Last night, I had a conversation with my professor about my provisional status with my PhD program. She informed me that there was quite a contentious battle between the department and the powers-that-be regarding my Forest Gump-like score on the quant section of the GRE. (Remember, in the movie when Forest's mother tries to enroll him in school, but his IQ score is just below normal? Yeah...that is my quant score on the GRE.) She also said that there are some folks out there who think that I should have been denied admission, despite explanation for my scores being linked to my disability and the difficulty in obtaining accommodations. There are some who think I am going to blow it with my provisional status, or worse, not even finish the PhD. Then, my professor suggested that there are ethical issues in allowing my provisional admission.
I said that I get some of her concerns..really, I do. In this world of increasing scrutiny, her concerns have some merit. But, my counter-enlargement is that perhaps the whole is other than the sum of its parts. If we look at this holistically, the score on one part of one measurement is not the be all and end all of who a person is. I ended the conversation ensuring that I am looking into pursuing remedial measures over the summer to prepare for my quantitative methods course in the fall, and that I confident that I would continue to succeed in the program. I said that I've never backed down from a challenge, and I wasn't going to start now. I've fought for everything I have.
I left class feeling sick to my stomach. angry and hurt. I really wish I hadn't heard all of this. Have you ever wished you could un-hear something? It's next to impossible, isn't it? Although, I know that there is probably some folks out there that feel I do not belong in the program, somehow it's worse hearing it. And once you do hear something like that, you can't erase those words from your memory. I feel so unworthy right now. I also feel like I have a target on my back. And, it will remain there until I prove that I am better than my quant score.
There is part of me that wants to take the test again, earn the score that I need and let that be my "fuck off" to the naysayers. There's a part of me that just wants to move forward, do the extra work over the summer, and let my future work speak for itself. Husband wonders if all of this will blow over,. Someone or something will come along that will be the new face of chaos and drama, and no one will give my situation a thought.
I don't know what the answer is. I think I have to let me emotions be what they are for now. Then, I'll make my next move, with a clear head. I'll push through somehow. I'll fight and rise above this.
Like I always do.
I've been accepted to PhD program at PhD Uni!
Well, I am provisionally accepted.
Because my quantitative score on the GRE was slightly below the threshold score for PhD Uni, and despite my high scores on the verbal and essay section, plus having 12 credits with a perfect 4.0, I am on provisional status until I have proven myself worthy. I must take nine credits and earn a "B" or better before being transferred to full standing. The downside is that I am not eligible for any funding while on provisional status.
You know what? I'm cool with that.
It's been a bit of a battle. I honestly thought that they would require me to take the test again. I think my closing argument helped, although I will never know for sure. I am considering this a victory.
Husband thinks we can handle the cost during my probation period. We do have some money saved that is not earmarked for anything. HBCU did give me a class for the fall, so that does help. I am also looking for other teaching gigs, as well as other administrative positions. I think I will do the course work part-time until I get off of probation, just to keep the out-of-pocket costs low.
So, I am happy..for a change!
Yesterday, I decided to apply for a job at a local CC that I know all too well. It's another administrative position similar to the one I had at Tech College.
I know, I know...didn't that same job cause you significant stress, so much so that you had to quit?
So why in the hell would you go back into the fire?
In my defense, and I need one, I thought long and hard about doing this.
This particular position is a much shorter commute, like 10-15 minutes. So, that is way better than the 45-60 minutes with the last job. This would be way more do-able. I know how to do the job and do it well. It complements my work in PhD program. I really could make a difference there. It's not like anyone has been banging on my door for faculty positions, although HBCU did confirm that I will be teaching on camps for the fall. But that's one class. And, who knows what will happen with my admission situation at PhD U. I just wanted to see what will happen. The worst thing is that I get no response or the classic FU letter. If I did get an interview, I could decide for myself if this is where I want to go. I am in a better place physically, emotionally and mentally. I have the coping mechanisms to deal with this or any stressful situation.
Rejected due to lack of education and/or experience.
Recently, my primary care doctor suggested that I stop taking antidepressants to deal with my anxiety/depression. I taken meds since I was in my 20's. I think I have used every medication out there, as some just stop working after some time. The meds really keep me on an even keel. Kind of like the commercial for Zoloft with the sad brain cell that becomes a bouncing brain cell after taking the medication.
My initial reaction was "NOOOOOOOO!!!!!" I need my meds. I began to think of what would happen without them. Would I be able to function? Would I end up a total basket case of nerves and walk around in a state of cat-like readiness? Would I become so depressed after the anxiety that I curl up in a dark corner of my closet and not come out?
Because that has happened in the past.
Then I thought "Sure, everything is OK now (this was before the events of last week), but what happens when things really get cray-cray? What happens THEN???"
My doctor said that maybe it's time to let go. I am not the same person I was back then. I have developed some good coping skills, especially in the past year that signify positive signs. She said that we would do this slowly and methodically. If it seems that it is too much, then we will stay with a that level of maintenance. She said that I should give myself credit for being stronger now, emotionally and mentally and developing strategies to deal with the anxiety and depression that seem to follow me wherever I go.
