Saturday update: Apex session 4

Today marked my fourth session at Apex Training and my first meeting others at the gym.

Last night we had voluntary time off at the Bizzy Hizzy warehouse. We were released for a a long weekend at 6:30 p.m. (The warehouse is closed Monday for a computer upgrade.)

The teenager wanted to drive and enjoy sports mode in my Jetta. So we stopped at Sheetz and ate fried food and drank energy drinks as one should do at Sheetz. (View Sheetz Shenanigans here.)

I did some editing for Aspire to Autonomy. They are planning their annual 5K. They also recently opened a new safe house and currently have a labor trafficking survivor living there.

I also worked on more of the final proof for my first novel, the debut publication for Parisian Phoenix Publishing. No pressure!

And some of my main characters are having sex again. That, coupled with the fact that I was in men’s returns processing at the warehouse… led to some mental distraction.

I was in bed before midnight as I had a 10 a.m. session with Dan.

I love Dan’s philosophy in incorporating isolated and full body exercises. I love how he paces the workouts— apparently next week is our last week of two sessions a week and we begin three times a week and he’s going to develop metrics to track our progress.

I tripped on the way home, on the same damn bad patch of sidewalk, but this time I caught my balance and did not fall.

And when I got home, the teenager received her new crate for F. Bean Barker. And she bought one way too big. (More ridiculousness here— Bean and Em the FURR kitten).

Now, I’m off to grab Nan and we’re going to can some corn salsa with farm fresh corn.

Advocate: A Difficult Day on the Health Quest

Well, if yesterday made one thing apparent… it’s that sometimes answers lead to bigger questions.

And questions often shake our foundations.

I have had an appointment every day this week before work. In the last ten days or so, I have seen my therapist, my personal trainer, my chiropractor (who has a background in physical therapy) and my primary care doctor and one of his new residents.

Yesterday was the latter.

This recounts why I was seeing my doctor. Later in this post, some of this info may be pertinent.

My heart was genuinely excited for the visit as I’ve made a lot of positive health habit changes and my primary care physician and I have a great relationship. Normally my care is a discussion and we work together to resolve my issues.

Since Covid, the practice has seemed much less organized and attentive as usual. They also recently took on some family practice medical residents. I waited in the exam room for 75 minutes.

I went into my phone to record my blood pressure on iHealth. And that’s when I noticed— iHealth has been recording my double support time and my walk asymmetry for a year. (This morning I compared my walking and balance statistics with my teenager’s and her walk is more screwed up that mine! My walk is consistent and consistently “off” but hers gets severely skewed every time she gets plantar warts. Turns out my neighbor has more issues in this area than I do, too.)

So, at 12:15 pm — as I am lusting for a glass of water and breakfast, I had nothing yet but a gargle of purple listerine— the resident enters the room and apologizes for the tardiness. I told her I was about to order GrubHub out of fear they forgot me.

I told her everything about me (as she had never met me before) and relayed that the doctor wanted to see me. I also mentioned that muscle relaxers might be a better fit to ease my periodic pain than ibuprofen or acetaminophen because it might be more due to the stress on my joints and the tightness of my muscles as a side effect of the cerebral palsy.

Now, remember, my anemia started more than 12 years ago with work stress, gaining weight and heavy menstrual bleeding. And I came to my current doctor because my former one refused to look into the source of my anemia. And that doctor made me cry. And I had started having panic attacks.

Now I am back in a similar symptom situation but I have better mental health and a way better doctor.

The resident goes and gets my doctor. I propose waiting several months to see if the anemia improves with the mesures I am pursuing now. He is worried about polyps in my colon. We agreed I will use some stool cards for a home test.

I didn’t feel heard about my request to find solutions for my body pain because then we discussed my mental health.

And he wanted me to visit their new staff psychiatrist to rule out any issues (like bipolar 2) that might require a mood stabilizer.

Now I complete understand why his said this: I had mentioned some dramatic temper incidents previous to some of my recent lifestyle changes, I had asked to restart the prescription for a very low dose of lexapro that had been prescribed for high blood pressure to see if it would even out some premenstrual mood swings, and I had mentioned some highs and lows in the past.

But I also said the isolation of the pandemic gave me the space I needed to deal with some heavy duty stress, and that good things were developing for me and I felt like this was one of the great years in my life. I talked about having rid myself of anxiety and being able to look back at that former period of my life with understanding of myself and pride. And that my therapist and I were finally looking at my childhood trauma as I scored 6/7 on the ACE test.

And he knows I have been in therapy for more than a decade. And that my therapist recommended him. Shouldn’t he let my therapist request that type of referral?

So I felt betrayed and it reintroduced feelings of anxiety and insecurity, not being sure if my medical professional was really paying attention to me and what I was saying. I had just mentioned delving into childhood trauma for the first time in my life. I am having other health issues that I need to address. So now, in my opinion, is not the time for questioning my brain chemistry.

So we agreed to discuss my anemia and my psychological state with my gynecologist (whom I see Monday) and my therapist and revisit the issue when I return in three months to discuss the follow up blood work.

