Rainy Mondays

This morning, I slept in until 6:30 a.m. and that felt like a luxury. My hip is starting to bother me less. I even managed to give the last foster cat her dewormer. Before coffee!!

I had a cup of my dark roast Supercoffee and a bowl of Cabot cottage cheese. I needed a shower, so I bathed. And then I called to see if I could move my chiropractor appointment up earlier in the week.

My plan is to confer with her about how best to strengthen my core and work with my hip. That will be Wednesday at 9:15 a.m.

Two hours had passed since my cottage cheese. I prepared my main breakfast— a vegan feast of quinoa, lentils, ancient grains, kale, pumpkin seeds, Hungryroot fresh salsa and my homemade roasted red pepper hummus as dressing. And the first batch of the days vitamins.

For dessert I had three slices of dragon fruit “chips,” which appear to be a great source of potassium and even have iron and protein. And a big glass of water.

I used my mid-morning to work on the Parisian Phoenix Publishing May newsletter.

It talks about upcoming events that will blend literature and fine arts.

I puttered about the kitchen and felt my injured hand becoming frightfully cold— so I started a second cup of Supercoffee at noon (which is way too much caffeine but it’s the only way I can keep my blood flowing without a workout and I don’t want to workout without supervision because of my recent falls and my mallet finger).

The teenager’s Keurig kept having some sort of stroke and just refused to make coffee. It acted as if it didn’t have water in it, so I unplugged it, added more water, took my fancy coffee pod out and ran the water through. Then I tried again. It took about three tries to get my coffee.

I gave myself two sesame mochi as a snack and curled up with the dog.

And after we got settled, the doctor’s office called to discuss paperwork for my employer and the disability company.

I’m watching some TV now and brainstorming ideas to make tomorrow a “writing day.” I just hope it finally starts to get warm.

Food (like homemade boba tea) and rest on the first official day of recovery

Today was a day of recovery. I literally fell on my ass yesterday and have a sore bottom today in addition to my mallet finger and hip pain.

My boss sent me an email acknowledging that I should be on leave at least through May 24. I am going to maintain good sleep habits, drink lots of water, eat all the fruits and vegetables, and with the help of my medical team and personal trainer Andrew at Apex Training, hopefully not only recover but improve.

Emotionally it’s hard not to guilt myself for not finding a way to continue working, but the two falls I’ve had in the last four days prove that I am doing the right thing. My boss was even kind enough to say that he knows this has been a “roller coaster for me.” I am grateful to have such kind coworkers from my second shift team at the Bizzy Hizzy.

I watched some of the teenager’s favorite anime, Haikyu!. And I gave the birds new toys.

But it was a nice eating day so I will share with you.

Breakfast was a cup of Supercoffee, a bowl of Cabot cottage cheese and a taste-test of sesame mochi that I bought at 9th Street Asian Market last night on our outing to Stroudsburg. It turned out to be exactly the food I have been trying to identify for years.

I even made a silly video.

Then for a late morning snack I cooked some tapioca for boba (also a purchase from last night that I have never had the opportunity to play with before.) The teenager got two flavors of the popping bubbles— kiwi and honey. And I also bought a can of melon flavored sweetened condensed milk.

I boiled the black tapioca pearls per the directions and added my own home brewed unsweetened iced tea, some milk and ice to a wide mouthed mason jar. Then I added about a 1/2 teaspoon of the honey popping bubbles and a teaspoon of the melon milk. The melon milk is amazing. Finally I stirred in the pearls.

I was very happy with my first attempt.

The teenager made some crusted salmon to go with leftover rice and Thai peanut salad. That was our late lunch.

And after a quick run to the Dollar Tree and Grocery Outlet, (I needed a pill organizer to remind me to take my vitamins and allergy medicine now that I won’t be tossing them in my work lunches) I mixed some of my homemade roasted red pepper hummus with harissa and Hungryroot’s “fresh salsa” which is more like diced tomatoes, onions and peppers, to enjoy with a massive glass of unsweetened iced tea and PF Pita Chips, also a Grocery Outlet find.

