Mar 30, 2011

The Cosmos Throw Another Curveball

I have some very sad, very unexpected news.

Despite me acquiring a letter from my primary physician signing off on me studying abroad in Tanzania this summer, the University Physician, who holds the ultimate okay, said no. I received an e-mail today saying that my acceptance has been rescinded and that I am being withdrawn from the program. They cite “health concerns” as being the reason my withdrawal despite me sending them the letters that the office requested.

So, I will not be traveling this summer. As if this was not heart-breaking enough, it also looks like there is still $700 that I will not be able to be refunded, which is a very hefty chunk of change. I’m trying to be positive and think of it like “At least I’m getting most of it back, or anything back for that matter”, but it’s hard. I always thought that I would study abroad while in college, and now that won’t happen. This is not a matter of “Oh, just go next summer”. This was my one chance.

I had my heart set on this trip. I was counting on it, not just for the college credits, the honors credit, or even the chance of getting to climb one of the highest peaks on our Earth. No, what I most had my heart set on was the experience. To get to see first hand the people I read about in my textbooks. To finally make myself let go of my anorexia and allow myself to heal. I’m saying it “out loud”. My name is Ellen, and I am an anorexic and I have been for the past 6.5 years. It is not nearly as bad as it was when it first surfaced when I was 13, but it is still very much a part of me.

In my head, I feel like this is an attack against me. A punishment. But, in my heart, I know that this is happening right now for a reason. Right now, the only thing I can think of is that I’m supposed to run in that half marathon this September. The Tanzania trip would have taken me 4 weeks out of training. Now with the trip called off, I still plan on taking a few credits toward my degree, but also to continue, without interruption, my training to compete in the Capital City River Run Half Marathon and live at home while continuing to work with therapists, doctors, and counselors to make this possible.

I had to do a serious re-haul of my life for the next two years in a very short period of time, because I schedule for next year this Friday. And with my summer plans changed, I decided to enroll in more classes this summer than I had originally planned.

This is going to happen. I am determined. This is the year that I let go. I hope that you all stick around and offer me your advice, support, and stories throughout this entire process. I need your help. I can’t do this alone, nor do I plan on doing this alone.

On another, unrelated-but-still-related note, I found out this past week that my father has been diagnosed with stage II primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) (stage I being the least severe and stage IV being the most severe). Without medication, he may have another 6-10 years left, and with medication the doctor says that he will probably die of some other cause first (he turned 61 this March). PBC generally does not show any symptoms and is detected from abnormal blood tests. It is also 10x more likely in women and there appears to be some sort of genetic factor. So, starting in the next 10 years, in addition to being tested for breast cancer, I need to be tested for PBC as well since I have an elevated risk of both.

The only one in my family who seems to be doing well is my mother, who decided to rejoin Weight Watchers as a Christmas/New Years gift to herself. I could not be more proud of the changes and progress that she has made in the past 3 months. I’m trying to convince her to compete in a 5K some time in the next year, even if it is just walking one.

For those of you who stuck it out through this post, thank-you. It means a lot for me to be able to write this all down, but it’s another thing entirely to actually have someone read my words and digest my thoughts and provide feedback. You guys really do mean more to me than you know.

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are small compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Mar 28, 2011

Feeling A Change In The Winds

Just a short little post to start off the week:

I'm all moved back in to my mom's house and already I have felt so many changes in my stress levels and in my body. Almost immediately upon returning home and getting all of my things out of the toxic apartment, my appetite has returned and so far I have had zero pain issues. Yes, my mind is apparently that strong and the apartment was causing me that much stress. I couldn't believe it. I have even been cooking more and experimenting more with foods and cooking already (with delicious, successful results for once), and it's only been 3 days! The transition from a one-person household back into a two-person household is going to be a bit tricky at first, but I'm sure that we will get back in to the flow of things soon enough. Hopefully I can pick up on my new bus schedule quickly!