This left me shaken and wanting to scream, “Stay in your lane.” I went to the doctor because he asked me to come discuss my anemia— how did a shrink come into play?

I often think this is how people get misdiagnosed, not by bad doctors, but by doctors trying to rule everything out and in the process convincing patients they need different help that they actually need. Like when people see a commercial for medicine and later “ask your doctor if (this expensive drug) is right for you.”

I emailed my therapist from my phone as soon as I got into my car. By 3:30 pm, he said he disagreed with this assessment— that I should be screened by a psychiatrist— but that we would discuss. Honestly, he is the only person I would trust with a decision like that. We all need to build teams we can trust. And this is how I advocate for myself.

When I got home, around 2 p.m., I finally had my morning coffee and made this— what I would call my “summer vegan sandwich,” courtesy of my stress shopping last week and a Hungryroot delivery. (See the teenager unboxing here.) Lightlife bacon tempeh, Hungryroot lemon tahini, romaine, deli pickle on 12-grain bread.

I didn’t take proper care of the animals (loosing almost four hours of my day to a doctor’s appointment that normally takes one hour).

I QCed 123 fixes, which is far better than the 116 the night prior. When my favorite Stitch Fix supervisor said hello, she asked how I was, I said okay. She looked at me askance and said, “only okay?”

She told me if I needed anything or if there was anything she could do to let her know. But she can’t fix the emotions in my head. So I thanked her and went back to some of my standbys— showtunes!

I listened to the soundtrack of Avenue Q as we used to in the makeshift temporary newsroom of Lehigh Valley News Group, and I can still remember one of my favorite young editors with her big headphones on, fighting her stress and her insecurities with a dose of “What do you do with a B.A. in English/It sucks to be me.”

Apparently this is the whole musical on YouTube. Check it out.

And if you just want the song… Here you go.

Speaking of the newspaper days, I’ve reached out to some Chronicle colleagues for help with promoting the FURR Pop Up Cat Café August 15. The man who hired me for that newspaper (the boss of my best boss ever) mentioned that my daughter has grown up in the blink of an eye (which he has seen thanks to Facebook).

And that brought back great memories as I think the teenager was the only baby born to a staff member during the run of those newspapers. I realized I was pregnant while planning a political debate sponsored by the newspaper in Phillipsburg, N.J.

So yesterday was hard, and I managed to avoid slipping into those old panic-prone mentalities. I am drained today but luckily only have a four hour shift.

A weekend of animals ending on a pizza note

As I mentioned last week, neighborhood events coincided with the teenager’s pet sitting commitments to have us at full capacity with dogs— except for Buddy who at the last minute got to go on vacation with his family.

Little Dog Sobaka’s mom left for a wedding in Western Pa., allowing me the time to teach Sobaka that Bean might be scary but she’s really just a big, dumb puppy and not a threat.

And the teenager decided to test Sobaka’s ingenuity and made her eat her nightly supper from a dog puzzle. Bean would have just eaten the puzzle.

Video: Baki learns the treat puzzle

On Friday night, Baki and I slept in my bed with Louise and Khloe hiding under the bed. On Saturday, the teenager left for her housesitting job, so I planned a sleepover in the living room—Baki and I in the hand-me-down pull-out couch bed and Bean in her downstairs crate.

Bean and Sobaka

The clientele for the week includes 2 dogs (one geriatric German shepherd with mobility struggles), two personal cats, one Senegal parrot and at least eight foster kittens who all need meds.

My daughter is a very special pet sitter. I have heard horrible stories and witnessed some of friends hiring people to care for their pets and these people neglect their wards. When my daughter accepts a job, her focus becomes that household and my job is to make sure I maintain standards at home. She spends a lot of time doting on animals.

I provide back up and moral support and make sure the pet sitter doesn’t live on diet soda and chips for the week. She usually has me over to the home once or twice so I know the basics should she need to leave or needs help.

Last night the “can you come see if the cat likes you better than he likes me” request ended up being a three hour visit because she wanted me to shoot video of how well the German Shepherd was doing to set the family at ease.

And a little after 8 pm, I announced I was going home to make supper.

“I forgot the food you told me to take,” the child says.

It’s almost 8:30 on a Sunday night in the town where her father grew up and not our own— the mom and pop places are closing up and I don’t have the time or patience for a sit down meal.

We find Tuscana Pizza & Pasta. The first thing I see when I walk in the door is empanadas. There are seven slices of pizza on the counter, a pile of garlic knots and the empanadas.

There are three slices of pepperoni, one plain, two sausage and peppers and one meat lovers.

We take one of each and some garlic knots. $16.47.

They start speaking Spanish to each other at the register. When everything gets done, they take it out of the oven, throw it in a large pizza box, hand it to us and tell us goodbye.

Obviously they were trying to close the restaurant and didn’t want us hanging around.

We were okay with that. We ate in the car.

The sausage and pepper slice was really good, but I don’t like onions so I could only make it through half. The garlic knots were soft— I’m used to them being like chunks of pizza crust but these were like dinner rolls smothered in butter and garlic.

