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….

This Monday is a disability day

Yesterday was a good day at work. I worked all ten hours and packaged 561 items. I came home achy, but not in a horrible way.

Then, today I woke stiff with my bones burning. The temperature had dropped 20 degrees and I thought maybe that had caused the issues in my joints.

I had that feeling — I’ve mentioned it before in my posts about my life with cerebral palsy— that my right leg was not in the hip socket all the way. It didn’t hurt, not really, but the persistent sensation left me queasy and close to vomiting.

The feeling in my hip changed a lot throughout the morning and as the awkwardness and instability in my right leg changed, my lower back began to burn.

Then one of the process leads came around the warehouse offering an early out for all of us— so I told her… I’d like to call my chiropractor, and take the early out.

So I called Dr. Jensen of Back in Line and she, herself, answered the phone.

“I don’t know if you have the time or the interest to see me today,” I said as I explained everything.

She wanted to see me.

So despite the fact that I did 112% in my job yesterday and I believe 105% in QC today, I went to the chiropractor and had a grueling appointment. Things popped. Body parts screamed.

My body still aches— but now my bones no longer feel like they are grinding or that they are pointing the wrong direction.

Rocking the Beast

Today started as an average day in the Bizzy Hizzy. This was welcome in my world as we changed the clocks last night— so as far as my body was concerned it was 3:45 a.m. when my morning alarm sounded.

Yesterday they didn’t open the warehouse because of the predictions of the sloppy winter storm.

I performed as expected in Freestyle, meeting the pace they like us to keep. We ran out of work, so I went out to pick. Now, picking is the act of running through the warehouse gathering clothes. A normal cart for picking fixes holds 40 items. A direct buy cart holds 80. I picked my batch is 41 minutes. That’s pretty good.

But somehow I also managed to ship 515 items— when the goal for a 10 hour day is 500, and I left the department for 45 minutes.

I also learned from the supervisor that I have successfully made it onto the safety team.

The teenager said I could have a cupcake to celebrate.

My lead at work has started calling me a beast— basically because for two days in a row I think I’ve hit 110% of the daily metrics. But he also mentioned it when I lifted a heavy box (probably 35 or 40 lbs) from the floor and carried it to my work station.

At the moment it happened, the phrase irked me and I wanted to take some time and think about why.

I know he meant it as a compliment, in that same way we celebrate achievements in sports or the gym. But that’s not how it felt.

It felt like he underestimates what I am capable of because he knows I have a disability— but he doesn’t know I work out with a personal trainer. He doesn’t know I considered body building a hobby. He doesn’t know I used to take 1,000 pounds worth of boxes like that into a commercial kitchen’s freezer.

I am a beast. And I hope this good spell lasts long enough to figure out what to do if the issues return.

But I am a beast just for getting up and going to that warehouse on days that I hurt.

It takes way more “beast” to perform on a bad day versus a good one.

“Put me in coach”: A Work Story

If you stop by here often, you know that last Wednesday I spoke with some more people at work about my disability and that whole day I was given my preferred/easier for me fixes.

I achieved 96% for the day, folding what are called refixes, fixes that had problems that got rejected and needed to go back to be fixed. So the fix needs a fix.

When they return from the refix department, they are boxed in the box they were originally slated to ship in and they are on top of the cart instead of on the shelves.

I really struggle to reach shelves seven and eight so this is a huge help.

And since neither the physiatrist nor my neurologist have responded to my recent concerns about my mobility and my coordination, I have not asked for official work accommodations yet.

Yesterday was the first day of my work week— I did something like 89% in Freestyle, folding clothes and shipping packages for the first 8+ hours of my shift. At 3:30 p.m., I moved over to returns processing where I might have hit 75%.

Today was Monday, which means the warehouse was firing on all cylinders. I was in my home department, and I might have gotten 40 refixes today. So 3/4 of my work involved a lot of bending, crouching and twisting.

My back did okay, but my right quad and right foot burned most of the day and by 4 p.m., my hip hurt. It feels like it’s pointing directly behind me like a tail.

Despite this, I was in the neighborhood of 99%.

And at 4:25 p.m., my process lead asked me to go style card— calling me his “emergency style carder.” I would prefer the phrase “back-up.”

But it gave me a chance to move around and improve my hip functionality so I am grateful.

It made me feel like an athlete waiting on the bench, which then got the song “Centerfield” stuck in my head as I worked.

