My body feels wonderful… and other ridiculous tales

This week has been a roller coaster— but isn’t that just the way? People have been telling me I look like I’m loosing weight but I don’t know if that’s true.

The teenager took the dog for a rainy walk at Lafayette College the other day. She sent several very lovely photos.

I have many odds and ends making life out of the ordinary from little foster kitten Jean-Paul Sartre to my dear friend Nan moving from my neighborhood to a senior community.

Nancy in her new place

I ordered a kitchen scale off Target.com to measure Jean-Paul’s growth. He’s up to 1 lb 5 ounces. That was after a big breakfast of pate and kitten milk. He has a hearty appetite and screams for food like any baby does every 4 hours.

He is super inquisitive and smart. He carries tiny toys around in his mouth and plays with our dog, Bean. (Here’s a video.)

Meanwhile, guest fosters Coffee Bean & Pinto Bean are having fun in my room. Khloe and Louise do not like having babies around, but the cockatoo Nala sure does.

For some humor, let’s mention that the Teenager recently discovered that the Morningstar Farms breakfast Pattie’s I have been feeding her for almost two decades are vegetarian. She called her dad to find out if he had been in on this secret.

We never hid that they weren’t real sausages from her and she’s been able to read for a long time. The shock was real, and she’s still talking about it days later.

She didn’t have a chance to go grocery shopping for her nights in the kitchen. I suggested using my Hungryroot ancient grain gluten free pancake mix and the Morningstar sausages. It was a lovely, hearty breakfast-for-dinner. And like she had accused me of when she first discovered my fake breakfast meat, “It was all a lie.”

The teen also got her first fix from Stitch Fix and it came from the warehouse where I work, the Bizzy Hizzy. Click the photo to see her unbox.

Click to see what’s in the box

Speaking of work, I took voluntary time off on Monday and my stats were 100%, 88% and 98%. Andrew at Apex Training has been working be hard with exercises like split leg squats. My quads feel it. My balance is improving, my aches and pains feel like muscle fatigue and not deeper pain or joint issues. I have caught myself almost falling several times, and can sometimes feel my leg scissoring or even notice my left foot dragging behind before it trips me.

Even my chiropractor, Nicole Jensen of Back in Line Chiropractic and Wellness Center has made comments about how well my body is moving and how things are improving. Today she said my right side was locked up, when it’s usually my left, and that everything went back where it belonged easily.

When I hopped off the table, she told me to look at myself. “I have never seen you stand up with your feet so firmly planted and your poster straight,” she said.

And I felt it, I felt really solid.

So I don’t know if this is where I confess I tried the new Wingstop chicken sandwich. Most of my diet lately has been vegan. But last night I hadn’t had dinner, it was 8 pm and my body was devastated (in that good way). I could barely move after my shower. I considered skipping dinner.

But then I thought about my food intake for the day:

  • 4:30 am: Supercoffee dark roast with half and half
  • 5:30 am: Wawa coffee con lèche (it was a bribe to make myself go get gas)
  • 6:30 to 8:30 am: 20 oz water
  • 9 am: Kind Peanut Butter Breakfast bar and about 3 oz cranberry juice cocktail
  • 9:30 to 11:30 am: 20 oz water
  • 12:15 pm: quinoa with roast zucchini, white beans and my home canned roasted tomatoes, 6 oz Diet Pepsi
  • 2 to 5 pm: 20 oz water
  • 5:30 pm: sunflower seeds
  • 6 pm: 12 oz cucumber water

I thought a chicken sandwich would be good for protein and I saw the commercial for Wingstop’s new chicken sandwich on Hulu. It was good, not as big as I thought a sandwich from a chicken joint would be— but to be able to slather any sauce from their menu on our was really cool. I had a mango habanero sandwich and a side order of the honey hot rub boneless wings. It hit the spot.

Meet Jean-Paul Sartre, the kitten

Today we picked up a new foster kitten, a tiny guy I named Jean-Paul Sartre. More on his basic data here.

We spent some time introducing him to the dog, which went well. He has a carrier set up as a mini-crate as he’s only five weeks old and about a pound.

He needs one to two weeks of quarantine before exposure to other cats. I say one to two as the person who rescued him kept him for a week.

