Doolittle, the new Mac, a small fire and more life at the Bizzy

I don’t know what’s the better feeling— taking off your socks and shoes after being on your feet all night or removing your bra.

I’m in pain tonight, numerically probably only a six, but the discomfort is debilitating. That does quite make sense to me. I’ve hurt more but felt less uncomfortable.

It’s almost 1 a.m. My S1 joint has been giving me trouble all night so all of those muscles are on fire. I poured the last of the Pink Whitney vodka as I ponder my other aches and pains—my right knee, a pulsing pain in the ankle I broke six years ago. The angle I am sitting at right now hurts. But Fog is curled up against me and I don’t want to move.

But I did walk the dog. That felt good. Stretching all those sore parts.

The dog— her name is Freja but Teenager #1 wants to change in to Bean. I suggested F. Bean Barker. She’s doing well. Went to the bathroom outside for us today and less accidents in the house.

Speaking of accidents, I packed up the homemade ham broth and kept pouring long after the container was full. That made a mess.

Then I tried to fry some eggs and started a small grease fire. I extinguished it, but not before teen #1 yelled, “Mom? Is everything okay? I just saw flames everywhere.”

But back to the Bizzy Hizzy at Stitch Fix. I had a “talk back” meeting with some of my leaders. Again, explaining that QC hurts. Talk of doing 4 hours in QC and 4 hours in pick when they roll out split work centers.

And they want me to hit 130 QC fixes. That’s 3 minutes per fix. Tonight, between meetings and pain I only did 91. I did 104 last night. That is 3.63 minutes per fix. Tonight I ended around 3.8.

In better news, my MacBook Air came. Tomorrow I hopefully can do my local taxes (state and federal are done and filed) and work on Finding Hooyo, the Romance/War/Medical novel I would like to be the second book published by Parisian Phoenix Publishing. Manipulations, the first novel for our little imprint and the first novel of the paranormal/romance/chick lit Fashion and Fiends series should be in design now.

If you want to see me unbox the new Mac, the video is here: Unboxing

Unexpected

Yesterday was the first day of my second full week back to work since having had Covid-19. It was also the first week of mandatory overtime at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy.

I left home feeling disconnected and anxious. I had volunteered for a 1:30 p.m. to midnight shift, assuming I would be well rested and up early enough to get to work at that time. Some of my peers had taken on a 12-hour shift— 1:30 p.m. to 2 a.m.

They had so many people in the building some of us had to go to pick, which is my favorite role. I haven’t “picked” with any gusto since before my illness.

It felt amazing to be on the warehouse floor. I was peeling off layers and picking at about 21 minutes per cart of eight fixes. Again, not the fastest but decent. I walked 6,000 steps in that 2 hours and there wasn’t a moment of struggle or discomfort among them.

But when I peeled off my top layer, I discovered my tank top was inside out. I had a sports bra on so I decided to fix it. Except I got all twisted up in the pretty straps.

So my wardrobe malfunction impacted my times.

After first break at 3:30 I found myself in QC. I had a hard time getting organized and started— so it was probably 4 p.m. by the time I got rolling. I folded and packed 74 fixes. Which averaged to about 5 1/2 minutes each. I need to get that under 4.

I had told my trainer my goal was 80. I said that because Friday it had been 75 and I hit it. And I felt sluggish on Friday so logically 80 was doable.

My trainer didn’t care. My numbers have been consistent and I feel like my fixes are getting neater, my wraps better and the whole process seems to have a rhythm now.

Thanks to my time in pick, I walked more than 9,000 steps yesterday. I ate deliberately, trying to balance high doses of protein with refined sugary treats so I could get the buzz I wanted.

I took a Tylenol (just one) at one point as I did have some spinal pain. At the end of the night, my favorite nurse commented that I “looked good” and indeed I felt good— not like someone recuperating from a virus and working an 10-hour shift in a warehouse with a malfunctioning body (thanks cerebral palsy). I honestly felt good.

I weigh exactly what I did yesterday after several days of losing weight. I still need to lose at least 15 pounds. Or buy new clothes.

Life in Valley 2

Forgive me if this post contains typos or other errors as it is literally 1 a.m. and a wage of fatigue just washed over me. I think I might be too tired to write this.

Last night, the work center board at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy proclaimed that I would work QC.

QC is the quality control work center. Once the fixes are picked, the QC team inspects and folds the pieces and prepares them for the shipper.

