A brief summary for anyone new here: I am getting closer to 48-years-old every day. I have spastic diplegia cerebral palsy which is a bunch of fancy words that mean my leg muscles don’t relax, my brain and my lower body don’t communicate well, and my hips, knees and ankles don’t work efficiently or even have a normal constitution.
I walk funny— I have an abnormal gait where my leg scissors and I toe walk. Decades of walking funny can cause wear-and-tear on the body.
But the last six weeks have thrown some new challenges at me: high blood pressure, unusual falls and now atrial fibrillation with rapid ventricular response.
Last night I got a massive splinter deep in my foot, in a place so deep that we couldn’t dig it out without really tearing a hole in my foot. So I asked the Teenager to slap a raisin on it and she did.
This did draw the splinter to the surface more but I haven’t removed it yet. The start of my last raisin-splinter journey happened a little more than a year ago. Read about that here. Especially if you want to hear how my splinter improved my gait and my hip pain and how the raisin and my cockatoo got the splinter out.
I visited Nicole Jensen of Back in Line Chiropractor and Wellness Center today— where she commented how loose everything was and how my body parts were all facing the right directions.
She got me ready for physical therapy where I’d be the youngest person in balance therapy today.
Physical therapy for balance and fall prevention
I have spent a lot of time in physical therapy — about every two years I turn up for few weeks with a physical therapist because even though a lot of it tends to be a repeat and I know what to do, it’s important to have an outside professional evaluate my status so I know I am doing the right thing for the problem.
In this case, we discovered:
The physical therapist approved of some of Nicole’s phrases for things— like “make my feet do feet things.”
My fitness coach Andrew and I are doing all the right things at Apex Training, using my sense of my body and Nicole’s insights on what my innards are doing.
The physical therapist is also impressed at my capacity to manage to take what could be catastrophic falls with relative ease. The Teenager says it’s because I “puddle,” relinquishing myself to the process instead of fighting it and tending up.
My static balance is impressive, but my dynamic balance “throws everything off,” meaning standing still I’m good, but moving or on an unstable surface, the issues can occur.
We will be working on exercises that open the hips and rotate the knees outward. And doing some gait work with a zero-gravity treadmill.
The physical therapist was also impressed with my ability to self-correct my gait, but I don’t know if he picked up on how much focus and energy that requires.
When The Teenager was the Wee One, we had more than one stretch of time when the budget only allowed a meager sum for groceries. Our average grocery bill from 2008 to 2015 was around $250 a month. Now, I think that might get you an 18-count of eggs and a gallon of milk.
I’m shrewd and I shop with excruciating attention to detail when on a budget.
And when I tell you my cupboards are bare, I mean my cupboards are bare. The Teenager had a rough week this week financially and I’m out of work because of my injuries, heart and balance condition… so we may be living off the 1/2 a month’s wages I have in reserve.
But luckily, the cupboards are not bare. And we took my last $30 cash and a handful of change and went to The Dollar Tree to see what we could do to get some groceries that wouldn’t kill me. (I’m trying to control my salt and sugar because of all of my bizarre symptoms.)
Before we left, I calculated that with Dollar Tree’s new $1.25 prices we could get 23 items, as long as they did not include non-grocery items, because here in Pennsylvania, groceries don’t get taxed.
My main strategy was to only buy items that included more than one serving or could spread across more than one meal.
I’ll start with the loaf of bread and work clockwise:
White Bread (I have sprouted sourdough in the fridge, and some sandwich thins and who knows what else in the freezer)
Potato Gnocchi (shelf stable, high in protein, four servings per bag)
Chicken Egg Roll for me; Shrimp for The Teenager (we have homemade vegan egg rolls in the freezer that will go nicely with them)
California Blend Frozen Vegetables. (Picked for its bland diversity. Goes with anything. You could pick out the carrots, broccoli or cauliflower if you really wanted to. We have frozen asparagus and frozen baby brussel sprouts in the freezer)
Cheese ravioli (almost bought the meatballs, but they were high in sodium and only had one serving of meatballs per bag so since processed sauce is salty, I put the meatballs back)
Minute Maid Hibiscus Aqua Fresca (I use it to season my iced tea– my unsweetened home brewed tea. I use about an ounce or two at a time)
Peace Tea Peach Green Tea (“Mom, Can I have a drink?”)