I love neighborhood pizza shops. I love the ambiance. I love them simple. I wish they’d stop trying to be full fledged restaurants and push slices and pies and sugary concoctions like the mysterious red “jungle juice” of my youth and arcade games and pinball.

My daughter— who has apparently spent far too much time in town ordering Dominos or grabbing Little Caesars and eating it four hours later “like a ravenous beast” (her words) on the band bus— always acts like every time we have real pizza, it’s the first time and it’s the best food she’s every had in her life. She moans with every mouthful.

Last night was no exception.

Friday Logistics Fascination and a stop at The Spot

This post is dedicated to my work friend Barb who starts her new job on Monday. I miss her, but I am so grateful to have met her that I can only wish her well and be proud of her.

Today was a pretty great day.

Well, it’s 10 minutes after midnight so I guess yesterday was a great day.

We were supposed to host three dogs this weekend, Buddy the super lovable white dog next door; Sobaka, the “Morkie” or Maltese Yorkie from across the street; and of course, Bean, our own big black mutt.

Sobaka arrived at 9, with the teenager getting her settled and then the teen returned to bed. I woke to a text message that Buddy would not be joining us after all, as his owner decided to bring him to Maine with her at the last minute.

We are very disappointed as Buddy is the dog medium enough to be a good companion for Sobaka.

The teenager has a pet sitting gig starting tomorrow (I mean in a few hours— I keep forgetting it’s the middle of the night). She will be sleeping at the home of another crazy cat lady… I mean fellow FURR foster mom.

The teenager will be watching two dogs, one very elderly; one small parrot, two personal cats and probably a dozen kittens. And a series of gardens.

It was another super flipping hot day, so I was glad I decided to bake the teenager’s “first day of summer” applesauce cake after work last night.

And I went to work today with no pain in my body!

Speaking of the Bizzy Hizzy, Stitch Fix offered us voluntary time off tonight if we reached our weekly shipping goal. We would be allowed to work a half day. So we got the job done in 3.5 hours and did a little extra.

Conveyor to OB1

I was style carding tonight— I still haven’t asked my supervisors how I’m doing. I’ve been enjoying it and it’s probably the least physically abusive work center I’ve learned.

I’ve been at Stitch Fix nine months, and my fascination with our warehouse logistics grows more with every new station I learn.

It’s hard to believe I’ll get another raise in three months.

But here’s my philosophical thought: Nothing creates a sense of deep teamwork better than people who all understand each other’s jobs and work together to achieve a mutually beneficial goal. It’s not enough to agree to a corporate goal or non profit mission. We may all have low-skill light-warehousing jobs but we all wanted to get the heck out of that hot building.

I compare my experience here with a previous (or several previous) employer(s):

  • At Stitch Fix, my bosses don’t punish, guilt trip or manipulate me regarding time off.
  • At Stitch Fix (and also at Target), they provide the training and the safety guidelines and trust us to work autonomously.
  • At Stitch Fix, I bring home the same amount in my paycheck as when I worked higher stress jobs.

I feel like on nights like this, our understanding of how the numbers work and also how we all normally perform allow us to know how attainable these goals are. And that’s exciting in a “we can do this” way.

Is the job perfect? No. I’m perfectly aware that I am a cog in a very big wheel and sweating my ass off folding clothes or putting papers in envelopes.

But I have had some awful bosses. It’s sad how bad managers can be not only blind to their own flaws but assume weaknesses in others where they don’t exist.

This is a topic I could write a book about.

ANYWAY.

Through most of this literally painless half-day, I listened to the Marc Blucas interview on the podcast Meeting Tom Cruise. He was Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s boyfriend Riley Finn. I hope to do a full review of it.

And the we finally stopped at The Spot for ice cream. The teenager drove me to work so I bought her a banana milkshake and I had a root beer float. Next time I want salted caramel soft serve with Reese’s peanut butter cups. The soft serve was delightful, the menu varied, and the prices cheap. Only downfall was the multitude of styrofoam.

Upon arriving home (after stopping to get my business cards from Gayle and I had to give her an A6 envelope box I commissioned her to doodle), we walked the dogs, ate some leftovers and watched an episode of Buffy (Doomed if you are curious).

I was cracking up on the walk because Sobaka liked to lead the pack. Well, Bean would speed up to join her because she didn’t want to be left behind. She wanted to walk side by side with Baktilda. (Yes, these are all nicknames for Sobaka.)

So then Sobaka would walk faster, but Baki has tiny legs. Bean would just keep matching her pace without breaking her stride. Baki was like the horse trainer who guides the horse around the ring and sets the pace.

Finally, the real miracle of the night— Louise is sharing her space with the dog. My bed no less! Is she making progress or can she not figure out what kind of animal Sobaka is?

Drunk on Fish

Happy Friday!

It’s a fun, fun day for me as I not only got a good night’s sleep (although I did have a cat jump on my eye in the middle of the night when another cat scared her) but I also got to leave work early as we had voluntary early out.

At the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy, I finally got a picture of the “please use stylist” versus the correct word, stylus. I spent my 4-hour shift in women’s returns processing. I was killing my numbers the first hour— my body felt good and for the first time all week I wasn’t so exhausted my limbs wouldn’t move. But, quickly, I found myself slowing down. Could it be the heat in the warehouse?

