the tuition (yes, he paid my tuition.  I know, it was weird for him too.) if only to spare him his class.  If removing me would solve an issue between him and his boss I would happily go.  (It’s not like I’m passing the damn class at the moment anyway.)  But the fear of trouble is always there.

It’s not like we’ve tried to hide the fact that we’re married….we’re just…not announcing it.  I am not sure if other students have suspected anything, (it’s not like someone who looks at the class roster couldn’t figure something out since we have the same damn surname) but if they have no one has said anything to my knowledge.

I know that when I struggle with the material (and so far I’ve been struggling a LOT) it upsets him.  I kind of understand why, he has a lot more invested in me personally than any of his other students, and he’s around me more.  And when I get upset and feel like The World’s Biggest Idiot, I can’t say anything to him because it just upsets him more.

And there’s one last thing that I’ve been reluctant to talk about…this whole me-being-his-student-thing is affecting our relationship.   At least it has in my view, again I can’t speak for him.  I have had a hard time being affectionate towards him.  At least, at my usual level.  Normally I’m very affectionate towards him verbally and physically.  Lately…it’s been less so.  Because every time I hug him, or kiss him, there’s this little voice in my head that says “You’re kissing your math teacher.”  This causes space between us that maybe only I notice.  As much as I want to be near him, as much as I want to snuggle up to him at night, I feel like I have to be separate from him because it’s my damn math teacher.

So every time I hear someone who finds out that my husband is teaching my class say “That is awesome! You have it so easy!” as a joke, it makes me have to resist the urge to punch them.  I cannot recommend this situation to anyone.  Maybe there are people out there who can separate their work/educational lives from their personal lives, but apparently I’m not one of them.

It’s going to be a very long semester.

A Question I’m Tired Of…

January 23rd, 2012 by Jenni Benda

“Why didn’t you go to X College/University?”

The reason I’m tired of this question is because of the explanations that always need to follow.  I realize that people refuse to believe that it’s fun to commute an hour to school every morning, but it’s not like I’m really going that far.  What bothers me is I’m not just getting it from ISU people who say “Why didn’t you go to University of Illinois? It’s right there and they have a great Computer Science Program.” But I’m also getting it from Parkland people that I’m taking MAT 200 with.  But from them I’m getting “Why are you taking this class here and not at ISU/Heartland CC?”

The answer to the first question always is a form of “Because UIUC does not have the program I’m in here.” Sure, UIUC does have a great Computer Science program, but only if you’re interested in Engineering.  I’m interested in Web Development and online communications, and as my husband loves to say “Not every institution is for everyone!” So yes, I had to go to Bloomington-Normal to ISU to find a program and an institution that fit me a lot better than the local option.  Yes, the commute sucks, but you get used to it.  The commute itself isn’t even as bad as just the time it takes.

The answer to the second question had to be “Because I live in Champaign and I commute to ISU for classes not the other way around.” Because the person who asked it didn’t realize that I didn’t live in Bloomington-Normal.

Why does this annoy me so much? Because no one else who travels a long way for school gets asked this, (or maybe they do and they’re as sick of it as I am) but I don’t go to the tons of Chicagoans that go to this campus and go “Why didn’t you just go to X?” Where X is a 4-year college in the Chicago area.  I don’t go to some international student and go “Aren’t there colleges in your home country?” But people have no problem questioning my decision.  Including, I might add, one of my professors!!! He tried to make it into a joke when I introduced myself (and yes, this is the class I wrote about earlier where I’m the only female) and he said “You do know there’s a pretty big computer science institution right near you right?” Like I’m the idiot.

I almost gave a sarcastic reply like “No! Really? I HAD NO IDEA.  Thank you for telling me, I’ll take my tuition money away from the institution that pays your salary and go next week.” But of course I am so afraid of confrontation that I didn’t.  *sigh*

So yes, the next time you think you’re clever and ask a question like that when you hear I’m a commuter, just don’t.  Please…just don’t.

Male dominated classrooms (aka The lone woman in a sea of testosterone.)

January 22nd, 2012 by Jenni Benda

My IT 261 class has (estimated) 25-30 students. Not a huge class, but a sizable amount of people. It’s in a room where we do all fit. The instructor is male.

I am the only female. I spend an hour and 15 minutes, twice a week in a room where I am the only female. It’s not a huge deal, but it is something to think about for me because I’m in a male-dominated field. Computer Science in general is still quite male-dominated and this is just another reminder of such demographics. Why could it be an issue?