** THE GOLDFISH ARE NOT FROM THE DOLLAR STORE. WE TRADED A COPY OF THURSTON’S BOOK FOR A BAG OF GOLDFISH**
Fish Sticks (Now, fish sticks don’t have much protein or nutritional value so I would recommend combining these with the next item, the mac and cheese bites. They are both boxes with 1.5 servings in, so split in half, it could work as a meal for two together)
Mac and cheese bites
Two small cans of tuna in water
a jar of honey roasted peanuts (for when I have to take my meds with food)
A big bag of long grain rice
Extra Wide egg noodles
organic valley Tomato sauce (it was the lowest in sodium)
Lower Sodium Chicken Broth
a can of black olives (great for texture, flavor or snacking)
Prego canned alfredo sauce
fried cinnamon apples in a can
a block of cream cheese style spread
That leaves $4 to buy some milk.
I haven’t lost my touch.
chicken flavored rice with asparagus and brussels
fish sticks and mac and cheese bites
egg rolls and rice
soup with chicken broth and noodles
ravioli with tomato sauce and olives
peanut butter and jelly
chomeur pudding with apples
gnocchi with alfredo sauce olives and vegetables
tuna casserole, made with chicken broth and cream cheese
I’ve been sipping strong coffee for about 90 minutes now, munching pistachios as I take my morning beta blocker. I have been trying to get my meds to 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. I don’t want to take them at the time I get up for work, because who wants to wake at 4 a.m. on a day off? The hospital gave me them at 9:30… but in the evening I’m usually asleep by then and working on a typical day. 8:30 a.m. is my morning break at work, so that would make sense from a practical point of view, but it would also mean having a snack at 8 p.m. and not getting to sleep until 9 which means the most sleep I will ever get is 7 hours. 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. sound ideal because I usually arrive at work at 6 a.m. and have a small breakfast and 6 p.m. is dinner.
But today I slept until 7.
But when I got downstairs, my legs felt persnickety and my blood pressure was perfect if not a little low– so I went ahead and made the strong coffee. And I took my baclofen for the first time since before I went into the hospital.
One of the generalist’s at the hospital thought the baclofen might be causing some of my issues. Which makes this a test? Maybe?
But this is not a post about my Zio heart monitor or my scabs slowly crumbling down my face, though those things are fun. My gash is healing rapidly and well. I wanted to talk a bit about my weekend and what’s up with the publishing company.
Many of these thoughts will be further explored as part of the Parisian Phoenix blog and Substack newsletter. We’ve migrated from Mailchimp to Substack for better visibility and the prospect of building more paid resources and services for writers and readers. If you didn’t read this week’s recent release, check it out here.
Friday night, a journalist friend and her partner came to visit. I had planned to go visit her, but this close to my hospitalization I wasn’t sure driving on the highway by myself for an hour was a good idea. They have also been involved with cat rescue, so she’s offered some support on realigning the cat book. I’m helping her (I hope) with some of her goals and we’re both trying to help people find ways to publish their books.
My unsolicited submissions pile is growing rapidly.
Meanwhile, the dog is keeping an eye on me.
In the afternoon yesterday, I visited my “office” at Panera where our photographer Joan touched base with me regarding her activities at the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group conference this coming weekend. She’s not fooling me– I know my friends are doing wellness checks.
But I had the most amazing meeting with the duo behind Echo City Capers, and we have a handshake agreement to launch some projects together which will allow Parisian Phoenix Publishing to kickstart Parisian Phoenix Kittens with a second edition of an Echo City Capers Jr. book, a children’s book from Darrell Parry (and maybe someday a puzzle book/older kid story– hint hint Darrell) and perhaps event a story in the vein of Eric Carle from Larry Sceurman.
It’s thrilling to watch a simple “let’s introduce ourselves” coffee meeting can explode into ideas and mutual support.
That little meeting went two hours and when they saw our physical books, they were pleased. They immediately saw the love and attention we give to our titles at Parisian Phoenix, and without even meeting Gayle yet, I think they “know” and trust her.