Regardless, the teenager was working her waitressing gig and I had promised her sushi after I got home. We agreed to try Jasmine Japanese & Thai Cuisine on Sullivan Trail in Forks Township, Pa.

Many people I know have given it rave reviews and encouraged me to try it.

I encouraged my daughter to order anything she wanted— and we promised each other we would have the leftovers for breakfast. Now, I’m not a fish person so I stick to sushi rolls. I cannot even bring myself to try sashimi. The teenager on the other hand loves it all, as I even used to send her to first grade with sushi in her lunch box, preserved on an ice pack.

The cafeteria staff used to tease her that she should tell her mom to pack her normal lunches, so she came home one day convinced that meant she wasn’t allowed to bring sushi to school. But this is the girl who used to request cucumber sandwiches and other oddities for packed lunch.

I wish I knew more about sushi. I wish I could use chopsticks. The teenager did try to give me a lesson (again). You can see the video here.

I ordered Thai iced tea for both of us and the “luck bite” appetizer. The Luck Bite featured seaweed and crab artfully arranged on a Pringle potato chip. That itself was amazing enough for me to leave happy.

The teenager was disappointed by her first experience with Miso soup, something I have learned to enjoy. Honestly, we barely touched our salads of iceberg lettuce and a tangy mustard dressing because of the sushi to come.

The sashimi combo platter came first— complete with lights and flowers and other adornments. The teenager loved it all but prefers her sashimi on a bed of rice.

I got the spicy maki roll platter with two specialty rolls, and I honestly don’t recall their names. The one featured eel and avocado and the other mango and crab.

The teenager tried it all. My favorite was the mango. We both enjoyed the maki especially with its crispy bits.

Jasmine truly goes above and beyond with presentation. The sauces and flavor combinations are vibrant without detracting from the star of the show— the sushi.

We spent $92, but we also ordered enough sushi for 4-5 people. The sashimi platter alone was $30. I feel like for sushi, their offerings and dishes were substantial. I think it would be quite easy to select a satisfying meal for 2 for about $40.

More importantly, the teenager and I needed a neutral place where we could unwind together. This was perfect.

We do indeed intend to have the leftovers for breakfast, and I can only wonder what the household and foster cats will do when they smell sashimi.

“Review”: Pick-Your-Own-Bouquet Outing at Terra Fauna Farm

This one brings to mind memories of my mother’s flower gardens during my childhood— her lovingly tending her petunias, impatiens, zinnias and marigolds. I begged for straw flowers, snap dragons and “blue angels.” I thought of my mother’s gifted green thumb while frolicking in these fields.

Last week, knowing my teenager had left me home with no car, my sweet friend Joan had invited me to a pick-your-own-bouquet workshop at Terra Fauna Farm. Joan is a member of their CSA.

For those who don’t know, like the teenager, let me explain the concept of CSA or “Community Supported Agriculture.”

First, some history. Our area (the Lehigh Valley/Slate Belt of Pennsylvania) is traditionally primarily rural, with a few small cities scattered here and there and one of the largest cities in Pennsylvania on the one side (Allentown) and the Poconos on the other. New Jersey lies to the east and more rural areas to the West.

I once served as an advisory board member for the Penn State University Cooperative Extension. I completed six years, many of those as Secretary. I never realized how passionate I was about the area’s agricultural heritage until I had this opportunity. I took it for granted.

I grew up in the rural Slate Belt in the 1980s where most of my neighbors were dairy farmers. One literal neighbor had a green house business. And our school bus route cut through a pig farm. Pig farms smell bad, by the way.

Corn fields. Horses. 4-H. Farm Shows. Future Farmers of America. Horticulture and Agriculture as high school science electives. I took horticulture one and it was an amazing exposure to organic gardening (in 1990 before it became trendy), flower arrangement, and gardening. You haven’t lived until you’ve washed a greenhouse of poinsettias with lye soap to kill the white flies.

At that time your parents were either farmers or blue collar workers. My dad was a diesel mechanic.

During the last two decades, farm land has given way to suburban developments and warehousing.

And to compete with large commercial farm and maintain some smaller farms as viable, farmers have embraced the CSA model.

In a CSA arrangement, when selecting his crops and ordering his seeds, the farmer also contacts those who have expressed interest in supporting the farm. These supporters then purchase a share of the season’s crops by sending money in advance. There’s usually a “full share” customarily enough for a family of four and a “half share” for those who don’t have a family or are timid about how much produce they can use.

The farm typically shares what crops they want to plant and the supporter can usually cater their share to their likes and dislikes.

The farmer uses that money to buy his supplies and pay his bills until the crop is ready. And has a guaranteed market for some of his crop.

Terra Fauna (located in Northampton, Pa.) planted a flower and herb garden on what I believe they said used to be their cow pasture. For $5, you can pick a bouquet.

As I mentioned, they had planned a workshop for last week but the heat and the threat of thunderstorms made them postpone until July 5.

Joan took photos and the teenager and I indulged our witchy senses and gathered blooms and herbs from the rows.

