A brief summary for anyone new here: I am getting closer to 48-years-old every day. I have spastic diplegia cerebral palsy which is a bunch of fancy words that mean my leg muscles don’t relax, my brain and my lower body don’t communicate well, and my hips, knees and ankles don’t work efficiently or even have a normal constitution.
I walk funny— I have an abnormal gait where my leg scissors and I toe walk. Decades of walking funny can cause wear-and-tear on the body.
But the last six weeks have thrown some new challenges at me: high blood pressure, unusual falls and now atrial fibrillation with rapid ventricular response.
Last night I got a massive splinter deep in my foot, in a place so deep that we couldn’t dig it out without really tearing a hole in my foot. So I asked the Teenager to slap a raisin on it and she did.
This did draw the splinter to the surface more but I haven’t removed it yet. The start of my last raisin-splinter journey happened a little more than a year ago. Read about that here. Especially if you want to hear how my splinter improved my gait and my hip pain and how the raisin and my cockatoo got the splinter out.
I visited Nicole Jensen of Back in Line Chiropractor and Wellness Center today— where she commented how loose everything was and how my body parts were all facing the right directions.
She got me ready for physical therapy where I’d be the youngest person in balance therapy today.
Physical therapy for balance and fall prevention
I have spent a lot of time in physical therapy — about every two years I turn up for few weeks with a physical therapist because even though a lot of it tends to be a repeat and I know what to do, it’s important to have an outside professional evaluate my status so I know I am doing the right thing for the problem.
In this case, we discovered:
The physical therapist approved of some of Nicole’s phrases for things— like “make my feet do feet things.”
My fitness coach Andrew and I are doing all the right things at Apex Training, using my sense of my body and Nicole’s insights on what my innards are doing.
The physical therapist is also impressed at my capacity to manage to take what could be catastrophic falls with relative ease. The Teenager says it’s because I “puddle,” relinquishing myself to the process instead of fighting it and tending up.
My static balance is impressive, but my dynamic balance “throws everything off,” meaning standing still I’m good, but moving or on an unstable surface, the issues can occur.
We will be working on exercises that open the hips and rotate the knees outward. And doing some gait work with a zero-gravity treadmill.
The physical therapist was also impressed with my ability to self-correct my gait, but I don’t know if he picked up on how much focus and energy that requires.
I am so sick of disability-related posts. My goal today is to start the March newsletter for Parisian Phoenix, which I will be distributing via Substack. Yesterday felt like a beautiful spring day and today, today there is two inches of snow on the ground.
I’m tired. And sore. And stiff. I called out from work today, although I’m fairly certain I have no paid time off for it. The Teenager and I have major bills do this week, and they scare me, but I have (and she has) placed every spare penny we have into paying them. And they will be paid.
So, before I back up, and explain exactly what happened since I closed my computer yesterday afternoon, let me say that my plan has been to take better care of myself. To stop pushing myself to keep up with the people who don’t have the same issues that I have. To ask for help. To be honest– not only with others, but with myself.
I have planned to organize regular long weekends every three-to-four months to give my body time to recuperate from the stresses of being on my feet folding clothes all day, and to give myself time to finish larger projects for Parisian Phoenix Publishing. That hasn’t happened, in part because I’ve spent so much time sorting myself out with medical appointments, and also because November through February incorporates a lot of paid holiday time.
I closed my computer yesterday afternoon and The Teenager asked if I wanted to take the dog for a walk.
Now, let’s think about the conditions yesterday:
It was a beautiful pre-Spring day and the sun made everything alive.
I woke by alarm at 6 a.m. to meet Southern Candy at the diner, where I ate salty food and drank three cups of coffee so my blood pressure was creeping up.
I went to the orthopedist, but was unable to get an appointment with the hand rehab people.
I was going to the chiropractor in about an hour, for the appointment last week that I had to reschedule because of my fall.
I have not gone to the gym in a week because of the fall.
My legs are covered in painful bruises.
I was a little hungry.
I had taken Baclofen* in the morning, but not since.