“Put me in coach, I’m ready to play…”

I would have made the reference to my process lead, but I think he’s too young to get the reference. But, the teenager tells me if he’s seen The Sandlot, he’ll know the song.

If you need to hear the song, here’s a YouTube link.

Vulnerability in the workplace and its role in building teams

Grammar police— this piece is full of tense shifts. I’m tired. Deal with it.

We’ve all had that corny job that encourages team building exercises and how uncomfortable that can be when they are telling you to trust someone that frankly you don’t trust.

It’s hard to be vulnerable with new people and new environments and this can lead to us seeming aloof or feeling alienated or shunned by the group.

Yesterday I had a painful day at work, and I’m still struggling emotionally with my father’s death, and compounding all of that is the fact that my sleep has not been that restful.

So imagine me… as the alarm goes off at 4:45 a.m., struggling to stretch out my stiff, spastic lower body and my aching spine. I went to the other side of my room to check on the cats’ food and had to use the vacuum cleaner as a cane.

I stumbled to the shower and afterwards managed to get my bra, shirt and panties on but saved the socks and pants for after coffee.

I prepare my coffee directly into my to-go mug, a FURR fundraiser item that keeps my coffee warm until my first break almost four hours later and lukewarm until lunch.

I email my neurologist asking for help getting a physiatrist appointment. I still wonder if I should be going to work at all. I tell myself if I really can’t function, I’ll call the chiropractor at 9 a.m. and see if I can get an appointment.

I decide it’s time to put on my pants.

But then my pants don’t button.

And I’m not talking about “these are snug,” these are all out as if I were trying to wear a child’s pants. Too much Taco Bell last night.

The teenager did a white wash so there is a pair of sweatpants in the kitchen. I put them on and wrestled with my socks.

I go to get my shoes. The teenager has piled the garbage on top of them. I find other shoes.

I then needed to decide between the pizza I can’t even remember when I ordered it and the pancakes from Friday for lunch.

I grabbed both.

Once at work, they have me assigned to line 5, table 8a. Now, they have the tables on line 5 labeled incorrectly. Somehow, they go 0, 1a, 2a, 3a, 5a, 8a, 4a, 6a, 7a. Someone is already working on the ninth table, which is labeled seven. So just to be clear, I ask my supervisor.

“I am to go to the sixth table, which would if you were going by the labels at the previous lines would be table five, because the actual labels are out of order?”

He looked up. “Oh, yeah. They are.”

But then someone is also at the sixth table which is labeled 8a. The lead on the line does the research and this interloper belongs on an entirely different line, but somehow ends up a few stations ahead of me.

I have to organize the station because it was set up for Freestyle not QC.

And then I see the person on line 4b, across the aisle from me, get an entire rack of refixes. That’s about three hours worth of work.

I went back to the lead who I approached about my interloper. I explained I had a disability and I was having a bad physical and emotional day and, let me paraphrase, I said I wanted refixes, too.

I got them.

The day shift support people and my normally favorite support person brought me refixes all day.

And I learned more about my favorite support person’s family history. And we discussed philosophy and gave each other a pep talk. And the day shift support person was also super supportive.

And it made me feel physically and emotionally better to share the weight of my burdens. I made 98%. Which is amazing — and I haven’t seen numbers that high since October.

My lead was pleased.

And I felt lighter.

The end of a short week

In less than 45 minutes— it is now almost 6:20 a.m. on a mildly snowy Thursday morning— I will be walking out my front door to get the CT scan of my head I originally had scheduled for December 30.

I am drinking my peppermint white chocolate Supercoffee, which arrived during the snow event Monday. Peppermint is my favorite flavor in coffee. Cinnamon used to rank, but there is something about the sassy, refreshing notes of warm peppermint and bitter coffee that excites me.

Last night, my Parisian Phoenix collaborator blind poet, Nancy Scott, joined the teenager and I for a dinner of Asian style cabbage and sautéed scallops over soy sauce ramen.

I have mild anxiety about the CT scan, primarily because I am unfamiliar with radiology at the nearby hospital, but also because of the anticipated cost. (You can read more about that here.)

My toe has been burning for weeks now. So much so I mentioned it to my chiropractor last week, that it burns maybe 15 minutes every 90 minutes or so while I am at work in the Bizzy Hizzy.

