I fell down the stairs at the hospital

It’s 7:53 a.m.

A little less than an hour ago I left home to walk to the hospital for my head CT.

It was raining, with flurries mixed in, and I didn’t think to bring a hat, a hood or an umbrella. I don’t mind getting damp, and the moisture helps tame my curls.

The walk to the hospital was uneventful. I was confused where to find the radiology department so I looked up the address: 250 S. 21st Street.

Now, I always get 21st Street and 22nd Street mixed up in my head. So to be sure imaging wasn’t in a separate building, I walked down to 21st Street.

That was mistake number one.

Imaging and radiology is in the main hospital. The main hospital was built over 21st Street, so to get to the entrance I had to backtrack, and go up to hills will black ice, to 19th Street.

I walked in, waited in line, and was politely told I needed to go outside, to the left and to the left again.

In other words, imaging was next to the Emergency Room which was where I started backtracking.

Bit extra steps are good. Let’s stay positive.

I leave, go down the concrete stairs between the hospital and the parking garage, trying to confirm where I need to go. I suspected radiology was next to the ER but I had just been told “left and left again” and I get my left and right mixed up, especially when I’m nervous.

And now I’m nervous and hurrying. In winter weather.

I forgot the stairs by the hospital are built like speed bumps… one step… walk more than a side walk square… a staircase of about five steps… more single steps. All painters with yellow stripes.

I missed one. I did a lovely corkscrew spin and bounced along the sidewalk.

I got up, kept walking, fighting tears and trying not to hyperventilate.

Because physically I am not in my best shape today. (More detail here.)

I walk into radiology and I tell the admissions clerk, “I have a CT at 7:30 and I just fell down the stairs coming from the main registration desk, I’m fine but I’m a little shaken.”

She, of course, wanted to know if I needed to be examined. I said no.

Then she assumed it was icy. I said, “no, I have cerebral palsy and I just missed the step and once I go down I can’t stop it.”

Her next thought was, “why didn’t they have someone bring you through the hospital. Why did they make you go outside?”

I replied, “I just did what they told me.”

The next fun part of the journey was once again I was told that Medicaid denied my procedure. I told them I qualified for Medicaid for one month in 2020 and they have not paid for anything since that month.

“But you qualify,” they insisted. “Or it wouldn’t be there.”

Just let me have my CT scan, especially now that I’ve hurt myself.

They take me back, and I thought maybe I should go to the restroom and wash my scraped hands but the tech assures me it will be five minutes. So I figure it can wait.

The scan was very cool. I have never had a CT scan or an MRI. They stuck me in the tube and I noticed the sleek black ring inside the tube that had a bright ball in it, like a star. I was told to be still so I closed my eyes.

The machine roared like my clothing dryer, the table shifted, and I was done.

I then once again thought about the restroom but it was 7:30 and my teenager needed to be at work at 8, and I thought maybe I could catch her.

But the sidewalks were slick and now the snow was coming down. It was coating everything. So I didn’t get home in time to see her.

But, between the cold, my nerves, and the fall, I suddenly realized I needed to urinate. And as the greatest insult to my pride today, I started to pee myself five feet from the toilet.

When I removed my pants, and realized the “accident” wasn’t as bad as it felt, I saw my knee was now bleeding. I have a sore spot on my left thigh up by the hip, two scraped knees, two scraped off palms, a couple scraped knuckles and a sore spot on my left forearm.

My trainer and I agreed that maybe the gym isn’t a good idea today.

And I cracked the screen protector on my phone.

I really, really hope that when the neurologist calls to talk about my CT scan that she can needle the physiatrist about seeing me, because I need help.

I’m scared. And I need to understand what this body can do and what it can’t.

The end of a short week

In less than 45 minutes— it is now almost 6:20 a.m. on a mildly snowy Thursday morning— I will be walking out my front door to get the CT scan of my head I originally had scheduled for December 30.

I am drinking my peppermint white chocolate Supercoffee, which arrived during the snow event Monday. Peppermint is my favorite flavor in coffee. Cinnamon used to rank, but there is something about the sassy, refreshing notes of warm peppermint and bitter coffee that excites me.