Interesting side note: CVS ordered my baclofen refill last week, as they did not have it in stock, and I haven’t heard from them since.
I felt good. Nothing hurt. I hadn’t noticed any balance issues. So, although I felt a little wiped out, a short walk sounded good.
The Teenager suited up the dog and put her cat in the cat-backpack and we headed up the street. We made it halfway up the block, cat screaming in fear, when the dog noticed other dogs and got nervous. And I had what The Teenager called “a three-point fall.” I immediately assumed it was a basketball reference but she explained. I stumbled, froze in the air for a second, and then fall. I believe the fall at work was a three-point fall as well. That frozen time she witnessed was me actually making a decision what to do next. That is the second where I have to decide whether to fight the fall and try to regain my balance or use that second to frame the fall and try to control the impact.
In this case, I opted to throw the fall to the left to protect my already injured right hand.
The sidewalk and the meat of my palm met as I aimed for the grass, now a barely visible scrape. The Teenager declared we would turn around. I told her I could turn around and she could keep going, but she promptly declared this was a less-than-ideal experience for everybody.
Now, at this point, I have a new short-term disability claim open with Matrix, waiting to hear when and how often the hand rehab people want to see me. With past experience, I’m fairly certain it will be once a week. But, before committing to returning to work, I would prefer to talk to them and was hoping they would call back and see me today, and then, if necessary, I could email or hand-carry paperwork to my PCP to decide whether we would pursue the new STD claim for my hand or amend my intermittent leave parameters that cover my cerebral palsy.
My claims examiner is confused, and since I have not received all the information I need to make a decision, my answers are rather wishy-washy.
Also, the weather is calling for snow. And I have this nightmare of me leaving my house in a snowstorm when I already have mobility and hand issues.
I head to my beloved chiropractor, ready for her insight and her physical therapy knowledge. Meanwhile, my neurologist/physiatrist who I had had a brief texting conversation earlier in the day, texted and asked if anything else could be happening in my body to cause these issues. I’m typing the list of answers: lack of chiropractic care, lack of gym, lack of Baclofen, bruises on my legs, high blood pressure. I am scheduled to see her in early April.
And meanwhile– we still don’t have an answer for why my quads were burning a couple weeks ago and why my “normal” issues in my hip joints seem to be moving into my sacrum.
So when Nicole the Chiropractor gets her hands on me she declares that my hips and my sacrum are all locked up and my lower body is stiff. She gets everything moving and pushes everything around. And I stand up feeling like a jelly fish, so loose it takes me a while to remember how to walk.
I haven’t heard from the hand rehab people. The neurologist has probably finished her day. My right side is starting to ache a bit. I drive The Teenager to the post office and we stand in line behind a Karen who criticizes every customer in front of her for not using the post office correctly, gets to the counter, and very promptly gives my favorite postal clerk a hard time when she discovers that Priority Mail box she has packed her materials in is a Priority Mail box and will cost $17.10 to mail. Even before she hears this news, she badgers the postal clerk about how much it will be, and he’s confused because it’s a medium flat rate box so it’s $17.10. And she then snapped that she had to text the person receiving the package because that person will have to pay her back. The postal clerk suggests maybe she buy a different box from the postal supplies station in the lobby and then he could mail it for $10. But she grumpily agrees to pay the flat box rate.
We return from the post office– having mailed cookies to a friend of The Teenager who has joined the service– and I head into the house and realize I left my glasses in the car as my prescription sunglasses are on my face. I head back out to the garage and walk down the narrow cement steps to the car bay. Half way down, my ankle gives out, twists underneath me, and I somehow manage to lower myself to the ground without falling down the stairs.
I pick myself up. Everything feels solid. I text the neurologist. I return to the house. The Teenager expresses concern as I took too long to walk to the garage and back. I explain what happened.
She orders me out of the kitchen and she says she is going to make dinner and I am going to sit. I use the time to email my supervisors and call out for today, because I think it would be best if my body had some rest. I email my claim examiner and tell her to cancel my hand-related claim, because this whole incident is definitely something we have to deal with as a cerebral palsy issue. And I tell her if I need to contact my primary care doctor and have my intermittent leave parameters amended I will.