I thought maybe my posture is off with my hip persistently giving me trouble, but I noticed last night it’s extremely red and I think a little swollen.

Now I’m debating whether I need to call my podiatrist on top of everyone else.

The interesting news is that in the Bizzy Hizzy this week I probably performed about 65% in women’s returns processing during my overtime shift Saturday. My supervisor informed me I did 83% in Freestyle QC/ship on Sunday. Monday was a paid holiday. I managed 90% in my home department Tuesday and Wednesday— which is folding and wrapping 147 fixes.

While my pain levels are probably around 3 or 4, depending on my movements, my hip is definitely bothering me and my toe hurts all the time now. And of course, the back pain has been minor, but there, and I’ve struggled with touching my toes this week.

And I gained back the weight I’d lost.

I’m anxious to do some items for Parisian Phoenix today and maybe even write some of my fourth novel before a friend comes over for cocktails.

And please consider buying a book or two or three from Parisian Phoenix. I’m saving up for a new batch of ISBNs.

Little wins

It’s Wednesday night— which is my Friday! The Bizzy Hizzy has been a tizzy of Covid cases during this mandatory overtime week.

I’m doing my eight hours of overtime on Saturday.

Tomorrow I’m returning to the gym—the pandemic has also altered my training schedule.

And tomorrow, Georgie gets adopted! Yes, Georgie, our lovable former community cat from downtown Allentown, will be going home to a family where she will be the only pet.

I’m told Louise has an approved adoption application— but this is her third so I am not as optimistic as I should be. The person who applied for her wants two cats so FURR has suggested Khloe also be considered.

If these three cats get adopted— after Danu, Brigid and Aîné all getting adopted since December— I may weep tears of joy.

This week my body experienced all sorts of aches and pains, but I still managed to fold what I felt was a respectable amount of clothes for Stitch Fix. And today was our monthly employee luncheon— chicken Caesar wraps, tomato soup and carrot cake.

And on our final break of the day, everyone from my old shift got sweatshirts.

It’s kinda silly, but at the same token, it commemorates a special era of my life and celebrates the camaraderie we had on second shift. And believe it or not, even though we are scattered among the day shift, we still function as a team.

After work, the teenager invited me to Tic Toc family restaurant where we enjoyed grilled cheese sandwiches.

Ingram finally shipped Darrell Parry’s poetry book (Twists: Gathered Ephemera). And several other Parisian Phoenix titles are coming together. Perhaps as many as three titles releasing before the end of February.

Speaking of Parisian Phoenix, I emailed my class correspondent at Lafayette College and he ordered my first two novels.

And finally, side note… Actor Tim Daly was on the most recent episode of the podcast Hypocondriactor. I love Tim Daly. And I found myself comparing him to Anthony Stewart Head, you know… Giles on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I was specifically comparing Daly’s character on Madame Secretary to Head’s role as the school librarian/watcher on Buffy. Both were nerdy academics with interests in obscure topics.

Struggling to find a groove

Change is hard.

Sunday we arrived at work to learn we couldn’t punch in because engineering was upgrading the time clock system. I managed to ship 374 items in 296 packages as part of the Freestyle department.

And my dad— who has been struggling with Covid— ended up back in the hospital.

But then Monday rolled around and I was back in my home department folding clothes.

I was ready to try and excel as the change in shifts has been hard. The ten hour day is amazingly smooth, but getting up at 5 a.m. is exhausting — even if I go to bed at 9 p.m.

And then we changed software and the computers couldn’t keep up with the new system so everyone was working at 80 percent. Okay, I can’t prove everyone, but there’s a day shift woman who told me she always hits her numbers and yesterday she only did 108 instead of 130.

On top of this I had several fixes that I struggled to put in an extra large box and half way through the day the stats went down.

I am struggling to stay motivated and moving without my average time per fix being tracked, let alone no stats at all.

And then some guy drilled each of our table and attached new brooms and butlers. We used to share one or two brooms per valley, now we have about 20.

Many many brooms.

And around 2:30 p.m., a day shift peer was talking to someone who might have been a processing lead and she started hysterically crying for a good 20 minutes.

So I was very glad when yesterday was over. Not only was my back hurting, but my right leg is acting up again and I have intense pains in one of my right toes.

Then today started. My computer doesn’t have a keyboard or a mouse. Just a keypad. And the computer can’t “see” it. Lost ten minutes looking for a mouse until a lead stole one on my behalf.