My mom has been beyond supportive throughout all of this and I feel so fortunate to have a mother who would allow me to re-invade her life so much with very little notice. My mom really is my best friend and is the person that I am closest with nowadays. We even hit up World Market yesterday to take advantage of their Friend and Family discount sale. We walked away with a ton of stuff for only $14! (Thanks again, Fitnessista). Among the steals was: Strawberries & Champagne Dark Chocolate, seaweed snacks, ramekins, Torrani SF raspberry syrup, and miso soup mix.

In other news, if you follow me on Twitter, then you know that I have decided to compete in my very first HALF MARATHON this September. I plan on following a modified Hal Higdon Novice training plan. This will be a bit tricky, because in May and June I will be taking a fitness class at the university for my degree, but I plan on using those workouts as supplements or replacements to my training runs and workouts depending on what we do. Also, I will be gone for the entire month of July for my Tanzania trip. The trip will be pretty physically demanding, so I'm confident that it can be incorporated into my training plan and to do a few weeks of stepping back when I arrive back in the States to get me back on track. I'm so excited to be able to share this with all of you, but my 5K this past weekend really inspired me as to the strength and adaptability of the human body and the healing powers of a well though out diet. I even took the plunge and finally bought a Garmin Forerunner 305 and Brendan Brazier's book, Thrive, with the rest of my Amazon gift card leftover from Christmastime! Both should be here early this week.

FIVE weeks of classes and ONE week of finals stands in between me and the end of the semester. So much to do, but I already have a pretty good start on my deadlines. Let's crank it OUT, do work son, and all that jazz!

Anyone else out there training for a half marathon or already completed a half marathon who wants to give me some advice?

Mar 26, 2011

Run for the House


That’s right, I had a 5K race today for the Ronald McDonald House in Lansing. The Ronald McDonald House program provides a “home-away-from-home” for families so that they can stay close by their hospitalized child at little to no cost. Every house provides home-cooked meals, private bedrooms, and playrooms for children. Ronald McDonald knows that families are stronger when they are together and that it’s important to the healing process. This year, thousands of dollars were raised through the Run for the House fundraiser.

I came in 1st in my age group (Females 15-19) and I think 95th overall (edit: 94 out of 624) with a time of 25:18. Just 17 seconds slower than my CCRR time and 10 seconds faster than my high-school cross country time. Considering that I didn’t really consciously train for this race or planned on competitively racing for this 5K, I was quite proud of my time and absolutely LOVED receiving my first non-participant medal. And all this in 20deg weather!

In other news, this weekend I am moving out of my apartment and back in with my mom until my new lease starts at the end of August. In order to be really ready for my Tanzania trip, I really think that I need to be home. I just was not gaining weight at the apartment, which was a toxic environment for me. I was able to obtain a doctor’s note to get out of my lease early, as well as the doctor’s note that I needed to be allowed to go to Tanzania, so, it looks like everything is coming up Ellen!

I’ll be extremely busy settling myself in to my “new” place, but I’m so glad that I’ll really be able to take care of myself and be in a better environment to heal and grow. I still plan on working out, but it will no longer be in a gym setting, but rather more workout DVDs and outdoor running (once the weather finally warms up a bit).

What kept you going the last time it felt like the whole world was against you?

Mar 22, 2011

3 “No’s” And 1 “Yes” Is Still A “Yes”

Doctor’s appointment on Friday went much better than expected. I have lost a tiny bit more weight, but I chalk that up to long hours at school and increasing the intensity of my workouts before I was able to buy enough food to (1) fuel my workouts, in addition to (2) be eating enough to not just fuel the workout and properly refuel, but all gain weight in a healthful manner. My primary physician said that she will indeed write me a letter and I feel so glad and fortunate for that. She too has to deal with IBS and so knows the chance you take just leaving the house with this condition. So, it’s looking like my summer study abroad trip to Tanzania is back on, baby! Once I have her letter in my hands, I will be able to get a sign-off from my therapist as well as the university physicians who approve all applicants before their departure.