I ate a pile of peppermint kisses, a moon pie, and a rice krispie treat after dinner and washed it down with Diet Coke. Despite that, my weight is down more than two pounds this morning and my blood pressure is fine. My lower back and right side of my lower body hurts, but I’m hoping my morning dose of Baclofen will reduce the stress on my joints. My arm still hurts from my Tdap booster.
The animals are all eating dinner. The Teenager has gone to care for her last client of the day. I am emotionally wiped out from all the events of the day, or the week, or maybe the last couple weeks. My friend from work, a beautiful and sassy Puerto Rican woman whom we shall call Spicy (because of her outspoken Aries nature and her abundance of passion), told me I should go home and drink some tequila.
I’m still waiting for initial contact from the insurance company of the person who hit me Friday night after work. Unfortunately, I did hear from my insurance company about my six-month-bill due next month. It doubled in cost to more than $3,000. I’m just flabbergasted.
I always have a lot on my mind and a lot of responsibility on my shoulders, and I know with my volunteer work, I put a lot of the pressure on myself by saying yes to things.
I visited my chiropractor after work, actually having left early because someone else must have booked my 3:45 appointment. She believes my current issues probably stemmed from the change at work, and started with my back and then effected my hip.
Part of me wants to write this post and submit it to the online social media forum for people with disabilities, The Mighty, because I want a conversation, but I also don’t want to risk exposing myself to issues with my employer.
So, let’s see. Summary: I work in a warehouse folding clothes. I completely disclosed my disability to the person hiring me. This was more than two years ago. In the last year-ish, we’ve had our jobs changed, our shifts changed twice meaning we’ve worked three different schedules in that time, and a recent change (December 2022) in how they measure our performance.
But, you might think, how many ways are there to count how many clothes you fold in a day?
Well, when I was hired, they took the average of how many clothes you folded over the week. If the goal was 100 a day, then if you got 98, 100, 100, 102, 100 you passed the week without incident. I succeeded with this system. I might have several days at 102 or 103 and then a day at 95. And as long as you were consistently about 90 nobody cared. Realistically, my numbers were probably 90, 98, 100, 100, 105.
Now, we work in series of 20-day blocks, and we’re allowed to miss 100 twice in that block. They look at every day independently. I knew I could not reach that expectation. I asked my neurologist to fill out accommodations paperwork. My company has been fantastic working out accommodations for me– but what to do about the days I’m more crippled than usual?
To address this, I applied for intermittent FMLA leave. The company that administers it first granted me six hours every six months. So, I did a new set after talking with my examiner, and despite my listing weekly doctors’ appointments I got the equivalent of one day a month. And because I’ve been experiencing such issues lately, and with my almost cardiac scare last week, and my service dog appointments, I have no paid time off left. I will not have that time replenished for about a month.
That brings me to the present. So, even though I did 100, 100, 110 and 90 last week, I’m already one day down. Then they moved me to a different department Friday, and my body doesn’t handle change well.
Monday I did 86% while in complete discomfort and periodic intense pain. Yesterday I did 93% while in moderate pain. They wrote me up with a first warning today. Apparently each warning comes with a month of focus on an improvement plan, during which they lower expectations. I’m told I only have to hit 90%. Today I think I hit 95%. I can’t say exactly because I had an emergency preparedness training, a safety committee meeting, a sit-down with my boss so he could administer my warning and I left early for a doctor appointment.
When I signed the paperwork, I mentioned that my lack of performance is a direct result of issues stemming from my disability which may or may not have been caused by the change in my working conditions on Friday.
I’m trying to do everything right. But it’s damn hard and I’m damn tired.
Now… the questions I wish to ask and address do not relate specifically to my company or my boss. I think the situation I am facing mimics what we see in the medical industry as well. We no longer live in a society where doctors and bosses have the power to make individual decisions.
In the interest of fairness and preventing discrimination, we have blanket rubrics that determine how every person needs to be treated. My boss knows I work hard, and he knows I will come through in the long haul. His sidekick who interacts with us all on the floor has a disability himself.