It certainly wasn’t an exciting day, but it was a restful day and sometimes that is the best place to start on the road to recuperation.

Soothing my wounds with healthy food

After my doctor appointment yesterday, Nan and I went to Grocery Outlet. Advocating for yourself, even in a safe, familiar environment drains a person emotionally.

My work in the kitchen not only provides the nutrients for my recovery from my mallet finger, but also helps me continue my fitness journey with Apex Fitness.

Maybe I’ll finally commit to losing weight.

Last night for dinner I had leftover pancakes, almond butter and apple slices with a can of blueberry elderflower sparkling water.

And this morning, Louise insisted I get up at 4:15 a.m. And it’s only Saturday not even a work day.

I cuddled her for a while, tried to go back to sleep, and finally just got up at 5:45ish.

Someone adopt this love so I can sleep instead of cuddle the cat all night

I came downstairs, had my coffee and started cooking my treasures. I sautéed kale (reduced for quick sale) in extra virgin olive oil, garlic, salt pepper and lemon juice. I made shredded potatoes in the frying pan with peppers. I prepared quinoa and midnight grains.

I fried an egg and mixed some of everything together with some apple, some of my homemade roasted red pepper hummus and pumpkin seeds.

Truly delectable.

And then right before the gym I had two medjool dates.

And I also prepped some plain lentils just to have on hand. I’m taking Nan some of the different ingredients.

Now for lunch I toasted some Ozery multigrain thin and made no-nitrate smoked turkey sandwiches (the free protein of the week from Hungryroot) topped with Brie, roasted red pepper, spinach, butter lettuce (reduced as well) and chipotle mayonnaise also from Hungryroot.

And I fell again today. At the gym today. Andrew my trainer seems to be concerned that I won’t make as much progress with upper body during my injury (but I did bench press today, but I inadvertently favored the right pretty heavily). But I’m okay with that — a body has to stay active and exercise, alcohol and excessive caffeine are the only way I can get my left hand warm. Well, unless I curl into bed under a heat blanket.

That’s two falls this week that lead to not serious but definitely painful bruises and scrapes.

Mallet finger update: my doctor is a good one

If you haven’t heard my saga of rupturing a tendon taking off my socks, you can catch up here:

Today I went to see my family doctor as I am concerned about the interaction of my mallet finger and my list of comorbidities from cerebral palsy. My crooked gait makes me a fall risk and the last five years or so— more or less since I entered my forties— have included broken bones, SI joint pain, back pain and hip pain.

All of this have led to a more-than-one-year journey to understand my body and how cerebral palsy impacts it.

I have visited doctors and specialists and neurologists trying to understand what I can do to minimize further issues as I age.

And it has worked!!!! My pain levels and chronic issues have dropped from daily pain of 5-8 to pain levels.

So I had a long visit with my primary care physician and told him not only about my injury, but also updated him on my fitness and improvements. I explained how I have been learning how muscles are supposed to work with my friends at Apex Training. I also told him I fell onto the brick wall of my house yesterday. I showed him the abrasions on my left arm.

Then I pointed out that traditionally my left side has been my anchor and by removing that from the anchor position, my walk has become more asymmetrical (according to my iPhone) and my hip is out of whack and uncomfortable all of the time and it’s only getting worse in these conditions.

Unlike the specialist— he filled out the paperwork himself and in front of me requesting that I have an FMLA leave until he sees me again after my specialist.

On top of all of that attention, he then gave me a full physical.

It was very hard for me to be vulnerable and ask for help, and my doctor and his staff made me feel heard, valued, and as if they truly cared about me.

I brought the paperwork home and started the claim process to initiate a short-term disability leave. It took about an hour and I realized my doctor missed one of the pages and on another he misread the questions. (So I added post-it notes.)

