Thankful Things Thursday: I Am Myself Again

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 Thankful Things Thursday, 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.



51 Responses

  1. Ali!! I’m so glad you are feeling better. And I’m thankful for all kinds of cheese (especially the aged vintage gouda I bought and most definitely did not (read: did) eat in the same day).
    But I’m also thankful that I have been really productive this week and found balance and that job interviews have started to come through for the Manfriend and I might even have a new job opportunity.
    And I love to run. I get to run. I’m thankful for that every day.

  2. A friend told me about your blog and I love your writing. I am just coming thru a similar experience and can totally relate! Crohns blows! I am so thankful to eat a salad and run again. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Does Tyler have a little suit for the wedding? 🙂

    I like how your Garmin thinks you either swam or lept over the Harlem River. It’s great to see you running again. Are you doing any more races before the marathon? A test run? I was thinking of doing the Runner’s World Half a couple of weeks before the marathon.

    It’s not Thursday anymore, but I’m thankful it’s almost the weekend. Have a great time with your family.

  4. Hey, I am so glad to see you are feeling better!! I wanted to let you know that I took Asacol for awhile during a particularly bad flare up time and it worked wonders for me. I know not everyone reacts the same but I hope it does the amazing things for you that it did for me!!! Stay well!!

  5. Great news! (about your health, of course) I ran without my Garmin today, too and ran my 3 miles faster than expected. Yay for easy fast running! 🙂

  6. I’m thankful you made me laugh at the end of a very long Thursday. SO happy that sarcastic Ali is back and that sad Ali can take a seat in the back of the room!

  7. yayyy for feeling better!! I’m definitely thankful for grilled cheese today. And I can’t wait to check out that book… just have to add it to the long list of “books to read while I should be doing more productive things!”

  8. Yay for you! I love the optimism, not cheesy at all. Today I’m thankful that although my job is boring, stressful (yep, both those at once) that today I could be a total lump on a log and do nothing and no one yelled and me and no threat of getting fired. Tomorrow I’ll be a better employee 🙂

  9. I am thankful for the grilled brie, tomato, and bacon sandwich I had for lunch!!

    Also, the best puppy in America who has gone 4 straight days without destroying anything while out of his crate. New record!

  10. I’m thankful that even though my job is weird and boring and tedious most of the times, this week I’ve had some really great moments feeling like I’m actually making a difference to my clients.

    I’m also thankful that I only got lapped three times (um, maybe four) by the lead runner at run club tonight. Progress!

  11. WOOT! Get it.

    I have a bit of a weird one today. I’m thankful that, when I was in Florida in July, I got to spend some quality time with my grandmother, knowing that it might be the last time I got to see her. She’s very sick right now, but I feel better knowing that my last trip with her was happy and great for both of us.

  12. Ali!! I’m so happy to read this post and this sounds Ike the old you again!! Always smiling, always cheerful, always optimistic!! Great job on those mile repeats!! 7:30 min mile pace will induce death to me, instant, lol.
    Hope you continue to feel this great!!
    By the way, my company makes said rbc boosting drug! Definitely not intended for the athletes, or you!!

  13. I’m thankful for macaroni and cheese! The salad I was planning on eating for lunch just didn’t sound good today. So I ate macaroni and cheese instead. Hello Freshman 15?
    SO happy you’re feeling better!

  14. I’m thankful for all cheese: gouda, romano, brie (Oh My God Brie), blue, havarti (with some honey and nuts…not the cheerios either), asiago, mascarpone, mozzarella, feta, the list is endless. I always have at least five different kinds (and sometimes more) on hand in the fridge. The food kind, not the sentimental kind, but yours is certainly warranted.

  15. I’m thankful for all cheese: gouda, romano, brie (Oh My God Brie), blue, havarti (with some honey and nuts…not the cheerios either), asiago, mascarpone, mozzarella, feta, the list is endless. I always have at least five different kinds (and sometimes more) on hand in my fridge. Always because I can’t go without cheese. The food kind, not the sentimental kind, although in your case it’s certainly warranted.

  16. I’m thankful that, after 2 foot surgeries, and spending 7 months in a boot, I totally killed my run last night! First time in a long time I felt fast and strong. I’m glad you’re feeling better too! Great post!

  17. I’m thankful for you stealing my bib during W&C nights. It looks way better on you than I anyways. Oh, also thankful for you giving Nicole that jumpsuit, as I wear it every night to bed.

  18. YAY for no emergency bathroom stops! That’s the nice thing about living in the desert & now it’s dark in the morning so no once can see me if I have a poomergency!

    Why can’t boys close cabinets? I don’t get it!

  19. I’m thankful I live in France and my boyfriend is a chef, so not only can I buy cheap cheese at the grocery store, I can always get my bf to buy it even cheaper in the restaurant supply store!