Flash back with me for a moment to Parkland College in Fall of 2007. I was taking CSC 187 which is 3D Animation I. The size of the class was a bit smaller, maybe 24 students, but the first day of classes set the tone for what was to become the gender showdown. I was one of two females in the course, and after the first day of the first critiques, I was the only female. I got a lot of crap from the males in the class and it’s possible they could have been trying to drive me out.

Only I’m stubborn as all get out and didn’t let them. I stood up to them and called them out on their crap.

After a while, they gave up, but every class up to that point was a battle. I had to pause before entering the lab and don my mental battle armor.  Am I doing that now? In a way I am. I probably am more defensive than I need to be, but I feel that it’s better to be prepared. It’s easier to deal with an “attack” when you’re prepared for anything than to deal with an ambush.

My other classes are not quite as bad. There is a male bias in the Parkland MAT class and in my other IT class. The other two classes I’m taking are a bit more evenly balanced.

It’s just another thing that sticks in my mind as I go on this little Bachelor’s Degree Adventure. We all have things that are obstacles or are potential obstacles. Experience has taught me that I need to be somewhat defensive in male-dominated classrooms especially in computer science and mathematics. Even in today’s more modern educational setting, there are pervasive ideas that women are not as good at math and science as men. (I grew up hearing that crap on a daily basis from grades 5-12). So I tend to be wary, and have donned the attitude of “Oh yeah? I can do this stuff as well or better than you can and I’ll PROVE it. So sit down and shut up.”  There’s always the possibility that this will backfire on me someday, but stick with what you know, ya know?

It’s one of those necessary evils this world is full of.  Male privilege is a bitch when you’re not male.

If I were in a different major, it could be different. But I’m not, so I deal with it the best I can. Maybe someday we’ll come to a world where a woman can take a computer science class full of males and not feel like I do.  But until then, I don my mental armor every Tuesday and Thursday before class, and prepare for the potential gender war to come.

Fall review and Spring begins

January 20th, 2012 by Jenni Benda

Let me just say that the last two weeks of the Fall semester sucked.  Hardcore.  It wasn’t a total disaster, but pretty close.  Despite all of the stress and insanity, I managed to walk away with 3 A’s and a B.  (damn Human Biology class).

Winter break? Well, it involved leaving the job I’ve been working for the last 4 years and saying goodbye to people I’d known for that time.  It also involved 2 trips to the Emergency Room, Once for a pulled trapesis (spelling?) muscle in my left shoulder that everyone around me was scared was a heart-attack in disguise, and second for abdominal pain that was a appendicitis scare.  (Turned out to be a bad stomach virus.) It did also involve fun, nerdy pursuits like gaming, reading, crafts, and trying to design myself a better looking web portfolio.  The holidays were nice.  I love my in-laws and they love me.  We had a friend stay with us for a while, and that was fun too.

And now Spring semester has begun.  I get the feeling that this semester is going to be quite tougher than last semester, even though I am not currently employed.  I am taking 5 classes, (4 at ISU and 1 at Parkland) and between commuting 4 days a week, and winter weather that can’t decide if it wants to be sunny or snowy, well….I’m in for a rough ride.

Add to this that Phi Beta Lambda’s Rush activities are coming up (Lots to prepare for as Ye Olde Webmaster naturally) and you’ve got extra confusion with a side of obsessive email checking.

I’ve got topics I want to write about over the next few days.  I’ve decided that each topic should be it’s own post.  The topics are:

  • Male-dominated classrooms
  • Why being in your husband’s class sucks more than you think it would
  • Why I am sick of the question “Why didn’t you go to (x) College?”

So…look for that…the I don’t know…3 of you who read this blog that aren’t spam-bots.

Stay warm everyone.

Crunch Time

December 1st, 2011 by Jenni Benda

It’s that time again.  Where did the time go?  Last I knew it was August, the weather was still warm and I was still getting used to this whole going to Illinois State University thing.

Today it’s December, there’s little more than a week till Finals and of course, the profs are throwing everything they still can at you.  (and in some cases still giving a final exam!)

Add on top of this that for me, being an older student and having a job, my job has become short-staffed and therefore I’m on mandatory OT.  Now that the job hours have taken away homework time, guess what? I am losing sleep.  It’s not pretty.  Due to a research paper I got 2.5 hours of sleep last night.   Also I waste 4 hours per week driving back and forth.  Sleep? What’s that? That thing I’m not getting right now? Oh.

