First day back to work at the Bizzy Hizzy after my cerebral palsy-themed leave

First off: 89%

For those of you who know me or follow me regularly, I performed at 89% today after a month of short-term disability leave.

Short answer to how my day was: good. I felt pretty good and my aches and pains at the end of the day feel pretty normal.

Now, for those who want more detail, let’s start at the beginning.

On April 15, I ruptured a tendon in my left ring finger taking my socks off. The nickname for the injury is “mallet finger” because your finger looks like a mallet or “baseball finger” because if you catch a baseball wrong you can sustain this injury.

You can read a more concise summary of those events and my treatment here.

I worked with my hand like that for a week at the Bizzy Hizzy folding clothes for Stitch Fix’s clients, performing at a solid 90%. But… I realized I rely on my left side for balance and stability and using my right side to do everything exacerbated problems I was already having with my right hip and spine as complications of my lifelong battle with cerebral palsy. That has been another journey of mine— learning about my body and how I can work with it to age well.

I often wonder what I could accomplish if my body could do what other bodies do.

So I asked my family doctor if I could take a short-term disability leave from work and focus on building core strength and stretching my hips. Because with this silly finger cast, on top of all my other issues, I was falling twice a week.

Today I returned to work— one ten-hour shift in my home department (QC) before the holiday weekend. I work Sunday. We have a paid holiday Monday. And I have a doctor appointment Tuesday afternoon with the neurological physiatrist.

Returning to work today gave me a way to ease back into it, and allows me to gather data on how my body performs. I can give that info to the physiatrist. If I hurt again by Tuesday, it’s a sign that either:

  1. I am moving wrong, or
  2. I shouldn’t be doing this kind of work with my body.

I arrived at work for my 6:30 a.m. shift and friends greeted me that I haven’t seen. At first I went to the wrong table, but caught my mistake, and corrected myself.

I had a right table, good for my hand injury, and one at a good height.

But then they shut the line down and I moved to a left table that was a tad high for me.

For the first 60-90 minutes, I hit all my numbers.

Eventually, I got a text from Mr. Accordion. I hope he doesn’t mind but I’m sharing his photos because:

  1. They made my day.
  2. I love halupkis.
  3. I don’t have other art for this post.

I don’t think he knew it was my first day back to work but his periodic cooking updates made me smile. Mr. Accordion and I shared an office at my last non-profit job. And yes, he not only plays accordion but usually has it in his car.

A couple times today, I had to answer phone calls regarding the toilet explosion that happened in my house yesterday. The insurance adjuster will be here Tuesday and meet with the teenager. I am working on getting water remediation people in to make sure everything is dry.

At the end of the day, I have a weird uncomfortable feeling in my left wrist and the kind of typical aches and pains that come from being older than 40 and working in a warehouse ten hours a day.

I attribute some of my success today to my personal trainer Andrew at Apex. We did an exercise yesterday that was something he called a variation of a good morning. This had me holding a weight across the back of my shoulders and “hinging” at the waist while using my hips for most of the motion.

I tried to replicate those techniques when I bent down to get items out of the bottom of my carts.

Then, when I came home, the teenager had dinner in the oven. I received a lovely message from a former editor at The Morning Call’s short-lived weekly editions, Chronicle Newspapers.

He said I was a truly good person (for all my work fostering cats) and that he missed seeing me every day.

I thanked him and said he made my day.

He replied that there were many times when I had made his and my boss’s day.

That was my favorite job ever, and one I was very good at.

Also, I tried the blueberry muffin flavor of ready-to-drink Supercoffee. My initial reaction was that it was gross. Will give a more thorough review later.

Not a job for neurology

So I woke this morning at a ridiculous 8 a.m. to a world smothered in fog and two foster cats (Khloe and tripod Louise) upset that I did not have time to cuddle.

I had a physical therapy appointment for an initial assessment at 10 a.m. and they needed me in the office by 9:45 a.m. to fill out paperwork— primarily questions about my confidence in my own balance.

Now this isn’t my first rodeo. This isn’t even my first physical therapy stint for back pain.

I was referred to the neurology physical therapy department because of my cerebral palsy.

The physical therapist asks me the typical questions — “have you fallen in the last year?” “I fall approximately every six weeks.”

We discussed my work arrangements and she liked my idea of alternating tables.

She determines that my right side is definitely weaker than my left side. But I can be treated for this at a facility closer to home.

She even calls the facility of my choice so she can make sure they don’t refuse to treat me. All while making it perfectly clear that she would happily do it.

But I am the only patient under 70.

And probably the only one without a walker or a cane.

My new physical therapy appointment is next Friday at 9 a.m.

I came home, ate lunch, and headed to my primary care physician’s office.

There, I spoke with a sweet, quiet resident with an Indian accent I couldn’t hear from under her mask. But she seemed very intent on discussing colon cancer screening.

She brought up a back brace.

I brought up muscle relaxers so my body would not stiffen up overnight.

And when she told my doctor, he said that she had a great idea. I didn’t tell him that was my idea, after I conferred with Dr. Google.

He thinks I should feel some relief with a month. Christmas maybe? Starting off the New Year right?

