Saturday, August 29, 2015

First Week Goings On

Welp, I survived my first week of PhD class and whaddya guys know, maybe I can manage this whole thing after all. It has been insanely busy, chaotic, and somewhat stressful but mostly exhilarating after waiting around all summer for things to get going. I love my cohort; there are ten of us and everyone seems really interesting and motivated and, thankfully, pretty lovely to be around. We have most of the same classes this first semester, so we will be spending LOTS of time together in enclosed spaces, so it's a relief to have generally positive feelings towards everyone.

It's a remarkably diverse group—not just in terms of race/ethnicity (though it is diverse in that way, too), but also in terms of age, life circumstance, academic/professional background, etc. which makes for some neat conversations. I think it also really cuts down on the competitiveness that might fester in a program like this, since people tend to have pretty different interests and goals.

Anyway, my classes seem great. On Thursdays I have a lovely Indian professor with the most beautiful accent ever. Also he wears a bowtie and is taking us out for "gin and tonics" next week. My other professors all seem pretty good too, and I'm taking one in the medical school which seemed totally intimidating at first but now I'm all like I GOT THIS. I'm sure things will get super stressful in a few weeks, but for now I'm still in that honeymoon phase of being excited and inspired.

Some non-school updates: Sleep is much better, thanks in part to a combination of reduced stress, drugs, and some all-natural hippie stuff. My foot also seems to be somewhat improved, though I am still super skittish about it and have drastically limited my walking. I hate how an injury throws your whole body out of whack. What started in May as a teeny fracture in my right foot has domino-ed into tight/uneven calf muscles from hobbling around in the boot, big toe pain from limping to compensate the fracture, knee pain and stiffness from too much biking/squatting, back pain from sitting too much, etc. etc. etc. Is this what it feels like to get old?

Oh, and yesterday I got hit by a car. Yes, A CAR. I was biking to campus when it pulled out of a side street without looking and totally wiped me out. I was fine (she wasn't going fast), just shaken up. Actually, I think the lady driving the car was in worse shape than me. She freaked out and started screaming at her son to call the paramedics. Meanwhile I was dusting myself off and taking inventory; once I confirmed that nothing was broken or bent out of shape or anything else seriously wrong, I convinced her to chill the heck out and not bother with the ambulance. They helped me put my bike chain back on and I rode off to no ill effects. Arrived totally breathless to my meeting with J and blurted out "HI GOOD MORNING GUESS WHAT I JUST GOT HIT BY A CAR." His response? "Well, you haven't really lived until you've been hit by a car." Um, what?

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Re-Injured and Other Updates

Guess who overdid it in PT and re-injured herself? Oh, JUST ME. I have tentatively diagnosed myself with turf toe (an MTP joint sprain) and am praying it really is just that—a sprain—as opposed to another fracture or something more major/complicated. At my PT session on Friday, I did a lot more foot strength-specific stuff (calf raises, running stairs) and single-leg balancing stuff, and felt okay (but tired!) afterward...but then that night I couldn't sleep because my big toe and the ball of my foot was throbbing so bad. Yesterday I didn't pay much attention until the afternoon when I was out and about running errands, and suddenly my big toe joint started KILLING ME to the point where I could barely walk and was practically in tears. Came home and took off my shoe to find the joint bruised and swollen, iced it, held a pity party for myself, iced some more, couldn't sleep AGAIN last night (hello insomnia), and now I'm pouting at the prospect of another however-many weeks of attempting to stay off my feet. Anyone wanna swap feet with me? Anyone? Anyone?

source: AAOS

On the plus side, it gave me the excuse to go drop $100 on my first pair of Dansko shoes (thanks JS for the suggestion!) and they are super cute and comfy (or as comfy as any shoes can be with a bruised and swollen toe). I am considering breaking out the Boot again for a week or so to really give myself a chance to heal. We shall see. UGH injuries are the worst.