I asked one of my fellow FURR volunteers if she would consider proofing the “itty bitty how to cat book” and she said yes, so that is a huge help.

Tomorrow FURR is hosting a “who’s been in care the longest” adoption event and we have been invited to bring two of our four adults. So stayed tuned to find out who and how it goes.

Khloe

Louise

Minerva

Touch of Grey

Walking, workouts and waffles

I did not work a full ten hour day any day this week. But you know what? That’s okay.

My stats on Sunday were 105%, then 98 Monday, 88 yesterday and 94 today. What happened?

I don’t know. I was in pain Monday, stiff and uncomfortable yesterday and almost fell today but caught my balance.

And then Andrew at Apex put me through legs. We did split leg squats and he got to watch my hip do the funky angles it does. And I got to feel every fiber in my knees, quads and hamstrings.

Plus, I walked more than 8,000 steps today while my legs were stiff. Well after that workout they are not stiff but jelly.

The Teenager showed one of her dog walking clients some of the neighborhood dogs and their tricks— here is the video.

And then for the final event of the day we went to Waffle House as earlier this month we had heard that August 24 was National Waffle Day.

I had a scrumptious hash brown bowl with egg, cheese and jalapeños.

We split a peanut butter blueberry waffle.

These are the moments to treasure.

Margaritas and cat noses

I might be pushing too hard.

I did (I think) 105% on Sunday at work, 105% yesterday and woke up stiff and with my right quad tight and spasms in my calf. I only did 93% today, but I feel better now. And the dip in numbers had more to do with some chaos in the warehouse versus my cerebral palsy issues.

Regardless, I must admit I was a little relieved yesterday when my fitness coach Andrew from Apex Training postponed my workout.

The teenager proposed going to Applebee’s for dinner, her treat, as she didn’t feel like cooking. She also demanded I order a cocktail as I think she wanted to make sure I drifted off to bed as early as possible. (8 p.m.)

The teenager loves Applebee’s— for a child raised in all sorts of Mom & Pop restaurants where we often knew the owners, she certainly loves her boring old franchise Applebee’s.

I realized that if you took any item with chicken tenders away from the menu, you’d lose more than half the meals available. And if you didn’t want bacon on your hamburger, you had three choices: the quesadilla burger (which we got), the plain old burger and the Beyond veggie burger (which was $14 and came with nothing but lettuce, tomato and pickle).

Boring.

The quesadilla burger was a mish-mash delight (I chose my margarita for the artificial Latin theme) but had to be eaten with a knife and fork.

When I arrived home, Opie and Fog (two of our personal cats) joined Khloe and Louise (foster cats) and Nala (Goffin’s cockatoo) and Yo-yo (parakeet) in my room for the night. Fog tries so hard to be Louise’s friend— and she is slowly (after more than a year) getting braver and more confident.

Louise (left) and Fog (bottom right)

Finally, for those that are wondering… I ruptured my tendon in my ring finger April 15 and had “mallet finger” and a cast for nine weeks. My specialist released me July 25 and expressed his disappointment that my finger was still a little off.

My finger after a ten hour shift August 15 — four full months after my accident.

I use my hands so much at work, so I still splint at night. I must say it feels like and looks like the finger is getting stronger and straighter every day.

Updates, announcements and anecdotes

It’s just about to turn 5 a.m. on Tuesday morning. The last 48 hours have been emotionally difficult, and those are internal challenges I have resolved within myself but now I need to “make right” in the world.

My good friend Joan (the talented photographer) had quipped that the moon is in “Frustrato” phase and perhaps that is accurate.

Sometimes it’s nice to blame the universe instead of accepting our part in the mayhem. Because even good intentions spark fires.

I heard a podcast yesterday; I believe it was an economic one, that asked if one host was “a glass half empty or a glass half full kind of guy.” He replied, “it’s just half.”

That’s too much enigma and philosophy for pre-dawn hours. Blame the fact that my trusty espresso machine only filled half my mug.

Mug from Purr Haus in Emmaus

The teenager and I had 14 kittens in the house Saturday, Sunday and Monday offering temporary lodging for these babies whose official Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab foster families have gone on summer vacation.

They were so much fun to have around, but 11 went home last night. This led the Teenager’s officially adopted foster fail Mars of the Roman Pride distraught that his friends had gone. He screamed until the Teenager released him into “gen pop” where he plopped himself down in front of the remaining visitors.