There have been good days and bad days, but mostly good I would have to say if it came right down to it. Not much sleep has occurred in the past week, and what a week it was. Between working out, worrying about my doctor’s appointment, working, studying, and doing the rest of my assignments, I feel like this week didn’t even happen at it; it was just a day.

Currently, I am working on getting out of the rest of my lease so that I can possibly move back home for the remainder of the semester and continue through the summer until my lease at the new apartment starts at the end of August. This has been something I’ve been considering for months, and had been taking baby steps toward (asking around for people who possibly wanted to sublease and whatnot), but now I’ve been taking real action to get out and so I plan on speaking with one of the managers on Monday about moving ASAP rather than waiting until the summer or until after someone has actually taken over my lease when I might have to deal with finals and summer classes beginning at the same time as moving. Plus, if I say that I am willing to move out immediately, that makes me a more desirable candidate for people who want to move in for only a few months. They don’t want to have to deal with moving during the short finals/summer course transition period either.

I will be insanely busy for the next month. That I know of for sure, I have THREE ten(ish)-page research papers to write that I’m just beginning or thinking of beginning, in addition to my regular load of studying for exams and regular class assignments. I also have a 5K (not competitive, I’m just doing it for charity and for the Food and Nutrition Association club I’m a member of) next weekend. Since I have yet to run outside since the CCRR at the end of September, I’d just be happy to finish this race, but I’m still aiming for under 30-minutes just because I think it’s a good idea to go in with a goal in mind.

As far as St. Patrick’s Day goes, yes, I did allow myself to have a little bit of shenanigan fun. Though, I think I pulled something when I was whippin’ my hair back and forth. My neck and shoulders are insanely tight and sore still and I’ve just kind of been dealing with it since I don’t know what else to do. I’m hoping that it goes away on its own soon!

I’ll let you all know how the leasing thing goes, because I truly feel like I need to move back home in order for me to really get healthy enough for the Tanzania trip this summer. Other than that, I’m busier than ever and hope to post again in a week or two. In the meantime, I’m on Twitter and posting much more on there then I am on here, so, follow me if you want!

Sending my love to the blogoverse, wish me luck on my 5K this weekend. It’s gonna be a cold one.

Mar 13, 2011

Facing Adversity

You know how I said that I got permission from my therapist to go to Tanzania? Well, she apparently has changed her mind. I received a call on Wednesday that she won’t write me a letter until I get records from my primary care doctor and that doctor signs off on me going. I guess that makes sense, but I still think it was pretty cruel of her to say that she would write me a letter and then take all back. So, now I have an appointment to see my doctor this upcoming Friday and hopefully I will be able to get back on track to go. I really don’t know what I’d do if I can’t get this letter. I’ve already invested so much time and money into this and there’s no way to recoup my losses at this point. It really all comes down to this one appointment on Friday, so, prayers (if you do that kind of thing) and positive thoughts won’t be turned away.

On another note, even though I’ve gone vegan, I’ve decided to add back in honey. Many vegans do not eat honey because it is considered exploitation of animals (the honeybees), but I’m just not in a place right now where I can be excluding all of the many products that use honey as a sweetener and/or binder. I hope that any vegans out there who might read my blog will respect my decision about this because it is not something that I take lightly.

In the meantime, I’m finishing up spring break over here. I didn’t go anywhere nor did I do anything fun locally. I mostly just read for classes (there was actually quite a lot that was expected by the professors considering the break and that we just had midterms). I’m pretty sure I received 4.0’s on all my exams, but I can’t be sure, and I’m surprised to say that I don’t especially care. I do all my work, I study, and I do the best that I can and that’s good enough for me and usually good enough for the professor as well thankfully.

I’m still working on reading Becoming Vegan and it’s really helped in alleviating some of the food fears and aversions that have recently resurfaced and is helping to better educate me in what I should be eating as a vegan to ensure that I’m not missing out on anything important. I can’t believe I forgot about beans! It’s true, I literally forgot that beans exist and are packed with good stuffs for your bod.