It is the most stationary, sedentary work center I have worked in so far at the Bizzy. But I like it—except it kills my spine. It causes me a lot of pain to stand still for 8 hours. And yes, the give us mats and offer a variety of table heights to make it more comfortable.

After our two hours in training, I packed 36 fixes at a rate of 8+ minutes per fix.

Tonight when I arrived at work, scheduled for QC again, my favorite nurse asked how I did in QC last night. I told her it was hard on my S1 joint (she already knows I have cerebral palsy) but I liked it. But then I like to learn new things and face new challenges.

Now I don’t remember her exact word choice, but she commented on my good attitude and the fact that I am “always happy.”

I fought years. “Thank you for seeing that, as I’m having a hard time right now.”

And she offered me prayers.

Then she commented on how I try to do everything, and I shrugged and reminded her that this was my whole life— that I’ve always had a disability so things never come easy.

And then she pointed out that in her line of work she’s seen people give up facing less.

With that pep talk, I headed to QC valley 2. Now tonight I was on the right side of the valley and liked it. I QC’ed a total of 59 fixes at a rate of between 5.9 and 7.2 minutes per fix. Only two of my boxes were returned and both were do to issues with the paper. A supervisor told me nice folding! And I even tried to highlight whatever was pretty in each fix/folded item.

On first break I took 400 mg of ibuprofen to help prevent back trouble. And it helped! Or maybe I just really am getting stronger post-Covid.

At the end of my shift, I was hungry for chocolate so I grabbed a chocolate chip Pop Tart. As I was walking out, my favorite nurse offered me a cookie.

I didn’t want to touch her cookies, so she piled some into a tissue while using a tissue as a glove.

Best thumbprint cookie ever

And I never tasted anything quite like that thumbprint cookie. I haven’t had thumbprint cookie in years.

I went out to my car and found one final surprise; my mileage was 33399. I like numerical patterns and that number sequence was super cool.

33399

So the day that had a rocky start had a strong finish.

Picking 64

Yesterday I returned to work at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy after 3 weeks out with the Coronavirus.

I worked an eight-hour shift processing women’s returns. It was a new work center for me and I’m frequently amazed at how many work centers I haven’t learned. It sure make what could be mindless, monotonous work more interesting to slowly learn everything in the building.

I haven’t really got to know anyone well at Stitch Fix though I am consistently surprised by everyone’s kindness. Today I wore a cropped sweatshirt and one of my colleagues whom I don’t know at all chased after me worried that my exposed back would leave me cold. She then realized I had a beige shirt on underneath and chuckled, only to still tuck my sweatshirt under the strap of my little pack.

Speaking of making friends… The nursing staff usually changes over after the evening shift clocks in. The day shift nurse is the sweetest, most outgoing person. I imagine in other settings she would have a wonderful bedside manner. She said she was worried when she hadn’t seen me in so long and me being me said there was merit in her concern as I had Covid.

Then she peppered me with questions about my symptoms and my experience.

But after we clocked in, she didn’t leave. She did the regular rounds through the warehouse. And she made it a point to check on me every time— and make sure I had the stamina to make it the whole shift and that I was drinking water.

I ended up processing 252 pieces which is probably a mediocre number. I felt like I had worked a 10-hour Black Friday shift from my Target days, and all I did was stand there. But standing is hard for me since my cerebral palsy has made my body crooked and led to issues with my S1 joint. AND two weeks ago I felt like I had run a marathon when I walked the 20 feet from my room to the bathroom.

My only Covid complication was having a prolonged coughing fit during our meal break when a piece of Raisin Bran tickled my throat wrong and I couldn’t stop choking!

Today when I arrived she asked how I was feeling, and how I slept last night. My supervisors keep asking how I am as well. They didn’t have me assigned to a department so I ended up in direct-pick. It felt so good to move!

As for tonight’s numbers, I picked 64— which is half the bare minimum number they like. But here is the good news: They let us go early so I only worked half a shift. My step count remained consistent with my pre-Corona figures.

One interesting fact, in addition to my weakened fortitude, is how challenging it is now to wear my mask especially while performing labor that gets my heart rate up. The nurse encourages me to wear the lighter disposable masks so I can breathe easier and not get so “hot” (if that makes sense).

I’ve also kept my calories at around 1500, with a lot of good protein and wholesome foods which, as I increase my activity levels should lead to some improvement in my current weight and fitness struggles.

