Mallet finger update: I’ve had it with this splint

Today was my last official day working with a disability accommodation in the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy warehouse. It’s Sunday, tomorrow is the Fourth of July, and I had a helluva time getting out of bed when the alarm went off at 4:15 a.m.

So I didn’t.

I was in the middle of an anxiety dream where I was with an old friend that cut off ties with me a decade ago… and I think a few people I’ve lost were in that dream.

I reset my alarm for 4:45 and started my day a little off and then the Keurig decided I only deserved half a cup of coffee. As. If.

Today was my first day working in my new splint. (If you didn’t know I lost the first one in my car, you can read that story here.)

I’ve suspected since Friday afternoon that my new splint was too tight, but I didn’t confirm it until I started to see marks on my finger, deep ridges, yesterday.

During work today it got pretty unbearable— so when they let us out early I came home, heated the teapot and dropped the custom splint into a bowl.

I poured the boiling water into the bowl and reshaped the plastic. It’s not nearly as perfectly molded as the professional job, but it doesn’t pinch my finger.

Hunting among urban decay and industrial ruins for spaceships

There is an industrial site about a mile from my home, probably a brownfield. Everything on the property has been demolished, except for a mega-furnace of some sort, metal and concrete, far across the field like a spaceship from a 1940s science fiction movie.

This has fascinated me, again and again. So today I invited my photographer friend Joan Zachary and we went on a photo adventure. And trespassing.

These were shot with my phone.

Tidbits that made me happy today

I helped my baby, The Teenager, buy a 2012 Nissan Rogue
We stopped at our local Target, where I worked for nearly a decade in the cafe. The store, 2536, is in the midst of a rather tasteless remodel. The cafe sink is in the parking lot. I haven’t worked there for three years now, but man… did the memories come back. I pulled my car next to the fence, put on my flashers and snapped this photo.

Mallet finger: week 10-ish

I had an 8 a.m. appointment with my occupational therapist at The Institute for Hand and Upper Extremity Rehabilitation. I cannot say enough nice things about them.

I arrived around 7:50 a.m., and ended up walking into the building with my therapist. The receptionist wasn’t there yet. My therapist grabbed my file and started my appointment before her computer fully engaged for the day.

I told her the story of losing my splint. She made me a new one and I didn’t even have to pay extra.

For more info on losing my splint, click here.

The finger is “holding up” and this week, when I take the splint off to do my exercises five times a day— which I might do seven, just based on my routine— I can leave the splint off for one hour five times a day.

It sounds like if my finger maintains its posture through this week that I am more-or-less out of the woods. It’s very exciting.

Why do I do my exercises seven times a day? For exercises like these— physical and/or occupational therapy exercises that require little bits of effort multiple times a day— I find attaching them to logical parts of my routine helps.

So in my case:

I left my appointment at 8 a.m. They are so efficient!

4:15 a.m. Wake. Remove splint. Use bathroom. Wash hands. Start coffee. Do exercises. Replace splint.

6:15 a.m. Use bathroom at work. Check hair. Remove splint to wash hands. Return to main cafeteria to chat with friends. Do exercises as warm-up for the intense folding of clothes to come. Retape splint. Head to time clock.

8:50 a.m. Remove splint. Go to bathroom and take morning break. Do exercises. Have morning yogurt. Replace splint. Fold more clothes (about 175 pieces of clothing every two hours). Yes, I fold and package clothes. I work for Stitch Fix doing Quality Control for the subscription boxes. My side hustle is my book company, Parisian Phoenix Publishing.

12:10 p.m. clock out for lunch. Remove splint. Use the restroom. wash hands. Do exercises while heating lunch. Eat. Replace splint.

3:10 p.m. Final 15. Remove splint at work station. Go to wash hands. Do exercises while enjoying a cup of coffee or snack in the main cafeteria.

5 p.m. Clock out of work, remove splint, wash hands, stretch fingers, replace splint.

5:30 p.m. Get home from work. Fight off very excited large dog. Remove splint. Wash hands. Do exercises. Replace splint.

7:30 p.m. Remove splint. Shower. Gently use fingers to wash hair. Do exercises in shower. Dry off. Replace splint with fresh tape.

And this way if I miss one, it’s okay. Or if my hand isn’t doing as much in one session we make it up in the next.

For more about my injury, click here.

Making granola and buying a car

I often joke that I have spent many lives in other time periods— someone once randomly told me I had a soul that belonged to the 1950s and I think maybe I was a hungry child during the Great Depression.