Anyone else following the expo going on right now on Twitter? Katie has a really good page on a bunch of exciting new products that are coming out that I can’t wait for! Can you say vegan So Delicious Greek yogurt and vegan Amy’s cheese pizza!? I can’t even recall the last time I had a piece of pizza. I just find it so hard to cook for myself because it’s just me and most recipes aren’t meant for just one person to be consuming and I can only enjoy leftovers for so long before becoming absolutely sick of it. That didn’t stop me from buying The Happy Herbivore Cookbook, though!

That’s all that I can really think of to say right now. I’ll be sure to post either this coming weekend or early next week about how everything went and where everything with Africa stands.

Mar 6, 2011

Stop Holding Me Back

Well, let’s just say that the appointment with the travel clinic did not go at all according to plan.

First off, I don’t know what immunizations I have received and, with switching doctors so many times, it’s a mystery as to where my records are that would list what shots I received at my pediatrician. We’re trying to get access to my records somehow, but for now I only know what I’ve received from 2005 to the present.

Also, the appointment took over an hour when it was supposed to only take 45 minutes. These appointments aren’t free and they charge by length, so that’s an extra $25 I was not very happy that I had to spend.

Then, on top of that, they are putting a red flag on my file saying that, as of right now, I can’t go to Tanzania this summer, even though I’ve already been accepted into the program and spent over $3,000 towards the trip already thus far. I’m doing all I can in acquiring letters from my various doctors and therapists (I already have permission from my psychiatrist), and hopefully that will be enough for them to sign off on me going again. Other than that, I'm going to keep going to the gym and trying to eat better so that my body will be strong enough to withstand this strenuous activity.

No. I have no idea what I will do if I’m on top of the Mountain and am all of a sudden hit with a wave of pain. There’s nothing I can do to prevent the pain from occurring and, once it hits, there’s not much I can do to stop it. But, I don’t think that I should bail on this opportunity because something bad might happen. I could just as likely get hit by a boulder or slip and sprain my ankle and neither of those possibilities would stop me from going, so why should this? I know that I need to go. I just have a feeling that this is something that I really need to do and do now.

The proceeding meeting with the ED counselor was short but good all the same. We’re meeting again after my next study abroad meeting to talk about steps for me to take when I’m in Africa. For the record, I do not plan on being able to be a vegan for my study abroad, and especially not on the hike. Now, this does not mean I’m going gung-ho for the red meat and cheese; I will still be keeping it to a minimum. But, I will be in a country with limited health care options and we both think that I need to start building my system up to some of the foods I will be eating to lessen the chance of adverse reactions from my IBS and disuse.

This is not a vacation. This is not Paris, London, or San Francisco. People eat what they can when they can and, just as many of the people I will see can’t afford to be picky, neither can I while I’m there.

There is still a lot that I need to do and a lot about myself that needs to change, or at least be progressing towards a better place, before I go. There are a lot of habits that I continue to hold on to that I just can’t shake. Yes, I still count calories. Yes, I still weigh myself every day. And, yes, I let these numbers influence my choices (most of the time). I am only allowed one piece of luggage on this trip and there isn’t a bag on Earth large enough to hold all of this baggage.


Why does this all have to be so hard?

Mar 2, 2011

Over And Done

Midterms are over and done!

I already know half of my grade for my Sociocultural Aspects of Food class and my Basic Skills in Dietetic Practice class. Now I get to just coast through the rest of the week.

Actually, I only have an hour of work, an appointment with the travel clinic (for malarial meds and maybe some vaccinations if I’m not up-to-date), an appointment with a counselor (the one I met with that I mentioned earlier), and THEN I’m officially on Spring Break. Ready to hunker down in the gym, read, do extra-credit assignments, and maybe see a friend or two (hopefully).

I’ll let y’all know how my appointments tomorrow go, but until then…

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