Last night, my Parisian Phoenix collaborator blind poet, Nancy Scott, joined the teenager and I for a dinner of Asian style cabbage and sautéed scallops over soy sauce ramen.

I have mild anxiety about the CT scan, primarily because I am unfamiliar with radiology at the nearby hospital, but also because of the anticipated cost. (You can read more about that here.)

My toe has been burning for weeks now. So much so I mentioned it to my chiropractor last week, that it burns maybe 15 minutes every 90 minutes or so while I am at work in the Bizzy Hizzy.

I thought maybe my posture is off with my hip persistently giving me trouble, but I noticed last night it’s extremely red and I think a little swollen.

Now I’m debating whether I need to call my podiatrist on top of everyone else.

The interesting news is that in the Bizzy Hizzy this week I probably performed about 65% in women’s returns processing during my overtime shift Saturday. My supervisor informed me I did 83% in Freestyle QC/ship on Sunday. Monday was a paid holiday. I managed 90% in my home department Tuesday and Wednesday— which is folding and wrapping 147 fixes.

While my pain levels are probably around 3 or 4, depending on my movements, my hip is definitely bothering me and my toe hurts all the time now. And of course, the back pain has been minor, but there, and I’ve struggled with touching my toes this week.

And I gained back the weight I’d lost.

I’m anxious to do some items for Parisian Phoenix today and maybe even write some of my fourth novel before a friend comes over for cocktails.

And please consider buying a book or two or three from Parisian Phoenix. I’m saving up for a new batch of ISBNs.

Iron Man 3: a Christmas movie?

The teenager and I have a favorite Christmas movie— The Ref with Denis Leary.

But Denis may have lost his place as our unorthodox Christmas hero because Tony Stark has usurped his place.

I had the vague feeling of déjà vu watching the film as I remembered more of this one than I usually do with films I’ve only seen once.

This one is fun because Tony Stark spends much of the film without the use of technology and his suits, relying instead on his wit and his body.

There’s a theme of taking responsibility for one’s actions running through the film, perhaps getting us ready for Spider-Man’s line, “with great power comes great responsibility.”

There is also a young man named Harley who I hope to see in a future film, and I also want to see Agent Caulson’s cellist. She was mentioned in Iron Man 2 and The Avengers. But I digress.

But what really steals this movie and provides probably the closest thing to reality is Tony Stark struggling with PTSD and anxiety attacks after fighting off robotic aliens in New York (Avengers). It’s refreshing to see a good guy deal with mental health issues on screen.

More Marvel Movie Reviews— Can we go for shawarma?

The teenager and I started watching the Marvel movies in order, as I posted here and here.

This is what we have watched so far:

  • Captain America: The First Avenger
  • Captain Marvel
  • Iron Man
  • The Incredible Hulk
  • Iron Man 2
  • Thor
  • Marvel’s The Avengers

I left off with the last movie we had completed, Iron Man.

The teenager had to rent The Incredible Hulk as it is not available on Disney Plus, Netflix or Hulu. And she made a good point that if we were going to commit to watching the whole franchise, we had to watch the whole franchise.

The teenager has the very strong opinion that the actor portraying the Hulk in The Avengers is physically better suited to the role. (Edward Norton in The Incredible Hulk vs. Mark Ruffalo in the later films). I realized that I had never seen The Incredible Hulk but instead I had seen Ang Lee’s Hulk. (I have also seen the TV Hulk as, after all, I am Gen X.)

I enjoyed both men, but Mark Ruffalo, to me, had the right demeanor in the role to seem intelligent, mild, and also funny. To me, Ed Norton always seems a little awkward and a little cocky.

But the movie was fun.

I, of course, enjoyed Iron Man 2 because Iron Man is an eternal wild card. I like that Pepper takes control of Stark Enterprises, and I also like that Tony Stark has to both fight and work with his friend Rhodes in this installment.

This push-pull of situations that force friends/family into enemies and enemies into friends resurfaces everywhere in the Marvel Universe. In Avengers, we see Natasha Romanoff have to fight Clint Barton, Thor have to detain Loki, and the whole damn Avengers team resort to bickering amongst themselves.