After giving it some serious thought, I decided to give it a try. I am now taking the meds every other day. So far, I have not noticed much difference. None of the brain-zaps that sometimes happen if I miss a couple of doses (That usually happens when I am sick to the point of not keeping anything in my stomach to the point of throwing up). Also, even though I did have some meltdowns over recent events, they have not sent me into a tailspin. There has been anxiety, but nothing so dramatic that I am not able to talk myself of the ledge, or have someone else talk me down successfully. And, I suppose if I am going to try this, now is the best time.
I still have some fears. I've only been doing the every other day thing for two weeks. So, I don't know how much is still in my system to compensate for the missing dose. What happens if and when I am working full time and doing the PhD part time or doing the PhD full time and working part time? Can I still balance everything without help? I suppose I should give myself credit for the progress that I have made, but that's just the way that I am...playing the what-if game.
For now, I feel fine. I should just embrace that. Maybe it's OK to let go of Mother's Little Helper.
Whoever said that bad things happen in threes may have been on to something...
I've spent the last two days fighting with a specialty pharmacy company regarding my medication for RA. I take one of the biologic drugs, which my insurance company requires that it be filled by one of those home delivery-specialty pharmacy companies. The pharmacy has been making excuses for why they cannot fill the prescription, with the final excuse of "Your insurance doesn't cover this medication." I flipped my shit on that one because the insurance carrier approved the prior authorization from my RA doc for the meds. So, why would an insurance company approve a drug that they don't cover? That would never happen. I went off on the supervisor for the pharmacy, citing how unethical and possibly illegal (fraudulent) their actions are. Husband is working with the insurance company, who has been surprisingly helpful. And, of course my RA doc and her staff have been amazing, providing me with samples of my meds until this is resolved. There seems to be a end to the battle, as I was contacted by another specialty pharmacy that the insurance company uses. Now, it's just a matter of having the new company including my financial support program funding for my meds so I only have to pay $10/month instead of the third tier co-pay. Still, all of this could have been avoided if people would just do their jobs and not break my universal life law...Don't be a dick.
Next, I have yet to hear anything from HBCU about Dream Job. When I called to follow up with the VP of Academics about not hearing from the committee about an interview, I either get voicemail or a secretary that is a very bad actress when it comes to giving the run-around. I've just decided to let it go and move on. Clearly people at HBCU have no interest my skills and/or are just too dysfunctional. I just don't have the energy to fight anymore. Again, it's a case of people being dicks.
Finally, my professor for this semester asked to speak with me after class on Monday. Given my high level of anxiety over the above issues, I shot into anxiety overload and a state of cat-like readiness. For three hours, I sat there wondering what in the world I had done. Did I piss off someone? Did I plagiarize something in an assignment? My professor is the chair of the division that I am pursuing. She wanted to give me the heads up that the admissions committee for the entire department has denied my application to the PhD program. Apparently, my quantitative score on the GRE is just slightly below what they normally accept. Someone on the admissions committee for the entire department has a bug up their butt about that, despite the fact that the rest of my application is stellar. This person has no contact with my subdivision within the department. Everyone in my subdivision is upset about this. So, I've been given some options that do not make me very happy. My professor thinks that we should fight this, given that there are some circumstances that led to my quant score being what it is, and that I should be admitted. This is a case of someone being a dick for reasons that have nothing to do with me, but with the perception of the department to the outside world.
Needless to say, I am pissed off, disillusioned and depressed. I've never experienced this much uncertainty in my life right now. Yesterday, I just puttered around the house, mainly because I needed to distract myself from anything school, HBCU or medical related. The cold and stress have made the joints a little angry, so running has not been an option as an outlet for stress. Although, I am going to give walking on the treadmill a try today. Husband and Junior have provided some comfort, but honestly I just feel defeated.
Now that I've had my three bad things, it can only get better...right?
It doesn't snow often in Elsewhere. But when it does, everything shuts down and not much happens. This week, there has been ice, sleet, snow and cold temperatures that has brought the area to its knees. Elsewhere does not have the wealth of winter weather fighting equipment that I am used to seeing in Redneckville or Lake Effect Snow Central, so it takes longer for things to get up and running again. Both PhD and HBCU have been closed for most of this week, so I still have not heard anything on the job front.
Thus, I feel like I am caught in TV static. You know, the snowy picture you see when the cable or satellite goes out? It's like that. I can't see anything and I don't know when the connection will be fixed. The last thing I heard from HBCU was my follow up call with the VP of Academics who said that she would find out why I had not been contacted by the committee about Dream Job. I also applied for a similar job at two other colleges in the area. Again, nothing but TV static.
It's not like I am just sitting around waiting, I do have a huge amount of work for my PhD course. This class is kicking my butt with the amount of work. But, I can only deal with that for so long. It's been too cold and icy to take Junior for a run or walk (He is not happy at all). I've taken to the treadmill for workouts. But, cabin fever is setting in.