I ended my afternoon romp with a visit to Larry, to deliver some publicity materials and give him and his wife, Barbara, a copy of Thurston’s book.
When I left, I felt like my blood sugar was dropping. I found a cherry Pop Tart that the Teenager had left in my car more than a year ago and came home and made a lovely lamb dinner. (The teenager saw lamb and potatoes in the skillet and immediately claimed the leftovers.) My blood pressure was high, but it was also time to take my beta blocker.
Finally, I slithered to my bed– exhausted, when I didn’t even do much– in great anticipation to finish Katherine Ramsland’s I Scream Man and Echo City Capers YA Graphic Novel printed in Canada, Who Turned the Lights Out?
I was so tickled and delighted to read the wit, the humor and the “smarts” in this little volume, which the type is uniquely done and the paper quality gorgeous. It made me very sad to put the book down to sleep.
Are you sick of hearing about these nuisance trials and tribulations? I am a tad tired of living them, but sometimes health problems force us to pause, reflect, organize and refocus. That’s how I prefer to look at it, and since I can’t change the circumstance, what I can do is use every moment to my advantage.
Somewhere in Thursday afternoon, I realized that I would not be at work on Friday for the release of Thurston Gill’s book, The Phulasso Devotional. I had scheduled a Facebook event for the launch and planned on recording him opening the box of books at 6 a.m. and then posting it as part of the event.
But now, I was home sick, and my employer most certainly does not want me on site while I am even more of a fall risk than I normally am. I opened the box of books at home on Facebook live and while I was recording, my Zio heart monitor arrived. (if you want to see that, click here.)
The day prior, the company had contacted me that they were having problems with my insurance company, which turned out to be because they spelled my name wrong (memories of Valentine’s Day in Mrs. Sanders’ second grade class serviced, my earliest memories of “Angel” becoming “Angle”) and they were missing a digit from my member number for my insurance company.
The Teenager assisted me in applying said device, after shaving my chest, sandpapering it, and then wiping it down with alcohol. She’s nervous it’s not quite straight and left enough, and the device itself doesn’t give you much indication how or if it is working so I guess we wait and see. I figure if the placement had to be exact, they wouldn’t let you do it at home. I would assume that most medical professionals think most people are idiots who don’t follow directions. Because really– aren’t most people idiots who don’t follow directions?
Now, my friend who had the heart attack on February 15 had a heart monitor. Not this one, but similar of course. She had a thing she had to carry with her. All I have is what is on my chest. I remember my friend saying that she didn’t know if she should hit the button or not. Because the idea is, if you feel a symptom you hit the button and log the symptom in the provided booklet or in the app. But when symptoms are things like “heart racing” or “anxiety,” it’s hard to quantify that.
Compared to how I feel right this second, my heart was racing all day yesterday. But I also know my blood pressure when I got up today was 97/56. Once I got moving, it increased to 101/67. After strong coffee, black licorice, cantaloupe, a big glass of water and my beta blocker, it ended up 110/66.
In other news, my stitches have rotated a bit and don’t poke me in the lip anymore and I think the swelling has gone down. That makes life more comfortable. I’m not doing enough hand rehab, but I’ve been using and bending the fingers in ways that mimic the exercises without sitting down and making a formal effort to do them.
I return to the gym Monday, to do what I would refer to ask a gentle workout, to get back in the swing of things and see how it goes. By Wednesday I hope to do closer to a real workout, because the heart monitor has to get a good replication of my life.
Luckily, if such a thing can be lucky, one fall happened before the gym and the later one occurred after. Based on that, it looks like exertion in the gym has nothing to do with it. Unless of course, it turns out that exertion at work is equivalent to exertion at the gym, which we won’t know unless I manage to stand at a table and fold clothes for eight hours. Who has that many clothes?
I do have to clean my closet and weed out old clothes, but I don’t want to fold all my clothes.
I followed up with one of the residents at my primary care physician’s office today for my “post hospital follow-up.”
It was a pretty big outing, especially since my blood pressure has been hovering around 105/70 for most of the day, I feel weak, occasionally my heart races, my ears are ringing and my pinky keeps going numb. The Teenager would not be around to escort me to the doctor, so I did some morning chores, organized my Parisian Phoenix Publishing email box, and then read for a bit on the couch.
