Simplify: a health update and a Dunkin review

I went to the chiropractor yesterday. Nicole at Back in Line Chiropractic and Wellness Center warned me that she “beat me up” more than usual.

That’s amusing to me as I was in an incredible amount of discomfort and she eliminated 90% of it.

I explained everything going on— my stress, my lack of good sleep, the possibility I had omicron, not eating right or taking my vitamins, not stretching or working out, and working overtime.

But as soon as she touched the back of my right hip, the tenderness immediately told me there was an issue I hadn’t thought of: my hip.

I need to remember that when I struggle to use my legs I might have an issue with my hip.

This post explores the last time I had this same issue: click here.

And if you look at that entry, you will see my mental health had declined in similar proportion to what I experienced earlier this week.

Pain and shifts in mobility really do have profound effects on our mental health.

So maybe next time instead of focusing on all the things that are going wrong and contributing to my lack of function and mental health, I need to be quicker to ask for medical intervention because — as I already know— I can’t trust my pain.

My pain recently didn’t feel that bad. But all the signs, including 65% work performance indicated otherwise.

I really need that physiatrist appointment to get scheduled.


In cheerier news, I recap some of this in a YouTube video I did yesterday while trying the “brown sugar cookie” latte and new egg bites at Dunkin.

See the video here.

If you want the PowerPoint version of my impressions:

  • The Brown Sugar Cookie flavor is boring. To me, it tasted a bit caramelized and like “toasted white chocolate” syrups. I miss peppermint for Christmas and pistachio for spring. These flavors now only come in peppermint mocha or pistachio mocha. I don’t like mocha in my coffee. Unless my friend and colleague Mary Barnes, now deceased, was the barista making a salted caramel mocha about eight years ago before everything came in salted caramel mocha. Starbucks always introduced it for the holiday season. But back to Dunkin and Brown Sugar Cookie, the teenager compares it to gingerbread. I didn’t get the spice of ginger.
  • The bacon cheddar egg bites… these were expensive but at 17 grams of protein and 280 calories they can substitute for a meal. But $4.99 for two miniature donut shaped eggs? Cute, definitely. Firm and crisp on the outside. Soft on the inside. Smoky, cheesy flavor. Again, boring. Strange mouth feel. But a very practical and utilitarian option.

Sometimes you need to unleash the beast

I hope this weekend to partake in some fun activities and lighthearted blog posts, but I also need to do some administrative work for my publishing company, Parisian Phoenix Publishing.

My second novel in the Fashion and Fiends series, Courting Apparitions, releases officially November 29 (my co-founder’s birthday) and could possibly be available Black Friday. Like, damn, when did that happen?

The first book, Manipulations, is available at all the usual places online— for instance here is the link to buy it at Barnes and Noble.

My friend and fellow writer William Prystauk of the Kink Noir series and horror website Crash Palace Productions left me a truly wonderful review on Amazon and Google.

See more here.

This was my original post on his first novel, Bloodletting. Hard to believe it’s been three years.

Buy his books on Amazon.

On everyday life and health front, I went to the chiropractor yesterday and like my doctor she approved of my new technique of changing work tables to try and even out my sides. I stopped at the pharmacy and picked up my prescription for muscle relaxer. I also made my last Purple Carrot meal in the fridge: mango glazed roasted vegetables with tahini butter.

Worked went mediocre/well. The night seemed long and boring and I felt like I was getting used to my body again after the chiropractor. I QCed at about 83%.

I came home and several cats were waiting for me— including Minerva, a sweet foster who started in our second foster litter of kittens, The Roman Pride.

I took a muscle relaxer to see how it impacted my pain and my morning stiffness. It didn’t make me loopy and I think it helped with my tossing and turning.

I only got six and a half hours of sleep last night, but still managed to meet up with the teenager my trainer Dan at Apex Training to lift some weights. I felt so much more limber after. The teenager easily did 105 on the barbell deadlift and 95 on the squat. I could lift the 105 but not execute the lift. My squat form is still adjusted for my limited range of motion in my lower body so I maxed out at 85 while the teen hardly had to put any effort into it.

We came home and shared some Little Caesars pizza as I was craving their “pizza and sticks” pie. We even shared with the dog.

