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Archive for December, 2009

Break is here. Christmas has come and gone. I have been attending a partial program for eating disorders. This one has been a good fit for me. It’s hard, though. But I expected that. At this program we don’t choose our meals, the dietitian orders them and we have to eat it all. I am allowed three “hate foods” that they will not serve me, but will instead substitute a similar food. So far I have chosen only two: chocolate pudding and peas. I actually despise all chocolate, but apparently that is too broad of a category to put as a hate. It is good for me to be required to eat everything, but when I go home at nights and on the weekends it is so tempting to cut back on meals and not eat everything. I will be very glad when I am done with this and don’t have to eat the foods that I hate. I am afraid, however, that because of my naturally picky nature that I will be led back down the restricting path again. And I don’t really want to go there.

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So maybe my expectations were a bit too high. Yesterday I went to the library and for over 3 hours had some pretty good focus going on. It wasn’t quite like the old days where I could get completely absorbed in my work and completely appreciate it, but it was a whole lot better than the focus [or lack thereof] that has come with the worsening of my eating disorder. I thought that I could go back today and have the same experience. I should have known better. I went, and of course couldn’t focus at all. It took me 3 hours to do half of what I got done yesterday. I want to want to study again. I want to love learning again. I want to have my brilliant mind back. Yes, I said that, I gave myself a compliment. I never used to give myself credit for being smart, but I was. I simply absorbed everything I needed to know just by attending lecture. I studied because I loved learning so much and I mostly learned extras that weren’t explicitly tested, but that gave me a greater understanding of the subject. I read books upon books for pleasure–all non-fiction. This semester I have finished a total of 3 books. Pathetic.
What have I done to myself? I don’t want to live this way anymore. I don’t want to go through another semester with an eating disorder. It sucks. And I can absolutely guarantee that if I try to go to medical school still completely steeped in this thing, I will fail. Fail miserably.
What am I even getting out of this ED? I haven’t lost weight. Even on an ultra-low-calorie diet, one that should have me at a skeletal weight, I weigh precisely what I have for the past 4 years. I have done this for so long that my body has adapted. I don’t even have the benefit of having lost weight. Instead I’m exhausted all the time, I can’t do my schoolwork properly, I can’t run, I can’t enjoy my friends, I can’t enjoy Zephyr. I can’t enjoy Life.