You see, I don’t let food go to waste. I have used for all the leftovers. Like the mini pretzels from the Philly Pretzel Factory at her graduation party? I let them dry out for a couple days and then ran them through the Ninja food processor to make bread crumbs.

And today I poured hot water into the honey jar to get all the honey from the sides of the jar and poured the water into my pitcher of extra strong home-brewed iced tea.

I also made homemade granola. Now you might ask what does homemade granola have to do with saving food from being wasted?

This is an old blog post on my food blog where I chronicled every meal I ate for seven years discussing granola.

The teenager and I are in the middle of reorganizing the kitchen and tackling a lot of home improvement projects. I cleaned and rearranged the cupboards yesterday and found a lot of ingredients that were old and could make granola.

  • Extra unopened containers of traditional oats
  • Raisins
  • Dried blueberries that I don’t remember buying… ever
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Nut mixes and random small bags of no-carb trail mix

So, I made granola.

And then I went to Lipsky Cars with the teenager to test drive vehicles. And with me as her co-signer, the teenager has her first auto loan.

What did she drive?

Three 2012 vehicles: the Nissan Rogue, a Subaru Forester and a Honda Crosstour. The Crosstour had some really amazing features and a spicy engine.

Tomorrow we pick up the vehicle. And the handyman comes to look at the ceiling from the flood.

But I’m not going to tell you which car she picked. Tune in tomorrow!

Apex 100, the strawberry Frosty and a makeshift splint

I wept tonight. I nearly wept myself into a panic attack. My guts are still fluttering. And I flung things down the stairs.

But that’s the end of the story. Let’s start at the beginning.

On Monday night, after the teenager’s car accident, I went to Apex Training for my 100th session at the gym since I started about ten months ago.

Because it was my 100th session, the my trainer picked out 6 exercises for me to do 100 times, at my own pace, breaking them into sets as I saw fit.

I was a little stiff the next day, which was yesterday, but I still managed to do 100% according to the metrics at work. But my the end of the day my right leg was unsteady.

Today I woke up very stiff, with my muscles in my lower body so tight I struggled to bend and I had even less control and stability in my right leg.

I only made about 90% today.

By the end of the day, my right quad had this dull burn to it, but it didn’t really hurt. But it was getting more and more difficult to control as my stiffness dissipated.

But the teenager and I still made it to my 101st session at Apex and celebrated by trying the new strawberry Frosty at Wendy’s. Which, by the way, is much tastier with a Wendy’s sugar cookie.

I took my custom splint off— today marks one week of wearing it and taking it off every 3 hours for occupational therapy exercises and when needed “for hygiene.” And the finger is looking steady!

I removed the splint to wipe down my hand with a wet nap before eating. I set it down carefully in my lap. And then it just disappeared. I checked the take-out bag. I checked my bra, the car compartments, the seat.

The teenager told me to stop wiggling around that it had to be in the car and we’d look at home.

We didn’t find it at home.

So I went to the kitchen and started to cry. my finger had looked so good wrapped around that Frosty cup as I smeared the Frosty on my portion of the cookie the teenager and I shared.

I checked my local CVS’s website: no splint in stock. So I checked my local Walgreen’s: no splint in stock. And so it went.

Still upset, I found a piece of wood my cockatoo had stripped from her toy and taped it to my finger.

My splint. Hopefully I’ll find a better solution in the morning.

Chicken McNuggets and Monday morning car accidents

Yesterday was my first day working with a custom splint on my mallet finger instead of a cast. And it went really well— except for the times I put my splint back on the outside of my hand instead of the inside. And I went to apply fresh tape and the nurse at work wanted to help.

All-in-all, I achieved a new record (for me) in Freestyle, shipping I believe 574 items or 115% of the 500 item goal for a 10-hour shift. And that includes 15 minutes I spent trying to find a work station that was operational. If you subtract that as official “non-production time” it might be damn close to 116%.

Today, a Monday, with the traditional Monday through Friday people at work, I was assigned to a different table in QC, my regular department. It was a table just a smidgeon higher than the table I worked at last week and the line was on the left instead of the right.

This is the first time since my return-to-work in late May that I have worked on the left. In one way, it’s nice because I have been having issues with the stability of my walk and control in my right leg, so working on the left means I can use my left side more.

But working on the left side means I’m shoving all those boxes with my injured hand and after two hours the cuticle area under my nail on my injured finger is tender and really red. Despite this, at one point this morning, I reached 118%.

But then I got a call from The Teenager. She rear-ended someone in her father’s 2022 Kia SUV. The car he bought after he rear-ended someone in late December and totaled his beloved 2016 Nissan Juke.