Another step on the journey: a discussion of what is happening in my spine thanks to cerebral palsy

Learning about your own body, exploring treatment options and trying to survive while doing it is exhausting.

I shared my plan to advocate for myself with my life coach from Ginger. And we also discussed some of my fears of where this could go.

And today I asked Dr. Nicole Jensen of Back in Line Wellness Center her thoughts.

She was kind enough to get out her spine and explain things to me. And she said I moved beautifully today, which could be a sign that the short shifts I’ve had this week are taking stress off my body.

She had never seen retrolisthesis in a group like this — and reported that the pedicles appearing in tact was great news. But basically that slight shift in the discs from the retrolisthesis would put pressure on the nerves.

And that the disc space narrowing was arthritis.

So to continue my work with my trainer— and she is impressed by his attentiveness and ability to adjust workouts to medical needs, pursue physical therapy, and try an inversion table. It might stretch out those irregular curves of the lumbar spine. Core exercises will be super important, and I wonder if my commitment to my core throughout my adult life has contributed to this good report.

Dr. Jensen asked for business cards from Dan at Apex Training. Because based on what she’s heard from me she would recommend him to her clients.

I’m noting these discussions and plan to email my doctor Monday.

Another whirlwind and even less answers

This post will be a mishmash of the last 48 hours and will discuss some of the frustration of dealing with my cerebral palsy, life as Midnight Society comes to a close at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy, a brief mention of the new Wawa dinners and a thank you to the amazing teenager for her thoughtfulness in hiring a cleaner to help get the house under control.

The supply chain issues still create work shortages at the Bizzy Hizzy warehouse so as Midnight Society prepares for it’s change to day shift in December, some of us are only working about 20-25 hours a week.

I’m using the time to edit manuscripts and make more plans for Parisian Phoenix Publishing and deal with my mobility and pain issues.

The last few nights at work have been good (and last night was my one year anniversary)— I performed at 98% last night in QC folding those Stitch Fix parcels and tonight I think I surpassed 100%. But bending is still troublesome and what I believe are my quads burn the entire time I am standing.

So today was an emotional day. My sweet, amazing teenager hired a cleaner to deep clean the house. The cleaner did the upstairs yesterday and the downstairs today.

The house looks incredible.

And it was fun to interact with someone who wanted to help, loved our crazy animals and commented about how awesome my kid is.

I noticed early today that my X-rays had arrived in my St. Luke’s Hospital portal. I read them and they said my hips were fine, and the only findings on them (other than my new IUD and tampon) mentioned items in my spine.

But when the doctor’s office called at 2 p.m., he just wanted to ship me off to physical therapy. And I’m not sure that’s the whole answer. I work out. I have had physical therapy for my lumbar region already.

Two important questions physical therapy can’t answer:

1. How does this impact my ability to keep doing my job?

When I mentioned this to the person on the phone from my doctor’s office, she asked me what I wanted, mentioning that they could sign me out of work. I said no, I am looking for a more permanent answer than that.

2. How does my general crookedness factor in? The doctor’s office made this sound like no big deal, but I hurt. More often than not. So does my imperfect gait add more stress to this problem?

I’m going to talk to my trainer tomorrow, and my chiropractor Friday. I think there are more questions that need to be asked and I’m not sure what they are.

And in final ridiculous news… I tried a Wawa burger.

It was cheaper and heartier than I expected.

Hopeful Friday

It’s is almost 3:30 p.m. on a crisp autumn Friday afternoon. I normally would be standing in front of the daily work schedule at the warehouse, but today they offered us voluntary time off. And my body needs it.

I had a chiropractor appointment today, about ten days after my last one. I described my symptoms as a lot of back pain that made basic movements like stretching in front of me to move a pile of clothes from one spot to another very uncomfortable, to my left leg feeling immobile like a tree trunk while my right was very flexible but weak and prone to discomfort.

And she noted that my left hip was stiff and locked in a position out of alignment. And she concurs with my assessment that it’s time to ask my doctor for some x-rays.

She asked what I was doing this weekend as she moved my bones around and I answered I had some work to do for my publishing company and that I have to drop a copy of my novel off at the Mary Meuser Memorial Library, my local public library.

And she thought I meant an overdue library book.