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Done with classes. Just one more weekend, then finals, and I’m done!  w00t! I spent 6 hours in the library today studying. Normally, for a library fiend like myself, that’s just warming up, but this has been an incredibly difficult semester. I might as well come out with it…my eating disorder is not just a skeleton in my closet, it has been incredibly present and disruptive in my life in the past year. I managed to still pull of school and everything else fairly well, though, until this summer.
To go all the way back to the beginning…just so it’s complete. [Beware, its a long one]
I don’t know that I can pinpoint a moment when it really started, I have bits and pieces of memories from many different years.
I remember in 6th grade my mother coming home after one of her stints in the hospital and having a brief “chat” where she told me to never get an eating disorder because I couldn’t imagine the terrible time those girls had getting over it.
I remember getting a sports physical the summer before my 8th grade year and having lost weight since my physical the year before. The doctor questioned me about whether it was purposeful, but I denied it. Honestly I don’t know if I intended to lose weight or not.
I remember at my 9th grade sports physical the doctor expressing concern over my jutting hipbones and asking if I was eating. My response: ‘I cook supper for my Dad and brothers every night.’ To which he responded, ‘That wasn’t my question, do you eat the supper you cook?’ I don’t remember how I responded.
I remember running track my 9th grade year and losing my period for the whole season.
I remember running distance that year and coming home after track and having absolutely no appetite. I remember cutting back on what I ate for supper.
I remember running every single day after school in my 10th grade year.
I remember running track my 10th grade year and losing my period again.
During that same track season I wrecked my car. Totally wrecked, upside-down-in-the-opposite-ditch-no one-know-how-I-lived wrecked. I was pretty shook up. Every time I tried to eat I would feel physically sick after only a bite or two. I went like that for 8 days. On the 8th day I nearly collapsed in practice. I made myself eat after that, but something was set…I could go for quite a while on very little food. And if I just claimed sickness I didn’t have people constantly on my case about not eating.
During the same season I remember doing circuits and getting huge bruises on my hips from an exercise called ‘stomach rockers’. I remember feeling ‘special’ in a way because I was the only one with that issue.
I remember running sprint hurdles that year and coming home from practice completely ravenous. I remember the unspoken family rule about not eating before meals and so I starved for 1 1/2-2 hours before supper.
During my 11th grade year I stopped eating lunch at school. Some days I would take an apple or a yogurt. Many days I didn’t eat. I remember thinking about how I went an entire school year without needing more lunch money and no one in my family ever noticed.
During my 11th grade year I developed this obsession with not eating before I ran. I wouldn’t eat 3 hours before I ran. I wouldn’t eat all day on meet days. I ran distance again and reveled in the lack of appetite. I continued running every day after school, all year.
The summer after my 11th grade year I woke up at 5:30 am every morning to go running.
My 12th grade year I continued to not eat lunch and stopped bringing even an apple or yogurt. I also stopped eating breakfast. If I didn’t have to be at family supper, I would skip that meal too. I very rarely had snacks.
My school started a cross-country team my 12th grade year. I ran and again reveled in the loss of appetite, loss of my period, and chance for more meet days as an excuse to not eat.
My brother was nearly killed in a car accident. I remember someone talking about how stress made some people eat and made others lose their appetite. I realized that I was a stress eater and vowed to change that.
My track season that year was precisely like the one before it.
The summer before college I worked 3 jobs, one of them hard physical labor, skipped breakfast, skipped lunch, and ran every morning.
My freshman year was like a dream come true. The dramatic shift of environment ‘reset’ me for a bit. I took 20 credits, studied obsessively, ran moderately, practiced flute like a fiend, aced my classes, rose to the top of the flute studio. During my fall semester.
In the spring semester things started catching up to me again. Know the old adage ‘Wherever you go, there you are?’ well, I definitely know that one to be true. I started skipping meals again, my running worked its way up.
The summer after my freshman year I returned home and worked at a nursing home 50 hrs/wk. My running continued to increase, I worked exhausting 8 hr CNA shifts without eating all day. When I got off at 11 I would occasionally eat something.
My sophomore year of college, I started skipping more meals. I still lived in the dorms and had a meal plan and it became sort of a numbers game, trying to get a certain number of meals left each week. At the end of each semester I would have accumulated so many meals that I took friends to eat every day for the last 3-4 weeks. I trained for my first half-marathon, got an injury from overtraining, and ran the half-marathon anyway. After a forced 6-week hiatus from running, I finally found a pair of shoes that would allow me to run without the pain of my injury, and my running rose again.
The summer after my sophomore year (this past summer) I moved to an apartment, the previous resident (an unfamiliar male) was still living there for a week, and I took the MCATs. Stress galore! I stopped eating, dropped a little weight, and started running more. I was excited to have conquered my stress-eating.
My running rose to unprecedented levels, I ran everywhere I went (my therapist, work, the grocery store, etc). All total I ran anywhere from 10-12 miles every day. All while not eating much.
I was attending group counseling at the University that summer. I mentioned this in one session and the leader contacted my regular therapist. She sat me down and a couple weeks later I found myself in a partial hospital program. I stayed for 2 weeks, ED screaming and getting stronger the whole time, I left against advice because I wanted to get back to start the school year on time. I stayed a little better for a while and then started to slide back down.
In late-September, early-October my therapist sat me down again and said that if I didn’t change things ASAP I would be headed back to treatment. I was in the midst of medical school applications and on track to graduate this spring so I most certainly didn’t want to withdraw from school for treatment. We made a contract, I agreed to eat a certain number of meals, limit my running, etc. in exchange for being allowed to stay. If I stepped one toe over the line I was done, gone, headed to treatment, no questions asked. This was scary and for a while I stuck to the guidelines, however as stress hit and eating became every more difficult, I began restricting and lying to my therapist and dietitian. I’m still living the lie. At the time the restriction didn’t seem too harmful. But now I’m in so deep I can’t stop. I can’t remember anything from my classes. I’ve never had to study in my life, and now that I can’t remember I actually need to study, but I can’t because I have zero concentration. I don’t enjoy hanging out with friends. I don’t even really enjoy my boyfriend. Even when I do want to eat I can’t because food terrifies me.
And that’s where I am now. Hating school, having a difficult time for the first time in my life, entering finals week knowing that I need to eat, but being so incredibly terrified of every bite that passes through my lips.