And it’s not like I was hired last week. I was hired more than two years ago. And that person who took a chance on me? They got rid of her in well-publicized lay-offs.
Apparently, they have four rounds of warnings before you “separate.” But if I recover from this current cerebral palsy episode of malfunctioning body parts, hit my numbers, and then experience something similar in a couple months, do I get another first warning? Or does it progress to second? Do I care if they “separate” me? They changed the job I was hired to do into one I cannot do, and I can’t do it because of a disability they know I have.
This is when I also mentioned that I only intend to use that leave time for unexpected occurrences. That when appointments are scheduled I will continue to used my paid time, my unpaid time and voluntary time off when offered.
The advice I was given was to have new papers filled out (the third set in as many months) requesting a full week of time off every month. That implied to me that only answer is to call off when I have any sort of discomfort– because if I show up in the building and leave when I’ve already fallen behind that will count toward my misses. But I have no paid time left, and my official leave only covers one day a month.
And sometimes the motion of the day resets my misfiring muscles.
Part of me is done fighting. I love my job. I love the company. I do hate my current schedule. But I like the routine of it all, I like that it leaves my mind free for my own endeavors. If I did give up on striving to meet the standards, I wouldn’t quit. I would still give as much as I could until the end.
But I just keep asking: when do I give up? Will I ever reach the point where I can do my job without hurting myself and will they ever reach the point where they stop upending the process of what we do? I don’t know the answer.
In better news, our neighbor brought us a fresh fruit arrangement. Which the Teenager and I devoured.
In case I forget to say later (it’s only 5:30 p.m. and there will be tequila in my future):
My blood pressure has been damn near perfect.
What I ate today:
4:30 a.m., one cup Suprcoffe coffee, dark roast, with half and half
6 a.m., first breakfast, Kind Breakfast bar, oatmeal peanut butter, banana
8:30 a.m., second breakfast, plantain chips,* peanut butter
I had a mammogram scheduled for this morning with my “regular” radiology tech. I went into work late, which meant I could sleep in and isn’t that the best way to start a Monday morning? At five a.m. I woke and starting cuddling my foster cat, Tripod Louise, debating whether or not I should get up. I normally rise for work at 4 a.m. so I have time to do Parisian Phoenix stuff or creative writing before clocking into my shift at 6:30 a.m.
But as I lay there at 5 a.m. today, I realized that I had set up the delay feature on my amazing coffee pot, and yes I still adore my Ninja K-cup, travel mug, and standard carafe brewer. I had coffee waiting in the kitchen. If I waited much longer it might not be fresh. If I fell back to sleep, it might not even be hot.
I fed the fat cats their weight management food and went downstairs where I promoted my latest idea, the photo scavenger hunt book. Check Parisian Phoenix’s submission page for more info.
I arrived at the hospital for my mammogram at 8:05 a.m. I went into the lobby and grabbed my registration number. Luckily it was two away from the last number I heard called. I started rooting through my purse for the doctor’s order and found it crumpled and stained with coffee.
A Dose of Anxiety
While I don’t normally suffer from panic or anxiety, when my stress levels increase I am prone to physical sensations of anxiety. And I had forgotten how stressful I find doing any outpatient procedure at the hospital. Grab a number, sit in the main lobby, go to the registration office, go across the hall to radiology, check in at radiology, get called to mammography, traverse the hall, get changed, go into the mammography suite, chat with the tech, get smooshed.
It’s a lot of steps in rapid succession. I could feel my hard pounding and had to keep inhaling deeply through my nose to keep my chest from closing up.
Was I nervous? No. Afraid? No. Shy? No.
It was pressure. I felt rushed and out of control.
Building Up Another Woman
Once in the mammography suite, I learned my favorite tech would be retiring in eight days and staying on per diem because if she works one day a month she will maintain her medical insurance.
I told her I was happy for her, but also disappointed, because she did my first mammogram and she always made me feel comfortable. I told her I’m sure she helped a lot of women and that I hoped she enjoyed every minute of her retirement.
She called me sweet.