And if I’m 100% honest, despite everything I deal with, I still harbor feelings of guilt for asking for this time— much of which I intend to use doing work with my personal trainer and chiropractor to strengthen this hip and improve my walk so I can return to my warehouse job with a strong core and a better understanding of how normal legs work. I’m going to try to teach them. But, with my femoral anteversion, I know there is only so much I can do.

I deserve a chance to make myself strong and healthy.

Cute animal photos and mallet finger impact

It’s the end of April and it was 35 degrees last night. The price of oil continues to skyrocket and I’m still heating my house halfway through spring.

The cold does not help the poor circulation in my hands which has intensified in my left hand because my mallet finger restricts my movement.

My hands are painfully cold, except when Andrew is making me curse him in my head at Apex Training. Today was leg day, and I was so tired that when I came home and let the dog out I turned around and lost my balance and slammed right into the brick wall between my mud room and my kitchen.

Nala, my six-year-old Goffin’s cockatoo, started shaking and plucking her feathers today. Nothing in her environment has changed except the neighbor’s dog has been barking nonstop all day. The teenager believes his distress causes her anxiety.

Speaking of the teenager, she made this thick chocolate chip cookie/blondie dessert that I topped with ice cream that Sobaka’s mom brought home from Penn State when we dog sat last weekend.

Before the teenager brought home our dog, I would never criticize a dog owner, but now that I see the difference between different dog care styles, I feel back for dogs that aren’t spoiled like Sobaka and Bean.

And I don’t know how Sobaka’s mom does it— that dog is a bed hog.

But now an update on my mallet finger:

  • Stitch Fix has been amazing. Because my specialist at OAA took a week to return my paperwork and then didn’t properly fill it out, the onus was on me to find jobs I could do to not hurt myself. It turned out I can QC just fine— I hit 92% just fine.
  • But here’s the thing… my specialist knows hands, he doesn’t know me. I don’t think he heard me when I said I have cerebral palsy and that I work 10 hours a day in a warehouse. I’m just not sure that environment is safe for me right now,
  • Why do I say this? Because this week drove home to me how much I rely on my left side for stability. By forcing me to work 90% on the right, I am struggling to keep my right hip in place.
  • I am so stiff by the end of the work day. I also end up pinching and slamming my right fingertips and by the end of the day my left fingers I can use are swollen and sore.
  • And I fold 750 clothing items a day, handle 150 boxes and rip open probably 500 plastic bags. That’s a lot of fingers moving.
  • Once I consider the risk of accidentally losing my cast and bending my finger (which would extend my healing time) and adding the increased fall risk of mine because I am aggravating known issues with my balance and mobility, I just don’t feel safe.
  • This is a horribly stressful feeling.
  • I’m going to talk with my family doctor about it. I already mentioned it to my therapist, because I wanted to confirm my thoughts were rational and not whiny or emotional.

Today’s vegan lunch: curry carrots, lentils, quinoa, my own roasted chick peas, toasted sesame seeds, green olives and a touch of Thai peanut sauce topped with pumpkin seeds

And last but not least, cats. Misty caught a mouse! Video here.

First day back at the warehouse with mallet finger in a cast

According to the Stitch Fix timekeeping software, their human resource interface and their payroll, I am still on leave.

But when I got to the time clock, I was able to clock in without an issue and a supervisor and I discussed how best to put me to work at the Bizzy Hizzy.

The paperwork from my doctor still has not arrived, and my actual supervisor was out sick today.

But I was very grateful for the opportunity to have my first day back fall on a Sunday as Sundays are way quieter and less hectic.

We decided that I would pick a cart of Freestyle purchases and then fold and ship them— which would allow me to test my functionality in the two main areas of outbound, folding and picking.

A freestyle cart should take 40 minutes to pick, and it covers a good 3,000 plus steps, because it contains 80 individual items. My cart took 65 minutes, but it took me three to get started and another seven to deal with internet problems.

And I quickly realized that as the cart got heavier it got harder to steer to the left because my hand didn’t have a good grip on the left side.

At first break, I was at 98% of the required metrics in folding and shipping, but then I got a cart of shoes and ended up falling to 85% because it’s hard not to stick both hands in the envelope when you have trouble stuffing those shoes in there.