She’s fine. It was raining and she misjudged how long it would take her to stop in the wet. The car looked driveable, but when she tried it started leaking fluid and overheating. So, she called AAA to tow it.

I left work early. At four hours into my shift, I think I had QCed 69 fixes, and goal for that specific time of day is 65. That’s with going out to my car to get info for my daughter, calling her father, and similar nonsense.

I was listening to an episode of business wars, the podcast, or was it The History Channel’s The Food that Built America and the history of Burger King vs. McDonald’s and the invention of the Chicken McNugget.

Now I distinctly remember the debut of the Chicken McNugget, which, according to the podcast, became available at all McDonalds in 1983.

I was eight. Probably riding around with my mom in her 1979 Camaro (black). We lived in a very rural area in Pennsylvania’s Slate Belt. The closest actual town was Portland, Pa., which I feature in my first novel, Manipulations (and if you are interested you can buy it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble.com, or at Bookshop.org here — the Bookshop price includes shipping and designates a portion of the profit to an independent bookseller of your choice).

Anyway, we had a very small supermarket in Portland so my mom would do most of her family shopping in Stroudsburg, Pa., the gateway to the Pocono Mountains. If she were shopping at Kmart for clothes or household items or at Shoprite for our groceries, we would often stop at Burger King where the delight would be a cheeseburger and some onion rings.

But if we had to go to the Stroud Mall, McDonald’s was across the street. So we want to McDonald’s. I didn’t like McDonald’s — they put onions on their burgers and I don’t like onions. So, eight-year-old me was very excited for these Chicken McNuggets. If my mom was in a good mood, I could order a Chicken McNugget Happy Meal. Which— in the eighties— came with six nuggets in a styrofoam container. And of course, I only liked the barbecue sauce.

So the podcast got me thinking about McDonald’s in general especially since I worked at a McDonald’s (a very busy McDonald’s) from the summer I graduated high school until the August after I graduated college.

We made $5.25/hour in the late 1990s. A full-time employee made $200/week. And we got one meal per shift. I ate a lot of McChicken sandwiches.

I’m thinking about McDonald’s and listening to Conan O’Brian and Andrew Gurza (not together although that would be amazing), when I get the phone call with the teenager in tears.

“Mom, I rear-ended someone in Dad’s new car.”

This was her first car accident. It’s a rainy day here and she misjudged how far she needed to stop. And she didn’t want to slam on her brakes harder and lose control of the car.

At first, she and the police officer who responded thought the car was driveable. It started leaking what looked like antifreeze and overheated. So the officer called AAA.

I told my Stitch Fix supervisors the situation and asked to leave.

The teenager told me she was on a side street “out by Target” “by the library” and I misinterpreted her and went to the wrong town.

The teenager texted me a photo of the nearest intersection and I realized my mistake and turned around.

A very kind officer waited with her and I drove her to the dog walking client she had been driving to when the accident happened.

And then I grabbed us lunch at McDonald’s because their triple cheeseburger is my favorite sandwich on the menu and I couldn’t get it out of my mind.

My thoughts on Stranger Things

I listen to a lot of podcasts at work and one of them is “Why are people watching this?” This weekly podcast takes the top rated show on Netflix for any given week and reviews it among a group of friends.

They recently looked at Season Four of Stranger Things. Now, I first “tried” Stranger Things and couldn’t get into it. But I decided to try again, based on some comments made in that episode.

They reference how well the show captures 1980s nostalgia and comments on the good casting and talent of the young actors.

I am now starting the current season— and I’m curious where it will go because Season Three ended at a perfect point. So I think it will be hard to maintain the arc.

The series plays out like a comic book, often poignant, then funny, then over-the-top. It’s part teen drama, part horror, part sci-fi and in all honesty, the sci-fi/conspiracy horror/monster storylines don’t impress me. And the plot line of a government agency raising children with superpowers still feels like a rip-off of Dark Angel. Personally, the early episodes of Dark Angel captivate me and I love Jessica Alba in her lead role in that series. Just don’t watch the final season, it’s some of the worst television I’ve ever seen.

But anyway, the characters on Stranger Things keep me coming back. They are so interesting. And the essence of the eighties oozes out the pores. Their season three depiction of The Mall scene captured every detail— even the old branding of all the main icons of that era: Burger King, Orange Julius, the Gap.

It’s like the Buffy The Vampire Slayer of sci-fi/dark fantasy.

So I’m curious to see if Season Four will hold up.