    I’m glad you’re finally feeling better, you really deserve it! Enjoy the wedding this weekend!

  20. So glad you’re feeling better! I am thankful that work has not been awful this week! I’ve been able to stop working before 10pm, which feels AMAZING. I’m thankful that I realized I have a slight lactose intolerance and switched over to almond/soy milk. My stomach feels so much better!

  21. Congrats on feeling human again! I am actually thankful that there are plenty of other fitness type things I can do while I am NOT running (stupid pain in my hip/knee that won’t go away) and thankful to have an appointment to get it checked out so I can finally run again.

  22. Congrats on feeling better! I’m also thankful to be back to running. This week, after being sidelined with a stress fracture for TOO long, my runs are finally getting longer and more comfortable!

  23. This post made me happy, on this very gray, rainy and sorta cold day in Chicago. Thanks for that. 🙂 I’ve been all sad since I decided I will not be a marathoner this year. Tears. HOWEVER, I’m thankful/happy that my new Frye boots should be waiting for me on my doorstep (or more accurately, my building’s foyer) when I get home! WOOT WOOT!

  24. Today I’m thankful for my daughter, my puppy, and chocolate chip cookies. So glad you’re feeling better. Sometimes it takes bad things to remind us about the good things that we take for granted.

  25. I’m thankful that you are one of the few people in the world that knows the difference between me and I. I am thankful that I have a window in the office I work in. I am thankful I ran the Chicago Half Marathon and I am not burnt out/injured from Chicago Marathon training.

  26. High five to you! How about slightly burnt cheese, like on the edges of lasagna…YUMMO! I am thankful that I started running again this summer…now I’m PRETTY sure I’m signing up for my first half marathon in December. Squeee!

  27. I’m thankful that Ali is OK and has had plenty of beautiful days. Have been praying and sending thoughts your way.

    I’m thankful to have a Chinese physician who’s working really hard to get my foot healed and ready to run. Though I don’t think it’s gonna happen in the next 2 days. Can I get some prayers too?

  28. I have the opposite problem with my Garmin. The signal often goes crazy and clocks my first mile at 12 minute pace. So annoying, especially since I never had this problem with the very same watch last year!

    I’m thankful for Houston’s short-lived humidity break. Nice to know that 10 degrees really does make a difference in speed and I’m not as out of shape as I was convinced I’ve been.

  29. I’m thankful for your super awesome post. I am not kissing up – I can honestly feel the joy through the computer! Extra high fives for you. Today I am thankful for my HAWAIIAN VACATION IN 8 DAYS OMG. I am also thankful for super awesome runs this week. And a really fun weekend in NYC with my mom. Go see Once – it’s awesome. I thought of you when I was running in Central Park. I also thought those hills were going to kill me.

  30. I’m thankful that I ran on Tuesday for the first time in about a month. I’m thankful that I get to see my family this weekend, too!

  31. So happy you are feeling better! So my thankful Thursday is very materialistic and I don’t even care. I am thankful that an H&M opened close to me today (only have one other one in Denver). I am also thankful that not only will Denver be getting 5 Dunkin Donuts next year, but it was just announced that a Trader Joe’s is going to be built like a mile away from me! FInally, Denver is getting all the sweet things the East coast already has.

  32. I am thankful for Daiya cheese, because I am both soy and lactose intolerant and really missed cheese until Daiya came along. I am also thankful that you are doing better!

  33. I’m a big fan of good VT chedder cheese. I am thankful for beautiful weather here in VT, that I’m healthy, that I have amazing friends and family and lots of fun events coming up in September.

  34. Yay! I am so glad you are feeling better and loving your ability to run again. So true – it’s not I HAVE to run, it’s I GET to run. I need to remember that next time I am dragging! And um, M doesn’t close cabinets either, is that a man thing? WTF? that dinner looks amazing! I am thankful for 80 degree weather today!

  35. Yayyyyyy I am so happy you are feeling like yourself again! That sunrise picture is gorgeous but I hate colder weather and I feel sad that it is becoming fall. I also had my new GI doc appt yesterday and it was extremely disappointing. Plan to blog about that soon.. anyway. Thankful for my former roommate Lim, Refine for being the most fun, best workout class and Criminal Minds for being the thing I look forward to every day.

  36. Oh my goodness — cheese! I think anything smothered in cheese is definitely healthy. Healthy for the taste buds for sure! Yesterday for lunch I had a quesos a la plancha, which is basically a mexican grilled cheese. AAAMMAAZINNNGGG!

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about ali

I’m the creator of the Ali on the Run blog and the host of the Ali on the Run Show podcast. I’m also a freelance writer and editor, a race announcer, a runner and marathoner, a mom, and a huge fan of Peanut M&Ms, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (way better than the first one!), and reliving my glory days as a competition dancer in the early 2000s. I’m really happy you’re here.
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