This post may not be the most exciting as I sit here stinky after a small home workout— smelling the petroleum heavy heat of asphalt. But it is a hopeful post. My roses sit heavy with blooms, and the first flowers have opened behind the bush.
Such a metaphor for life. The whole “bloom where you are planted” concept.
I have been working hard— like I want to stop, I want to vomit, my muscles burn. Andrew at Apex Training has been amazing, helping me stretch and challenge spastic muscles in my lower body.
I have had two days now with no hip or back pain, and I can drop into bed and lie anyway I want.
My weight has been up and down thank to Taco Bell and Mothers’ Day cake and ice cream and generic Takis.
But I went for my check-up bloodwork yesterday, and the phlebotomist told me my insurance doesn’t cover vitamin D unless my doctor codes it a deficiency. We skipped that, but my ferritin has risen from 28, just barely in the normal range, to 36. Still far from the middle of normal but rising.
That might be my theme for right now— rising.
And my bad cholesterol, which should be under 100, has fallen from 109 to 107. Again, not a huge leap, but progress. Progress made during a difficult, difficult time of my life.
My pill dispenser has made it easier to take all my vitamins and allergy meds. And I started the process of putting myself back on a low dose of Lexapro,
Maybe it will help.
My personal cat, Fog, decided to love me today. And I wrote a poem about buying my new socks from the Dollar Tree.
The teenager has been nursing an ear infection all week so between that and the roses bloominfection, spring has really sprung.
She returned to school today.
Today I made a leftover sandwich— some old smoked Turkey, slightly wilted lettuce and my coleslaw mix stirred into chipotle mayonnaise.
I spent the morning with my blind friend, Nan, and took her for her bloodwork.
Came home and the dog came out just in time to see that the paving crew had Taco Bell for lunch.
My trainer asked to reschedule my session today, so I told him I would do something at home.
This was my half-assed work out. My trainer asked me to select exercises and do them with intent, and instead I fought with the dog, picked some exercises I thought would move the important parts and retain the ground I made versus improve. Here is a video.
I also received a payment from my short-term disability insurance through work, and I’m grateful as this is giving me time to strengthen myself and recovery from my mallet finger. Hopefully, this will prevent further “domino effect” on my health. I see the neuro-physiatrist at the end of the month.
I’m curious what she will have to say, and I’m thinking this may be the end of my quest for answers about my cerebral palsy.
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.
Today I went to see my family doctor as I am concerned about the interaction of my mallet finger and my list of comorbidities from cerebral palsy. My crooked gait makes me a fall risk and the last five years or so— more or less since I entered my forties— have included broken bones, SI joint pain, back pain and hip pain.
All of this have led to a more-than-one-year journey to understand my body and how cerebral palsy impacts it.
I have visited doctors and specialists and neurologists trying to understand what I can do to minimize further issues as I age.
And it has worked!!!! My pain levels and chronic issues have dropped from daily pain of 5-8 to pain levels.
So I had a long visit with my primary care physician and told him not only about my injury, but also updated him on my fitness and improvements. I explained how I have been learning how muscles are supposed to work with my friends at Apex Training. I also told him I fell onto the brick wall of my house yesterday. I showed him the abrasions on my left arm.
Then I pointed out that traditionally my left side has been my anchor and by removing that from the anchor position, my walk has become more asymmetrical (according to my iPhone) and my hip is out of whack and uncomfortable all of the time and it’s only getting worse in these conditions.
Unlike the specialist— he filled out the paperwork himself and in front of me requesting that I have an FMLA leave until he sees me again after my specialist.
On top of all of that attention, he then gave me a full physical.
It was very hard for me to be vulnerable and ask for help, and my doctor and his staff made me feel heard, valued, and as if they truly cared about me.
I brought the paperwork home and started the claim process to initiate a short-term disability leave. It took about an hour and I realized my doctor missed one of the pages and on another he misread the questions. (So I added post-it notes.)