Is it a theme of “watch your back?” Or merely a reminder than humans are creatures that respond to their circumstances? We will turn on one another — sometimes for good reasons, sometimes for selfish ones.

Speaking of The Avengers, from the original Iron Man to The Avengers, Tony Stark has experienced the largest transformation. He, more than anyone in the group, transitions from a typical human to a hero.

I have a very large problem with my willing suspension of disbelief with Tony Stark. In Iron Man, he receives an oversized magnet in his chest to prevent a piece of shrapnel from entering his heart. In Afghanistan. In a cave.

The person who tended to Tony in this environment could rig up a massive magnet, somehow make a hole in Tony’s chest and find a way for it to heal into a nice little chamber, and power it with a car battery… but he was incapable of finding the shrapnel and removing it?

But that aside, and ignoring the subplots created by that device, Tony Stark is the one in the group who choses, as Bruce Wayne similarly choses in the D.C. Universe, to arm himself. Except Bruce has motivation to become a vigilante. And Tony just wants to build cool toys as a thrill.

So, Tony progresses from a thrill-seeker, to a weapon, to a hero. He voluntarily carries a nuclear bomb into outer space.

Tony Stark controls every change in his character arc and actively choses where to go.

Captain America? Drafted by the army and chosen to be transformed by super serum.

Captain Marvel? Military accident then kidnapped and brainwashed by aliens.

Hulk? Radiation accident.

Thor? Alien/God.

Let’s take a minute to talk about the movie Thor. Chris Hemsworth— he’s easy on the eyes, especially when he takes his shirt off. I love the speech patterns of the Asgardians. I also love the humor in the alien-arrives-on-earth scenarios. And I respect Jane Foster’s physics research.

That brings us to The Avengers. I remember being ridiculously tickled by Joss Whedon’s script when I saw this in the theaters. (Has Joss Whedon been officially canceled for his bad behavior on the Buffy set?)

The humor stands the test of time.

I also remember being confused by the plot. There was a great deal of character soup and the enemies came out of nowhere.

Watching the series in this order certainly solves those particular problems. The movie is still funny, but also ridiculously long. It took three days for us to get through it.

The movie made so much more sense now, and I look forward to the next on the list, Iron Man 3.

As for my title, at the end of The Avengers, Tony asks the team if they can go for shawarma. The very last scene, after the traditional teaser for the next movie, is the group eating silently at a table at a restaurant called Shawarma Palace as the owners clean up after the big end fight.

Highlighting the rawness of motherhood

I realized last night as I was wrapping up line edits for the next book in the Fashion and Fiends series, that while I knew the book had strong themes about the intersection of feminism, female sexuality and culture, I had forgotten how raw and real the book’s depiction of first-time motherhood felt. So, I blogged about it.

Parisian Phoenix Publishing

Here at Parisian Phoenix, we have three books hopefully going to press within the next 60 days.

Last night, I finished the (hopefully) final line edit of Recovery, the third volume of the Fashion and Fiends series.

In case you missed the first two volumes:

Book One is Manipulations, where a 400-year-old fire made stalks and seduces a supermodel for her water magick. It’s a blend of horror fiction and fashion rich chick lit, with strong paranormal romance elements.

If you forgive my academic nature, Manipulations uses the supernatural as a metaphor for domestic violence and that theme brings the novel to some dark places.

Order Manipulations here. (You can also use Barnes & Noble.com, Target.com, Bookshop.org, etc.)

Book Two is Courting Apparitions, a ghost story. This novel looks at grief & depression and their effects on relationships. Order Courting Apparitions here.

I try to write…

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Our first poetry book now in stock— Twists: Gathered Ephemera by Darrell Parry

Friends and readers–
My dream is to publish books and cuddle cats for a living. I love to write, and I love to share my stories, but as a publisher I find even more joy helping other writers share their unique voices.

So please, consider buying a book. We will have six books available hopefully within the next sixty days.

And feel free to share our posts with your friends.

Parisian Phoenix Publishing

As publisher at Parisian Phoenix, I have so many plans, hopes & manuscripts to pursue. As I’ve mentioned, we’re nearly done with the line edit of Not an Able-Bodied White Man with Money, so once the copyright returns from the Library of Congress we will be putting that project to bed— and into print.