My heaviest weight ever— not including pregnancy— I hit last week at 154.5. I’m not even 5’ 4” so that is unacceptable. But today I was 151.5. I managed to lose three pounds so far by tracking my macros and calories.

So now, with work done, I am celebrating as only a mom would. I started a load of laundry, fed the cats, ran the dishwasher and while I wait for the wash (which I will need to take down yesterday’s loads and hang tonight’s) I will pour a gin drink and watch The Tudors with my cockatoo Nala.

The teenager should be home around 10 from her pet sitting job. Teenager two will be going to visit her mom to watch the ball drop.

Accidents (or the four letter word that starts with S and means ‘poop’) happens.

It’s been a hectic couple of days.

The teenager is pet-sitting for our FURR foster godmother. So she’s in and out of my house several times a day.

I have misplaced Fern’s adoption paperwork, which is totally not like me. Luckily Fern went to a friend of mine so I can asked her to send me a photo.

Nala, my Goffin’s cockatoo, has been upset and stressed and plucked her flight feathers off her one wing.

It’s really sad to see the confusion in her face when she tries to fly and just falls.

Speaking of Nala, I met her a year ago today.

We had a devil of a time containing Boo-boo last night but since we did Wink and Yo-yo seem much more relaxed as parents. I think it was the right call. Video: catching Boo

And here is a video of the parakeet chicks: Budgie babies!

I also finally got a good picture of Loki:

Sir Loki Dokie Puppy Turkey

While three out of my four cats were cuddly and cute.

Back to Front: Opie, Oz, Fog

Then I headed out to work for the first day since Covid. I stopped at Dunkin for a coffee and discovered there were no more good deals. So I didn’t get my coffee.

No one explained the protocol for my return so I don’t have the proper paperwork from my doctor. I’ll try and get that started— already called the doctor— but am waiting on their end of the paperwork.

I’m annoyed— mostly because I was ready to go back but also because I don’t know if this lack of communication will mean I lose income. With it being the holiday week, I probably won’t get rapid cooperation from the medical folks. And part of that is because there are people sicker and needier than I am.

After everything I’ve been through this year, I won’t complain.

It gave me time to do some grocery shopping and cook for the other teenager.

I even helped her make a smoothie.

One more week of 2020.

The Tudors, sweating sickness and Covid whiners

Today is day 10 of my post-diagnosis Covid 19 isolation. I am now watching The Tudors on Netflix, struck by the similarities between the Coronavirus pandemic and the 16th Century sweating sickness.

I feel like there is so much not known about Covid-19 and I suspect many people know more than they can admit. But the medical treatments, anecdotal layman wisdom and people’s behavior remind me of these scenes depicting King Henry VIII’s medical crisis.

My symptoms are still dizziness and a dry cough, a congested head and weakness. And chapped lips.

I catch a chill easily, and sometimes the smallest actions wind me.

I think the general populace puts too much security in flimsy masks, and gives not enough thought to social distancing. I think the various government tactics to curb the pandemic cater to major corporations and starve small business.

And it saddens me that people will flock to WalMart or order from Amazon, but not mail order from a small local business or buy gift cards for small merchants.

It also saddens me that so much of society can really on DoorDash or GrubHub, but not call your favorite local restaurant and order take out.

I believe I caught the Coronavirus at work, despite all the precautions to “keep us safe.” Because despite the gloves, the masks, the nurse, the sanitizer spray, and working socially distant, the reality is there are 70 or more of us in one room at the same time, unmasked, eating and talking for each of our three daily breaks.

The vaccine has arrived. And I wish it were — what do they call it— a reactive vaccine vs a mRNA vaccine. Perhaps I am old-fashioned in my thinking.

So I suppose I am grateful to have caught Coronavirus and see how my body reacts. I have had the chance to develop my own antibodies. And no one else in my family for sick so I am also grateful for that.

I am deeply saddened that others have not had the same privilege that I have. I am saddened that people I love have lost people they love.

It is a confusing time.

So my best advice would be to do your own research, think about how viruses work and make the decisions that keep you and your family safe. And care for your neighbors and support local business in ways you can.