So, I corrected her.

And then she and her staff, the three of them, engaged me in a lively conversation about my book as the bought copies.

I did stop at the library. I did give them a copy. The teenager is appearing in the Wilson Centennial/Halloween parade with the library staff as the library mouse.

Last night, I had an interesting text message from a former colleague who left my last place of employment around the same time the man who hired me also left. She apparently has landed in a much better place, two years later, at a similar nonprofit with a larger service area. She texted me as I was pulling into the parking lot at the Hizzy and asked me if I would consider a position in her office.

I sent her the resume I had on my phone and she talked to her boss on my behalf.

Because I was “awesome” and “under appreciated” at my last nonprofit position.

Regardless of if or when this goes anywhere, it’s always uplifting to see that someone acknowledges who you are and what you have been through.

Another thing that can be frustrating or uplifting, our dog, F. Bean Barker, the black lab, pit bull and mastiff mix

We left work early last night, after shipping about 1900 men’s fixes. I have this equation I work in my head. On nights when they offer us VTO (voluntary time off), I survey the valleys of people doing my job. I count them roughly, using my journalist-surveying the crowd skills, and then I estimate, based on who I see and their skill levels, how many fixes I think we will be able to ship an hour. Then, when the leads call out our progress announcing how many we have shipped or how many we have left, I do the math in my head.

And last night, when they suggested that we could VTO after shipping 1840 fixes, I did my calculation (and gave more extra time since most of us and very inexperienced in men’s fixues) and thought we would be done by 9:30. The leads kept suggesting about 10 p.m. But I trusted my gut. And sure enough, we got the call of VTO at 9:20.

Also today, I have been editing and doing projects for Parisian Phoenix with breaks when my eyes hurt. I use those breaks to clean, because the teenager has booked a consultation with a cleaning lady for Monday. Her idea is if we have someone help me with the vacuuming, dusting, floors, nose-printed windows, and bathroom maintenance that maybe it would be easier for me to survive my bad days and get ahead on so many projects we have.

I did some furniture rearranging and my floor scrubbing and a whole lot of laundry, including I finally took the time to empty the chest on our sun porch and move the “winter things” into the hope chest we brought downstairs to sit under the winter coats on their hooks more than a year ago.

Oz, one of our personal cats, is on my lap while I work today.

After I update my blog and the Parisian Phoenix website with the story of how I accidentally started a podcast, my next task will be to explore the handwritten manuscript that one of our authors prepared for me. I’ve been looking forward to her tale for quite some time, but I don’t have the best typing skills so I have been saving it for a day when I have a nice block of uninterrupted time.

And then, I will rest by folding laundry. And when the teenager returns home from her waitressing gig, we will have tacos for dinner.

Tomorrow FIVE of our Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab fosters are headed to Petsmart for the adoption meet and greet. These babies need homes!

We signed up: Khloe (a four or so year old female grey torbie), Slim Shady and Eminem (the bestest, sweetest kittens ever, Shady is a black female and Em is a grey tabby with white feet, male) and Mars and Minerva, the tuxedo siblings who have been in foster for more than a year.

A mid-week restart with Postmodern Jukebox

This post is both a brief review of the Postmodern Jukebox performance at the State Theatre for the Arts and a brief update as to my current condition struggling with cerebral palsy.

Monday night I performed well at work, but by the end of the night my right leg and hip were screaming in pain, to the extent where I grew nauseous. I woke up still in pain but had no trouble performing an upper body workout with my trainer, Dan, at Apex Training.

The teenager, recovering from last week’s ear infection, and I did some barbell bench press.

But on the walk home, I was struggling with function in that leg and pain in my knee.

I knew I had a chiropractor appointment with my beloved Nicole Jenson of Back in Line on Wednesday morning so Tuesday night, I called out.

Since the warehouse is encouraging people to take voluntary time off, I called out for Tuesday, took voluntarily time for Wednesday, in addition to the planned time off I had scheduled for Thursday.

The teenager had an appointment with a new ENT today — he put her head under a microscope, pulled out her ear tubes and gave her ears a good cleaning. More importantly, he explained all the different functionality of the ears.

The audiologist gave her a hearing test and she rapidly discovered— the teenager, not the audiologist— that her musical inclinations have allowed her to inadvertently fake the hearing tests at her childhood ENT’s office.