And she remembered me by my tattoo. Which is on my breast.
When I left the hospital, I got the sweetest text that our foster kitten Jennifer Grey (who moved to the Teenager’s room last night for better socialization) is adjusting well.
Forgive me, but I’m finding myself too exhausted to continue,
so from this line down, I am writing about Monday on Tuesday
4:30 a.m. Tuesday, drinking exceedingly strong coffee as prepped on the delay setting by the Teenager.
Measuring Challenge at Work
My anxiety from my hospital visit followed me to work. I clocked it 9:07, which made it hard to do the math of where my numbers should be for the day, but I settled on a total of 85 fixes. And I hit 85 fixes. I was at a table on the right, not my regular table on the left, which meant a subtle shift of balance and more pressure on my right hip. The warehouse outbound supervisor herself brought me 22 refixes, or the work already in a box, which were pivotal in keeping my numbers where I wanted them.
I heard rumblings among my colleagues that no one is hitting “full performance,” so I’m not the only one. We were joking at lunch that in a few months they may reduce their workforce by 50% if they dismiss everyone not meeting the new numbers. I don’t think they’ll do that. The company has always been more than fair in the past. At lunch, Southern Candy gave me homemade fudge. I ate too much of the deliciousness and spent the next couple hours a little queasy.
The murmurings report that employees that are shared to other departments must still hit 90% of the new numbers and that their performance in those other departments will count toward their monthly miss-the-mark allowance.
The goal for my department is 16.25 per hour, but does not include time off for our ten-minute paid breaks. So I use my own numbers. Hour one should be 17, hour two also 17, then ten minute break, and 15 to finish the third hour to reach the official numbers. It’s two more hours until my lunch, and I try to maintain 17 per hour to “make up” for our final ten-minute break of the day.
So I missed two hours and 37 minutes of work yesterday. If I divide one hour (60 minutes) by 16.25, I get 3.7 minutes per box. (For argument’s sake, let me point out that doing the same using 17 unites is 3.5 minutes. So we are talking about the impact of seconds, but it adds up.) I missed 157 minutes of work, so using their numbers I should have lowered my goal by 42.5 fixes but I couldn’t do that math in my head. We are six days into the new system and I’ve already missed my two days a month. I thought I made it with 85 fixes, but my official target might have been 87.5. That means I did 97%. We’ll see what they say today.
I know I talk a lot about the numbers at work, but honestly it’s part of what I love about the job. 1. Numbers don’t lie. You can discuss why the numbers are what they are and develop strategies to meet them. I find calculating the numerical benchmarks to be soothing and an objective way to see how my day is going. And, while my employer would hate to hear this, it’s a good reminder that sometimes you can’t work harder only smarter and not everyone had the capacity to hit 100% of arbitrary numbers every day.
The calculations and my podcast keep my mind busy and allow me to brainstorm what I need to do for my publishing business. If I have to work full-time, I would rather work the blue-collar warehouse job than a white-collar office job that destroys my intellectual capacity and short-circuits my brain with stress. 2. I preserve my creative energy for myself. Listening to publishing-related podcasts, various sources of news, other creators and even some bizarre non-fiction stories keeps my mental focus on my goals and allows me to give my full effort to my employer while still working toward my personal goals.
3. I love the clothes. I have followed Stitch Fix since they launched, when The Teenager was a preschooler and I still had a subscription to vogue. I love seeing, touching and preparing the clothes for their clients. I love seeing the fixes, their color combinations, their textures and I love imagining the person who would wear them. I also like to make judgments of whether or not we could be friends based on their box. Because if you’re on fix #72 and I think all the clothes are hideous, that’s your style and we can’t blame the stylist or the algorithm. And since I write fiction in the fashion world, I love seeing the new trends and which items become perennial offerings.
I also took two muscle relaxers, after not taking them during the weekend. I’ve been curious if some of the strange feelings I have in my legs are from when the muscle relaxers wear off or from missing a couple chiropractor appointments due to other doctors’ visits. The jury is out– but the bottom line is with the muscle relaxers, working out and chiropractic care my body moves easier.