We spent $26.50 on extras— a farm fresh cucumber, two zucchini, a quart of new potatoes, a pound of local honey harvested this past Saturday, some garden herb cheese spread and a coffee flavored yogurt smoothie which I think tasted like a milkshake.

The teenager came home and spread her cheese spread on some crisp fresh cucumber and for the sandwich effect added “chicken in a biskit” crackers I bought over the weekend. The juxtaposition of ultra-processed and farm fresh was not lost on her.

Perhaps before the end of the summer, Joan and I can “do lunch” at the farm on one of her weekly CSA pick up days. Which, as a country girl, let me tell you this one truth:

The only way to eat sweet corn is fresh off the farm. If you’re buying sweet corn at a local big box grocery store, I’m sad for you.

The Weirdos’ Picnic

Today I have a paid holiday from the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy and I’ve tried all weekend to eat more fruits, vegetables and iron rich foods. My lingering fatigue is an anemic battle only won through supplements and self care.

Nan, my blind poet friend, and I do writing stuff every other week. I spoil Nan with chai and often lunch. Since we went grocery shopping together Saturday, we got a lot of “fun” things to combine into a strange picnic. (See more here: Happy 4th.)

I roasted some carrot sticks in the oven with olive oil, harissa spice and ras-el-handout. I also made carrot chips with smoked paprika. That would serve as french fries.

I made sandwiches on pretzel rolls of brown mustard, sharp cheddar, liverwurst and green butter leaf lettuce.

The other sides were dill pickle potato chips, pickled Brussel sprouts, sliced pepper turkey with cranberry horseradish, and maple bacon potato salad. All tasty.

I put the leftover chai in a mason jar with Italian Sweet Cream non-dairy creamer amd a shot of sweet tea vodka, a shot of honey whiskey and a shot of Irish cream.

We both submitted Covid-related works to Blood Pudding.

Nan had a great time with me searching the internet for info on rocket launches, meeting the new kittens, petting our personal cat Fog and giving him treats. He took them out of her hand with his paw, which cracked her up.

That got the dog’s attention so Nan found herself alternating treats between the two.

After I took Nan home, I buffed the scratches out of my car.

This had to have happened yesterday because look at how the fender has already popped into place more.

“Vacation” continues, starting the Karen books, and wondering if the quest has stalled

Yesterday I had hoped to do more editing on the bits and pieces left of the near-final manuscript of Manipulations, the first of three novels by me, coming soon from my little publishing imprint, Parisian Phoenix.

But then my graphic designer partner in crime (and this endeavor) encouraged me to start Karen by Marie Killilea. The book was in its 11th printing by the mid-sixties and I am reading a copy from about 60 years ago.

It’s part of my recent quest to understand my cerebral palsy, which ironically led to me discovering that my anemia has reared its ugly head. So maybe this quest isn’t addressing physical needs as much as emotional ones. And the neurologist’s office did return my call. My appointment is January 13. Yes, in six-and-a-half months.

While I certainly understand what these parents must have gone through (Karen was born in 1940 and died in 2020), this certainly was a different era. An era of institutions, a lack of knowledge and families and doctors sitting around smoking cigarettes together.

But so far, and I believe Karen is now 4, Karen is described as beautiful, but presented as a thing in the background. The memoir so far is about the mother and her thoughts and parenting techniques and her interactions with the medical community.

To me, the way Marie describes placing her in the backyard and going in the house to do chores… well, Karen slowly pulls herself by her arms inching toward whatever is of interest. The current chapter describes her playing in a mud puddle. She sounds like a fish caught between land and sea.

Honestly, to me it sounds cruel. I’m sure it fostered independence and strength but damn it sounds grueling for Karen. This is the beginning of the ideology of mainstreaming kids with disabilities— toss them in and let them adjust. And as young people with disabilities, emotions and intellect are still immature. So it is cruel in my opinion to let these children struggle with the physical, too. It’s this weird we get that we are different but we don’t have the life experience to understand why or how and while allowing a child to figure it out raises a fighter and someone not prone to accept help or pity, it would be nice to have some framework other than you can or cannot do something or are or are not like everyone else.

I see a potential multitude of nonfiction book projects in my future. My memoir will need to be three volumes: my childhood, my “squiggly” career (yes there is a term for people with eclectic careers like mine), and this health quest.

Speaking of non-fiction, I would like to publish my honors thesis from Lafayette College and do an anthology where I have select authors/artists to explore what I will refer to as identity politics. I have mentioned it to Nan, my blind friend, and Bill, my horror-loving freak friend, and both love the idea. I encourage you to read Bill’s novels, The Kink Noir series, which blend a dark 1940s detective vibe with kink and erotica while exploring some topics about what it means to be human.

My review of Bill’s most recent book is here: Debauchery

More posts including Bill here: Bill on the Blog

Speaking of Bill, my flower workshop got postponed last night, so Bill, fresh off of jury duty, came down to catch up and have dinner at the always charming Porter’s Pub in Easton, Pa.

Rib eye with Jameson’s Demi-Glace

Armed with the news that my iron is low, he bought me a steak and a lemony-smooth gin martini.