I had plans today to visit Book and Puppet Company in downtown Easton after the doctor, but my partner-in-crime had to schedule a doctor appointment himself.
So, instead, I asked Southern Candy if she’d like to accompany me to the Dunkin’ Donuts on Schoenersville Road because they have the widest selection of Munchkins, and we met up with Sassy, which made me happy because tomorrow is Sassy’s last day is tomorrow and I won’t get to see her as I am out on leave.
The doctor appointment didn’t leave me with many answers, but the resident was competent enough and my paperwork for short-term disability should be in the right hands. Speaking of my accident, the bruises have all come out now. The nasty one on my back is not one I can photograph myself. But I have some on both legs, my back, my elbow and my face.
As anticipated, the munchkins had cinnamon, jelly, chocolate, blueberry and glazed.
Mr. Accordion adored the jelly munchkins and now I’ve taken to them as they remind me of the good times with my roomie at the toxic non-profit with the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde CEO. That was an amazing job. I learned so much and could have done so much if the CEO could have performed as a sane manager should.
I got a text message from the home heart monitor people, apparently they had my name spelled wrong and they were missing a digit from my ID number for my health insurance.
Thurston’s book arrived and I’m hosting a Facebook live in the morning to unveil them.
And to make a completely ordinary day sound even plainer, we had vegan spinach ravioli for dinner with a spicy superfood tomato sauce from Hungryroot. It hit the spot.
TRIGGER WARNING: This blog posts contains descriptions of a fall and medical treatment.
Listen, this one is going to be long. I spent almost a day in the hospital under observation on the general med-surg floor without my laptop or my phone charger. And the special type of not knowing in the hospital means you can’t trust them when they say you’re going home until they pull the IV out of your arm.
I’m going to use subheadings and break it up with photos. Gayle says I need to start writing a television sit-com. I would– but I’m not a screenwriter. Maybe I’ll change this into a play at some point.
The Unexpected End to the Evening of 3/13/23 (the fall)
It had been a busy day– maybe too busy: work, hand occupational therapy, a killer chest workout at the gym– but it was a good balance day. I could stand on one foot, I felt myself, and I was jovial. The only weird thing was on the 13th rep of every set of barbell bench presses, my right pinky would tingle. I even mentioned it to Andrew, and in the back of my mind, I was concerned because when my blood pressure spiked in early February, my right hand tingled.
I got home, had a lovely dinner with my daughter that included a massive bowl of brussel sprouts (which are one of my favorite things in the whole wide world) and made a cup of valerian tea to take to my room because I felt a little hyped up and it was almost bedtime.
I had the tea cup in my left hand, and my buddy straps for my sprained pinky on my right, and I was probably using the banister with my right hand. Three-quarters of the way up the steps, probably where the banister ends, I felt myself falling backwards. Just like a tree swaying in a storm (which considering the weather we’ve had recently sounds like the right metaphor). My normal falls start from my lower body. This did not.
I made a sound and started dropping f-bombs as I cascaded, according to the Teenager, sideways then straight out and dropped at a ninety degree angle onto the air conditioner. The Teenager ran to me. The air conditioner knocked the wind out of me, seriously knocked the wind out of me and now judging the bruise on my back it might have been a kidney punch from the stairs. I slowly rose and sat on the bottom step.
As I did so, I saw a frightening look on The Teenager’s face.
“I’m fine,” I assured her.
“No, Mom,” she said. “You’re not.”
Later she explained to me that blood was “pouring from my mouth” and she worried that I knocked teeth out. Honestly, from the pain in that moment, I feared I had broken my jaw (in part because in my chin-meets-sidewalk accident of spring 2010, the ER staff and the dentist marveled that I had taken enough impact to spit out teeth but had not broken my jaw).
The metal frame that holds the air conditioner in the window had sliced open my face under my lip. The tea cup had ended up between my breasts and smashed into pieces. I looked at my hands. They were covered in blood. And the floor. And the wall.