Tomorrow it’s back to the chiropractor.

The Physical Therapy Phone Calls

If you’re a regular in my portion of the universe, you probably know I’m struggling with some issues that might be described as middle-age or might be complications of a life with cerebral palsy.

I have been talking about this journey more in recent days but certainly rather frequently in the last six months or so.

Today, I finished talking to the last member of my medical team about my plan for my health and my future. That person was my psychologist. And it sounds like he approved of my plan.

So having spoken with everyone— checking their professional opinions against my fear of an emotional response to my disability— I sent an email to my physician outlining my questions and my plan.

I had an email back within the hour from my physician saying I could set up physical therapy and that I should come into the office for a follow up this Thursday.

My doctor’s office had no preference or guidance regarding where to go for physical therapy so I called the generic phone line. They assured me that I could go wherever I wanted.

I asked for a nearby hospital as that is where my blind friend Nan has physical therapy and I hoped maybe we could car pool. Don’t worry— I wouldn’t let Nan drive.

But when they transferred me the person that answered asked me why I needed physical therapy. I said that the x-ray showed retrolisthesis and arthritis my spine that could be a complication from my cerebral palsy.

As soon as she heard “cerebral palsy,” she transferred me to the neurological physical therapy office. But when they looked up my chart, it said “back pain.” And they don’t do that.

By the very very cheery person on the phone and I had a chat— and I asked her— are we treating my back or the cerebral palsy that probably causes the back issues. We both agreed it’s a good question.

She put me on hold twice to confer with the actual physical therapists and they decided to keep me.

I go see them Thursday morning.

Health update: Liverwurst for medical purposes

This is another in my ongoing series about life with cerebral palsy, a disability no one I know seems to understand.

I have eaten thousands of extra calories this weekend. I can’t stop myself. My weight has hit an all-new, all-time high and I am deeply ashamed of my behavior.

I wrote my primary care physician an email midday Thursday after I called out sick from work, but before I slept 12+ hours. I told him: I know you don’t have the answers regarding my cerebral palsy and its long term effect. I know I walk funny and that has caused arthritis type issues in my hip, my SI joint specifically. I understand from working with my chiropractor (Nicole Jensen, Back In Line) who used to be a physical therapist that the instability in my lower body, especially as I compensate when I am pain, comes from these complications. But the only thing that helps the pain is the CBD creams I get online— Charlotte’s Web and CBD Medic specifically.

I have 2-6 bad days a month, usually a couple every two weeks, reinforcing the idea that my late 40-something menstrual cycle is compounding issues. I only get cramps in my back, but I’m also experiencing pain at ovulation.

And it’s bad pain. Just like all my other pain. All in my lower back.

My new gynecologist listened to my complaints of long-term anemia (which makes me too weak to properly deal with all these other struggles), heavy bleeding, pain every two weeks and massive blood clots exiting my body, and prescribed a couple ultrasounds.

The results have been in for almost two weeks and I can see them but I don’t understand them but they did find things, even if not large and scary, but internal organs are small.

I told him, I work with a personal trainer three times a week, and except for stress eating, I eat well and take all my vitamins. I even scheduled my upcoming follow-up bloodwork.

So which doctor do I need to talk to because my schedules anemia follow up is Nov. 2, and I would like to know if any of this can be treated and/or how permanent it is and/or will it get worse?

Meanwhile, my blind friend Nan and I visited Park Avenue Market, one of our favorite places. We both order liverwurst from the deli.

The man slicing our meat, who knows us at this point, comments that he doesn’t know how people can eat liverwurst.

I told him I don’t even like it. It is a little nasty, but that this liverwurst is better than off-the-rack liverwurst. That I’m not a big meat eater and I struggle with getting enough iron as I have a history of anemia. With the right cheese, it’s not so bad, especially with lettuce and good bread.

It’s inexpensive— so if I get sick of it I feed it to the dog and the dog loves me.

He laughed.

“So, you’re buying liverwurst for medicinal purposes?” he remarked.

Saturday rumination—how do I move forward with athletic aspirations?

I woke. My birds started chirping about 6:30 a.m. due to the light that creeps around the edges of my black-out curtains.

I had coffee, started some laundry and dishes and came up to clean the bird cages and touch up my room.

The lack of activity is causing more discomfort in my S1 joint. It makes me think about how my awkward gait from cerebral palsy might be destroying what fitness I have. For a while, I was quite athletic.

The issue is on my left side. It started when I started working more or less full time at my retail job which was a few months after I broke my ankle.

I wonder if I will ever be able to fulfill my dream of running a 5k or if my body just can’t handle it.

After I broke my hand, I started weight training to regain strength. I added cardio and walks of 2-4 miles a day (in addition to working on my feet/walking a mile an hour at the cafe) when my weight became an issue.

Life has changed— and my job leaves me sedentary, the gym is closed and I just don’t seem to have the energy to work out at home.

But before I started working so many hours, I was muscular and my back rarely hurt. Only twice a year or so when I “threw” my lower back out.

And sometimes I did that sneezing or standing up from a chair.

Just something to think about— how to rebuild a strong body from an aching one. Or do I attribute it to my age and move on…