On Friday, I had a rather grueling session at Apex Training with my coach Andrew. We did some intense work on balance and single leg muscle stability. On Saturday, the communication between my brain and my lower body felt rickety (for lack of a better description) and it was challenging to move. By Sunday, the movement felt smoother but my phone was registering spikes in walking asymmetry. But something very interesting happened Monday— I could not only stand on one leg, but I could also hold my leg in a few seconds of a quad stretch.

Yesterday, I visited the Stitch Fix employee store, which resulted in a good news/bad news scenario. I bought myself jewelry on an impulse and discovered my second holes could still accept earrings. As someone who really grew up in the 80s and graduated high schools in the 1990s, I have three sets of holes in my ears.

I bought the Teenager some new things, including some warm hiking style boots for fall and her dog walks. I bought myself an adorable pair of shorts, and I picked one size up from my pre-existing Stitch Fix clothes and they were too small.

Obviously my efforts to reduce my recent (as in pandemic era) weight gain have been not sincere enough. Sigh. I’m trying to eat better and move more without falling into a strict/restrictive mindset.

But I did eat an entire medium pizza from Domino’s the other night. It was a medium hand-tossed crust, light on the cheese, light on the garlic Alfredo sauce with red peppers and pineapple.

On the way home from work last night, I noticed that the furniture store looked abandoned— and that the sign merely said urn.

In the background of all of this, the ‘cat book’ from Parisian Phoenix has hit some unexpected difficulties prompting a delay in its production. But my quick thinking, after a few hours of pondering, have inspired an interim release of a mini cat book featuring advice and stories about the care of cats. The larger book will come later, perhaps in early 2023.

In the meantime, I am very puzzled why my sweet tripod foster Louise has decided to crate herself.

And the most surprising item of the day was receiving my first catalog for Parisian Phoenix Publishing— Uline junk mail!

I suppose the last update is that the people at Susquehanna Service Dogs have cashed my check for the application fee. I’m anxiously awaiting contact.

To say life has been hectic feels like an understatement.

Question of the day: Am I disabled enough for a service dog?

This is a hard post to write.

That’s the thing about disability— it like a kaleidoscope of worry and health and what you can and suddenly can’t and then can do. It’s a revolving door of chaos and bodily revolt.

Don’t get me wrong. I know I am lucky. Every damn day I get up, take care of myself, go to work, pursue my side business, go to the gym, and try to do what’s right for the teenager and the pets.

I can walk, even if I may never run that 5K I dream about. I work in a warehouse, even if sometimes it’s hard. I try to listen to and take care of my body. And I am grateful.

But despite all the doctors, the physical therapy, the personal trainer (thank you Apex Training), the vitamins, the stretching, the medication and the regular visits to my lovely chiropractor, Nicole Jensen of Back in Line Chiropractic and wellness center, I still “randomly” have accidents.

I trip over my own two feet and have hands that look like this:

And I fall through the old screen door in the garage.

I burst a tendon and spend 12+ weeks nursing mallet finger from taking off my socks.

I’ve broken bones, smashed teeth, fallen down stairs (most recently at the hospital).

I’m getting older and I’m falling more. In a few more years, the teenager will be a full-fledged young adult and won’t necessarily be here to babysit me.

So I filled out a pre-qualification questionnaire. I probably won’t be disabled enough to warrant a dog, but I have the means to pay for it. I live independently and my condition cannot be mitigated with medication.

But I can walk and function you say, and I do. What could a dog possibly do?

  • Help me take off (and put on) my shoes and socks
  • Help me retrieve objects from the floor when I can’t bend.
  • Help me retrieve objects when I fall.
  • Help me get up when I fall.
  • Help me up and down the stairs.
  • Bark to alert neighbors or people in the household that I need help.*
  • And I wonder if a dog could “nudge” me if it notices I am unstable and get me to fix my gait or rest.

* this one is apparently controversial — some trainers claim barking in any form is a nuisance and that a service dog should never bother/impact the general public.

Like any topic within disability, it’s complex. But with each fall I take I feel progressively more vulnerable and fragile. It feels like another option to consider.

Here Kitty Kitty

Yes, that is a kitten. Yes that is a photo by the amazing Joan Zachary. Yes, that is the teenager.