Joan Z’s fun still-life photography featuring the residents of Plastiqueville has been submitted to Art Director Gayle Hendricks for her to insert into the body of Trapped, Parisian Phoenix’s first contemporary romance, packed with humor and reality. That will be out once it receives its final line edit.

And meanwhile, the third book of the Fashion and Fiends series, Recovery, is in the final stages of its last editorial review. This book deepens the paranormal mystery that began in Manipulations and explores the medical, military career of Jacqueline Saint-Ébène. And touches on some important feminist and…

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Little wins

It’s Wednesday night— which is my Friday! The Bizzy Hizzy has been a tizzy of Covid cases during this mandatory overtime week.

I’m doing my eight hours of overtime on Saturday.

Tomorrow I’m returning to the gym—the pandemic has also altered my training schedule.

And tomorrow, Georgie gets adopted! Yes, Georgie, our lovable former community cat from downtown Allentown, will be going home to a family where she will be the only pet.

I’m told Louise has an approved adoption application— but this is her third so I am not as optimistic as I should be. The person who applied for her wants two cats so FURR has suggested Khloe also be considered.

If these three cats get adopted— after Danu, Brigid and Aîné all getting adopted since December— I may weep tears of joy.

This week my body experienced all sorts of aches and pains, but I still managed to fold what I felt was a respectable amount of clothes for Stitch Fix. And today was our monthly employee luncheon— chicken Caesar wraps, tomato soup and carrot cake.

And on our final break of the day, everyone from my old shift got sweatshirts.

It’s kinda silly, but at the same token, it commemorates a special era of my life and celebrates the camaraderie we had on second shift. And believe it or not, even though we are scattered among the day shift, we still function as a team.

After work, the teenager invited me to Tic Toc family restaurant where we enjoyed grilled cheese sandwiches.

Ingram finally shipped Darrell Parry’s poetry book (Twists: Gathered Ephemera). And several other Parisian Phoenix titles are coming together. Perhaps as many as three titles releasing before the end of February.

Speaking of Parisian Phoenix, I emailed my class correspondent at Lafayette College and he ordered my first two novels.

And finally, side note… Actor Tim Daly was on the most recent episode of the podcast Hypocondriactor. I love Tim Daly. And I found myself comparing him to Anthony Stewart Head, you know… Giles on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I was specifically comparing Daly’s character on Madame Secretary to Head’s role as the school librarian/watcher on Buffy. Both were nerdy academics with interests in obscure topics.

Neurology Update

So, I just received a phone call at work from my neurologist’s office. They want me to come in at 8 a.m. Wednesday, because “my” insurance company denied my CT scan.

I use the quotation marks because this letter comes from the insurance company that provided my Medicaid. I received Medicaid four months into my unemployment in November 2020, and I accepted my position at Stitch Fix one week later.

Stitch Fix provides medical insurance as of day one of employment.

To the best of my knowledge, I used Medicaid for one visit to my primary care physician that happened to be scheduled during that week.

I filled out the required paperwork to alert the county assistance office that I had a job, and insurance. I received some paperwork that implied my Medicaid would expire at the end of the year.

But as of January 1, 2021, it still seemed to be hanging around as a secondary insurance policy. Even though I never saw them pay for anything, and my primary insurance was a high deductible plan.

In Spring of 2021, I received a notice that I need to reapply for my medical assistance or it would be canceled as of 8/31/2021. I threw the paperwork away— because I don’t need Medicaid.

But the hospital and the network of doctors associated with it still insisted I had it.

So I thought maybe it would disappear December 31, 2021.

And December 28, 2021 they write the letter denying my CT scan that I photographed and posted above. I receive it around January 5, 2022.

To refresh anyone’s memory or for new readers— I have cerebral palsy but I didn’t really receive medical treatments or interventions as a child, which leaves me now trying to understand my body as it ages. I am approaching my 47th birthday.

My neurologist appointment was December 23 — you can read about that here (and more here) as it was my first ever. I now have an official diagnosis on file with my doctors.