Upon arriving home, I finished taking out the garbage and recycling including two more 13-gallon trash bags from teenager two’s room. It looks like she’s officially ghosted me, and that makes me sad.

And I let the dog sleep with me. And as my room is the front room, she heard every noise in the neighborhood.

Day 2 alone with the menagerie and continuing my health quest

This piece will also include discussion of the mental health app Ginger and a review of a probiotic carbonated beverage.

If you’re new here… I am a 46-year-old single mom who volunteers with a local cat rescue, has a bratty Goffin cockatoo, and is currently trying to learn more about my own cerebral palsy.

Part 1: Finding the Resources to Grow

Part 2: The Teen Leaves Me With The Menagerie

The Teenager is on Day 2 with her grandmother in Cape May, a trip the teen has been planning since she starting working as a waitress this winter. I am home alone with her dog, our four cats, my birds and five fosters.

Yesterday after weeding, Extra Crunchy thought my sweaty, outdoorsy smelling body was a wild animal. (He is available for adoption; he’s a miracle kitten who survived distemper. And has the most soulful deep grey eyes.) Video: Extra Crunchy Attacks My Dress

Meanwhile the dog ate the case to my air pods while I was listening to Alex Hooper’s podcast Achilles’ Heel and making vegetable stock.

I had my second Ginger session yesterday with my coach. I still had the feeling many of her answers were stock, and that sometimes she may have been balancing more than one client at a time. We ended up talking a lot about how because of a dip in self-worth can cause discipline related and motivation issues— why should I take care of myself and commit to good habits if I’ll still be the same insecure person no one seems to value?

But I did do triceps and shoulders yesterday despite intense heat here.

An old friend popped by for a text last night and the nostalgia made me cry. Perspective is a beautiful thing, and sometimes we all need to remember behavior viewed as “bitter” can come from hurt or anger. Understanding can make a huge difference in an interaction.

By 10 pm, I couldn’t end the circle of thoughts about regret, hurt and the pain of seeing someone you once cared about experience something you know isn’t good for them.

So I texted an evening Ginger coach. At first the answers seemed stock and that she was copying/pasting and distracted by other clients, but that rapidly changed. And she and I had a good discussion. It was only about 20 minutes but it ended the loop of thoughts in my head.

I definitely think this service will help keep me focused with my therapist and allow me to get help for the more everyday issues as a situation is happening. Being the curious type I am, I want to know more about how the system works for the employees.

Of course, with the teen being gone, the dog is sullen and bereft. Last night she kept checking if the teen had come home yet and it was very difficult to get her to go to bed in her crate in the teen’s bedroom without the teen.

At 5:40 am the poor dog starting crying, so I went to her, got her out and took her to the yard and just let her stay free in the house. There was no way I was getting up with only 5 hours sleep.

I woke to find her in my bed with me and I actually liked knowing where she was. We got up for the day at 9.

As I drank my cup of coffee and starting feeding animals, my primary care physician’s office called. They are concerned about my iron and the doctor wants to schedule an appointment to discuss me going for a GI work up.

Now about a decade ago when I switched to his care, I did so because my doctor at the time to refused to treat my anemia. I had stress-induced super heavy menstrual bleeding that had reduced my stored ferritin to a 4. The nurse in the office at that particular doctor said that the adrenaline in my system from the stress is the only reason I was walking around and not in the hospital.

I had a three-month wait to see this particular new doctor. By the middle of the summer I literally could not get off the floor unless my-then five-year-old made me a pot of coffee and brought me a cup.

I called my OB/GYN and begged his staff to help me. The nurse practitioner saw me a day or two later and I left his office with a bag full of prescription-strength, special absorbing vitamin D and directions to take an iron pill with every meal.

So after two years of stress, and my period is still heavy, and eating mostly junk food for the last year, I don’t think we need a complete GI work up to fix this. When I see the doctor, and his residents, I’m going to ask if we can see if diet and supplements will return my numbers to better levels based on whatever deadline he prefers.

But it has me suddenly thinking— the recent falls, issues with hitting my numbers inconsistently at work (I literally said to a supervisor “somedays I just can’t make my limbs move faster.”) I have been blaming being out-of-shape and lazy and my disability for some recent issues, but compounding that is anemia.

And I honestly can’t remember the last time my iron was checked. The only reason he checked it now was because I reminded him of my history of anemia and that if my vitamin D was low, the two go hand-in-hand. And the highest my vitamin D has been in the last decade was 37. 30 is the lowest vitamin D result that counts as normal.

(By perusing my online medical regards I learned I don’t nor have I had HPV, HIV or Chlamydia.)

And this was all before coffee.

After coffee, I put on my favorite sun dress and ventured into the 90 degree heat (at 10:30 a.m. — that’s insane.) I walked over to Nan’s apartment six blocks away to bring her the Seeing Stars super soft lounge set/pajamas I bought her at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy. Giving a blind woman things with nice textures is always fun.