But on a lighter note: Some interesting things from the library. [My apologies for the grainy cell pics]

4 weeks ago on this library table there was a stack of books/notebooks with a note on top that said ‘Please do not take my books to the lost and found. I will come back for them.’ Since them I have watched various items come and go. This is a cup containing a toothbrush and toothpaste, and an umbrella.

I’m not sure how to flip this picture. But Fanta=yum. And the picture on the can is amazing!

And this is the pen that makes me adore writing and makes hours in the library enjoyable. Zebra F-301. I buy them in large amounts on the internet as well as the matching mechanical pencil Zebra M-301. This semester I have returned to writing exclusively in pen. Except for class evaluations and exams done on scantrons because 1) I don’t want to fail an exam just because I refused to write in pencil 😉 and 2) I like to give my opinions on evals, I can be as honest (brutally or nicely) as I want about what would make classes *excellent*

Tomorrow it will be Zephyr time in the morning and then library (it doesn’t open until 12:30 on Sundays). 5 days!

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I won!

I bet on a very unlikely event happening and for the first time in my life it happened! The university closed today (an incredibly rare event). I don’t think they really could have functioned, anyway.  Biochem exam delayed until Friday, no physics lab, and no group presentation. Yay! The only thing that could have improved it would have been a medical school acceptance or interview offer. Alas, nothing of the sort.

It snowed until noon today with a final reading of somewhere between 12 and 15 inches, and the wind didn’t stop blowing until 5 pm, so up until that time everything they plowed blew shut again. Zephyr loves the snow and bothered me endlessly wanting to go outside. I would open the sliding patio door, he would step out, fall in over his head (he is 21″ at the shoulders, so no small feat), and immediately jump back in the house.

His blue eye seems even more prominent when is face is full of snow.
The drifts behind our apartment
He played in them a little
And then he helped scoop out my car. He so kindly pounced on every shovelful of snow to be sure it wouldn’t jump back to where it was. And we definitely had differing opinions as to whether he was more helpful standing on top on the shovel or off of it.
He tried catching snowflakes and for some odd reason kept losing them as they landed 😉 Silly me, can’t I see that they just fell at the bottom of the drift, and of course Zephyr is brilliant enough to pick out *his* snowflake from the billions of others on the ground.

Of course, now, I have probably used up all the luck for this current life and should never plan on such an unlikely bet again (sad day).