And if I’m 100% honest, despite everything I deal with, I still harbor feelings of guilt for asking for this time— much of which I intend to use doing work with my personal trainer and chiropractor to strengthen this hip and improve my walk so I can return to my warehouse job with a strong core and a better understanding of how normal legs work. I’m going to try to teach them. But, with my femoral anteversion, I know there is only so much I can do.
I deserve a chance to make myself strong and healthy.
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.
And last but not least, cats. Misty caught a mouse! Video here.
It’s Tuesday and my life has been turned upside down by my “mallet finger” injury acquired Friday night, taking off my socks as I chronicled here.
I filed for short term disability leave based on what Patient First told me about the injury. Since my work week starts on Sunday, and the accident happened Friday night I thought it best to get the incident in the system as soon as possible.
With it happening on Easter Weekend, I was told by the doctor at Patient First to make an appointment with an orthopedic hand specialist Monday.
The doctor at Patient First explained that I had pulled the tendon out of my knuckle and that I needed a specialist to determine whether it would heal or if I needed surgery.
And I did my best to work around my enormous splint and changed the tape once Sunday night.
Even on Sunday night, I had no pain, minimal swelling and no bruising or discoloration. The nail was fine, too. And I was amazed at how the angle of the finger had improved.
Some recommendations came my way from friends and everyone recommended the same doctor at OAA Orthopedic Specialists. Unfortunately, he was booked into July. So I accepted an appointment with one of his colleagues, at an office 18 miles from my house. I called at Monday morning 8 a.m. and the only appointments they had this week were Tuesday at this office in the Allentown area.
That was today. The splint Patient First gave me is enormous— and I was very anxious to get not only news and a treatment plan, but also something more reasonable.
I filled out all the paperwork I could online, and headed out of the house for the 30-minute drive to the doctor. On Monday, I had already gathered my x-rays and reports from Patient First, a release of medical information form, my return-to-work form for the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy and the FMLA/short-term disability insurance paperwork.
(I also tried to clean the Tupperware cupboard, loaded and unloaded the dishwasher and made an enormous homemade Crunchwrap with homemade tortilla chips.)
I cried all the way down the highway. I miss my dad, who passed away in December, and I’m struggling with a lot of life right now. And I snapped driving to the specialist.
But when I arrived— h*ly sh*t. The orthopedic office shared a plaza with the Lehigh Valley Hospital Cancer Center and the Steel Fitness Premier Facility. The scheduler told me they had free valet parking but damn I did not expect that. It was a big hospital facility.
I went in, read the directory and discovered my office was on the second floor. And when I got to the second floor, I saw about ten check-in/ receptionists. Damn.
One checked me in and I was told to proceed to waiting room seven. The whole arrangement vaguely reminded me of the Beetlejuice scene where the dead people wait to see their counselor.
But they moved me right along and I met my doctor very quickly. And I was told getting dressed and undressed is a common way of getting injured.
The doctor produced a brochure from a nearby drawer. And it was the same information from the same hand specialist professional organization I had found online.
He explains that there are two tendons in each finger, one running along the top from knuckles to fingernail, and another running under the finger. I overextended the top tendon at that tip-top knuckle, tearing it from the joint.
Because I did not damage or break free any bone, this means I don’t necessarily need surgery. That immobilizing the finger at the top knuckle will allow the scar tissue to reconnect the tendon. And then occupational therapy will get that tissue usable.
The doctor said there are three treatment options:
A surgically-placed pin
A finger cast
He recommended the finger cast. For eight weeks. And that he will see me in four weeks.
Paperwork and work release proved to be more complicated. He simply gave me a note asking me not to use the finger and that I could return to work today. I don’t think that’s enough for the folks at the Bizzy. So I asked the staff to please fill out the two forms— the one for the Bizzy Hizzy and the one for disability insurance— and told them I had read the sign and would gladly pay the $10 per form.