You guys like?

In other news, school starts tomorrow. I am in denial. There is quite a bit of reading assigned for my first set of classes, but it is unclear how I am supposed to afford textbooks to do this week's reading when my first stipend payment doesn't get disbursed until next week. You guys feel me?


- In the vacuum of televised intelligence and thoughtful satire left behind by Jon Stewart, I have become obsessed with John Oliver. Ain't he adorable? That accent. Those dimples.

love the Brits.

- Someone please remind me it's okay to not exercise every day. And to not reach a certain number of steps every day. And to drive to campus instead of walking/biking if I need to.

- How 'bout them Duggars? Good grief.

- As mentioned, my insomnia is outta control. I am beyond sleep-deprived. I have a giant boring financial book next to my bed to try to put myself to sleep at night, to no avail so far.

- My period was totally late again. Apparently I'm on a six-week cycle now. #notpregnant

Everyone take a minute to pray to the Sleep Gods that I actually catch a few Z's tonight. PLEASE, I NEED IT SO BAD. Okay folks, signing off. Hope everyone has an awesome week.

Thursday, August 20, 2015


Yikes I feel weird. Mostly just sleep-deprived, which admittedly messes with basically every other aspect of mental and physical well-being... I'm not particularly stressed or nervous about the start of school, but there must be a slight case of first day jitters going on or something because I haven't slept well for about a week. I was not good about easing into the sleep schedule transition before orientation stuff started up this week, unfortunately.... Over the summer I was staying up past midnight most nights and sleeping until around 9:00 most mornings, but the past week I've had to be at campus by 7:30 or 8:00 each day. So I've tried going to bed earlier, but of course couldn't fall I tossed and turned and read for a lil and paced my kitchen for a lil and as a result, I've been getting jolted horribly awake at my 6:30 alarm and wandering around campus like a total zombie. I swear, my head has been throbbing since Monday.

Another thing: each day we've gotten a box lunch catered by the school. Now, I am poor (see the math problem in a prior post) and all in favor of free meals, but I swear to God if I have to eat another turkey and Swiss sandwich out of a box again I might puke all over my orientation packet. And I'm using the term "sandwich" loosely. In fact it's more like a softball-sized white roll, giant lettuce leaf, mushy tomato slice, and a couple shreds of turkey and cheese if you lucked out and chose a good box. The other day they had forgotten to put any turkey on it at all; so I dug my way through the 64oz of bread to find it was just a lettuce and tomato sandwich.

Anyway. Shouldn't complain because it's all free but geez Louise I am ready to start eating some real food again. These weird sandwiches have totally screwed with my eating patterns because HOW MANY CALORIES???!?!!? and the early mornings have screwed with my working out patterns (I usually work out in the morning) so I am feeling very discombobulated by the whole thing. Very grateful to be getting into a more consistent routine soon.

On the plus side, I've gotten most of the major orienting business out of the way. Today is basically free except therapy this afternoon; tomorrow I have PT and then a meeting with my advisor. Actually it's a meeting/interview for the master's student who is technically "replacing" me as his MS research assistant. We spent some time looking through CVs yesterday and wowza it was fun/depressing. I mean, some were impressive but some were downright laughable. One person literally forgot to list the name of his undergrad school, and another listed a volunteer trip to Chicago under a section entitled "International Experiences." Um.

Alrighty, hopefully the recuperation begins today. Happy Thursday to all.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Winding Up

Life is slowly starting again. I have a full day of orientation tomorrow, lunch with a visiting professor Tuesday, and more orientation/training/late lunch with a friend on Wednesday. I got the syllabi for two of my classes so far and already have some reading to get started on. I'm not stressed about it because school is definitely My Thing and I love being a student but....let's just say I've gotten used to sleeping until 9.