I walked home, sat for a minute and left at 11:15 to walk to CVS to pick up the teenager’s prescription toothpaste before they restocked it. I treated myself to a Booch Pop with my 40% off coupon. It’s a carbonated probiotic drink of only 40 calories that tasted like a zesty ginger beer.

There was also a coupon for free candy so I got a generic assortment of Gold Emblem Swedish fish and a trail mix with pistachios and almonds on sale for $2.99.

I stopped at our public library. Our library opened in 1962 so in our archive “stacks” as they are called we have the original hardcovers of the “Karen” books which were bestsellers in the mid-sixties. The adult librarian asked me if I would prefer she find a newer edition and I said no. The originals add to the experience.

I came home with 5,000 steps done from errands and made Bean and I breakfast of chicken, eggs and rice. I put some of my fresh vegetable stock on my rice.

If you have two minutes and you want to watch our dog eat breakfast, here is a video: Bean having Breakfast with Mom-mom

Tonight I am attending a pick-your-own bouquet workshop at a local farm. Joan is bringing me. I wonder if she will bring her little people.

Progression: A Discussion of Finding the Resources to Grow

I may have said this before, but even if I have it’s a message that can be said again: I am blessed to have a talented and caring medical team. In addition to this team, I have also been harvesting resources for my physical and mental help.

I am recording this week’s journey so others might consider different ways to find their own resources.

On Monday, the teenager resumed therapy with a new therapist who attended Moravian College at the same time I did and is loosely a friend of my traveling companion M.

I asked if she was comfortable treating my daughter, because we have circulated in similar arenas in the past and my 17-year-old daughter struggles to connect with therapists who work with teens and is too young for a therapist who treats adults.

From what I knew of her personality from the few interactions we’ve had over the years and the information on her web site my gut said she would be a good fit for the teen.

And in my teen’s eyes, I was right.

My daughter is far from a troubled teen, but she has two parents with disabilities, a mother with trauma in her background and an extended family history of addiction.

Her strong empathy and witchy powers can make her experience of the world intense. (Speaking of which— I gave her my tarot cards on her birthday and she cried. I knew she would understand the significance of the gesture but I didn’t expect her to get so overwhelmed she cried.)

On Monday and Tuesday, my work performance wouldn’t crack 88%. I was frustrated and in pain and just moving slowly. After mapping my pain patterns for years, I can say that my back pain is worst when I ovulate and when I menstruate.

Wednesday was, as mentioned in other posts, the teenager’s 17th birthday. I had a tele-appointment with my therapist of about 12 years. Coincidentally I discovered his birthday is the same as my daughter’s. That’s just another reason we get along.

It’s fun to have a professional in your life for a long time like this because I get to see his practice grow and develop, sometimes in parallel to my own life.

I recently took the ACE Childhood Trauma test, which gave me a different outlook on some of my experiences. My parents did the best they could, but they had their flaws and their own battles to fight. So between their own struggles and life events they couldn’t control, stuff happened.

I can’t explain why it’s time to face some of this now, but that’s the way things go sometimes. We all come to certain aspects of self awareness in our own time.

On Thursday, I visited my beloved chiropractor, Nicole Jensen at Back in Line, who leveled things out, told me I was stressed and talked with me about different physical therapy stretches I need to do to fight the pain. We both agree that the pattern of pain increases on those certain days in my menstrual cycle.

I came home and ate cake and ice cream for breakfast. Not the best decision as I have been 20 lbs overweight for a year.

I suddenly remembered that Stitch Fix offers employees access to the Ginger Mental Health app. So I made an appointment for an initial consultation for Friday.

My hope was to use Ginger’s coaching to set goals and recreate/spur my discipline and good habits regarding food and exercise. For instance, I haven’t lifted a barbell in a year. I miss strength training. I still think I could be an excellent body builder.

My Ginger coach is Kathryn, who has a master’s degree in social work. Our session, completely done over text, seemed to be two sessions in one.

The first hour, she asked basic questions about me. The second hour we set up a plan of the topics we’d like to address. This week we will start making and implementing goals. It doesn’t always feel like talking to a human, though the occasional grammar or spelling error reassures me that it is a person on the other end.

Some of her thoughts include: “Sounds like a great idea! So in your case, a plan I might suggest would be to start by addressing your feelings of stress, [being] overwhelm[ed], and lack of motivation by incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine, which can help bring some relief from challenging emotions and help you see more clearly how your thoughts and emotions are impacting your behaviors so that you can feel more grounded, intentional, and comfortable being yourself. This can also include exercises centered around relaxation techniques, positive distractions, mindful awareness, developing awareness of triggers (when feeling stressed and/or overwhelmed, taking time to notice what the root cause is and look for a pattern), pattern recognition, scheduling and time management, and identifying and building on your current strengths and resources. We can also discuss accountability/working with providers (i.e. therapist and coach) and explore sleep/exercise/diet as needed.”

A lot of that feels copied and pasted, but it’s okay in my opinion. Sometimes just having someone help you pick a direction or even commit to a new direction can be the change you need.

Also on Friday, our dog F. Bean Barker got spayed at Canyon River Run, a vet we really love.