So the audiologist said that the teenager is a good candidate for hearing aids.

We had a leisurely afternoon which included a delivery of apples from my friend Joan who has tasked me with converting them into applesauce and apple butter.

And then… we (the teenager and I) finally embarked on our date, much anticipated by me. The teenager took me out for pancakes.

And then we headed downtown to the State Theatre for the Arts to see Postmodern Jukebox. #pmjtour

The amazing parking spot we procured had a three hour limit, but both the physical meter and the parking app would only let me apply 1 hour and 24 minutes. So, as that was set to expire at 7:23, I used the app to apply that final 45 minutes from inside the theater.

On the way there we passed Hoza, the new African/Zimbabwean restaurant downtown. Very excited to try it.

But the show— blew my mind. The vocals and musicianship was incredible, the costumes a delight and the arrangements of the music on point.

To see bits of the #pmjtour I shot, click here.

And at intermission, my lovely daughter bought me that Yuengling I’ve been craving.

Fitness update: Where did that leg go?

Last week, I moved my follow up bloodwork from Friday October 15 to yesterday in part because I am planning a trip to DC over the weekend.

The morning yesterday started in a discombobulated fashion as my mornings generally do. I was so mixed up by the time my appointment rolled around that I drove right by the office.

The events of the morning had my anxiety on high, and revisiting my past issues with anxiety has not been fun. I even find myself fighting some of familiar behaviors, like stressing about how much money I have in savings and going over budget on food.

At the same time, I had a lunch appointment with my mother who recently lost a brother to cancer and anticipates losing another to the same cancer.

And I’m feeling my body thinking — my right leg isn’t working. I woke yesterday in no pain whatsoever yet something felt very wrong with my right leg, like maybe it was too close to the left one or pointing the wrong way. Very disorienting feeling.

I asked the teenager to take a look and she confirmed that it indeed look “very wrong” so we called Back in Line so my chiropractor Nicole Jensen could take a look.

This meant the whole day involved running from place to place which led to more stress, which increases the tension and the cerebral palsy stiffness in my muscles.

Nicole adjusted me again and aggressively stretched my hips. She also commended me for trying to know my body.

And at work I felt it. Keenly, painfully. Started in my hip, then my spine, then the left side of my lower back, and then the right. Everything hurt. I finished the night at 92% because of the pain.

The pain bothered me all night, and I woke up with it, and believe it or not struggling to carry the 80 lbs of cat litter I needed upstairs may have helped— by relieving tension.

Thank goodness for the gym, as my trainer Dan at Apex Training is very cognizant of how I am moving and has catered my workouts to my health levels.

I’m struggling emotionally right now, and I am physically in pain across my lower body. I can’t afford to stay home from work and I fear tonight will be worse than last night.

This morning, my bloodwork returned. My TSH is normal. My iron is creeping up way slower than I had hoped. My vitamin D was increasing but it hasn’t budged in four months.

And I also got an email with the results of the Artful Dash— officially Gayle beat me. Which she did not. I was a clear two feet ahead of her in the finishing chute.

Dahlias from a friend

Health Update: There was a Crooked Hip

I still haven’t heard from either my gynecologist or my primary care physician— and the mental and physical struggle has been rough. It’s ironic, since my daughter thought she say worms in the dog’s poop and within 24 hours she had lab results and preventative medication.

Luckily, I’ve been able to engage my chiropractor (the beyond amazing Nicole Jensen of Back in Line Wellness Center in Easton, Pa.’s College Hill neighborhood) in this journey to discover and maximize the potential of my disabled body.

(Which I am told today is World Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day, not that I ever even heard of it or noticed anybody celebrating.)

I told her this past week has been hard and strange with familiar pain and symptoms coming at the wrong time of the month and new symptoms happening now.

But I also admitted that some of these symptoms— like my swollen legs last night— could be explained by my behavior. Cheeto binge this weekend, for example.

Last night, I performed at only 83% when I had folded those clothes at 100% or higher all week despite pain. My knees had intense intermittent pain and my legs felt completely wooden, like they didn’t even have joints.

The chiropractor laughed at my ownership of my Cheeto binge and said that, yes, that might have something to do with it.