Once upon a time I would've been totally stressed about all the pre-semester hullaballoo (....the fuck?? where did that word come from?)—happy hours, receptions, meet n' greets etc.—but I am actually looking forward to it. Maybe this is just a maturity/growing up thing, or maybe a being-less-OCD-about-food thing, but I am at a point where meeting new people and mingling at awkward cocktail hours really doesn't phase me anymore. I'm not shy; just routine-oriented and risk-averse. So if I can keep the anxiety under control, meeting new people is actually fun.

One source of stress I am dealing with right now is what shoes to wear. Now, I adore shoes and have a million pairs, but most of my nice summery ones are either fancy sandals or flats with paper-thin soles...and my foot is most definitely not up to trekking around in those just yet. Attempting to ramp up the running last week was a big no-no and my foot has been throbbing again ever since...what's also worrying me is that my other foot is sore too; not sure if it's a compensation thing, or just that even healthy feet need time to adjust to running after several weeks off, or a psychological thing (because I have a tendency to be batshit crazy) but UGH I am frustrated with myself and my feet. Mostly myself.

Soo anyway...still trying to figure out what to wear for all these events over the next few days. Nothing is super fancy but I do want to look professional. Running shoes are unfortunately out of the question, but I don't really have anything else with particularly sturdy soles and wide enough toe boxes to keep angry metatarsals placated. I have the most precious pair of wedge pumps that look great with everything and make my legs look long and thin and it makes my heart ache that I can't wear them this week. Life really is the pits sometimes.

But for the most part, I am eager beaver ready to get moving on this whole PhD thing. It's been a really weird time warp of a summer, and I definitely need some structure back to get my bearings again. I'm going to try to stop by and chat with my advisor J tomorrow on campus, and hopefully get some moral support and shore up some enthusiasm to remind myself what the point of it all is. Also I haven't seen pictures of his adorable kiddos in a long time and they must be SO BIG by now. J is one of those iPhone Era Parents who captures everything and thus has five thousand photos and videos stored at any given time. Luckily he's not the type to post them all over YouTube.

Alrighty folks I've got two new episodes of Bachelor in Paradise (judge me, I dare you) to watch, so that's a wrap. Happy Sunday everyone, keep my poor feet in your thoughts and prayers.

P.S. Some diet advice.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


Feeling a tad better from the other day, but still totally spooked about this anxiety thing. I really should think/write more throughly about this, but...ya know. Outta sight, outta mind. It does seem like the anxiety kicked into high gear this summer, rearing its ugly head every few weeks, then every few days, and while it always passes it also always comes back. Dr. P and I had a conversation about going back on medication when I saw her last week. Right now I am opposed. But part of me also wonders why the heck I would put myself through this torture when there is potentially a solution. Argh, more on this in another post....

- Just finished an amazing book: The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. EVERYONE GO READ IT IMMEDIATELY. And thank you Cammy for the endless and never disappointing book recommendations.

- Today was the main orientation for my PhD program. Long, exhausting, and ultimately somewhat anti-climactic since none of the material was really news to me (I've been at this university for six years....). There is more pre-semester stuff next week, and classes start the week after that. I am really really ready for things to get started.

- Injury update: I saw a new orthopedist yesterday after being referred by the physician's assistant I'd been seeing before. Uh, well turns out after all the diagnostic confusion (fracture? bruise? neuroma?), I did have a stress fracture after all, not a neuroma. Sorry to be a snob about credentials but that, folks, is why you insist on seeing a real doctor the first time around.

Kind of hard to see, but the red arrows point to the fracture site. These are actual images of my foot because 
I am weird and sneaked a picture of the X-Ray when the doctor left the room. #ninjamoves

Anyway, I guess it didn't really make a practical difference since the treatment was essentially the same (boot, rest, ice, PT, etc.). My foot had been feeling pretty swell even after a week of hiking, so I tried easing myself back into running over the past week. Okay, "easing" is the wrong word; I tried jumping back into running without a thought to the fact that I'd sustained an overuse injury less than three months ago whose primary cause is the "terrible too's: too much, too often, too soon." So within about three days I was already trying to get back up to my former mileage and whaddyaknow, broken foot is totally sore again, other foot is also unhappy, and it feels like I set myself back about a month. Great. Well done, me. Hello moderation, no I don't believe we've met.