A much awaited visit to Back in Line Chiropractic
After work, I filled my water bottle and headed to my friends at Back in Line Chiropractic and Wellness Center. Not only is former physical therapist and chiropractor Nicole Jensen super smart and personable, but the staff contributes some extra care as well. When my schedule got out of control, office staff person B (as I don’t know if she would want me calling her out in a public forum) made sure I got not only one but two appointments so I could survive the holiday season with my mobility in tact.
I apologized to Nicole for letting three weeks go by without an appointment, and reassured her that I did not fall out of love with her. I summarized how life had gotten away from me, and by the time my trainer Andrew noticed that my legs were turning inward in an unusual fashion and I noticed I felt like the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz, I luckily had called B and had my appointment on the books.
The noises my body made were brutal, but it’s a weird feeling when you stand up and your feet and legs feel loose, move freer and have a more easygoing gait. It’s disorienting. But it’s a good reminder than sometimes I need more help than I realize.
Nicole then shipped me off to Andrew at Apex Training.
The brutal workout at Apex
I love Andrew. I really do. I respect the way he has learned my quirks and can read my form. He has learned ways to troubleshoot what my podiatrist calls my “challenging gait” due to my cerebral palsy. But last night was a killer core and shoulders work out. It was awesome, and murderous. I am gaining so much upper body strength and am very impressed with my lower body function gains.
We missed some workouts recently because Andrew caught a cold and then took some family time for the holidays, but I told him it wasn’t fair that he was punishing me with heavy weights when we lifted and high reps in the more cardio-based exercises. After all, he had canceled not me.
Needless to say, when I got home I ate the lovely dinner The Teenager (lamb, broccoli and hand-cut, homemade parmesan fries) prepared and collapsed in bed. To wake at 3:56 a.m. before my 4 a.m. alarm.
I asked for a table on the left today, because my body was so stiff, my hip sore and my toe felt like someone forced a knife through it and used it to anchor me to the warehouse floor. It happened about every hour, when the clock struck 20-something for some reason and lasted about four minutes as the pain slipped up the inside of my calf and hit my knee.
By 9 a.m., I had had enough. Interestingly, whereas yesterday I did 85%, today I believe I did 95%, and at 9 a.m. I was still about 97%. The left table had alleviated most of the stress on my hip.
I called the neurological physiatrist, and they could see me in April. The person who answered the phone would leave a message for the doctor, and her nurse would give me a call. Now, for the record, I missed that call which was around 4:45 p.m. because I was in an appointment with my chiropractor. But it looks like they may see me next week.
I also called my podiatrist, whose office manager scheduled me for 2:15 p.m. Friday and asked if she had a cancellation if I could come tomorrow. I said yes.
Around this time, a form went around via email asking who might be interested in a day off tomorrow. So I filled out the form.
I rushed home to take off my shoes and socks, and the toe looked fine. Well, red and a little swollen but not as bad as it felt. When I poked my toe and bent them all, my sore toe throbbed for several minutes afterward. So I elevated it.
I could feel the stiffness in my body and the phone kept registering asymmetry. I was very much looking forward to my visit with Nicole Jensen of Back in Line Chiropractic and Wellness Center. Even lying on the table, it felt like my right hip was higher than the other. And when she put her hand against it, she verified that it was. And she pushed on it, like her palm was kneading bread. But in one motion, not back and forth. Okay, maybe the analogy is no good.
We both agreed that the toe thing needed to be sorted out, and that skipping tonight’s workout with Andrew might be best. Nicole manipulated my toe gently, and asked what hurt, and since nothing really bothered me at the angles she was working, she started adjusting my toes. They made some funky noises.
I also feel two inches taller and as relaxed as I can get when she gets done with me…
The predominant theory of what is happening: (according to Andrew, myself and Nicole) I had some intense turning inward of my left leg this week, which may be in part because of a 5-day-a-week work schedule when I’m used to a 4-day schedule in two different jobs versus just one now. Add this to the fact that my table is on the right, forcing me to constantly rely on my right side to move shipments, stand on tip toe to grab boxes and twist to get clothes. When my left leg twists, my right side compensates. And all of this might have caused me to stand forward on my toes more. The added pressure and their curvature made them rub and irritated them and maybe some nerve pain is resulting. And maybe a blister. Or not. Who knows?