One of my favorite second shift QC support people— we’ll call him Flying J in honor of the way he buzzes through the valleys with carts under his arms like wings of an airplane— brought me refixes! You know, the fixes that needed to be fixed and come on top of the cart instead of inside.

AND he told day shift that I liked them.

And one of the day shift support people came to see me and said she would bring me as many as she could. Then she paused.

“I don’t know how to say this without offending you,” she said.

“Honey, you can’t offend me.”

“I see the way you work and I see the way you walk—”

I interrupted her. “I have cerebral palsy,” I said. “And right now, my spine is bent the wrong way. I struggle to get the fixes out of slots 7 & 8.”

I was really moved. I am always touched when people want to help.

And today was our December employee luncheon.

Meanwhile, at home, the teenager did a ritual (at my request) for my father’s recovery.

After work, we took the dog for ice cream at The Spot.

Bean Dog eating ice cream video.

Day 3 of 10-hour day shift in the warehouse: Podcast reviews

(And a foster cat and teenager update)

This new work week is certainly moving quickly although each day I come home more exhausted. I’m hurting more once I get home, but I’m fine for the first 9+ hours of my shift. If you don’t know what I’m talking about read these:

Yesterday

Sunday

The teenager kept my car as the last two of our fosters who needed to be spayed went to Canyon River Run today. That would be Mama Danu and her tabby kitten Baile from the Celtic Pride.

She hoped to bake cookies for the platters Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab plans to distribute to the many vets who assist the organization. Her eighth grade boyfriend came over to lend a helping hand so she also taught him to make bread.

Meanwhile I just kept dreaming of an iced cold Coke Zero. And an interesting thing happened — I got to work and there was a 4-pack of 20-ounce Coke Zero bottles with a post-it note declaring them free.

I brought them home. My guess is someone didn’t realize Coke Zero had been relabeled in the same red as classic Coke.

Which my metrics tanked by the end of the day which had me chugging this at 3 p.m. break.

My 4 p.m., I was trembling and about to cry. Do. Not. Repeat.

I treated the teenager to dinner at Tic Toc so she could get her last pay check. We both ate too much.

I did my physical therapy exercises and took a hot shower. By the end of the shower my right leg was very uncomfortable so I took a low dose muscle relaxer and covered my leg, knee and back with CBD Medic’s Arthritis Cream.

One more day.

So now, as promised, let me offer some thoughts on podcasts. The teenager and I compared notes on our Spotify end-of-year wrap up and she thought she was impressive with 17,000 minutes since we started using the service in mid-year. I have 88,000+.

MY FAVORITE PODCASTS I LISTENED TO SO FAR THIS WEEK:

  • This one surprises me. The Ellen Fisher Podcast. She’s a very interesting person with her journey to raise her own food in Hawaii with her brood of plant-based kids and interest in all things calm and positive. I don’t really don’t know how I feel about her podcast — but I recently listened to her episode on Mind Change. It was an interesting discussion of neuroscience facts blended with alternative healing techniques to deal with personal trauma to heal the body of disease and mental illness. The guests on the show discuss their experience that illness, whether physical or mental, is the body manifesting trauma that the person has refused to acknowledge and heal.
  • The Daily. I often force myself to listen to the Daily even when the topics don’t interest me. This week I found myself pleasantly surprised by their coverage of Stephen Sondheim’s death.
  • Snacks Daily. Snacks Daily is a brief podcast from Robin Hood, yes the investment folks. It’s an economic summary of course, but it also provides humor and the business side of the news.
  • I finished Sh**hole Countries by Radiotopia. The American host on that show grapples with the possibility that her Ghanaian parents want her to move to Ghana. Enjoyable but also not what I expected. The host uses much of her platform to talk about her queerness and human rights.
  • The Shit No One Tells You About Writing. Very useful and broad tips about writing, critiquing and publishing.
  • Africa Daily just did a good episode on fistula. I found that a surprising topic. I’m impressed. (Though they did not mention the prevalence of female genital cutting and its impact on the rate of fistula.)

Other notables: Power Hugh Hefner, American Scandal The Lewinsky Affair, Operator, Against the Odds Rock Climbers Abducted.

And here is a video of Nala the Goffins Cockatoo: Nala harassing foster cat tripod Louise

Good night all.