- My mom was in DC earlier this summer and bought me a Michelle Obama coffee cup. It is amazing. I WANT TO BE HER. #WCW

- Math problem for all you numbers nerds out there: There is currently $168 in my bank account. I quit my job on July 23. My first stipend payment doesn't get deposited until September 1. My electric bill, internet bill, and car payment equalling about $250 total are all due by August 31. I have an overdue balance from my PT's office of $70 and one from the orthopedist of $47. I will also need to eat periodically throughout the next two weeks. How?

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Trip Recap/The Aftermath

Sorry for the unplanned hiatus. I spent an awesome week traveling with my mom, then got home this past Wednesday and things have been weird, so I didn't really feel like writing. Anyway, I'm here now - back home after six glorious days of hiking, exploring, sight-seeing, sun-soaking, and pure mother-daughter time. We had perfect weather out in Beautiful Western State, and the landscape could not have been more different than Midwestern College City State. It was a much-needed change of scenery, change of pace, change of company, change of routine, change of everything.

One major positive - my injured foot was basically fine, despite tons of hiking and climbing in relatively tough terrain. Another positive was that I did no "formal" exercise (e.g. didn't hit the hotel gym once) and didn't lose my mind; though we were fairly active overall, with going for hikes and/or doing lots of walking basically every day, it's still a pretty big deal that I could go that long without a single "workout." On top of all that, eating went well. It helps that my mom is about the safest person for me to eat with and that she pretty much lets me dictate our eating schedule, so I could minimize the super challenging stuff. Still, I gave myself license to eat what I wanted, how much I wanted, and trusted my hunger more than usual. A big difference from my typical eating patterns was that we ate three big meals each day, whereas at home I tend to eat pretty frequent small meals and snacks. So each time we sat down to eat, it had been several hours since our last meal and I was STARVING and ready to scarf down all sorts of new, non-ED-approved dishes (bison burgers, anyone?). And man, sometimes it just feels good to sit down with a growling stomach and tear into a giant plate of food. My overall calories were probably on par with what I usually eat at home, but the pattern of intake was very different. Not in a bad way. And at each meal, it felt like I had come about my hunger honestly—i.e. by climbing mountains rather than restricting. And because rigid calorie-counting was near impossible, I let myself be really really flexible. And it didn't feel like a disaster or a failure; it felt normal and positive and healthy.

So we had an amazing time and there was definitely a letdown effect after getting back to my lonely College City apartment. The past few days have been this weird mix of whirlwind anxiety/crushing boredom/mind fucked-ness about the fact that orientation for school starts NEXT WEEK. I got home Wednesday afternoon and immediately descended into the belly of the anxiety beast. I don't know why the anxiety has been such an issue for me this summer, but man oh man it hit hard again. I was close to non-functional most of Wednesday night and Thursday morning, just totally freaking the fuck out about irrational nonsense, knowing it was irrational, yet still freaking out while berating myself for being such a nutty wimp. I burst into tears in therapy on Thursday morning for the first time in a LONG time, but Dr. P is a rock star badass mofo and after a hard and scary conversation I did feel much better and more in control.

And just like that I got it together in time to have a straight up awesome weekend - saw a concert Friday night with a friend from grad school, worked at the food bank with my favorite old guys all day Saturday, then went to a wine and cheese-type party at another friend's apartment last night, where I met tons of new people and had a fantastic time. Note to self: friends are the cure for almost everything. Must file this one away.

Now I've just got a few days until things really start picking up for the new school year—orientation next week, along with random trainings, meet-n-greet receptions, work stuff.... how is summer over already??