~L

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It’s snowing. It’s been snowing for the last 24 hours. It’s supposed to continue snowing for another 24 hours. The National Weather Service has dubbed this a “storm of epic proportions.” Epic. That’s a pretty big statement. The University canceled all classes after 6 pm and closed all buildings at or before 6 pm. The website says a decision regarding Wednesday will be made at 6 am tomorrow. I’m supposed to have a biochem exam tomorrow at 11 and currently I’m playing Russian Roulette and writing this blog post instead of studying. The University almost never cancels, I should know better. However, my thought is that if they canceled tonight’s classes and the weather is supposed to be worse tomorrow then my chances are actually fairly good. And I could really use another two days on biochem. It’s a wicked hard class and I have to do well on this last exam. Biochem is the advanced biology class on all my medical school apps which means they will all see the grade I receive when the semester’s done with. Not to mention, if classes were canceled tomorrow I probably wouldn’t have to do the group Women’s Studies presentation because we would only have time for half the class to present (I hate group projects and I especially hate group presentations), my final physics lab is tomorrow and I hate physics lab too so it would be a joy to not go. (Knowing all this stuff I hate is it any surprise that I absolutely hate/dread Wednesdays? I have since I was 7 years old. That’s a lot of stressful Wednesdays). Really the only thing I would be sad about missing this week would be my recording session, and that was this morning at 8 am, so all’s well there. I could do with a jolt of goodness from no school too, I was very irritated to find out that all the winds in orchestra have to re-audition because of the insistence of one studio instructor (not mine). And I have a skeleton in my closet–his name is ED (eating disorder). ED has been causing much stress in my life lately and I am planning on going to treatment over the winter break. Having to re-audition for orchestra means I will have to make a special trip back to Ames sometime in January. I don’t particularly want to add 4 hours of driving to my life, and it’s always unpredictable how the weather will turn out. But I should let that worry go, because I can worry myself to death between now and January and despite how important I think I am, I am not important enough for my worrying to affect the weather.

On the less stressful, side, I have been using the biofeedback room at Student Counseling. They received a grant this year and have three equipment set-ups that are free for students to use at any time. I simply walk into the counseling center, give them my ID, and they give me the equipment to use for an hour. I get to spend an hour in a dark, quiet, private, space, in an extremely comfortable massage recliner, learning to relax. Tell me what isn’t good about that. It’s a gem in the middle of my day. I try to go 2-3 days/week. Regardless of how good I think I feel going in, I come out feeling incredibly centered, focused, and stress-free. It’s also great for performance anxiety (although I seem to be one of the few music majors who has absolutely no performance anxiety, if anyone was cut out to be a performer, it would be me….and I want to go to med school, go figure) When I have the financial means, I would love to invest in my own biofeedback equipment. If you want to read more about biofeedback check out this link: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/biofeedback/SA00083

On the med school front, nothing has really changed. No word from my interview at Iowa yet, and another 5 school applications still in the pool of initial reviews. Michigan admissions sent a tweet today saying they closed 100 files, I wasn’t one of them so I breathed a sigh of relief. I’ve been trying my hardest to look on the bright side….still 6 schools I haven’t been rejected to yet. And note to self: I need to remember to turn in my graduation application this week. It’s due Friday. It would not be good to be accepted to medical school and not be able to graduate because I missed turning in a sheet of paper.

Now I really should return to my lovely 12-lb Biochem book. Just staring at it is making me stressed because I know I shouldn’t rely on class being canceled tomorrow…
….remember biofeedback….oooooooooooommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm………

~L

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Cold

I am so cold. Always. My apartment is freezing. The thermostat is set at 62. I could turn it, but I’m just as cold when it’s set to 68, so I figure that I might as well save myself the money and contribute a little less to global warming by keeping it low. My toes and fingers are like ice all the time.
I bought an electric blanket because it’s the only way I can sleep at night, I’m so cold.Even turned up all the way (which is rather hot), My hands and feet remain cold. I’m always reminded of the permafrost on tundra. Only the top 6 feet thaw in the summertime; everything beneath remains frozen solid. My fingers are the same–a residual chill resides in them even through the sweltering weeks of July and August. I wear gloves to bed year-round and the summer is the only time of year where they manage to help my hands reach normal body temperature. Right now I have a 50-lb Zephyr sprawled on top of me. He’s warm, however it has the unfortunate drawback of being incredibly uncomfortable as I am pinned to the futon and cannot move.

On the school side of things…Only 8 days of classes left. One paper, one test, one concert, one recital, one lab, one quiz, one homework assignment, one unbearable Women’s Studies lecture. Whew. Then finals week with four exams, but no classes. Still waiting on med schools. No word yet from Iowa regarding my interview and three other schools that haven’t finished the initial review of my file. I hate waiting. It wouldn’t be so bad if I had something to still do with the process, but it’s all out of my hands now. Out of my cold, cold hands.

~L

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