My direct supervisor emailed to check on me, so I gave him my full report.

He said not to worry, I’d be back at 100% before I knew it and he didn’t want me hurting myself. If anything changed or I felt pain, I was to let him know immediately.

The supervisor filling in for him also checked in with me periodically.

By the end of the day, I was over 90%.

I can’t help but wonder if the constant movement of all my other fingers makes my injured figure wiggle in my cast. If so, will that loosen the cast prematurely? Something to keep an eye on….

Meal planning without grocery shopping

I’m scheduled to return to work tomorrow which is especially awkward since my specialist gave me a return-to-work note for my mallet finger but has not filled out any of the paperwork my employer requested. Even though I paid for it and gave it to them Tuesday at 10 a.m.

I have this irrational fear of bending my finger accidentally now that the hand rehab/ occupational therapists and the specialist have warned me that one bend at the knuckle could restart my healing process from day one.

So instead of getting the “Sunday scaries” on Saturday as I fear going back to work, I decided to use that nervous energy to meal prep.

Usually I have things I want or need to make when I undertake my meal prep— typically lunch for my four work days and some planning or preparing of dinners.

I didn’t do any grocery shopping this week nor do I get a Hungryroot box, so the goal was to recycle leftovers and see if we had enough food to survive.

I didn’t have a plan per se… I did know I had taco meat, baked beans, turkey hot dogs and mac and cheese leftovers. I also knew I had an unopened container of Hungryroot’s cashew cheddar sauce. And that the teenager really wanted me to make plain white rice. And while we were doing push up at the gym, we decided to make a puttanesca-style sauce with vegan chorizo and olives.

Today’s session ended up having 12 steps.

Step One: Nancy had given me one of her Tupperware pitcher and I thought rather than shove it into my very cluttered cupboard, I would brew some Earl Grey tea and add some honey granules to make a wicked iced tea.

Step Two: while waiting for the water to boil, I put 1.5 cups white rice and 3 cups water on the stove to boil.

Step Three: I gathered leftovers, ingredients, sauces and dishes and piled them on the counter.

Step Four: Started water to boil for pasta.

Step Five: while all that water comes to a boil, (except I think the teapot was already done at this point and I had tea steeping in a giant novelty mug) I transformed leftovers into work lunches.

Leftover Korean barbecue chicken and veggies was placed into the work lunch pile as is. added hot dogs to the beans and the Amy’s Organic skillet mac and cheese that I had also added riced broccoli to. I added some spicy kimchi to the taco meat (which I had originally prepared with black beans and peppers) and Hungryroot’s green Chile sauce, which I also added rice to when it was done.

I organized them in the fridge with the oldest (and least processed) leftovers going to work with my tomorrow.

Step Six: start spaghetti

Step Seven: cook vegan chorizo in extra virgin olive oil with some scallions I found in the back of the fridge, green olives and roasted red peppers. When that’s cooked, add tomato sauce and that will be the topping for the spaghetti.

Step Eight: cook a couple chicken breasts from the freezer with smoked paprika and garlic powder. Spread some rice into a casserole dish. Liberally add parsley and pour on the cashew cheddar.

Step Nine: dig out a vegetable from the freezer— in this case garlic seasoned cauliflower. The chicken and the cauliflower will go into the rice/cashew cheddar mix to make a chicken-rice casserole that we’ll probably warm in the oven Monday night.

Step Ten: assemble pasta.

Step eleven: assemble vitamins and realize you only have four days of allergy medicine left.

Step twelve: have a late lunch with the teenager and pack up the leftovers.

Untitled: a post about lingering grief

They say with time it gets easier, and I suppose I have to trust.

But this week has been damn hard.

My first big injury without my father and my first bit of car trouble without my father.

Both times when I used to turn to my father.

I tried to reach out to my mother, but there’s just something about that relationship that always goes sideways. And I whatever I try to do to fix it fails.