The neurologist’s office scheduled me for a CT scan of my brain on Dec. 30. I was really excited for several reasons: I have never had any CT scan; I am very curious to see what brain damage will be revealed; and my deductible was paid for 2021.

But the office canceled it two hours before the procedure because the insurance company neither approved nor denied the claim.

I find out today that Cigna has approved the scan but Medicaid did not and the neurologist’s office didn’t want me getting a surprise bill.

They canceled a procedure that would have cost me a 10% copay, and now I will pay for it out-of-pocket as my deductible is $1,750. And my HSA will be empty as the teenager is getting hearing aids Friday.

In other physical related items:

  • Yesterday I experienced a lot of steady pain at work. By the end of the day, I couldn’t even reduce my symptoms and sleep was uncomfortable. I blame the fact that they changed our break schedule and we had our last break at 1:50 — leaving us to work three hours without a break, the last three hours of our ten hour shift.
  • I finished yesterday at about 80% of the daily metric.
  • Today, I had a high point at 3 pm of about 95% — and finished the day at 90%.
  • My back today felt better, pain at let’s say 4 instead of 8. But my toes on my right foot burn about 10 minutes out of every 90.
  • Interesting side note, I think the intense back pain involves some nerve activity as when my pain increases I can’t feel my need to urinate. Not at all. So that’s fun.
  • And the Mirena is doing it’s job. But for the first two months, I spotted most of the time. I think I had two days each month where I wasn’t spotting or bleeding. I think that has finally ended. My body seems to act like my body.
  • But today, for some reason, my right breast aches. Kind of like milk let down.
One of my orders today was 8 pounds of jeans

Hungryroot meal prep for week ahead

On Saturdays, I tend to make my work lunches and make a loose meal plan for the week ahead.

I ordered an extra Hungryroot box after the snafu of last week’s shipment as we have almost eaten everything in the pantry and freezer.

And since I have heard there is mandatory overtime this week and I have already signed up to work next Saturday, I ordered a box to be delivered this coming Friday.

I have a $15 credit currently on my account and should see an additional $87 credit hopefully Monday.

Meal prep with Hungryroot groceries: superfood blend, salmon, kohlrabi noodles, beef meatballs, turkey meatballs and tortellini

I put most of the teenager’s food into one big divided container so she can design lunches.

For myself:

  1. one lunch of kohlrabi noodles with marinara, shredded parmesan, nutritional yeast, two beef meatballs and two turkey meatballs
  2. one lunch of kohlrabi noodles with thai peanut sauce, superfood blend, and broccoli
  3. one lunch of teriyaki salmon, superfood blend, sesame ginger sauce and sesame seeds
  4. One lunch of tortellini in kale pesto with shaved Brussel sprouts

Dinners will include nachos or tacos with chicken, cuban beans and avocado. Another of burgers, sweet potato fries and my “popcorn” cauliflower, and some sort of stir fry or grain bowl with the remaining brussels and/or cabbage, one of the leftover sauces and tofu burgers.

But by the time I made everything, I forgot to save a meal for today. So the teenager and I tried Hungryroot organic peanut butter on her homemade cinnamon raisin bread with a side of the dark chocolate banana bites also sent by Hungryroot.

Her assessment of the peanut butter: “I don’t hate the peanut butter.”

The bites?

“These don’t taste like banana.”

I looked at the package. “That’s because they are salted caramel chocolate cashews.”

The verdict?

Teenager very much likes the cashews and doesn’t mind the bananas, though the cashews are infinitely better.

Movie review: revisiting the original ‘Iron Man’ movie

As mentioned earlier, the teenager and I started watching the Marvel movies in chronological order, the order that the story occurred in.

Today we revisited Iron Man. Now this is one of my favorites— Robert Downey Jr.’s performance is legendary, his taste in classic hard rock impeccable, and moving the story into the modern Afghanistan war is classic.

So, in trying to watch these in story order, I have to ask if the chronology stays so disparate.

Captain America debuts in World War II. Captain Marvel follows in the 1990s— so fifty years later. And now Iron Man jumps another twenty years to circa 2010.

But so far, the movies pass quickly and painlessly. I still prefer D.C.