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Thankful Things Thursday: I Am Myself Again

Posted Sep 13 2012 9:24am

It’s funny how much can change overnight.

For so long, my life was following a crappy path. I spent hours every day in the bathroom. I was in fairly constant pain. My joints ached, I had spontaneous fevers and I couldn’t sleep at night. I rarely made it to work — my boss received near-daily “Sorry, working from home…again” emails from me — and when I did get myself to the office, I had to take cabs there because I couldn’t handle being underground.

You’ve heard this all before. I know. I’m sorry.

But then I went to the hospital.

All I cared about before getting admitted to the hospital was washing my hair. Probably because I hadn't done it in like four weeks. But it seemed SO important at the time. I'm really bad at priorities.

I got sicker while I was there (seriously, Nurse Migel was trying to kill me, just ask Lauren and Brian), but then I got pumped with meds and I got sent home.

The next day, I woke up in my own bed and I felt a little bit better.

The day after that? Better still.

Now it’s been almost two weeks since I left Mount Sinai, and without even noticing the tiny daily changes, I’m suddenly back to what I think is my “normal life.”

Not only do I show up at work and power through entire days at a time, I take the subway to and from the office, worry-free.

I sleep through the night, my joints aren’t at war with the rest of my body and, best of all, I haven’t had to make a mad dash for the bathroom in days. What’s happening behind the bathroom door is, at the risk of over-using this word to death today, “normal.” No more blood. No more crazy urgency. No more bringing my laptop into the bathroom with me because I know I’m going to be in there for a while.

No no. I never ever did that. I’m too classy for that.

Taking my jazz hands to the bathroom, NBD.

Today, I am thankful for many things, and I’m going to tell you every single one of those things. Most of all, though, today I’m thankful for my health. I’m trying so hard to appreciate every little thing I’m able to do these days and not take a single thing for granted. Have you had your fill of cheese today? Sorry, there’s more to come, because it’s , and I’m grateful and I love cheese…the sentimental kind and also the Swiss kind.

And the provolone kind.

And the cheddar kind.

And the nacho kind.

And the goat kind.

And yeah, you know what, judgers, I also occasionally enjoy the Velveeta kind. Suck it, healthy living bloggers, Velveeta shells and cheese is a nutritious meal and the label lies when it says an entire box is “three servings.”

I got carried away talking about cheese, but now I’m back and ready to be thankful. Onward!

I’m thankful I live in New York City. This city blows my mind every day.

You, too, can be a tourist in your own city. All you need is a double decker bus. And a tour guide. And no shame.

Some days it’s a magical, kind city and I walk around thinking “This is the greatest place on earth. Who wouldn’t want to live here? I can make all my dreams come true while looking at the Empire State Building!” And then, as I daydreamingly walk down the street, I get smacked by a crazy woman dashing for the subway and then it starts to rain and I don’t have an umbrella so I get soaked and then a doorman who is outside washing the sidewalk doesn’t see me coming and power washes my foot. I don’t even care. I love it here.

I’m thankful I’m off the steroids! I took my last dose of Prednisone yesterday. Truthfully, the steroids never worked this time around. Dr. Shah says I developed immunity to them. I guess 46 flare-ups in a six-month span will do that to you. But we tried them out, we gave them a shot, I dealt with the miserable side effects and now we know: Steroids are out for Ali.

I’m thankful for fall sunrises.

It's just pretty. I held my phone out the window to take this picture and imagined myself dropping it accidentally. That would suck.

I know it’s not technically fall yet, but as the weather cools down and there’s that chill in the air, it seems to make the sunrises even prettier.

I’m thankful for giraffes!!!

Does it make anyone else uncomfortable to see animals sitting or laying down? I realize they probably get tired from standing and posing for all my photos, but I don't like sitting giraffes. Or sitting cows. Or sitting horses. Or sitting llamas. STAND UP.

In this photo, I am introducing my necklace giraffe to the real giraffes. Now they are old friends.

Have I made it clear yet that I appreciate long-necked animals with cool outfits/body prints? I have? Good. Then we may move on.

I’m thankful for books. Brian bought me a book that I cannot put down. For real. It’s in my hands right now, as I type. It’s professional cyclist Tyler Hamilton’s book, The Secret Race, and holy shit it’s like literary crack. I’ve never done crack (promise, Mom, never ever ever), but I imagine the addiction is similar. All I want to do is keep reading. It’s all about the sketchy world of professional cycling, and at first it was cool and innocent, but now all the guys are hopped up on EPO and they’re doing blood transfusions and it’s fascinatingly gory.

After having read the first 100 or so pages, I happened to have an appointment with Dr. Shah, and I was like, “Listen, Shah, am I a candidate for EPO? How does that work?” He gave me a weird smile and said no, having swollen intestines does not make me a worthy recipient for blood doping. What a jerk. I could be running like the wind right now.

See that bib? See what it says? OLYMPIC TRIALS. NBD. They accidentally wrote "Caccia" on my bib, which is strange, and yes, I wear this bib at dinner parties. OK fine, confession, it's not my bib. But I did still wear it and for just a few hours I felt like I could be fast. Then I took the bib off and remembered that an 8:00 mile is fast for me. Meb and Gian can run TWO miles in that time. Oh well.

