Another day, another fall

Tomorrow I visit my hand specialist for my one month check up. Tuesday I see my family doctor/primary care physician about going back to work.

The increased sessions at Apex Training have shown me how weak my core has gotten as I struggle with issues in my S1 joint, lower back (retrolisthesis) and hips (femoral anteversion). But the uptick in training has helped me with balance, range of motion, and eliminating hip pain.

But I’ve also learned motion is crucial, as being active, on my feet and doing things is the only way to prevent intense stiffness.

And then after a great workout with Andrew at Apex, I fell on the way home. It’s the second time in a week I just randomly fell. Did I trip over my own two feet? Maybe. Did I just lose my balance? Maybe.

But these are the types of incidents I worry about, especially when I have a cast on my finger and work in a warehouse.

I fell a block away from home. I managed to throw myself into the grass instead of the sidewalk. That saved me scrapes and bruises. But I fell on my face and bent my glasses.

Luckily, the teenager could bend them back.

This time, the disability leave from work, is about gaining strength, learning more about my body and giving myself time to heal. But it (more of it than I expected) also is teaching me about the balance between fighting and surrendering.

Adventures in Fine Art: Writers and Painters in Collaboration

Friends—

If you can consider the studio tour tomorrow, do it. I even had the additional pleasure of running into a third member of my high school graduating class. Heather and I went to school together.

It’s powerful when artists of different mediums stick together.

Today is the first day of the Chester County Studio Tour which celebrates 165 different artists in 68 studios. Gayle Hendricks, Parisian Phoenix art …

Adventures in Fine Art: Writers and Painters in Collaboration

The quasi-whim of Friday the 13th tattoos

I think it was Wednesday when I started seeing tattoo specials for Friday the 13th. One post on Facebook had intriguing flash— so I looked up the location. It was half a block from my gym and three blocks from my house.

I have wanted a Friday the 13th tattoo for quite some time. And I promised the teenager custom mother-daughter tattoos for her 16th birthday but between the pandemic and her age, it didn’t happen.

So I asked if they would tattoo my girl who turns 18 next month.

And the answer was yes.

I asked her— she was interested.

This is not a replacement for our custom mother-daughter tattoo, but it was my third and the teenager’s first tattoo.

She wanted the potion bottle that says “try me” and I couldn’t decide if I wanted to honor my own strength during my recent trials— and get the sword on my upper hip—or get the Zippo lighter in honor of my dad.

My dad died five months ago this coming Sunday and he smoked for almost sixty years. My husband and I toured the Zippo factory.

How better to celebrate and remember my own strength than to have a tattoo honoring my father?

And I inadvertently put it near where my name and birthday were on his arm. At least I think.

I also took three foster cats to the vet and lived to tell the tale. On Friday the 13th, I got a tattoo close to the anniversary of my father’s death by an artist nicknamed “Psycho Mike.”

It was a fabulous session and two fabulous tattoos at The Tattoo Factory in Easton, Pa.

Health update Thursday?

This post may not be the most exciting as I sit here stinky after a small home workout— smelling the petroleum heavy heat of asphalt. But it is a hopeful post. My roses sit heavy with blooms, and the first flowers have opened behind the bush.

Such a metaphor for life. The whole “bloom where you are planted” concept.

I have been working hard— like I want to stop, I want to vomit, my muscles burn. Andrew at Apex Training has been amazing, helping me stretch and challenge spastic muscles in my lower body.

I have had two days now with no hip or back pain, and I can drop into bed and lie anyway I want.

My weight has been up and down thank to Taco Bell and Mothers’ Day cake and ice cream and generic Takis.

But I went for my check-up bloodwork yesterday, and the phlebotomist told me my insurance doesn’t cover vitamin D unless my doctor codes it a deficiency. We skipped that, but my ferritin has risen from 28, just barely in the normal range, to 36. Still far from the middle of normal but rising.

That might be my theme for right now— rising.

And my bad cholesterol, which should be under 100, has fallen from 109 to 107. Again, not a huge leap, but progress. Progress made during a difficult, difficult time of my life.

My pill dispenser has made it easier to take all my vitamins and allergy meds. And I started the process of putting myself back on a low dose of Lexapro,

Maybe it will help.

My personal cat, Fog, decided to love me today. And I wrote a poem about buying my new socks from the Dollar Tree.

The teenager has been nursing an ear infection all week so between that and the roses bloominfection, spring has really sprung.

She returned to school today.

Today I made a leftover sandwich— some old smoked Turkey, slightly wilted lettuce and my coleslaw mix stirred into chipotle mayonnaise.

I spent the morning with my blind friend, Nan, and took her for her bloodwork.