On Friday night, I learned a new work center at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy— style carding. My colleagues cheered me on in learning this new role and I very much enjoyed it, even when my computer monitor broke and I had to use a computer on another line and lean way over to grab my boxes.

Basically, the associates who “style card,” grab all the completed fixes that come off the QC line and use the packing slip to print a style card that includes a personal note from the stylist and lists each piece in the fix and offers examples of how it can be worn.

Working with anywhere from 6-8 fixes at a time, the “style carder” folds the packing slip and style card and places them into an envelope before returning them to the box.

A quick check that the box is correctly wrapped and the style carder lines up the boxes and shoots them down the table onto a metal conveyer line operated by sensors. This takes the boxes to “OB1” or the outbound/shipping department which inserts the return envelope, tapes the box shut and prepares the boxes for mail pickup.

The pickers assemble 920 items a shift, which breaks down to 184 fixes. Each QC associate folds and packages 130 fixes a shift, each style card associate aims for 900 fixes a shift, and the Bizzy Hizzy itself ships about 6,000 fixes a day.

During this time, our tasks are fairly simple, automated and monotonous so we are allowed to listen to podcasts or music. I’ve used the time to explore a lot of topics via podcasts on Spotify.

Spotify is still a new platform for me and it’s slowly gaining exclusive proprietary rights to a lot of the podcasts I listen to. I heard on several news broadcasts that Spotify paid 60 million for Alex Cooper’s “Call her Daddy” where she talks about sex often with an emphasis on blow jobs.

I listen to her because she has some funny stories of the ridiculous escapades she has had: dating a professional athlete, offering blow jobs as a way to sneak into sporting events, etc. But she also sometimes interviews people— like a retired Playboy bunny who left the Mansion and points out the realities of such sexual exploitation. Alex can be really insightful but she also can misuse her vocal range to try and make the podcast more interesting to listen to and that hurts me ears.

In addition to Kristen Bell, Dax Shepherd, Mayim Bialik, and Conan O’Brien (and in addition to the news and fashion), I searched for cerebral palsy podcasts. From TheMighty.com, I learned that the name “cerebral palsy” is an umbrella term for several brain-related disorders. And I don’t really know anything about which CP I have.

I learned CP can interfere with the neurotransmitter GABA which is why our muscles and our brains don’t communicate effectively. I learned that muscles that don’t get used correctly and don’t get the right messages can stiffen and become spastic. This causes pain and lack of control.

The two main classification differences I have heard are hemiplegia and quadriplegia which you may recognize from the words paraplegic and quadriplegic. These terms explain the parts of the brain/body affected. I would assume I have mild hemiplegic CP, as I think it only affects my lower body. But sometimes I think I see it in my hands so I don’t know. And I think I am low spasticity as I seem to have fairly good muscle control for someone with this disorder.

But I don’t know. So I did what I like to do, on Saturday, I called Nan. If you don’t know Nan from this blog, she is often my partner in crime. She has been blind since birth. Like me, we were raised in able-bodied families and never knew life any other way.

Nan is older than I and, despite her disability, has lived independently for most of her life. She attended college. She married. She has a hobby writing career and attends poetry open mics. She was a teenager when NASA put a man on the moon, but despite having never seen the moon, she has been fascinated and following the advances of NASA ever since.

Nan is closer to my aunt’s generation than mine. My aunt has what would now be referred to as developmental delay, but what was called the now insensitive term “mental retardation” in her day. In school, she didn’t learn what the other kids learned. She had basic reading skills and could add and subtract but never learned to multiply or divide. I know because we used to play school, except I really taught her things.

My aunt, then a few years later Nan, and even a few more years later me, we were all part of 20th centuries advances. Medicine had found ways to help us survive, but technology and society had not discovered ways to help us thrive.

None of us have thick medical files that detail the specifics of what is wrong with us. You were thrown into the mainstream to sink or swim. And if you couldn’t swim, you were institutionalized or kept home. Therefore, families didn’t talk about disability as much as they pushed functionality— they urged us to act as normal as possible and pretend the differences about us were not even noticeable.

I mentioned some of this to my primary care physician when I transferred to his practice more than a decade ago (some friends and my therapist recommended him). At that time he guided me to specialists to explain what is wrong with my specific body, but I am realizing now that he might not know that I know nothing about what my disorder is.

So, also on Saturday, I emailed my doctor. I asked him to help me find someone who can talk to me about cerebral palsy. I know children with the disability in today’s world work with a pediatric neurologist.

And it hasn’t all been work and reflection. My daughter and I got mani/pedis for her birthday/upcoming trip to Cape May. It was our last appointment with “Nails by Bethy” at Hyperion Salon. Beth has a new full time career that should offer her more stability and room for advancement.

We met Beth 12 years ago on the same date she ended her nail career. And the teenager and I got to be her final clients.

And yesterday I tried the new strawberry popping bubbles at Dunkin. I had them in an iced matcha latte. I must say, this is the best matcha latte I ever had at Dunkin but the bubbles had such an artificial strawberry flavor it tasted like someone poured chunks of jello in my drink.

If Dunkin’ wants to capitalize on the boba trend they should stick to normal tapioca.