Due to the sleep deprivation I feel like a squirrel on speed.  My train of thought often goes: HolyCrapIt’sColdWhyIsSheWearingThatDamnSmokersIAmTiredIWannaTakeaNapIHaveClassNowIAmHungryOoohLookAtThat!ThatLooksFunny…and just kind of continues on until I find a way to reign it in and focus on lecture.  Thankfully I’ve been recording audio of lectures.

If I’m not in squirrel mode, I’m in DURRR mode.  You know that mode when you’re not quite asleep, but you aren’t exactly awake either.  You’re just staring at the wall with your mind blank until something gets your attention and you realize that twenty minutes has passed.  Sometimes I call this “fibro fog”, but it’s been worse lately due to the OMG!Stress of everything falling on my head at once.   This also has the added effect of happening to me when my poor husband is trying to ask me something and it literally takes an entire minute to process what he said and of course since I was in DURRR mode I didn’t hear the entire question and often I have to ask him to repeat himself.  AND THEN on top of that, it takes me an additional two minutes to actually think about what he said and make a decision.  This annoys him when we’re driving somewhere and he asks me if I need to go somewhere and I tell him two minutes after he passed the turn for it.

If I can just survive the next two weeks and 4 days….then I can rest.

This situation has taught me an important lesson though.  You really cannot work more than 20 hours a week and go to school full time.  Some important decisions need to be made, I won’t go into details here because this isn’t the place for it, but I need to do some serious thinking about how I’m going to prepare for next semester.

And now I feel like perhaps I’ve done enough procrasta-ranting.  (See that? I made up a word.  I do that a lot.) Time to sneak in a power nap before my next class and pray that I don’t collapse from stress.  Good luck to my fellow students and if you could, send thoughts of hope and sanity to my poor husband who is dealing with creating and grading finals but also has to put up with the mess that is me.  Thanks.

See you on the other side of Finals.

Trains of thought…

October 25th, 2011 by Jenni Benda

Sit down, and hold on…this post may be a bit jumpy…

Things that are taking up space in my head this week:

- I hate writing papers.  I really, really hate writing papers.  Mostly because papers have to be coherent and flow and have a unified topic.  And often, I have to read stuff other people have written on a similar topic and find a way to work it into my topic without making it seem like I’m taking their words.  Writing an object oriented program to pull library information out of a database is easier than that.

- Is it possible for a person’s learning style to shift with the years?  It used to be that I couldn’t retain anything just related to me verbally, but now I’m finding that I have to record lectures in order to remember anything.

- I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about labels and stereotypes.  I have come to the conclusion that no matter what sort of peer group I’m in, (whether it be my co-workers, my classmates, or just a group of friends) in some way, for certain parts of me I’m the weirdo.  In the group of my co-workers, I’m technically minded, I don’t watch TV and I have no children.  In the group of my classmates, I’m older, I’m married, I’m a female in a male dominated field (Information Technology), in my groups of friends, I’m bisexual, I have no children (and no desire to ever have any), and I’m fat.   Thinking about this has lead me to such interesting concepts as “Am I the weirdo because I notice I’m different or because other people notice I’m different?  Do I sort of claim myself as different, as the “weirdo”, as a sort of offensive defense in social situations to keep others from pointing it out? What the heck does that last sentence even mean?

- In accordance with the last paragraph, because we’re reading Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home in my ENG 160 class I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about sexual orientation and gender constructs.  I have a research paper that I have to write for my final paper in that class and I’m wondering if I should even dare to go into the topics of gender and sexual orientation in my paper.  It has always been something I think about in those lovely wee-hours-of-the-morning-and-I-can’t-get-my-brain-to-STFU moments.  The problem lies in the fact that I have to be careful how I write about things like this.  I’m not transgender, I’m cis-female.  I’m bisexual, but in a heterosexual relationship, so on the surface of things I’m “normal”.  It’s entirely possible that I could take my thoughts and research and talk about these things and end up offending my instructor.  I don’t want to do this.  (And not just because my grade would depend on it.)  It’s this sort of fear that kept me from writing about race and racism in the Beloved unit.  Often I think about how utterly screwed up our society is and try to find ways to deal with it without, you know, being a jerk and hurting people.  This often isn’t easy, but it is a worthy goal.  Whereas there are a lot of people who would just blatantly spew their vile opinions and not give two shits about how they hurt others.  I don’t think that’s me…at least, that’s not who I want to be.

- I have a lot of homework to do in the next few weeks and I am trying to find a way to balance that, my job, my marriage/home life, and other obligations (PBL mostly)  This is harder than it sounds.  Far harder than it should be for someone my age.

I think that’s it.  Don’t mind the spinning-head feeling.  It’ll go away eventually.

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