My pajamas were wet. And most of me had driblets of blood here and there. The Teenager got me a rag and a bag of frozen peas and we sat on the stairs for a minute and tried to stop the bleeding. The lightheadedness, feverishness and sweating started. I handed The Teenager my phone and told her to call Sassy, because she witnessed the last fall and this felt identical. I also checked my blood pressure: 106/81.
Sassy answered despite being at a restaurant with her family. It passed and I promised to keep an eye on myself and call my doctor in the morning. But when I looked in the mirror, I knew what my daughter described as a cut was a gash and it needed stitches.
I peeled off my pajama top. Blood streamed across my chest, perhaps from the tiny pricks made by the broken ceramic but more than likely from my face. I left on my fuzzy Cat-in-the-Hat pajama pants, threw on a tiny yoga tank and a Stitch Fix t-shirt and zipper hoodie and headed out the door in dirty slip-on sneakers and no socks.
In the Emergency Room: When the doctor listens and the patient acts responsibly
My daughter took my car and drives me to the hospital literally 600 steps away. She didn’t trust me to walk. It’s literally half way between our house and her high school, but she doesn’t know how to drive there so we wiggled around the neighborhood. We wandered in, registered, and were taken right back. 8:20 p.m.
The Teenager did have time to buy refreshments from the vending machine.
Once we got into our room, we saw nurses and a doctor very quickly. Our Emergency Room physician was amazing. I explained what happened, including my description of how my falls have not been normal, and he gave me three options.
He could stitch me up and send me home and I could be home by 9 p.m.
He could order bloodwork, fluids and an EKG, but then I would be there an hour or two.
He could go all out and order CT scans and all the things, but then I’d be there for hours.
I chose option 2. I already felt something was off, and I thought bloodwork would give us a starting point without going crazy like some sort of hypochondriac. (Speaking of hypochondriac, my current favorite podcast is Hypochondriactor with Sean Hayes and Dr. Prianka Wally.)
They even allowed me to throw out my rag and get a big old pack of gauze.
The nurse hooked me up to an IV of fluids just in case the incident was amplified by dehydration. Here is the first mistake we made, not putting on the hospital gown until after my IV was installed. So when they came in for my first EKG, I had to shimmy my shirt and tank down the IV line to the bed.
The poor technician with the EKG machine had a terrible time getting it to work and she was so close to the end of her shift and tired. The Teenager had her intrigued that she had found a half-iced tea, half-lemonade Monster in the vending machine. The technician ended up getting a second EKG machine and the doctor came in to do the stitches but decided to come back later.
That’s about when The Teenager almost sent Sobaka’s mom a text that I was in hospice, thanks to auto-correct.
And the blood pressure and heart rate go crazy
You know that look you never want to see? The one where the doctor almost gets an “oh shit” expression? Now remember– I came to the hospital for stitches. And I’ve been monitoring my blood pressure for six weeks. And maybe it had been a day or two since I checked it, because we went to Waffle House, had margaritas and ordered Dominos in the same weekend.
I was informed that my blood pressure was high and they were going to administer a beta blocker through my IV line. After it kicked in, I looked at the monitor and it said 150-something over 90-something. I’m glad they had it turned away from me before giving me the medicine.
The second EKG revealed I was in atrial fibrillation. And as my blood work started rolling in, it should my white blood count and TSH was high.
Meanwhile, I am texting my travel companion M, because he’s a medical technologist by trade and loves numbers.
They also asked when my last tetanus shot was, to which I responded, “two weeks ago.”
When the doctor came in to do my stitches, I asked if he could unhook me from the IV so I could use the restroom first. Because I don’t know about you, but I find it horribly difficult to handle pain when I need to pee.
The doctor finally had his chance to shoot up my face with lidocaine (that second shot was a bitch) and sew up my lip. We irrigated the wound by me holding a basin under my face and him pouring the solution over my face so I ended up with quite a bit of liquid and a little bit of blood on my gown and down my chest.
I got three stitches, and he did a nice job. Not that I have a whole lot of experience. I’ve only had stitches once before.
And then I got a third EKG from a new technician also about to end his shift.
That’s when the doctor said I was still in A-fib and he’d like to admit me for observation. If that was okay with me. And if the hospital administration would allow it. Which probably means if the insurance company would allow it.