A good friend, who is dealing with some stuff, posted that she told her students that they will hit the "reset" button next week. This week has been rough in so many respects for so many people. A "reset" is definitely needed.
Hopefully, there will be an end to the TV static and we can return to normal programming.
With the Plague, the insanity of the finding a job and the mountains of work in my PhD course, I completely missed a major milestone.
It's the one-year anniversary of reaching my weight loss goal!!!!
This time last year, I reached my goal of losing 50 pounds. It took 17 months of calorie tracking, eating less and moving more. Initially, maintenance was tricky. I was so focused on not going over or under 138 pounds. I had a hard time going from weight loss mode to maintenance mode. Having an extra 500 calories to use felt a little awkward, mostly because I didn't need to eat the additional calories. So, I began to slowly allow a little more food or I would use the full fat, higher calorie version of foods. Also, running and walking not only kept my weight down. What I realized after this first year of maintenance is that 135-138 is my weight "sweet spot". I feel my best when I am in that range. I don't want to down any lower or any higher than that.
People have asked me how I was not only able to loss the weight, but to keep it off. Some have asked me how the weight loss has impacted the RA and fibromyalgia. So, here are some things I would like to share...
How did you lose all the weight?
I used a calorie/fitness tracker called Lose It. In the past, I would try to eat healthy and exercise, but see very little change on the scale. With the calorie/fitness tracker, I could see the number of calories that I needed vs. the number that I was actually eating. Husband got me a food scale so that I could measure proper portions of food. Let me just say that pasta was a real eye-opener!
Seeing my calories and exercise all spelled out in living color was a huge wake up call. I though I was doing what I should to lose weight, but the number of calories in was way over what I needed, even with exercise.
Also, and I cannot stress this enough, I set small goals for myself throughout the weight loss period. I concentrated on 10 pounds at a time. When I reached that goal, I would reward myself with a small non-food related treat, like a book download or a bath bomb from Lush. Once I was in maintenance, my goals were fitness related.
Honestly, there was no real trick to losing the weight. No crazy fad diets. No starvation. Just understanding how much fuel my body really needs to function.
Did you give up anything?
Nope. Unlike all these diets that say "Don't eat this or don't eat that", I continued to eat what I liked, only less of it. I still ate pizza, chicken wings and dessert. And, I still had alcohol. A great example was a recent trip to Cheesecake Factory, where I had a slice of the Red Velvet Cheesecake. Instead of ingesting all 1250 calories of cheesecake goodness (yeah, you read right, 1250 calories), I cut it into fourths and had cheesecake goodness for four days. Just enough to get a little taste without going crazy.
How's the RA and the firbromyalgia?
My RA doc did a happy dance with the weight loss and maintenance. At my last appointment, she indicated that the extra 50 pounds that I was carrying was like 100 pounds of excess weight on my joints. I've maintained remission for a year. Eating and living a healthier lifestyle has helped greatly.
So, are you "cured"?
Hells, no! If exercise and diet could cure autoimmune diseases, there would be a lot less people with them. My body is still attacking itself all day, every day, Sundays included. Remission for me means that the disease is not actively interfering with daily life. It also means that I do not need a steroid boost. It doesn't mean that I don't have flares; flares happen because of cold, stress or just because it feels like it. But, the flares have been minimal in the past year with no steroids boost.
But, doesn't exercise hurt?
Exercise sounds counterproductive when you have chronic pain, but it is really the best thing, so long as you are able to do so. Back in the summer of 2013, I could barely make it from my house to the first streetlight. Today, I have complete my first 5K and training for another.The walking and running helps strengthen the muscles around the joints. I am also very in-tune with how my body feels. If the joints are angry, I may just go for a gentile walk with Junior or forgo the workout until I feel better. For the first time since my diagnosis, I am doing things that I have not done in 15 years of batling this illness. Also, I listen to my body. If I am not feeling right, I slow down and take it easy. And, of course everything that I do is with the consultation and blessing of my RA doc.
Continuing maintenance. The changes that I have made a so much a part of my routine, that I not comfortable forgoing the tracking and weighing my portions. I sometimes wonder if it's a little too OCD, but I know that it is what works for me and doing it is not interfering with my life. I have started doing yoga again for the strength training and for the stress relief. I was really into practice a long time ago, so I excited to get back into it. I am also planning on running another 5K in the spring.
The only challenge that I see is how to maintain all of this when I return to full time work/part time PhD or full time PhD/part time work. Right now, I'm part time work/part time PhD, which allows me sufficient to work out and make healthy meals. I am trying to incorporate strategies that mimic how my life will be should my work and school status change. It's a work in progress.
The past year and 17 months of weight loss and maintenance has not only given the tools to not only live a healthier and happier lifestyle, it has given my life back in that I am doing things that I thought I had lost because of the RA. Getting my life back is the greatest victory.
- Seeking Solace
- I am a college professor who is fumbling through the chaos of academia, rheumatoid arthritis, working on my PhD and just being a 40 something woman. I used to be a lawyer, which made me a snarky little person. I have a wonderful Husband and a German Shepherd named Junior. They help keep me sane.