I’m thankful for running!!! OMG running. Isn’t it the best? Isn’t it special and magical and wonderful? I don’t understand people who are like “I have to run today.” No, A-holes, you get to run today. If you don’t friggin’ love it, don’t do it!

Since I’ve been back on the Healthy Wagon (that’s not real, I made it up), I’ve been easing back into the running thing. And I have literally loved every single step. I’ve enjoyed every mile and I’ve appreciated every run I’ve done that hasn’t required a bathroom stop.

Oh yes.

I’ve been rocking out stop-free runs. It’s amazing. I swear I never thought this would happen again. (Dramatic? Maybe. But hey, I was feeling negative for a while, and there’s nothing wrong with that.)

So guess what I did yesterday?

If you guessed “Skyped with Tyler,” you are wrong. I did that two nights ago, and he has a new bouncy chair toy that he likes.

Bounce, Tyler! Bounce higher! He just sits in this thing and laughs. What a maniac.

However, if you guessed “attempted speedwork for the first time in months,” you are correct! You win! Such an exciting day for you!

The run plan was to do a warm-up (1 mile) followed by 3 ambitiously fast miles with a half-mile recovery jog in between. Breaking it down in bullet-point form in case running jargon makes as little sense to you as it does to me:

  • 1 mile warm-up
  • 1 mile at half marathon or 10K pace
  • .5 mile recovery jog
  • 1 mile at half marathon or 10K pace
  • .5 mile recovery jog
  • 1 mile at half marathon or 10K pace — don’t let the last one be your slowest, Ali, don’t give up or you will suffer in life forever
  • .5 mile recovery jog
  • Cool down for some miles or whatever. Go home and eat cereal.

Naturally my watch decided not to work at all for this little exercise, which was surprisingly great. It tried telling me I was running a 3:03 pace during my warm-up jog to the park, and as much as I’d love to believe I’m back from the flare-up and setting new world records, I’m going to go ahead and call bullshit on that. Bummer. Also, Garmin thinks this was my route, so that’s probably wrong, too, unless I started my run from inside the mental institution on Randalls-Wards Island:

Seems pretty accurate, no? I love this route. It's so practical and scenic.

Instead of being Old Ali and freaking out and getting angry and throwing my watch into the Reservoir, I decided to be all, “Mmmmk, it’s cool” about it. I know the Great Lawn loop is half a mile around, so I stayed there and used my watch as a stopwatch. God I’m smart. No one else would have ever thought to do that.

The verdict?

Totally nailed it.

This run felt fantastic. It was awesomely challenging and by the third speed mile I gave myself a whole lot of positive mental reinforcement to keep going. But all three miles hovered right around a 7:30 pace, which is definitely not my half marathon pace and is still an ambitious 10K pace for me. Don’t care. Loved it. Smiled the whole time.

And not a single bathroom stop needed.

Quick, someone come give me a high five! OK, through the computer will suffice. Thanks!

I’m thankful I get to see my family tomorrow! So many exclamation points today. I can’t help it. There’s a Feller Family Wedding going down in New Jersey this weekend, and it will be the first time in many many years that the entire extended crew will be together.

I get to see this guy!

And this guy!

My parents are driving into the city tomorrow to pick Brian and me up at our apartment before driving out to NJ together. I’m excited for them to see the apartment for the first time and I’m also excited because Lori Feller never shows up empty-handed. I can always count on her to replenish our toilet paper and paper towel supply. Sometimes she’ll throw in a lasagna or some stuffed shells, too. She’s the best.

I’m thankful Brian likes to cook. Because as you may know, I do not. In the spirit of being healthy and filling my diseased body with wholesome, nutritious, proteiny foods, Brian made this tasty dish for dinner twice this week:

Brian says my food photography is "bad." He always critiques the lighting and the angles and says that I "make the food look gross." But do you know what I say to that? I say he is bad at closing cabinets. Ohhhh burn!

As I inhaled this meal, I vaguely recall Brian telling me what I was eating. I’m inclined to say “salmon with panko something and a mustard something sauce” and also “vegetables and stuff.” I know it required him to use the oven. Beyond that, I stayed out of the kitchen and just ate when the food showed up in front of me.

Should I wrap this up? Yeah, it’s getting pretty long. One last thankful thing?

I’m thankful I’m feeling like myself again. For a long time I was sad. I was angry. I was sick and I was tired. It all felt like an out-of-body experience with no happy ending. When the steroids weren’t working, I was convinced I’d never feel better again.

I don’t know how long this healthy streak will continue for. The medicine I’m on — a drug called Asacol (four pills daily) plus a nightly suppository, which is exactly as pleasant as it sounds — may work for weeks, months or years…or it could all quit on me any day. I’ve learned to (cheese alert coming up) really, genuinely appreciate each day now. I love that I can go for walks and go out to dinner and finally start making plans with friends again. I am so deeply happy to be feeling human again.

OK, done!

NOW YOU CAN BE CHEESY, TOO! What are you thankful for today? Gouda cheese? Parmesan cheese? Feta cheese? Grilled cheese? French onion soup cheese that’s all melted and crusted onto the bowl and you have to peel it off and it’s so awesome? Your thankful thoughts do not have to be related to cheese.

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