At 11 p.m., I was wheeled into some narrow elevators and transferred to room 353, which had to have made M happy. All prime numbers. I was admitted to the med-surg floor and I think I might have been the youngest person in the hospital. As we rolled along, I noticed they have a whole lounge of the chair I love that the dog ate!
The nurse had some situation going on so it took us until 1:30 a.m. to finish my admission survey. I had fun with some of the questions: “Are you safe at home? Do you face any physical or verbal abuse?”
“Only from my cockatoo,” I replied.
They had to take photos of my bruises, too, and take my cardiac enzymes, blood work and vitals every few hours. And the floor seemed to be crazy until 2 a.m.– and remember, I had gotten up for work at 4 a.m. I managed to take two naps each about 45 minutes.
I thought I had turned off my work alarm, but I had not, so it went off at 4 a.m. and then the nurse started her rounds at 4:45 and my work friends started texting at 5. So I was up for the day, with no phone charger and a book by Katherine Ramsland as my entertainment. I read 150 pages.
I was delivered the most boring, high carbohydrate breakfast I have ever seen.
And the staff kept offering to bring me water, and when I said yes, they would disappear forever.
I met with the cardiologist, the occupational therapist, the physical therapist, and the hospitalist (who needs a caretaker for her beagle when she visits India for a month this summer).
By morning I was allowed to move independently, which meant I could use the bathroom without someone watching me walk. The staff quickly learned that although I have cerebral palsy, I am adequately mobile.
The cardiologist explained that we would start a beta blocker, as that is the easiest form of management, and based on the echocardiogram and the information from the heart monitor I will be soon wearing, we can determine if different or more aggressive treatment is needed.
Often, A-fib raises risk of stroke so patients often take blood thinners. My cardiologist and I agree that will my tendency to fall, those medications would do more harm than good.
Echocardiogram and therapists
The echocardiogram was fascinating. To see an ultrasound of my heart in motion was truly an amazing reminder of what a complex and marvelous machine the human body is. My mitral valve regurgitation did show up on the test, but even with that my heart function was normal. That was great to hear, because lord only knows I didn’t want to hear that the mitral valve was failing and confusing the rest of my heart. I have never had medical surgery and would like to keep it that way.
The occupational therapist I met asked me what my everyday challenges were. I answered that my biggest challenge was dealing with my socks and shoes. She showed me an extended shoe horn and a sock aid. The sock aid is basically a big piece of plastic pipe with a jump rope attached to it. You put the sock on the end of the pipe, stick your foot it and pull the tube away from the sock with the rope.
I think you probably kill the life span of your socks by stretching them out, but if it means you can put them on, that’s cool to know.
And the physical therapist okayed my gait and my walking, especially knowing that I was already scheduled to start fall prevention therapy on Monday.
I was able to order my own lunch, but even though I ordered the entree salad, I got something much blander. But compared to breakfast it was delicious.
The Teenager came around one, because the hospitalist said I would soon be discharged. The hospitalist had declared the fall was mechanical, even despite my protests it was not. She told me to follow up on that with my neurologist. And I plan to. The poor neurologist has been getting so many portal-based text messages from me.
The head nurse came in and gave me a gift blanket— that would have been nice to have the night before.
The nurse removed my IV and 2:30 and we left the hospital about 3:30. I filed my short term disability claim, made an appointment with my primary care physician and took my first set of meds. The Teenager made dinner and I was in bed, asleep by 5:30.
My bruises hurt. My lips are dry and sore but finally the cuts are healing enough that food doesn’t burn them.
I have proposed to my employer, and plan to bring paperwork to my doctor tomorrow, to leave me out of work for at least three weeks. I have six weeks of leave left. The three weeks would give me time to see if the medicine is working, finish hand rehab, participate in fall prevention, wear the heart monitor and take ALL that information to my neurologist.
Because no one wants me having another episode at the warehouse.
The cardiologist assures me that I can’t blame this on Waffle House, margaritas and Dominos, but how can we know that when the last fall down the stairs happened after Little Caesars, Taco Bell and Diet Coke. Coincidence? Do my overbooked days add to the triggers? The risk factors for A-fib include anxiety, being overweight, alcohol and caffeine. That’s my life in a nutshell.