And she commented during my adjustment that my body and I are managing life and my symptoms much better in general.

But here is the “good news”—

My hip was crooked. The right side of my hip was significantly higher than my left and probably had been since the pain started last week. I attributed it to the same old pain but it was probably new and unique pain.

So then the chiropractor mentioned what I have been trying to articulate.

I used to have periodic bouts with high levels of pain when joints would seize and shift and muscles would spasm.

Now, with my exercise regimen and some of my other behavior change, I am experiencing lower levels of pain more frequently, but that pain is emotionally disturbing because I am aware of and used to the conditions that send my body into a flare and am doing everything I can to prevent those situations.

So it’s a perpetual game of anticipating what might be next. And how bad it will be or get before I find relief.

I told her I have had much success with CBD cream and she recommended trying a daily dose of the oils to see if that could help from the inside out.

I’m enthusiastically giving it a shot as over-the-counter painkillers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen don’t help.

And the “not knowing” because of slow response time from my medical team is crippling to my mental health.

Pun intended.

I actually emailed my therapist yesterday and it must have been a good email because I got a response asking if he could call me for a check in, which I said yes to, and he called to do a wellness check to make sure I was safe.

Odd how that can make a person feel “loved.”

Now my hip is back in place, I took my vitamins and my CBD oil and prepared my final Purple Carrot meal from my box. This one— apricot sticky rice— even the teenager loved.

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.

The next phase: Reaching for Body Builder Status

This is an informal update vaguely and disorganizingly (that’s probably not a word, but I like it and it’s how I’m feeling) connected to my series about my cerebral palsy.

It’s not as “official” and well-crafted as I would like as some household/parenting issues greeted me as I walked in the door and I found it hard to recover once the dog started refusing to get in her crate and I discovered the teenager’s floor with multiple piles of kitten vomit, into which I stepped barefoot.

I finished the sequel to Karen by Marie Killilea today— With Love From Karen. That is another blog posted which I started but have postponed due to other events of the day more personal.

Late last night, I reached out to a local personal fitness trainer.

For those of you unaware, the average physical therapy can cost $350 per session, with the uninsured paying $125. If you have, like I do, high deductible medical insurance, this can add up to several thousand dollars in as little as a month.

Been there. Done that.

My amazing chiropractor (Nicole Jensen, Back in Line Wellness Center) bills me $125 a session when she gives me some brief physical therapy, advice and cracks every f*cked up bone in my body.

The high end of average cost for a personal fitness trainer is $70 per session, according to Google.

Six years ago almost to the day, I embarked on my first weight loss journey and shed 30 lbs in six weeks and looked like a skeleton.

By autumn, I looked like this:

Yes, the shadow of a person lifting two pound weights with me is the now teenager as an eleven-year-old.

I have two fitness dreams:

  1. To run a 5k
  2. To be an amateur body builder

A local business, a fitness trainer only a few blocks from my home, has a summer special and good reviews on the internet.

Goofy crop is to obscure the identity of the trainer until I get permission to post.

I reached out with this message:

“I have quite the history of on again/off again weight training.

I went through a very emotionally traumatic loss of job experience in 2020 and turned to stress/comfort/ just plain bad eating and have gained 20 pounds. And stopped training.

I need to regain my discipline so I am hoping to see if you might be a good fit as a personal trainer— theoretically one session a week and I could maintain the effort at home.

I have already improved my diet, but the damage includes anemia so that makes it hard to work out especially in this heat.

I work second shift in a warehouse.

And perhaps the most important issue— I have mild cerebral palsy in the lower body so it’s super important that I keep my body strong and flexible.

I have two dreams— to actually run a 5k and to perhaps pursue amateur body building.

Please respond if this is something you might be willing/comfortable with/knowledgeable enough to undertake.

Peruse my web site http://www.angelackerman.com to learn more about me if you have concerns.”

I am tentatively meeting with a trainer at this business at 11 a.m. Thursday for an assessment and to see if it’s a good fit.

This is a good way for me to improve my health and fitness as I’ve done so much physical therapy, I know what to do. I just need someone to make me do it. And check my form.

Who knows where this might lead? Maybe my dreams of being a body builder with cerebral palsy will come true.