Please check out this blog post about the upcoming book to benefit Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. Yes, I am helping to write it, putting my journalism skills to work. And I am offering cat wisdom and reprinting a flash fiction I wrote in high school.

As The FURR Flies, an anthology of cat stories, heart-warming tales from cat rescuers, cat resources and cat advice has gone from in the pipeline to …

Here Kitty Kitty

A Tuesday update (PS- the cats are fine)

It’s 4:45 a.m.

I wake at 4:15 a.m. I leave for work at 5:45 a.m.

I don’t need to get up this early. But, I’ve been on 10-hour day shifts in the warehouse now for 6 months and I feel like it’s the best way to maintain some work-life balance and some productivity.

And honestly, by 8 or 9 p.m. I’m usually so exhausted, mentally and physically, that I am mindlessly eating and/or watching TV.

So I rise in the early morning. It’s too early. I have to tip-toe out of my room as to not wake the cockatoo. The cats are confused. But… This is my creative writing time, my Parisian Phoenix business time, my coffee time, and my cuddle cats time.

Our “gen pop” of cats include brothers Misty and Fog, and fosters through Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab Touch of Grey and Minerva, with an occasional visit from our almost 12-year-old cancer surviving old man tripod Opie. Opie is like an old mob boss, but he’s tired now, and Fog, with his 2.5 years, has been challenging him for about the last year. Not in a really aggressive way, but challenging his authority enough that there have been some issues.

This morning, my productivity is not as, well, productive as I prefer. Sure, I tried to tame my curls. I started the dishwasher, took my allergy meds, made a big cup of coffee and checked for book sales. (None last night. The new title debuts next week– and it’s only $6.99. It’s also a novelette and written a little lighter than my usual dark style.)

But Minerva keeps coming to cuddle, Misty and Fog are playing, and Touch of Grey (Tiggy, as we sometimes call her) is patrolling. Oz is considering waking up in his crate, but he’s giving me side-eye. He will only wake if I plan to feed breakfast.

And if you have cats, you understand why I will not feed them breakfast at 4:30 a.m.

We corralled these “gen pop” cats into the spare bedroom last week for the teenager’s party, as we had some guests allergic to cats. The teenager thought it best to lock them up, then clean, as it would reduce the likelihood anyone would die.

We also passed out Benadryl at the door.

But that was the same stretch of time where two of the three cats accidentally given the dog’s flea meds ended up seizing. Misty and Touch of Grey ended up at the emergency vet, and $2300 later, they are both home. Neither is exhibiting any further neurological symptoms or personality damage.

They are both on muscle relaxers. So the teenager maintained quarantine to facilitate delivering their pills. But last night, she released them.

And I’m happy to watch Fog and Misty play, cuddle Minerva and encourage Tiggy to patrol.

The teenager said she liked the peace and quiet of having them locked up, but she has a dog to keep her company. I miss their cat obtrusion into my daily routine. Especially in the dog-free hours of pre-dawn.

Rebuilding

No fancy title. No big announcements . Just some subtle realness.

Though I do have a little good news. Misty came home today. He’s wobbly, but he’s his sweet-natured self. Video here.

Touch of Grey is still in the hospital.

If you missed that harrowing tale, you can read it here.

The world often seems twisted in an eternal loop of one step forward, two steps back. It makes me miss my dad.

But I noticed today amid the cat drama and everyday life— I worked with my blind friend Nan this morning— that I still have trouble with my right leg, mostly stiffness and lack of control, but no pain.

So when I headed to Apex Training for my session with Andrew, I felt anxious and emotionally exhausted but physically ready to go.

Every session Andrew challenges me more today— and I did a mixed grip barbell deadlift at 100 lbs. And for the first time, I felt like I nailed the form.

As if that weren’t enough, he had me do something I never heard of: a plank up. He wanted me to do 5, but I only did 4 1/2. Well, Greg was willing to give me credit for 4 3/4. And as the teenager says, Greg doesn’t hand out credit easily. Speaking of improvements, in Saturday’s session, I surpassed 60 seconds in a plank.

My strength, at least the physical kind, is coming back.

Dinner was a flat bread pizza — a vegetarian delight of random cheese I found in the fridge, a radish sliced thinly, and some honey with red pepper flakes.