I’m going to see Nicole today, not sure I need a chiropractor right now, but I had the appointment already and I like the idea of her checking my post-fall body.
I was rather indifferent to the prospect of last night being Sunday and today launching another week of folding clothes.
We kidnapped the neighbor’s dog yesterday– they are away on vacation and the dog sitter hadn’t yet fully transitioned into the role of caretaker and the dog thought he had been abandoned forever. His family is usually with him 24/7 and he didn’t understand the change in household routine. As our house is attached to his, he followed us from room to room barking. So, we texted his family, and the Teenager left a note for the dog sitter and kidnapped the dog. He started barking at 8 a.m., we kidnapped him around 10:30, and his pet sitter returned around 1 p.m. He had been in to check on him at 6 a.m., so the doggy panic was an exaggeration.
I finished proofreading Rachel Thompson’s new fiction anthology and went to bed after the time change to start a new work week and occupational therapy at The Institute for Hand and Upper Extremity Rehabilitation. So I guess I might be considered excited.
My process lead at work informed me that today was my last day in “focus” (or performance-related probation). All I needed was to hit 100% and I would be considered fully performing again. I’m still a little miffed that I was placed in such a situation to start with, as the reason I fell into this category was a lack of adherence to my accommodations.
And hitting numbers today was a challenge. In addition to my sprained finger, the mysterious issue in my hip, quad and glute that may be am injury from my fall or the item that caused my fall, the rain making other injuries hurt, my lack of medication because CVS has been out of my muscle relaxers for two weeks, I also had to advocate for myself because new support people rotated into our department and one of them didn’t know about my limitations.
Luckily, we had an awesome time at lunch because Sassy had made us chicken, rice and potato salad. If you saw my pictures from over the weekend (click here), these look very similar.
I left work at 2:15 to make the 24 minute drive to the hand rehab office for my 3 p.m. appointment. Traffic made it so I arrived at 2:50. They have a new receptionist– which explains why she couldn’t find my records, why she didn’t call me back like she said she would, and why she never sent me the link for my initial paperwork.
The therapist remembered me from my mallet finger, and informed me that the joint in the middle of the pinky finger is the most unforgiving joints on the hand when it comes to recovering from an injury. Likely, I have been taking care of mine and while it is swollen and my range of motion is limited, with heat and massage, it did respond to gentle manipulation. I had five exercises I needed to do for my mallet finger.
I have those five, and an additional five, to do 3-5 times per day (depending on the exercise), with massage.
The traffic on the highway was miserable, so I detoured for a decaf iced coffee and a tiny order of munchkins as my pre-workout. And much to my surprise, this Dunkin, the one I used to frequent when I was managing editor of The Lehigh Valley News Group, had cinnamon sugar munchkins. Had I known that… Those are my favorite and I have not had them in years.
I had a kickass upper body workout that worked a lot of my balance, and it was a good balance day, and for dinner The Teenager let me have most of the Brussel sprouts. A good day indeed.
And by my count, I did hit 100% today at work. We shall see tomorrow.
These are some of the people I spend my days with at my day job. I know their struggles. I see their growth. I feel their stagnancy when they experience it. And they share mine.
Our dear colleague Sassy has procured a new job– one in her field where she will help so many people, just like when she scraped me off the sidewalk earlier this month and stood by another work-friend’s side when she had a very severe heart attack. It’s no surprise that she’s returning to the medical profession where she can use her eagle eye, her sassy but loving mouth, and her wisdom to change people’s lives for the better.
As she changed ours.
These photos look a lot like our lunch table at work. The atmosphere was jovial and a little obnoxious, a lot like our lunch table at work.
We talk a lot about getting together outside of work for bowling or pizza or axe throwing or roller skating. But life happens and everyone has something going on so we don’t force the issue. But Sassy is leaving, and we talk a lot about tequila so this time the plans solidified.
And they involved tequila, in fancy margaritas– my first was cucumber– and Mexican food at a place that used to be a Pizza Hut decades ago (and I remember it as such) called My Tequila House. The food was amazing. The drink menu diverse. And next time, when I have more of a budget, we’re getting the duck carnitas tacos.