They wanted fax numbers or for me to pick up the forms, but I’m not driving 30 minutes back tomorrow or whenever they get the forms done. I think I found the fax for the disability folks and finally reneged and let them mail the form to my warehouse.
They also told me the forms should be in my portal so when they are done I hope I can download from the portal and send them where they need to go. If that doesn’t work, I have to call the Bethlehem office and make arrangements to pick them up there.
The OAA office also called The Institute for Hand and Upper Extremity Rehabilitation (a mere mile away) and arranged for them to see me. When I arrived, they were on the phone with my insurance company.
The staff at The Institute were beyond friendly, and every staff member apologized for making me wait. But I was impressed at how smoothly they ran and how they managed to balance the walk-ins and the scheduled patients.
Even more impressive, they had a binder promoting the small businesses they have “interacted” with— I hope I can leave one next time. I forgot by the end of my visit.
The Institute has one main rehab room so I got to see other patients at work, and every therapist acknowledged me, and apologized that I was waiting. One therapist, fitting a patient with some sort of brace or sling, was chatting with me about my injury.
The casting process was fascinating as I had never heard of casting a finger before and the person helping me also explained my injury. In this day and age when medical professionals usually don’t explain things, I was amazed at how many people took time to explain.
My finger was only 15 degrees floppy today, which is a huge improvement from Friday. BUT if anything bends the injured area of the finger that could start the recovery clock back to zero as it could tear the scar tissue (which is why the hand specialist recommended the cast).
I certainly don’t relish the idea of eight weeks in a finger cast, nor do I enjoy the paperwork hurdles I now have to jump, but I’m relieved to have moved on to the next stage of the process.
The staff at the Institute also commended me for seeking treatment right away, as most people wait a week or more to address it and that causes more stress and damage to the healthy parts of the finger and can make the healing process more complicated and less successful.
Good morning. As you may have seen on the post from the ParisianPhoenix Publishing blog, yesterday got a little crazy with F. Bean Barker needing a quasi-emergency vet appointment for a splintered toenail.
I did some housework, unpacked my Hungryroot box, read some of an old Harlequin and basically hung out with the dog while the teenager worked.
The teenager got home from her last dog client of the day around 8:30 p.m. Friday night, so I was happy to head to the shower and get to bed close to my regular work bedtime.
I had on my cute cat socks my neighbor gave me for Christmas which perfectly matched the baby blue sweater which had also been hers.
I had removed all my clothes and only had my socks left, and the shower was running. I slipped my left hand into my sock. It got a little caught around the heel. And oddly, I felt this enormous pop and thought I heard something.
But my sock was still on my foot.
So I swept that off and looked at my finger. Which was a little floppy past the last knuckle.
I laughed and hopped in the shower after screaming down the stairs, “I think I dislocated my finger taking off my socks.”
I kept laughing. Stress response. I didn’t even bathe because it became apparent there was something wrong.
Which made me laugh harder because I was removing my socks.
The teenager dragged me to Patient First. I have an official diagnosis of “mallet finger.” And if I chipped the bone I may need surgery.
I emailed my paperwork to my warehouse supervisor— as I can’t go to work until I see a hand specialist. And with the holiday tomorrow, that will need to wait until Monday before I can even find a specialist and make an appointment.
It looks like the prompt splinting of the injury may save me some complications later so here’s hoping.
Growing up, I never felt like I had a disability— maybe when you’re younger your body has more ability to compensate.
But I’m guessing with decades of repetitive stress from walking funny and the normal wear-and-tear from age, it makes sense that the last decade has left me hurting.
The last decade led me to my first official broken bones. The last decade left me with a host of experience with weight training, body building, gaining weight, losing weight, chiropractic care and orthopedic and joint issues.
And like I mentioned, I’m not in my twenties anymore so none of this should be surprising.
But it’s really hard to maintain when troubleshoot these physical issues and it’s frustrating when suddenly you wake up in the morning not only stiff but feeling your bones in a way I can only describe as poking where they shouldn’t be.