Came home and the dog came out just in time to see that the paving crew had Taco Bell for lunch.

My trainer asked to reschedule my session today, so I told him I would do something at home.

This was my half-assed work out. My trainer asked me to select exercises and do them with intent, and instead I fought with the dog, picked some exercises I thought would move the important parts and retain the ground I made versus improve. Here is a video.

I also received a payment from my short-term disability insurance through work, and I’m grateful as this is giving me time to strengthen myself and recovery from my mallet finger. Hopefully, this will prevent further “domino effect” on my health. I see the neuro-physiatrist at the end of the month.

I’m curious what she will have to say, and I’m thinking this may be the end of my quest for answers about my cerebral palsy.

Zigzag: Random thoughts about exercise, food and friends

Yesterday before the teenager and I took our impromptu trip to Hershey to visit with Curly, I had the good fortune to have a coffee date with a neighbor who has proven herself time and time again as a reliable friend.

We met while pregnant, due dates a week apart, homes a few blocks apart, and with jobs in the same town in the next state. Even though we lived less than a block apart for most of the teenager’s life (and the fact that her son and my daughter have first names that are one letter apart and family names that are very similar and fall alphabetically beside each other), she and I have not kept in touch the greatest— but somehow— when I need her, she seems to be there.

She even worked for me for about six months when I needed a staff member that could act without much hand-holding and understood my working style. The partnership renewed our connection— and the employer recently asked her to return to the organization and she politely declined.

We had the chance to discuss these things over “coffee” at the diner where the teen used to waitress. But the day was rainy and we both wanted soup instead of coffee, so we had our mom therapy session over bowls of pepper pot.

We talked about the teenagers’ post-high school plans, the value and frustration of college, our health, medical insurance in America, and how hard it must be to be a teen in today’s world.

I mention this as a reminder of how sometimes, sharing a moment can bring laughter and release.

Our latest Hungryroot box came, and I realized for the first times in all these months of Hungryroot that the reusable nitrogen ice packs are plant food. Now I can’t wait to pour that on our compost heap.

Speaking of food subscription services, my breakfast today was Cabot cottage cheese from Grocery Outlet and a sprouted multigrain everything bagel and garlic herb probiotic cream cheese from Hungryroot.

My lunch was leftover cauliflower linguine and one meatball from Hungryroot, basil tomato sauce from ShopRite and a pile of plain lentils I made.

Turns out lentils are a great way to add plant protein to spaghetti.

And finally, my session at Apex Training today was not easy— but I did it. We did a lot of sweat-inducing balance exercises. I have been having issues with stiffness since I left work and my walk has been unstable. This morning my right leg felt off. So I told Andrew and together we thought it might be super tight. Well, by the time I left, my right leg and back were screaming.

But after a shower and an NSAID to make sure nothing is inflamed, at least I don’t feel like a pile of grinding gears needing oil.

Road trip to Harrisburg rerouted to Hershey

The plan: the teenager and I would head out after school today and meet my college roommate Curly for a belated Beltane dinner at a brewery in Harrisburg— approximately half way between our home and hers.

But in the pouring down rain, the accidents started to pile up (pun intended) and Curly would arrive at the Mill Works 30 minutes or more before we would.

And that would have us arriving in Harrisburg and at the brewery for Happy Hour.

So I suggested a mid-travel switch from Harrisburg to Hershey. And since we needed to agree on a coordinate before driving too much farther, I suggested Fuddruckers as we used to take the teenager there on road trips in her younger days and for some reason, she adores it.

We lingered there as long as we could trying to find something to do in the evening and in the rain. I found a couple cafes and a family amusement center with go-karts but it seemed something called the cocoabeanery was nearby so we headed there.

Which turned out to be Hershey Lodge.

And when I texted Sobaka’s mom that we ended up at Hershey Lodge, where she often stays for the state school board conference she asked if we could pick up her lotion. And sent us a photo.

We did some chatting over beverages in the lobby. I had a lavender latte. The cocoabeanery turned out to be the hotel’s breakfast room in the off hours. We got to watch many teens at their prom.

Curly and the teenager did some energy work, and invited me to join, but my vibrations freaked out the teen.

And now… the drive home.

The ordinary adventures

So, if you’re a friend of mine or a regular here, you know that I have asked my employer, Stitch Fix, for a short-term disability/ FMLA leave to deal with my ruptured tendon (mallet or baseball finger) and its impact on my right hip.

This means I’ve made a commitment to work with my family doctor, my chiropractor (Nicole Jensen at Back in Line Chiropractic and Wellness Center) and Andrew, my personal trainer at Apex Training.