But a year ago, I would have horrible pain and difficulty moving. Around the beginning of the year, I started falling. That makes me want to investigate and not take the chance that this toe could start the downward spiral all over again.
Unlike that magic splinter I got. But that’s an old story. Read it here.
Let’s hope the podiatrist has some ideas for prevention and relief.
Today was my first Monday day shift at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy. I worked second shift, then 10-hour shifts and now I have moved to Monday to Friday 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. After almost a year of 10-hours, 8-hours feels so short. And it feels like we’re always on break. And transitioning from a 15-minute break to a ten minute is disorienting to say the least.
After work yesterday, I went to the chiropractor, the amazing and dedicated Nicole Jensen of Back in Line Chiropractic and Wellness Center. I feel like she’s learned my body to the extent that it’s personal to her, the challenge of keeping my misconstructed extremities functioning. I think she has this zone she gets into, where she’s plotting a strategy and it’s her against me, well, the physical form of me.
I felt my body start to compensate for my hip falling out of place yesterday. It didn’t hurt. It didn’t even feel wrong, but I noticed elements of my posture changing. A little more protest from the right side, leaning that way more heavily, occasional back pain.
I don’t have the best understanding of mechanics or physics, so my brain is slowly clicking when it comes to considering my femoral anteversion, which means the head of my femurs sit in my hip sockets kinda facing the wrong way making my legs kinda face backwards I guess, makes my bones put pressure on the socket at the wrong angle pushing it out of place? Maybe?
And me, either being a trooper or an idiot, did a 8-hour work shift on a Monday, where I performed at 95%, went to the chiropractor and then visited Andrew, my also amazing and dedicated coach at Apex Training. I think I scowled at him more than usual. The work out was brutal and ended with… what did he call them… offset dumbbell rows? Imagine kneeling on the bench and doing a dumbbell row with a 20 or 25 lb weight while holding the other leg up in the air.
Meanwhile, I reached out to David from The Cerebral Palsy and Fitness Podcast and asked if my discovery and fitness journey would be something of interest for his show, and he said yes. I also updated Andrew Gurza of Disability After Dark Podcast about my upcoming “Sex in the Text” panel at the Easton Book Festival. We had recorded an episode in June, but my parakeet (may he rest in peace, that might be what reminded me of the interview) made so much noise, we hope to rerecord an interview in November.
That’s fine with me, as so much has happened since June: my service dog application, new physical struggles and this “Sex in the Text” program for Easton Book Festival among them. I’m lagging behind on my preparations, which means I’ve been scanning my Fashion and Fiends novels for sex and jotting notes about themes, goals and techniques.
But then, my new computer Midnight came with a free trial of Apple TV, which made it ridiculously easy to subscribe to a free trial of Motor Trend‘s streaming channel. Why on God’s green Earth would I as someone with no understanding of physics or mechanics need Motor Trend? Three words: Top Gear America. It’s the only way to see Top Gear America featuring Dax Shepard and cars.
I don’t think it’s readily apparent from this blog, but I adore cars. If I had any sort of skill with tinkering, I would be more hands-on, but I am useless. But, I can still drive and appreciate cars. And I certainly admire and appreciate Dax Shepard from more than one angle. I just want to watch every available episode (there are two seasons available) and forget about the rest of the universe.
Which right now is tempting… because the episode on the Lamborghini, Bentley and Porsche SUVs had me laughing out loud. I started the hot rod episode but pried myself away for what ended up being a very trouble night of sleep. Bad dreams and body pain, to the point where I was up for an hour from midnight to 1 a.m., debating whether to pull the laptop into bed. I, instead, smeared my back and hips with CBD arthritis cream and drifted away into another uneasy three hours of sleep.
So much to do before the book festival, but the cars… and the Dax… call to me.
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.
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.
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.
