Why, yes, I have been living under a rock.. Or, well, under my desk!

I know it’s been a crazy long time since I have updated you all! A lot of things have happened in the past few months, and I’ve been so incredibly busy. I’m pretty sure I haven’t had a day off in 2 months.

The hectic times started out with a medical school interview at the University of Arizona. I’m still waiting to hear back, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed. I’m not so confident about how things are going to go this time around, so it looks like I may be going back to the drawing board, retaking the MCAT, and trying for Plan B.

I’ve also started teaching MCAT Prep (well, just the Biology section) as a second side job. It’s been a blast so far, but it does mean that I’m working two jobs, going to school full-time, trying to maintain my other extracurricular obligations, some sense of a life, and oh, my sanity. I might need that.

Other than that, I’m nearing the end of my masters program, so I’ve been working feverishly on my project for my practicum, which is a program proposal for a program to address the needs of students with chronic illnesses at ASU. I’m really stoked about it, particularly because I’m a data nerd and my review of the community assessment data has allowed me to find some really scary data about students with chronic illnesses. I’ll let you all know how my project turns out. I’m almost done with the actual proposal, and then I’ll be presenting it to ASU Wellness and hopefully implementing it before I graduate in the summer.

Outside of all of my obligations, my personal life has also been both rocky and stressful. First and foremost, I’m prepping for two really big surgeries this summer, so I’m both becoming nervous and stressed, as I’m trying to plan my life and work schedules around these upcoming events. Both surgeries are immensely important, however, and I’m excited about what they mean for me. This upcoming Monday, I’ll pick the date for my panniculectomy, a surgery to remove excess skin from weight loss. This procedure has a lot of emotional implications for me, particularly because, as some of you know, the method that I utilized to lose weight was not healthy. In fact, the weight made me unhealthy. Puts a kink in many of your paradigms, right? I engaged in disordered eating, lost weight extremely quickly, and as a result of both the means and the rapidity, developed cardiac problems, a crazy immune system, and well, who knows what else. Like many others dealing with an eating disorder, I thought “those” bad things I heard about couldn’t happen to me. I thought that someone who was morbidly obese couldn’t develop the same problems from starvation as someone who was underweight. I was wrong. And just like those horror stories you hear about, usually during some eating disorders awareness week, I developed severe arrhythmia’s.  My heart rate would go from 30 to 250 and back again, all within minutes, and I eventually needed a cardiac ablation. My extra skin is a reminder of all of this–a daily reminder of the terrible crap I did to my body as a way of coping with the cards life dealt me at the time. I’m sure every ounce of terrible pain during my post-op recovery (which lasts a solid 2-3 months total) will also serve a reminder.

One of the biggest things that I’ve been working on with my team is how to handle the inevitable comments I’m going to receive after losing 30-40 pounds of skin. I’m essentially going to walk out of surgery down about 4 pants sizes. I, unlike most people I meet, am not of the paradigm that weight is directly associated with health. After all, if you read the research, it’s not. The factors that really impact health are all confounding factors in most research. Health is most certainly, however, associated with healthy lifestyle behaviors–a healthy diet (which can <gasp> also include your favorite chocolate cake), healthy levels of activity, and a healthy mind. The thing I’m least looking forward to are the inevitable comments about how <yet another gasp> “You look SO wonderful!” They’re irritating and they’re triggering. So, please, if you know me–Don’t tell me I look good after walking out of surgery. I’m sure I’ll feel better because, well, I’m getting rid of an enormous deformity, but I don’t want to hear comments that imply weight loss is directly associated with looking good or being healthy.

The second procedure, which is big mentally, but relatively minor, is my top surgery. I’m extremely excited to get rid of my boobs, which just, kind of like the extra skin, make me feel dissociated and separated from my body. Anyone who has seen me of late knows that I most certainly do not look like a woman. I know I will feel a lot more comfortable and confident in my life when the surgery is over. I’m lucky in that I’m very small-chested, so my surgery will literally just involve lipsuctioning out my breast tissue and waiting for the skin to snap back. Hoping that process goes smoothly, but if the skin doesn’t stretch back, I’ll just need a minor revision later on.

Last but not least, to end this extremely long post, I’ve been feeling rather isolated from the LGBTQ community in the area lately, and that’s a huge bummer. When I first moved here, I tried to spread my wings and get involved in off-campus events, because I think college students tend to get comfortable in their little campus bubble and forget that there is a whole world outside of their campus. When I tried to get other students to do the same, however, I always got the same response–“The LGBTQ community here is really cliquey.”

I always thought that it was completely false, until well, I found myself on the outside of that clique, and I can honestly say, “Man, the LGBTQ community here is really cliquey.” Some stuff went down in the past two months or so, and I’ve been left feeling really isolated and alienated. People who I thought were my friends clearly weren’t, and that totally blows, especially since I’ll likely find myself staying here for at least a couple more years. Totally a bummer, and has left me feeling down.

Otherwise, life has been great, but just busy, as I stated before. I’ll try to keep you in the loop about all of these changes and not go another two months or so without posting. I hope you all are doing well!

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4 thoughts on “Why, yes, I have been living under a rock.. Or, well, under my desk!

  1. Amy says:

    Alex,
    I’ve been reading your blogs on and off as you’ve posted them these last few months (I don’t know if that’s creepy or not, as we’re not super close), I’ve enjoyed all of them. I think it is great that you’re so candid about everything you’re going through. I want you to know that if you do ever need anyone to talk to I’m always available, even though I’m outside the LGBTQ community. Coming from a different place I don’t always have that many people to turn to, so I want you to know that if ever you need someone to vent to I’m here to listen 🙂
    Amy

  2. junoroche says:

    Really, really nice to read a post from you again. Sorry that your experience (locally) with the LGBT community is a little disappointing, it can be a terribly closed world. I am quite involved in the UK as a trans rep for my union and it really is a case of some people are cool activists and others just remain on the outside – I hasten to add I am thankfully on the outside.
    Anyway happy that you have surgeries planned, hearing about someone else’s surgery always feels like such a positive thing as I wait for my own.
    Juno

    • Alex says:

      Juno,

      I’m glad you find reading about other’s journeys helpful. I certainly do, too! I am usually highly involved in the LGBTQ community, but have found that, at least in the past two months, the individuals here have created a very alienating environment. Huge bummer!

      What’s your situation regarding surgery? Are you planning for it? Are finances an issue?

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