And to keep my hands warm and not use my finger.

Yesterday, I saw Nicole and we discussed the state of my body and the trade-off I seem to be making— working in the Bizzy Hizzy warehouse keeps me active but causes pain, but not being in a physical job makes me stiff and makes it difficult to move, even when I take the same amount of steps I do at work.

Andrew and I are working on strength, mobility, stability and range of motion.

I had lunch with my mother yesterday, who upon her return home had her dog pass away.

In the afternoon, I spoke with my disability claims examiner and gathered paperwork for her. My eligibility confirmation came through this morning, and I think the actual leave is just a matter of paperwork now.

But paperwork sure is sucking the life out of me right now.

So this morning when the weather looked sunny and conducive to a perfect spring day, Nan and I decided to surprise the teenager and retrieve her hearing aids from the ear doctor. Then, we could grab some cold beverages and visit Bethlehem’s Monocacy Park.

The park is quiet, easy to navigate and has a creek. The birds, geese and fishermen would offer entertainment for Nan, as between the water and the animals there would be nature to hear as well as see.

It was a fantastic way to bring some stress-free moments into running errands.

After a modified upper body workout with Andrew, Joan stopped by and brought me an early birthday gift from the residents of Plastiqueville.

A hat!!!!

The hat was not for me but for my mallet finger.

And for dinner, the teenager made Hungryroot meatballs and cauliflower linguine. We used ShopRite tomato and basil pasta sauce. It turned out so lovely I had to make a slice of butter bread to sop up the sauce.

Small pleasures.

Do as I say not as I do, or fun with medical billing practices

I don’t think anyone will disagree with me when I say that medical insurance and medical billing in the United States makes no sense. It’s unfair to patients, unfair to doctors and makes the lives of medical office staff ridiculously complicated.

Let me just give a disclaimer that anything I say in this post is not a reflection of the skill of my physicians or the caliber of my care as both have been excellent.

But basing medical care on the decisions of private insurance companies attached to employment is reminiscent of the “company town” days when employees lived & worked in the same place and businesses profited on and controlled the life experience of their employees. Check out the old coal mines. I am from Pennsylvania after all.

I have spent much of the last year bouncing from specialist to specialist trying to learn how my body works as a 40-something with cerebral palsy and now, almost three weeks ago, I ruptured a tendon taking off my socks.

Last night, when I was already slipping into a fragile emotional state feeling lonely and physically broken (hey, it happens. We’re all human and have moments. Mine happen after dark while binge-watching medical dramas.), the teenager brought me the mail.

It was 9 p.m., I was curled in bed with an episode of The Good Doctor cuddling Louise, the tripod foster cat who deserves a permanent home because she’s such a doll.

I open my EOBs from my insurance company. Now, I know my recent misadventures will be expensive. I also know my therapist has recently sent me a $600 bill and apologized but said he can’t deal with my insurer anymore. But that’s another story and after almost 15 years with the same mental health professional… I will take care of it.

But this particular EOB charged me $200+ to see a specialist (fair) and a $2,000+ fee for surgery. Surgery? I walked into the office, an assistant removed my splint, he looked at me, he looked at the imaging done by Patient First, told me to get a cast and go back to work, and told me to make a follow-up for May 18 and left.

The assistant helped me put my splint back on, I left his office, went to another medical office (unaffiliated with him), filled out new patient paperwork, paid a $50 deposit, and received a cast.

Does any of that sound like surgery to you?

Being an anxious woman of a certain age with a hand injury, I did what seemed best at the time: I poured a whiskey and diet cola and grabbed the bag of sriracha pita chips and binged.

I ate all these chips, but no hummus or tea.

In the morning, I discovered I put my underwear on backward. I had two cups of coffee and a glass of water (I won’t eat until I get hungry) and called my insurance company.

“I’m not aware of having surgery so I’m confused.”

They arranged a three-way call to the doctor’s office.

The woman, who was polite and professional said, “so you’re not being treated?”

I said, “well yes I am.”

And she explained that’s a blanket term for tendon repair.

I replied, “Okay, so this was not explained to me. Let me just get some clarification. I paid the office fee, so the doctor could evaluate me, and he also gets an additional fee? Even though he sent me to a different doctor for the cast?

“Oh, she explained. “It covers any additional treatment in the next 90 days.”

Well then I hope that covers the office visits for all my check-ups and follow-up care.

I thanked them both— the representative of the insurance company and the billing clerk at my specialist’s office. But this is just another example of how the American medical industrial complex complicates and threatens patient care and a patient’s concern for if that care will financially destroy their stability.

** the title of this piece is a reference to me using binge eating as a coping mechanism