Covid positive

So I woke up a little before 10 a.m. to this message from my doctor:

I was a little shocked to see it, but also relieved. If you’ve read my blog posts this week you’ll know that I’ve been experiencing a lot of intense symptoms. It was a difficult week or forgetting my medications (Covid brain fog?), not enough sleep (thank you to the gas company and their jackhammers) and symptoms easily explained by my cerebral palsy (muscle aches and joint pain) and status as a 40-something woman (frequent urination).

So at least with a positive Covid test, I no longer fear that my body has lost more of it’s functionality. I am relieved to be sick. I suppose other folks struggling with chronic ailments and disabilities understand.

My doctor will call in about two hours. I have some planning to do, with her advice. Meanwhile it is interesting to see everyone’s reactions.

Some people offer meals or groceries which can be left on the porch. Some people call to check on my symptoms. Others offer what got them through the illness. Others calculate when they saw me last and want tests. Others know they have been around me but will watch for symptoms to get tested.

A taste of withdrawal

Yesterday was crazy difficult.

On Tuesday morning, I got up early and took the Norse Pride to the vet for a post-ringworm follow-up.

I forgot to take my medicine and vitamins. I have taken Zyrtec just about every day since this pandemic started. I am allergic to pollen, mold, dust, and just about everything else including cats.

During the coronavirus shut down I started taking my medication because spring was blossoming and I didn’t want people to think I had Covid.

Around the same time, my doctor had prescribed a low dose of Lexapro for my stress-induced high blood pressure.

So on Wednesday a.m., when I got home from work, I cuddled the animals and watched some more of the Crown. I got to bed a little after two.

Somewhere around 7:30 a.m., I heard the school bus. I rolled over to go back to sleep and — no exaggeration— a jackhammer started opening the street two doors from mine with a ferociousness that shook my house.

Thank you, UGI.

So five hours sleep.

And again because my routine is off I forgot to take my medicine.

I only picked 120 last night and I was terrified about the state of my health.

I was experiencing allergy symptoms (after all I now have 14 cats in my house), exhaustion, every muscle and joint in my body was aching. I couldn’t think. My forehead was sweating but my hands were cold. My hands and feet were tingling randomly as if they had fallen asleep.

I started the night strong with just about 40 fixes picked by first break, but at the end of the night even the ones that should have taken 15 minutes took me 30.

Every break my joints locked up and it took me time to get moving again without pain. And my numbers kept dropping.

I started to worry that maybe I had a fever and the nurse didn’t notice because I tend to have a low temperature. One thermometer earlier in the day said I was 94.5. That is impossible.

Luckily, I had some chili from a friend for dinner and a $2 latte from Dunkin.

Somehow I still managed to walk 24,000 steps but man— that brief episode of withdrawal scared me. A lot.

I came home and took all my vitamins and my medicine and slept about 7.5 hours. Hopefully that will put me on the mend.

Note: I found out later, these were Covid symptoms.

My Monday blog post with no decent title written on a Tuesday

It is 1:01 a.m. as I write this. There is a kitten at my left hip fascinated by the bubbles in my gin cocktail (gin and cherry vanilla seltzer), a small cockatoo on my knee and a pile of clean, folded laundry at the end of the bed that I have no intention of moving before I go to sleep.

Clean laundry

I had a really good shift at Stitch Fix’s Bizzy Hizzy. I’m a tad bummed because I had hoped to “pick” 140 or more fixes and I only hit 135.

Working as a picker in the warehouse is like being an athlete training for a marathon— I love the challenge of trying to increase my performance every day.

It’s using muscles in my lower body that haven’t ever experienced activity like this. I spent 10 years on my feet and doing labor at Target, but this doesn’t feel like work.

It feels like a game.

My total number of steps for yesterday was around 24,500. It feels good.

The Strongest Man in History

I spent today binge-watching The Strongest Man in History, a History Channel series where competitive strong men Robert Oberst, Eddie Hall, Brian Shaw and Nick Best try to replicate some of the most legendary strong man feats in history.

Left to right: Shaw, Hall, Best and Oberst

Now, at first I scoffed at the thought of professional strong men in a History Channel documentary series but I have to admit; they did at extraordinary job. The show was witty, had a great historical depth, and allowed the viewer to see a different side of these athletes— and for me, it offered a chance to see just how intelligent and athletic these men are.

It made me lament how far I’ve left myself go with my own fitness goals, and I could offer excuses but excuses remain excuses.

I’m sad that I finished everything series.

And I’m very impressed with Nick Best, who, at 50, keeps up with the younger men.