Ninety-five percent of the time getting up and doing a normal routine eases some of these sensations, but this week was hard.
Today— after all of my ten-hour warehouse shifts— I woke stiff and feeling like my left leg didn’t want to cooperate.
And so when I got to the gym, Apex Training and met with Andrew, my trainer, I gave him my report. “Nothing hurts,” I said, “but nothing wants to work.”
We did leg day. And for the average person, it probably would have been easy. But even my bodyweight bench squats seemed difficult and clumsy. Warm up stretches I can usually knock out without breaking a sweat were a struggle.
And he critiqued my lunge stance and examined it until I could feel the muscles at least trying to work the way leg muscles are supposed to work— i.e. together.
And the worst exercise was a simple calf raise standing on plates so I could extend my heels. While holding barbell.
I’m no longer stiff. Especially after my shower. But man am I tired and wondering what muscles I will feel tomorrow and how my chiropractor appointment will go.
It’s been a demanding week with my body in revolt for most of it.
I’ve succumbed to some bad moods but for the most part kept it together— and even enjoyed another pizza outing with the teenager and my blind friend Nan where we have officially determined that Nan and I think Nicolosi’s eggplant parmesan is our new favorite pizza. The teenager is in the chicken-bacon-ranch camp.
The teenager has been housesitting and her own dog F. Bean Barker seems to prefer sleeping in her crate downstairs to being in the teen’s bedroom alone with the two foster cats, Mars and Khloe.
It has taken a few nights of sleep deprivation to discover this.
And it’s cold. And rainy. So the dog and I are both grumpy.
But this week I have started a new routine— getting up at 4:15 am so I can write for 30 minutes before work. In addition to my publishing business (Parisian Phoenix Publishing), I also need to commit to my writing.
Speaking of commitment, I’ve been trying to buy a bookshelf all week.
But I did buy a microphone for the business so that hopefully we can record some authors reading their work and have discussions with and for writers as part of our marketing material.
Nan and I got together today to run errands, see what was going on with Axiom, drink chai and read poetry. The best publication we looked at today was definitely *82 Review which featured Nan’s poem, “Brewing Chai.”
The magazine is very very diverse in its style and I am very excited to read more.
One of the best pieces I’ve read in a long time is “A Child in Need of Services” (a flash submission) where the speaker talks about the origins of their three talents, with such humor and joyful voice that you just don’t see the ending coming. The author is Amanda Skofstad.
We retrieved Nan’s laundry and I parked the car at the high school and walked the half mile in the cold rain (uphill as the teen would remind us) to the gym so the teen could have the car after school to go to work.
But I made it to the gym… for session 73 at Apex Training with my trainer Andrew. I love his current approach— a lot of back and shoulder based weight training for the upper body and creative more-or-less body weight exercises for the lower body so we can develop some muscle memory in those body parts that don’t understand how to play on a team. We also did some hex bar work and other stuff. I always feel good when I leave.
But by far, the hardest exercise for me today was wide stance squats. That had me struggling, concentrating, breathing and thinking I wouldn’t make it through. For squats. Bench squats at that.
Let me explain.
My cerebral palsy makes this the ultimate torture. Remember— my quads, hamstrings and calves never relax. My heel tendons are too short and my ankles don’t have the right mobility. My knees point in because of my femoral anteversion, and that just means the top of my femurs go into my hip sockets at the wrong angle.
So when I do that wide stance bench squat, I need to practice the most muscle control I can. I have to plant my feet and manually rotate my toes to what feels like uncomfortably out. And when I rise, I need to maintain balance, push with my upper region of my legs and force my hips out so they can force my knees out.
It’s damn hard.
But I can feel those body parts trying to cooperate and that’s exciting. If Andrew and I had more money and could work less at traditional full time jobs, I would love to train every day.