What amazes me about the event was how easily the conversation flowed, how different we all are as people but how we’ve all come together. We all worked together on second shift, “Midnight Society,” and moved together to the 4-day 10-hour shift “Sunday Cohort,” and now been relegated to Monday to Friday standard shift with those I lovingly refer to as “the day shift bitches.” These changes all happened with sixteen months or so, so at this point we’re all practically trauma-bonded, moving together through a world that keeps changing: new measurements, new overlords, soon new snacks. You get the idea.
The youngest among us is barely legal drinking age, the older close to retirement. There’s Southern Candy, Sassy, My Faithful Reader, and some others who I might mention from time to time but who haven’t earned full pseudonyms… like the leader who’s also a very talented photographer, the young woman who encourages everyone while she herself has not only had to rebuild her own life but care for parents with serious health issues, the woman who has a sporty, young nephew and an adorable dog, and the supervisor who returned to work too early after surgery out of stubbornness and now advocates for everyone else’s recovery.
Sassy made us small gifts, gifts she made carefully with her own hands, delicate and beautiful. And meaningful. There’s a magic that occurs when people congregate, even more magic when they quietly support one another, and even more magic when something happens and they come together.
Part of that stems from corporate culture at our employer, more comes from the attitude we had on second shift. We learned to work as a team in an environment that focused on individual metrics in very simple, specific jobs. We had a chance to be different.
And even though our backgrounds range from various fields– restaurants, personal banking, medical, communications for me– that diversity strengthens our bond because we know who on the team will support us in what area when we need it. There’s a trust and a sense of integrity.
And as much as we love Sassy, I think we were celebrating our legacy as a team.
So, I left work for an early lunch yesterday to go visit my primary care provider. I had an appointment with one of his residents for paperwork for an update of my intermittent FMLA leave. She gave me a once over and went to bring my paperwork to my doctor, at which point he came in and gave me a little fist bump and a sad, concerned look.
“What happened?” he asked.
Concerned that I had fallen again, but also impressed that I had spiraled down 7 concrete steps with no other injuries other than a sprained pinky and some horrible bruises, he referred me to physical therapy for fall prevention. I’ll probably be the youngest person in there.
I start hand rehab on Monday at The Institute for Hand and Upper Extremity Rehabilitation, the same occupational therapy practice that handled my mallet finger last year.
I made an appointment for a consultation with the physical therapist on March 20.
But yesterday my tailbone area started hurting again and today my knee hurt and my right quad was burning. The leg felt stiff and off and it felt reminiscent of the early days of pain I had in February. And I was worried that whatever caused my recent fall– because I still don’t have any clues as to the specifics of why it happened– might be starting again.
So I left work early to go to see my beloved Nicole Jensen of Back in Line Chiropractic and Wellness Center. She said I wasn’t crooked, I wasn’t that tight or spastic, and that it sounded like my issues could just be nerve and muscle tissue still recovering from the fall. She actually said I felt better than usual, that even my feet were facing the right direction.
That was a relief. But I wanted to have her insight to get the neurologist, my primary care physician and the physical therapist coordinated. Because every clue we have is a step in the right direction.
And I have to wonder… Does my body feel painful, awkward and hard to control because it’s moving more correctly and healing and I’m not used to that?
A while ago, The Teenager and I decided we wanted to try a Dairy Queen banana split. That we’d share one. And we decided tonight was the night.
We ordered one using the app, and when we arrived we were faced with two new ice cream options: the churro dipped cone and the end of the rainbow shake.
The banana split was delicious. Their strawberry topping was our favorite and it looked like they put two whole bananas in there.
But then The Teenager wanted to try the Rainbow Shake because it looked like it had the crunchies she loved from the cotton candy Blizzard.
So, she went into the Dairy Queen and ordered one. And the churro-dipped cone.
The shake was strawberry flavored and those crunchies tasted like sugary breakfast cereal.
Meanwhile, the ice cream cone tasted like the bastard child of Dairy Queen and Taco Bell, like someone had taken those cinnamon cream cheese balls they have right now and stuffed them with ice cream instead of whatever that cheesy stuff actually is.