The wounds I acquired last Monday falling through the screen door (yes, there is a blog on that) have mostly healed, except where Bean Dog accidentally scratched off my scabs. The teenager tells everyone it looks like I had a fist-fight with a bear. And we had a family debate over Indian food– the teenager, her father and I, over whether I won or lost. Consensus was I won. (The Indian food came from Nawab in south Bethlehem, who were gracious hosts despite us not knowing that had converted to reservation only for dinner.)
On Saturday, I went to the gym and hit a new personal best with Andrew at Apex Training. I think it was 110 lbs on the barbell for three reps in box squats. My torso, my thighs, everything could take the weight well, except my knees. My knees kissed as I stood up with each rep. It didn’t hurt. It quivered a little, but I definitely had to plant my feet, balance the weight, lead with my thighs and hips and force those knees slowly out. The weight didn’t bother me. My own knees terrify me.
On Sunday, I performed 111% at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy, which means I shipped 555 items. Goal is 500 for a ten-hour shift, but as I reached higher numbers and saw that 555 was possible, I went for it. After all, both 111 and 555 are lovely numbers. Three prime numbers in a row, twice. Patterns and numbers comfort me. They offer a reminder that while a million permutations might exist, that there is underlying order in the world.
Yesterday I started my shift with refixes at the table in QC that has been assigned as mine for about three weeks. My table, line 4b, table 6, has a manual conveyor line on my left, which is great for my balance but bad for my finger. I hit 162, the daily minimum expectation, but barely.
I was achy, with sore feet and a sore spine, but nothing unusual for a person standing for 10 hours a day. I notice on my phone that around 4 p.m. that my walk was asymmetrical by 1%.
I have averaged six hours of sleep lately, with borrowed kittens and the high heat, so I opted to take a muscle relaxer and sleep versus push myself at the gym. My chiropractor has suggested my recent issues with falls and lack of control in my right leg might stem from overdoing it.
Between the heat wave, the full 10-hour shifts, the general aches and stiffness and the inappropriate levels of sleep, I opted to postpone the gym, take one of my muscle relaxers and sleep. I slept much better, but I could use a solid 8 hours or more.
I’m slowly learning just because I can push myself doesn’t mean I should.
So, if you’re a friend of mine or a regular here, you know that I have asked my employer, Stitch Fix, for a short-term disability/ FMLA leave to deal with my ruptured tendon (mallet or baseball finger) and its impact on my right hip.
This means I’ve made a commitment to work with my family doctor, my chiropractor (Nicole Jensen at Back in Line Chiropractic and Wellness Center) and Andrew, my personal trainer at Apex Training.
And to keep my hands warm and not use my finger.
Yesterday, I saw Nicole and we discussed the state of my body and the trade-off I seem to be making— working in the Bizzy Hizzy warehouse keeps me active but causes pain, but not being in a physical job makes me stiff and makes it difficult to move, even when I take the same amount of steps I do at work.
Andrew and I are working on strength, mobility, stability and range of motion.
I had lunch with my mother yesterday, who upon her return home had her dog pass away.
In the afternoon, I spoke with my disability claims examiner and gathered paperwork for her. My eligibility confirmation came through this morning, and I think the actual leave is just a matter of paperwork now.
But paperwork sure is sucking the life out of me right now.
So this morning when the weather looked sunny and conducive to a perfect spring day, Nan and I decided to surprise the teenager and retrieve her hearing aids from the ear doctor. Then, we could grab some cold beverages and visit Bethlehem’s Monocacy Park.
The park is quiet, easy to navigate and has a creek. The birds, geese and fishermen would offer entertainment for Nan, as between the water and the animals there would be nature to hear as well as see.
It was a fantastic way to bring some stress-free moments into running errands.
After a modified upper body workout with Andrew, Joan stopped by and brought me an early birthday gift from the residents of Plastiqueville.
The hat was not for me but for my mallet finger.
And for dinner, the teenager made Hungryroot meatballs and cauliflower linguine. We used ShopRite tomato and basil pasta sauce. It turned out so lovely I had to make a slice of butter bread to sop up the sauce.
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.