I posted this to Facebook:
I came home and stood in the rain for ten minutes holding an umbrella over the dog and she still wouldn’t pee. I took a shower, got dressed and gathered laundry. The washer wouldn’t work. My seven month old washer.
So I made myself an omelet of peppers, two eggs, heaps of Black Bear Mexican turkey, a slice of black pepper Cooper, a half slice of horseradish cheddar and piled it on my last slice of ShopRite bakery seeded rye.
The teenager came home and I googled the error code on the washer and she moved the whole wash tower and ripped the rear access panel off. When the drain pipe wasn’t back there, I had her read me the exact model number so we could Google again. We found this video, by a man with nice hands: Fixing the washer.
The teenager watched about half a minute, grabbed a bucket and ran to the front access panel. Within seconds, she had removed the whole plug apparatus and flooded the bathroom with gallons of wash water.
“How am I supposed to get that into a bucket?” she asked.
I continue watching the video. There’s a tube you empty first.
“There’s a tube!” she yells.
Oh, Pop Pop on the Mountain, wherever he is in the afterlife, is laughing his ass off now.
The apparatus is clogged with poly fill, a metal ring, quarters and other nonsense. That is fixed now. Drain hoses cleaned. Wash loads continue.
The start of the Covid-19 pandemic two years ago brought an end to a couple toxic situations in my life, and led to many new experiences that were both rewarding and frustrating.
If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you may remember teenager #2, a friend of my teenager who needed a place to stay. Teenager #2 and her cats stayed for about nine months, with minimal support or contact from her parents.
Teenager #2 turned 19 last week, and I don’t know if she’d expect me to remember or not, because I haven’t heard from her since she moved out. And left a very trashed bedroom behind. And her cats taught my cats bad habits we are still trying to break.
I’ve heard rumors that she’s expecting her own baby now.
It’s also been about five weeks since my mother contacted me. Though she will probably read this later and text me nasty messages.
And my dad is three-and-a-half months gone now, and it leaves me wondering how people can be there one second and just… poof… gone.
But I’m not trying to elicit pity, I’m merely stating some of the thoughts in my brain to say that my emotions are already on edge.
So, a couple weeks ago we (the teenager and I) received a text message that our former foster Extra Crunchy was being returned to the rescue because a new baby was allergic.
This broke my heart.
But the family never showed up. They turned up unannounced at the FURR adoption event yesterday and returned him on his first birthday.
Readers, I think I am losing my stomach for rescue work.
Extra Crunchy was one of two kittens who survived a bout with distemper last spring. Feline distemper is a very fatal and preventable disease. FURR received a call that someone had three cats, two female and one male, neither fixed nor vaccinated. The two females each gave birth to a litter of kittens. But everyone contracted distemper. And the adults died.
So they called FURR, and FURR took in these ten dying and starved kittens who had never even had the chance to nurse from a mother.
My daughter asked if she could foster these babies, and our cat foster godmother said yes, but that we had to be prepared for them to die.
So my daughter started syringe feeding them. On the day she took over their care, two died right away. And it seemed like every day another would die, usually in the teenager’s arms.
We gave them ridiculous names because they weren’t going to live. Rufus. The Magician (he would just randomly teleport from one end of the playpen to the other). Spunky. Parker (which was actually Parkour because he climbed everything).
And Extra Crunchy. Because he was covered in formula, cat food and feces. After all, no one had taught him how to groom and no one had groomed him.
Extra Crunchy is currently at Chaar Pet Store in Forks Township.
On Friday, the teenager plans to bring him home for a bath and grooming before Saturday’s adoption event.
In addition to that, my hip is acting up and I don’t have a chiropractor appointment for two weeks. So I’m trying a whole lot of stretches.
The pain got worse throughout the day, and I accepted the offer to leave work at 3 when they announced VTO. I picked my own cart to start this morning, which meant I had a 3,000 step walk first thing in the morning. And by the end of the day, I had shipped 380 items, which, by my calculations is 108.5%.
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.