I shared a poem I wrote about grief to Nancy, my blind friend, when I saw her today. And I think she’s anxious to see where I can go with it.

And first thing this morning— I saw this post from a very clean and well curated antique shop in downtown Easton, advertising its fresh wares.

Now I am not an antiques person, but V. Murray Mercantile puts a lot of effort into curating and presenting their merchandise. And this post featured a vintage Schmidt’s Beer lamp, which was my father’s preferred beer.

And I just wanted it. I wanted the beer lamp. I wanted it so I could think of my dad and the light he gave my life. And he could still give that light. And at the same time, it could poke a little fun at his struggles with alcoholism, because he knew his flaws.

Stroh’s Brewing produced Schmidt’s and closed in 1999, selling its business to Pabst, according to some quick, unverified internet research. That was the same year I got married. Apparently, they revived a beer called Schmidt’s in 2019, which ironically was the year my husband and I amicably separated.

I discovered this website which appears to be from the beer’s 100th anniversary merch shop, and feels like the internet version of a ghost sign: Schmidt’s Of Philly, but has a 2019 copyright and seems to be legit even though the history stops fifty years ago.

I signed up for the mailing list.

So the teenager and I went downtown at 1 p.m., fighting construction.

The store is only open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the lamp sold first thing.

I am crushed, but I know realistically it is my grief I am feeling and has nothing to do with a vintage lamp.

It’s about the little girl, who used to run from the house to her dad’s workshop with little brown bottles of beer whenever her dad asked for a cold one. He was usually tinkering with his Harley. Sometimes the lawn mower.

Either way, he usually had a Schmidt’s.

The latest in the saga

So I spent a good deal of today dealing with paperwork for my mallet finger— trying to get the info I need to return to work since my specialist doesn’t think I need short-term disability for my finger to heal. That I just need to not use the finger.

For info on my injury:

The original blog post on the incident is here.

And the follow-up medical stuff is here.

I had filed a FMLA leave request, which I thought would lead to at least a week or so of short-term disability since Patient First told me to anticipate potential surgery and eight weeks of healing time.

But the doctor avoided both of those with a cast.

I’m stuck in limbo between waiting for the specialist’s office to fill out the forms to release me from my FMLA leave and the accommodation form for Stitch Fix, and I never quite reached the point of short-term disability but had started a claim.

I called the medical forms office at my specialist, and it took a chunk of the day to verify that they won’t have my forms ready until potentially next week— which of course intensifies my need for short-term disability which is a different set of paperwork a doctor needs to sign.

With my work week starting on Sunday, even if my release form arrived Monday morning and Stitch Fix could work everything out for me to return Tuesday, at that point I’ve already missed 1.5 weeks of work.

And I’ve used a lot of my paid time off recently while I was accepting voluntary time off— so when this occurred I only had 20 hours of sick time.

I’m not complaining, but I am trying to plan my household finances.

And then my supervisor said to come to work Sunday and we’ll see what we can figure out.

The ups-and-downs of navigating this system where medicine has become such a business that everything is so complex even for someone as organized as I am is exhausting.

But luckily the teenager puts reminders like this on my iPad. “Have a good day and don’t kill anyone.”

As compensation for my draining day, the teenager and I went to Aldi in our pajamas planning to buy chips, get gas, and stop at Arby’s to try their new boneless wings. The commercial got me. Because I hate celery. Watch it here to understand.

But when we got to Aldi, and bought our chips, the car wouldn’t start.

So I got to call AAA. Or in my case, text AAA. The teenager was very excited because she never witnessed a AAA call before. Because she doesn’t remember when I locked the keys in the trunk when she was 2.

It was the battery, which George from AAA replaced. We left Aldi 30 minutes after we called. It was all super fast.

And then we met George again at Wawa for gas.

The teenager loved the whole process and wants to learn more about cars and car repair even more than she did a few months ago.

As for the winds, for six dollars I was pleased but the teenager noted they were all spice and no flavor. I enjoyed them but they were over-sauced and the two flavors did taste extremely similar.